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The Future of Personalization: An Interview with Nosto

Today’s brands must evolve to create more engaging and dynamic experiences for their consumers. Emerging technology and customer preferences are continuing to change, and marketers are challenged to communicate with more relevant messaging than ever before. As a result, the concept of “personalization” has gone from a buzz word to table stakes for brands hoping to build loyalty and drive long term value for their audiences.

At Olapic, personalization through content has long been a focus of ours. Today, we’re excited to work with a new partner, Nosto, that is helping brands drive personalization through innovative technology. To better understand trends in the space, I had a chance to catch up with Juha Valvanne, Founder of Nosto for a quick interview. 

1. Brands are all talking about becoming more “authentic.” What steps can they take to actually “walk the walk?”

Two things initially come to mind:

  1. Be personal. This means taking the customer into greater consideration. We are all unique, and therefore should be treated uniquely. Through personalization, you can create an experience for your consumers that is completely relevant to them. This approach is not only limited to the kinds of products and social ads being shown to an individual; it’s also about considering the tone of voice you’re using to deliver your message, and how and when that message is delivered. Being personal hugely influences the way you communicate products and promotions and how they’re received. In today’s connected world, when customers interact with your products, they are also sharing these experiences with others – via a photo, a video, a product review, etc. This adds a “real-life” element to your product, which can be a powerful leverage for a brand. By exposing consumer-generated images to other consumers, brands can foster a more personal connection. Your product promotions start to look and feel more relatable – which makes you more authentic.
  2. Stay connected. This is about establishing dialogues with and between your customers. It is about sequencing messages and signals across multiple channels in a meaningful way, but also maintaining a fresh site and an openness to try new things. Test out different experiences and trust your intuition. If a customer feels like you are forcing it, the approach is probably wrong. Multi-channel experience management and experience testing are becoming a more important part of achieving authenticity.

2. As marketers work to personalize consumer experiences at scale, what key challenges must they overcome? How can they overcome these challenges?

Back in the day, marketers tried to “personalize” messages by building a few buying personas, looking at simple data such as purchases from CRM systems and trying to come up with segments to target using somewhat varied messages and offerings. To really personalize customer journeys, one should also try to look at the individual and understand that needs and moods change rapidly. Real-time personalization is efficient as it adjusts according to any sudden change in behavior – taking into account what you might be looking for today and not so much what you bought 1 year ago. Of course, segmentation plays a big role in campaigning and you need to feel that you are still in control (especially in certain scenarios), so the best personalization platforms take into account the need for fast reactions based on recent behavior (real-time 1:1 personalization) while also allowing you to apply your own business logic and rules that impact output.

3. Can you share a few best practices you recommend to brands working to optimize ROI through personalization technology?

Naturally, the first step would be to identify what kinds of challenges the brand is facing with their current setup; what’s working, what’s not, and try to ask the right questions that address “why”. Then, set up some business goals and KPIs (what to optimize for) and set up the personalization engine accordingly. At Nosto, we have several recommended setups, best practices and playbooks (e.g. for different verticals and problem-solving situations) that we’ve developed over the years by testing and spending time with thousands of brands and retailers across the globe.

Furthermore, I would say that it is important that teams within your organization do not work in a silo. Instead, all teams should be collaborating with one another to achieve common goals that honor the overall customer journey and life-cycle. I’ve seen how some teams focus solely on their particular task or phase in the delivery chain rather than the delivery as a whole – and that leads to challenges that are visible to the customer during their shopping experience.

4. Can you share an example of a brand that is doing a good job of activating truly personalized experience for its audience?

Kate Somerville fosters the same unique shopping experience for customers online that is offered in its brick and mortar stores. In the skincare industry – an industry built around making decisions that are unique to each and every consumer – offering a truly personalized experience is paramount. To achieve this, Kate Somerville supplements its product offerings with a variety of supporting features: detailed product information, the ability to filter products by attributes such as ‘Skin Type’ and ‘Skin Concern’, to name a few. This gives customers the confidence and the comfort to shop for products that most speak to their needs to maintain that necessary level of “personal”.

5. The line between creative and technology continues to blur. How can marketers operate in a tech-driven, analytical market while retaining their creative vision?

Technology’s purpose is to enable and empower marketers; today’s solutions try (or should try) to make complex things easy for them. The marketer ultimately owns the vision and defines what to achieve next and why. By enabling the marketer to spend less time on the technical components, they can shift their focus towards pushing their vision forward through creative strategies.

6. Which trends will drive the future of personalization over the next couple of years?

Personalization is needed wherever products/services are communicated and promoted to consumers. Bigger trends revolve around identifying new places for consumers to experience products, make  shopping decisions and undertake buying transactions, and how to do that. This also raises the question of what channels, ways and mediums will become obsolete? Consumers demand convenience in their everyday lives and personalization is key in realizing that.

Thank you to Juha for taking the time to share these insights with our audience. At Olapic, we are very excited to partner with Nosto to bring together the technology and content required for effective personalization. To learn more about this partnership, register for Nosto’s webinar on influencing online retail through social interactions, here.


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