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Understanding Forrester’s POST Methodology for Building Your Personalization Program

Understanding Forrester’s POST Methodology for Building Your Personalization Program

Creating and implementing a personalization program can be a challenging task for an organization. However, it doesn’t have to be if you have the right strategy in place.

A recent research report by Forrester suggests that personalizing digital experiences is a priority for 68% of the survey responders. Forrester created the POST (People, Objectives, Strategy, and Technology) methodology in 2008 to better help organizations collaborate better on enterprise level projects that involve multiple stakeholders or channels.

This methodology has been adapted to help companies turn personalization from a concept to an actual program. This article will summarize Forrester’s POST method’s step-by-step process to successfully launch your personalization program.

Let’s break the four steps down:

1) PEOPLE: Which customers are you trying to serve?

As an organization, you need to analyze your current customer base and focus on the most valuable customers to start then figure out what their preferences are.

Example: You can look at your customer email list and see who is purchasing frequently and provide them with relevant coupons or let them know about new products through personalized email campaigns.

Use the data you have to create dynamic profiles that include context like demographics, browser preference, device type and even social media activity.

Example: For your site visitors that abandon without making a purchase, you can retarget them with relevant email or onsite messages that re-engages them based on their browse behavior and where they are.

Match the experience to the consumer’s expectations. As a brand, you need to make sure the experience your shoppers are seeing is matching the brand you are trying to present.

Example: Leverage referral information like referral URL to determine what content to show. If a visitor came to your site from a news article site, use that referral information to show content or message relevant to what he was reading.

2) OBJECTIVE: What are your personalization goals?

Once you have established your target audience, you need to define your personalization goals with project stakeholders. There are three important questions Forrester points out that need to be addressed:

  • Define what assets and channels you want to personalize so you can focus on those areas. For example, if you want to personalize products and content for web and email, you need to tie those two channels together in order to have a consistently personalized experience across those channels.
  • Define the metrics you want to improve and set a goal (increase average order value, items per order) so there are tangible targets you can reach and report on to your stakeholders.
  • Determine the data you have and need in order to maximize your personalization efforts. Start with gathering all the customer data you have internally such as website behavior, purchase history, and  other customer preference data to start building a rich profiling for each customer.

3) STRATEGY: How will you accomplish your objectives?

This is where you need to become the project organizer and start planning out the project in terms of each stakeholder’s roles and responsibilities, create processes and set timelines.

Forrester points out four points of focus:

  1. Create an interdepartmental project committee from various departments involved in the project to help set goals and timelines as well as evaluate project concerns such as privacy and technology assessments.
  2. Create a budget specifically for your personalization program or collaborate with different departments such as eCommerce, merchandising or marketing.
  3. Build a personalization team from various departments and assign specific responsibilities.

For example,

  • Marketing/Merchandising/eCommerce Team(s) own the strategy and design
  • Technology Team owns implementation and platform
  • Customer Experience Team owns testing and optimization
  1. Establish a process for continuous improvement as personalization is NOT a “set it and forget it” type of program. In order to see on-going success in your personalization efforts, there needs to be constant analysis and optimization by various teams to ensure performance does not drop.

4) TECHNOLOGY: What technology do you need to deliver personalized experiences?

The last step to launching your personalization program is selecting the right tool. Be careful when evaluating personalization providers and have specific goals in place that you want to achieve to avoid being sold solutions you might not yet need. One important point Forrester addresses is that the personalization solution needs to support all channels and touchpoints. This is crucial because you are spending valuable time and resources to launch this project and the last thing you want to see is that you outgrew the technology in a couple of years.

In summary, personalizing your customer experience is now a must have in order to compete in the market, but with the right process and plan in place utilizing Forrester’s POST method, your project can launch smoothly and you can start reaping the benefits of this valuable investment.

Read the full report here. Please note the report is available to Forrester subscribers or for purchase.