These days, personalization can no longer be considered a “nice to have.” It’s a requirement. As consumers come to desire — even expect — relevant experiences, companies today are tasked with keeping up. With this comes the understanding that digital marketing roadmaps will involve personalization at every step, so the development and execution of a personalization strategy naturally involves many stakeholders across a variety of business divisions. In large enterprise organizations especially, ensuring buy-in and cross-departmental coordination can seem like an insurmountable challenge. It doesn’t have to be, however.
Creating a personalization management office (PMO) allows organizations to build and scale a personalization program efficiently, forge accountability, and ensure buy-in across the organization. The PMO is comprised of individuals across different business groups and acts as the personalization strategy and technical resource as well as the point of coordination for all business divisions. Since personalization can touch multiple channels and teams, the PMO group can help make sure that all areas of the business are working toward the same goals, preventing headaches, and greatly increasing the likelihood of resounding success. In this article, I’ll outline the three broad steps involved in establishing a personalization management office.
1. Create a PMO “Core” Team
The first step in establishing a PMO is to identify the individuals who will be involved. Think of your personalization management office not as an entirely new business group, but rather a task force of sorts comprised of individuals from a variety of departments who act as a centralized personalization resource for the organization.
Who you include in the PMO depends on your business, but it should include key stakeholders from across the company, such as marketing, analytics and operations. It’s a good idea to include a diverse range of individuals to ensure that personalization can be adopted throughout the organization. You’ll want to consider including a strategic sponsor and program manager along with execution, analytics, and creative team members.
Do your best to keep from overcrowding the team, though, as having too many stakeholders involved can sometimes make decision-making and execution slow.
Once you establish your team, the PMO can begin mapping out the organization’s personalization process.
2. Establish Your Process
The PMO is responsible for creating the roadmap for how the company develops and manages personalized experiences. Before you begin establishing the process, it’s important to understand what your current processes look like. Many of the organization’s digital marketing initiatives will remain, but will be affected by personalization. A holistic personalization strategy requires departmental collaboration and extends the digital marketing efforts beyond the confines of the marketing group. Once you identify how the customer experience is determined across channels and teams within the organization, you can begin to work through how the process should shift to incorporate personalization.
As part of that process, make sure you determine which individuals are responsible for different tasks. A personalization program can easily break down without clear roles and responsibilities for team members. Be sure to set clear expectations about how campaigns are brainstormed and prioritized, who builds the experiences, who approves them, and at which points in the process results and findings are shared. The PMO’s main tasks are sustainability, scalability, and accountability, and all require clearly outlined tasks and expectations.
It is also important to set KPIs prior to launching any new personalization efforts. These KPIs may vary based on industry, type of experience, and channel used, among other factors — but taking the time to determine how you will measure your personalization program beforehand will help you create organization-wide standards and set the stage for successfully optimizing and iterating. Setting KPIs also allows organizations to focus on campaigns that have the biggest impact by allowing the data to guide campaign planning.
3. Execute, Optimize and Report on Progress
Any good personalization strategy will be built on testing, optimizing, and iterating. Long-term success is only possible if there are active efforts to continually learn from the data and pivot accordingly. It’s important to not get complacent with your personalization campaigns. Consumer expectations are constantly evolving, so a personalized experience that once did well may no longer fit the bill. The PMO should continue to check in on successful campaigns and determine which should be left alone, which can be improved, and which should be phased out. The definition of success will vary across companies, industries, and channels, again pointing to the importance of identifying KPIs prior to launching campaigns.
The benefit of a PMO is that it can help aggregate learnings across teams and departments. If your company has multiple websites, you can test out a campaign on one site before rolling it out to others. A recommendations algorithm that was successful in an email could be rolled out to the website. Without a central group, those findings could be lost. One possibility is for the PMO to create a playbook of personalization campaign ideas that describes successful campaigns and outlines potential ideas for the future.
Finally, in addition to building out the organization’s personalization strategy and process, the PMO is also responsible for reporting results to management. The PMO should be active in its efforts to share information about the personalization program to all business groups and levels of leadership to ensure that the program continues to garner buy-in and support.
Establishing a personalization management office will successfully encourage collaboration and the creation of a sustainable and scalable personalization strategy. While it can seem intimidating to implement personalization across teams and channels within your organization, by deliberately and thoughtfully creating a central group responsible for strategy and execution, you can significantly increase your rate of success.
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