Accelerating Personalization At Scale For Retail

A Conversation With Sephora

Mar 2, 2022 3:00 PM4:00 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways

Are you struggling to implement a personalized program in your business? What strategies can help you deliver value and optimize the customer experience?

To have a successful personalization program, a brand needs to understand the customer, leverage the moment-based experiences, respect the privacy of their clients and gain trust from them, and understand the industry-specific needs. This also helps build a foundation for success.

In this virtual event, Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson sits down with Sarah Ohle, the Vice President of Strategy at Hero Digital, and Kevin Lazorik, the Senior Vice President of Alliances at Hero Digital, to talk about ways you can accelerate personalization at scale for retail. They discuss the four key elements that contribute to a successful personalized program, challenges brands are facing when starting a personalization program, and trends in retail personalization.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:


  • How does customer understanding contribute to a successful personalization program?
  • Ways in which moments-based experiences add to the effectiveness of personalization
  • What areas should you focus on to embrace privacy and trust?
  • How understanding your industry-specific needs helps you arrive at a personalized experience
  • The biggest roadblocks brands face when starting a personalization program
  • Stakeholders you should have in a room as you go through the journey of personalization
  • Common privacy pitfalls today
  • Interesting trends in retail personalization
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Event Partners

Hero Digital

Hero Digital is a leading independent customer experience company focusing on business, design, and technology.

Connect with Hero Digital


Adobe Experience Cloud is the most comprehensive suite of customer experience management tools on the market. With solutions for data, content delivery, commerce, personalization, and more, this marketing stack is created with the world’s first platform designed specifically to create engaging customer experiences. Each product has built-in artificial intelligence and works seamlessly with other Adobe products. And they integrate with your existing technology and future innovations, so you can consistently deliver the right experience every time.

Connect with Adobe

Guest Speakers

Sarah Ohle

VP of Strategy at Hero Digital

Sarah Ohle is the Vice President of Strategy at Hero Digital, a digital consulting agency that offers digital marketing and strategies to consumers around the world. Sarah has worked in various executive-level positions for marketing companies. She was previously the Vice President of Marketing Insights at GroundTruth and the Director of Custom Research at The Nielsen Company. She is a graduate of the UCLA Anderson School of Management with a master's in marketing and Middlebury College with a bachelor's in psychology. 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson LinkedIn

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

Kevin Lazorik

Senior Vice President and Co-Founder at Hero Digital

Kevin Lazorik is the Co-founder and Senior Vice President of Alliances at Hero Digital. Kevin’s success is based on more than 20 years of defining and guiding the implementation of industry best practices and standards to strengthen organizations and drive competitive growth. Before Hero Digital, Kevin was a business strategy consultant, the Senior Director of Client Services at SolutionSet, and the Solutions Director of Backbase. He received his MBA from Penn State Great Valley and his bachelor’s in computer science from Villanova University.

Event Moderator

Sarah Ohle

VP of Strategy at Hero Digital

Sarah Ohle is the Vice President of Strategy at Hero Digital, a digital consulting agency that offers digital marketing and strategies to consumers around the world. Sarah has worked in various executive-level positions for marketing companies. She was previously the Vice President of Marketing Insights at GroundTruth and the Director of Custom Research at The Nielsen Company. She is a graduate of the UCLA Anderson School of Management with a master's in marketing and Middlebury College with a bachelor's in psychology. 

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson LinkedIn

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

Kevin Lazorik

Senior Vice President and Co-Founder at Hero Digital

Kevin Lazorik is the Co-founder and Senior Vice President of Alliances at Hero Digital. Kevin’s success is based on more than 20 years of defining and guiding the implementation of industry best practices and standards to strengthen organizations and drive competitive growth. Before Hero Digital, Kevin was a business strategy consultant, the Senior Director of Client Services at SolutionSet, and the Solutions Director of Backbase. He received his MBA from Penn State Great Valley and his bachelor’s in computer science from Villanova University.

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Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson

Senior Digital Strategist at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Senior Digital Strategist Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  0:18

Happy Wednesday everyone. I'm Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson, a Digital Strategist here at BWG Connect. And we are a network and knowledge sharing group. But as what we do, we stay on top of the latest trends, challenges, whatever it is that is shaping the digital landscape. We are on track to do at least 500 of these virtual events this year due to the increase in demand to better understand digital. And we're also on track to do at least 100 in-person small format dinners. So if you happen to be in a tier one city, definitely feel free to send us an email, we'd love to send you an invite, these dinners are typically 15 to 20 people having a discussion around a specific digital topic, we'd love to have you. It's from these discussions and conversations that we generate topic ideas for future webinars and dinner events. And it's also where we gain our resident experts, such as Hero Digital, who's here today, welcome. Anybody that we have come here teach the collective team has come highly recommended from multiple brands within our network. So if you're ever in need of any recommendations, from any services that you might be in need of in the digital space, please feel free to contact me. We have a short list of the best of the best. And I'd be happy to share that with you. We also know that a lot of people are hiring right now.

So do note that we have a talent agency BWG Talent that we would be happy to also put you in contact with. So a few housekeeping items, we started about three minutes after the hour. So rest assured, we will wrap up about three to four minutes before the end of the hour to give you time to get to your next meeting. And we want this to be as informational interactive, and conversational as possible. So please put any questions into the q&a chat bar, feel free to email me if you prefer, at And we also are asking if you can put in any challenges or any specific topics, points of discussion that you would like out of this presentation. So we can be sure to pepper them in throughout the duration of the call and make sure that we get to everything. So with that, let's roll and learn about accelerating personalization at scale for retail. The team at Hero Digital and Adobe have been great friends and partners and supporters of the network. I'll kick it off to you Sarah and Kevin, please give a brief introduction on yourself. And we can jump into the information. Thank you.

Sarah Ohle  2:46

Great, thanks, Tiffany. So just as a starting point, I am Sarah Ohle, I am VP of Strategy at Hero Digital. I am based in the Twin Cities in the Minneapolis area. But I do work with clients nationwide across the country across a broad range of industries, including retail, helping them to apply strategies like personalization, to their business to really enhance the value of what we're doing for customers and obviously, businesses as well. Kevin.

Kevin Lazorik  3:16

Hi, everyone. I'm Kevin Lazorik. I am the Senior Vice President of Alliances at Hero Digital. Sarah and I work very closely with Adobe on our shared offerings and how we work together and ensuring our team is ready to go. And very excited to speak with all of you today. And also had to pass along we had a retailer who was planning on joining us who had an item come up where they were no longer available. So they asked me to pass along their regards. But we're looking forward to this discussion.

Sarah Ohle  3:45

All right, so before we get into the content, the personalization topic everyone is here to hear about, I do want to give a brief overview for people who aren't familiar with Hero Digital. We are a leading independent digital customer experience agency. So we operate at the intersection of business, design, and technology. And most importantly, we lead with customer first approach rather than technology or process. Everything we do has humans at the core and you'll hear that word human a lot throughout this deck as well. We believe that the best outcomes come from wrapping initiatives around the needs of the customer. So by starting with the fundamental truths of customer experience, we're able to design beautiful experiences that directly speak to these needs, and therefore deliver value and impact to your business. In terms of how we're organized, we aim to help brands create moments of what we call truth and beauty. These unlock new business growth by helping CMOs do three big things, invent, transform and perform. So when we say invent we're talking about digital invention. This is turning business opportunities into new CX ideas, for transform, experience transformation is taking these ideas and manifesting customer experiences through design and technology. And then finally perform is market performance. This is accelerating growth results through a connected experience ecosystem. So really through the full gamut of interacting with the customer experience.

Kevin Lazorik  5:20

As we mentioned, we're proud to partner with Adobe since our founding in 2014. And within that alliance, we work across the entire experience cloud because all of Adobe solutions allow us to deliver on that vision that Sarah was talking about that we have for our clients and ultimately their customers. And we are thrilled to have been named Adobe's Emerging Solution Partner of the Year for the Americas in 2022. And is really just a recognition of the value and quality of experience that we're able to bring to our customers using Adobe's technology.

Sarah Ohle  5:58

So that's a brief overview of who we are. And now let's get into why you're all here today, which is personalization. So when we think about measurement and personalization, it can be easy to start, but difficult to master. But despite this, many organizations do struggle with taking this first step, or maybe because of this many organizations struggle with taking the first step. So we recommend four pillars to focus on to ensure you have a strong foundation in your personalization program. And we're going to get into each of these individually throughout the presentation today. But the first thing is this customer understanding. So this is the most obvious. In order to have an experience that's personalized, you need to first understand who you're personalizing the experience for. The second piece is moments based experience. So this is taking that understanding of the customer a layer deeper to not understand who they are, but also their full context of experience surrounding them. So this element focuses on a deep understanding of key decision points in the customer journey. The third pillar, which is becoming increasingly important, and we will definitely dig into quite a bit is the idea of privacy and trust. So this is becoming more and more relevant and critical for all companies. Really, if you're going to be personalizing, you need to have this idea of protecting identity, protecting your customers, making them feel secure to build this trust at the core of that as well. And finally, this idea of industry specific needs, so many approaches and techniques are going to remain the same across industries. But there are some different considerations when you're personalizing something in retail versus something in healthcare. So keeping in mind how your audience interacts with you and your peers in the industry are key, as well as understanding the broader context and how they're interacting in other industries. So again, we're going to dig into each of these areas a bit more deeply today, starting with customer understanding. So as I mentioned, a personalized experience is going to start with understanding who you're personalizing for. And when you think about that, it really starts with understanding the customer. So creating a personalized experience that speaks to your customer's needs, you're going to unlayer these layers of human truths below these customers. So what's motivating them, what's bringing them joy, what's frustrating them? So this can include interviews, surveys, socialists mean, however, you get it really sort of the things that are driving their behaviors. From there viewing the customer experience in the context of cultural and market conditions, is going to provide an additional level of insight into drivers and opportunities. So this can include trends, competitive audits, expert interviews, just really filling in the whole picture surrounding that customer. And then the third piece is tying these into a powerful story. So building up true insights, not only shed light on your customers, but also add business value about what this picture of the customer means for you. And through a deep knowledge of all phases of design deployment, strategically then applying these insights and evolving and iterating, what we find. So all of this is just to say getting a really deep understanding of your customer is what's going to be the very first step in creating an experience that's really founded in with humans at the core. So understanding your customer is the foundation. But to continue to evolve and activate on this understanding, we want to offer up some ideas in terms of tools and approaches and thinking through for this. So as brands are more and more dependent on first party data, the challenge of managing and activating that data is increasing. So simply capturing traffic and sources or information about your customer is not going to get you the complete view. So I'm just going to walk through one by one a couple of these tools. The first being customer data management, the more you can align your marketing focused customer data with enterprise data management practices, the more you're going to be able to unlock insights to activate customer touchpoints. So, customer data platforms or CDP's are becoming more and more integral in solving this challenge.

The second piece is journey analytics. So focusing on journeys more than onpoint personalization. This is product recommendations, for example, are a great start. But as journeys become more complicated, and a deeper understanding of your customers is going to allow you to find new ways to unlock value. So an analogy that most people can relate to is the process of getting or refinancing a mortgage. So simply personalizing the right mortgage product is a great start. But anyone who's been through the process knows that's only the starting point in the journey. It's going to pass that point require you to engage with the bank, other third parties, your realtor, the sellers realtors, estimators a whole group of people. So understanding how to optimize that journey and reduce friction will require measurement personalization beyond recommending a particular type of mortgage to your needs. So we're going to go into this a little bit more in the next phase, but wanted to call that out here specifically. The third piece is digital intelligence. So digital intelligence tools go beyond customer interactions with digital touch points to align with data streams from other sources. The more data points a brand can connect, the more effective personalization they can provide. So some examples of these sources would include your walled garden, so supporter engagement communities, sensors, bots, IoT devices, digital assistants, Cloud Data Services, new sources, anything that really gives you that full picture and added information around that context that I was talking about. And then the final piece is artificial intelligence, we have many conversations with companies who want to start with AI. So data is the fuel that powers AI and machine learning, focusing on getting the first three ingredients in place will position you in a good place to truly activate AI. So getting the customer data management, the journey analytics, the digital intelligence, that's what's going to allow you to take the next step in terms of artificial intelligence. And when you have these first three elements of the foundation, you're in a great place for AI for machine learning, to apply these to unlock new insights, and automate select tasks. When you have all four in place, AI is going to accelerate or eliminate your manual tasks and allow you to provide deeper insights to you and your team. I'm going to pause there for a minute. Kevin, do you have any thoughts, especially on the AI piece? Because I know that that comes up quite a bit?

Kevin Lazorik  13:01

Yeah, AI is something that people like to, it always comes up and it's maintained, viewed as the starting point. It's like, oh, it's a measurement just got to do everything. But it's really about making those insights faster and deeper by aligning your data and understanding what's there. And then what it can do is provide that scale around that. So Adobe sensei has ways this can go and fit in quickly adding value, like around tagging content, but then also going and seeing how are we going to utilize AI for product recommendations based on other people's purchase histories, that not just recommending that these products are related. But people who buy X also tend to buy Y. And can we do that in a way that's not just a recommended product, but they can, usually increase cart size, but also maybe move the user through that journey as well and more complicated sales cycles.

Sarah Ohle  14:02

Yeah, and the other thing I'll add to this, because as we have these conversations and talk about things like customer data management, journey analytics, keep in mind that these are tools, these are means to an end. And at the core of all of this, understand that what you're working towards is your customer understanding. And these are all really amazing tools that we're walking through to offer suggestions on how you can get to that point of customer understanding. Again, back to the word human, everything we're doing is to really understand the human motivations that that are going to drive that engine of personalization. So, moving on to the next pillar, we talked about moments based experiences. This is going to focus on understanding of key decision points in the customer journey. So more than just that initial mortgage purchase the all the touch points that come after it. The broader context of a customer journey is going to help add the effectiveness of personalization. On the right, you can see a pretty extensive example of a customer journey from awareness to retention. So all the touch points potential content, technology usage data collection along the way, the idea is to look at this really broad picture beyond just that one individual in a single point in time, and identify where on this journey we can use to personalize and where personalization will be the most impactful. So obviously, a lot of work goes into creating that one sheet of paper, but there's so much rich information on that journey. So the most effective personalization is going to deliver what people need at the moment in time, they most need it. So in addition to looking at that journey, looking at the whole view of what somebody is doing, there's things like content management. So modern content management, like Adobe Experience Manager is going to allow you to manage personalized content across all the channels. So not just the web, headless capabilities are going to power delivery of content to channels, including digital assistants, bots, voice devices. At the same time, digital asset management, so defined tagging, and dynamic tagging, that's aligned to user personas, is going to allow for personalization across sentiment, composition, performance, emotion, more than just again, that one, one point in time, personalization, really allowing you to react to the journey that your customer is on the full, complete journey. And then the final piece is marketing automation. So, personalization across email is a standard practice, expanding that personalization to mobile apps, order status, voice, these are all new opportunities that are gonna support that complete view of the customer journey. So I'm going to hand it over to Kevin to talk about the third pillar, which is privacy and trust, again, a very, very important topic, and one we want to spend a little bit of time on. So take it away, Kevin.

Kevin Lazorik  17:13

Thank you, Sarah. Yeah, it's a topic that's front and center for every company in every vertical. This is not something that just applies to retail, or just applies to financial services, it's everyone. And it's really important, because it was like to say there's a fine line between personalized and creepy. So getting this right, not just technically, from a strategy standpoint, really matters. And then if you then layer in your GDPR, CCPA, other state regulations, browsers or eliminate third party cookies, your first party data is more and more critical. But you also need to recognize the fact that every brand is now a data company. And that's going to introduce some new thinking and new challenges. So as we go and move forward, but I always tell people do is to truly live in your customer shoes. We always talk about the voice of the customer, what the customer experience be, but really put yourself in that that seat. And when we think of privacy, a lot of the trends right now, particularly if we think of something around via third party cookies, or changes to the Apple iOS ecosystem that has more privacy settings on by default, a lot of the discussion of that is the communication comes from the technology side. And it's how these things are getting harder. This change is here, it's going to continue, the trend will continue. And brands really need to embrace it. And then that means a shift. And so this is something I was having a talk with a customer about this exact topic. And then I saw this on LinkedIn. And this is the president of an ad agency. An firstline, thank you, Apple for protecting my privacy. Said no one ever. This is making our lives harder as an agency. And does anyone really feel protected by this? And so that's a common perception that people have where it's, yeah, we talk about privacy, but do people actually care? And it's important to go and let's go and ask that that question. If we want to jump ahead, Sarah, the forester did research. This is a couple years ago, this is before all of the settings in iOS had changed and beyond and looked at okay, what percentage of US adults use at least one privacy tool when they're online? And in a real world scenario, I would ask you to throw some guesses in the chat, but I get everything from 10% maybe 50%. The actual answer is 77% of US adults use at least one privacy tool, one online, that could be a VPN could be an ad blocker. That has been the two most common, there's lots of other tools as well, that can go and protect that. That means that over three quarters of you know, the US market is actively taking a step to control their experience and protect their privacy. The changes that we're dealing with that come from Apple, and the other browsers are really just defaulting to that. So as a brand, definitely embrace it, this is happening. And I think you have for many brands, there's a potential to use as a differentiator, you can certainly see Apple doing that quite heavily. But I think showing a level of respect and trust around people's privacy is something that is appreciated, and can also provide ways for people to willingly share more data with you. Because as we go and look ahead, just asking the question, I go, "Well, what would motivate you to share more information with me?" Highest rated answer is nothing. I don't want to give you any more information about me than you already have. So at the end of the day, when it comes to this, there are some motivations that that do bring people in. And you can see, number one is nothing's changed. Number two is cash, cash money. But then we really get into things where we do have control. So loyalty programs. I'm in a hotel right now for a conference. I've been staying at this branded hotels for 20 plus years now. And I'm extremely loyal. And they know a lot about me in terms of my state preference, state preferences and where I go. And so loyalty program points are ways that customers would share my information, it also provides new data sources for you.

And the next the choice to opt out. And so, so often people feel like, well, if I tell you can have this data, and then you're doing something with it, I have no control and basically saying, yes, you can do this forever, in perpetuity, versus, hey, let's go and you can have this, but I want the ability to change my mind. And giving the customer that control and those touch points are really good ways that you can think about carrying this forward. So what's going to work for your particular brand can really vary. Yeah, there's no one size fits all to this. But really thinking about how you're establishing that trust, where and unique things you can do to build that loyalty with your customers. And get them to share additional information. And so when we think about how customers are expecting much more privacy than brands tend to assume, the good news is that there are areas out there you can focus on to embrace privacy as a standard and still get to a great personalized experience. So some of the trends we're seeing now that I find very interesting is first enterprise preference management. So we've all done this in terms of how I want you to reach out to me, you can text me, you can email me what those settings are, really expanding that to say, what information do you have about me? How can you use that? I may be willing to share my income level in some scenarios, but not in other. So can I go and change that at a field level, and being as a customer and ultimately being transparent, and how you give the customer access to the data, and sharing with them how it's going to be used to manage, that transparency is something that helps people to have that trust to go and bring things forward. Next up is identity resolution. And so this is something that a lot of brands are looking at, particularly with third party cookies going away. So identity resolution, use a number of techniques, including fingerprinting your first party data, enrichment data that you might get from other services, they help you with identifying an anonymous user on your site. Some of the stats that we've seen having done this, it's surprisingly high, up to 60% in many scenarios of identification of anonymous visitors, but this allows you to start doing more unique things to accelerate that user journey. And that customer journey on what they're trying to achieve, because you know who they are earlier in the process. And that's ultimately going to, you know, help your optimization and increase your ROI. Regulatory compliance is important, right? There's data, that they call it zombie data, there's data you might have that you do not want, right? If you don't have a very specific business need for certain types of PII, or social security number, you don't want that in your system because it's all risks and no reward. So, tools, CDP's can do this to help you manage that compliance, then the data and so that investing in these so that you know that you're aligned, especially as the sort of legal definition of PII is kind of slowly expanding, because you can identify, I believe it's 87% of people in the United States, if you know last name, date of birth, and zip code, you can identify them to the individual. And so being compliant around that is key, because stuff that you might not think of as PII in certain situations legally might be considered PII. And again, Asterix, not a lawyer. And that's not legal advice, but that compliance is really important. And then lastly, zero party data. This is the Just ASK approach to personalization. It's becoming more and more common for brands to say, "Hey, what are you here for? And how can I help you today?" In retail, I always think of it it's the experience I get when I walk into a retail store, hey, is there something I can help you with? They're not trying to personalize to me exactly, okay, Kevin's in the market for a shirt. And they asked me and I say, oh, yeah, I need a new shirt. For my shirt, and I've got a big dinner tomorrow. So I need to pick one up. So just asking, and there's unique ways to go and do that innovatively. And this is something that generally doesn't require a new technology platform, you're just thinking about the tools you have and how we're going to ask this. And you can tie this in then to a progressive profiling strategy where you're building out that profile over time, that will allow you to better serve that customer, not just when you ask them for that information, but also when they return in or coming back.

Sarah Ohle  26:51

There's two things that really jumped out to me here, which the first is on the slide you showed where it has nothing what people are willing to provide. I think it's really important to keep in mind that people are willing to share information, but they're not going to do it for free, there has to be some sort of value exchange there. And I think early in the days of very targeted advertising, we used to talk about well, targeted advertising is value. But that could probably be debated a little bit, I think if there's something that you can give them a value that matches how much they value their personal information, they're willing to make that exchange. The second thing is I love this idea of the zero party data, because it's the most obvious. People do want, again, back to the point, they want something personalized if it's going to be helpful to them. So just putting it out there and asking them and then as Kevin was saying, starting to use that data over time to build a really robust profile is sort of the most obvious approach. And in some ways, the most effective because you're hearing the things they want personalized or that the aspects they want personalized on straight from the consumer. So especially I think, from the retail perspective, that's really, really powerful.

So the last pillar we talked about was this industry specific needs. So this final pillar to consider in your approach to personalization. It obviously means understanding your own industry. And we're going to dig into retail a little bit in just a minute. But you also need to understand the trends that are happening in other industries. Because at the end of the day, your customer is not only interacting with your brand, not even only interacting with your category, but they're also consuming technology, financial institutions, all sorts of things, hitting them from different directions. So when you're thinking about industry specific needs, you need to not only look at your customer, what matters most to them, you also need to consider how they behave in the context of the broader category. So that was a lot of what we were talking about with the journey in the moment space marketing. But you also need to really take a deep evaluation and look into your competition. So what experiences, what personalized experiences are they having with your competition? And then also there's this much larger layer of out of industry interactions they're having, so how are they interacting with brands like Uber? What's that experience like for them in terms of personalization, but also just the general trends? So the cultural trends that are happening that may be impacting their expectations and their desire for personalization. So some examples if you look at health care, most people most consumers you're dealing with are also having experiences with healthcare where their individualized care options are being guided throughout the patient journey or financial services. So they may be having personalized experiences, helping customers feel empowered and educated with their financial decisions. So thinking about these experiences, the ones that are going to be most prevalent top of mind for your consumers, and then how to apply them specifically within your industry is key. So that we're going to dig into a little bit about some things specifically within the retail industry to consider for personalization.

Kevin Lazorik  30:31

Yeah, thanks, Sarah. And I think one of the trends I find most interesting within retail and digital is this person to person touch point where retail is no longer a choice between brick and mortar versus digital, where in the past brick and mortar would provide the ability to interact, touch and feel products, maybe get guidance, try things on, etc. And digital is the more convenience channel. And if I knew what I wanted, I didn't have to go to the store, I could go online, and it'll get shipped to me, that delineation is no longer valid, right? So digital experiences are now mimicking or extending in person experiences. So, technologies, such as virtual Tryon are now very common. And so as we go and extend these capabilities with personalization, that provides another round of opportunities to optimize the purchase journey, because the automation extends, but it doesn't replace a personal interaction that someone has with a brand. So a fully automated Chatbot is unlikely to draw the same value for the customer as one that can automate a simple task, and then guide someone to an individual who can help them for things are more complicated. So as we think about those technologies, we want to think about extending personal touch points as if I was interacting with that person, one on one. And then you're going to do well, where can we start applying these and that says, we step forward, where it comes into play. So if we could jump ahead, Sarah. The complimentary interactions, when we look at sort of the cost to serve a customer and where that fits in the channel, and then the complexity of their need, is an interesting one. So as these worlds become more intertwined, I find that this is a valuable place to go and look at it. So retailers need to focus on meeting customer needs and context, using technology and their human resources from across the organization within these touch points. So depending on how customers want to engage and the complexity of their need, they'll need a choice of different interaction modes. And those generally fall into, self-service, automated, and then true person to person. And so in the most immediate case, measuring, getting insights, and then personalizing and optimizing that self-service channel can provide the most immediate, most tangible benefits within there. This could be optimizing the experience to select or configure or try on a product in the self-service channel to go and drive optimization. So that self-service piece is a rich environment for personalization and optimization. And in an area where it's a lower cost to serve the customer in that channel, but also, the more we address some of their needs in that channel, it's keeping them out of the areas that become more complex and higher costs, what we're doing. That doesn't mean that there's not more complicated cases. So in more complicated cases, it could be chatbots, or virtual assistants that are there to help us self-service. And so that's an area where insights, personalization, automation, help to drive ways that you can go and personalize to the content to that user.

And so as you're building out that scale, and building out that that library of interactions and content, that's an area where artificial intelligence machine learning can start playing a role in making those responses better. And when you first start in this channel, or you're making a push into this channel, you might be able to and handle 10% 20% of questions in automated fashion. But by measuring the insights, building up that library and personalizing it, just like anything else, with personalization and optimization, that will increase and improve over time. The Chatbot gets smarter the learning gets smarter and you can do more. And then ultimately, then for that final person to person scenario. You're then, if that's a model that you have and you support by personalizing in those earlier stages and driving even more personalization within the automated realm, you're making sure that that individual, which is likely your most expensive channel, that person to person one is talking to your most valuable customers dealing with their most complicated problems. What we really want to avoid are areas that a simple tech question has been addressed in that area, all the way on the right, because then you're paying a lot to do something that we could have optimized down below. And so that's a few of the things that are pretty interesting within retail, and how they're thinking of retail outside of just, let's recommend more products, but really guide in that journey, whether it's a straightforward product purchase, or one that's more complicated. The ability to gain insights and personalize exists across the board and can provide real value along the way.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  36:00

Real quick, I just want to remind anybody who has any questions to put them into the chat, and we'll get to them? Can we take one?

Sarah Ohle  36:09

Yeah, we're actually at q&a right now this slide. So let's do it.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  36:12

Love it. What is the biggest blocker that you see with brands when they're starting a personalization program?

Kevin Lazorik  36:23

That's a really good question. From what I see is when companies are first starting out, they very often tend to overthink how to begin. And they immediately start grading themselves on how quickly they're going to get to like a true 360 degree personalization to any individual who comes on their site. And if we're not doing that, then we're not good at personalizing and we're immature and we're not driving value. Reality is just start, like, take something that you're debating good design decision that's being debated and run AB tests and see what you learn. The beauty of personalization and testing is you're constantly gaining new insights and ideas, even when your hypothesis is wrong, right? So I encourage you to go forward, start a simple test, if you're not doing it already and be wrong, go be wrong about something, but then look at why your assumption was wrong. What was within your original assumption that then what is the insight you can take out of that to then go and adjust what you would do? So we have large brands, we've done this for where they were like, yeah, we've owned the Adobe target for over a year, we haven't really used it, and we have all these meetings about it. And it's like, okay, let's go, we're going to run a test, a single test. And here's what I think you should do, right. And they pick, hey, here's, here's what we're looking at. And it came back. And it was drastically different than what they thought. And it was, oh, this thing that we put front and center think that's the most important thing people are trying to do. We're actually burying saying that people were looking for and let's go and reorder that. But what they're doing now is they've mapped it all out to the persona. So what it's recommending is what that individual is most likely to do when they get to the site. So go and be wrong about something because it's a test, you can turn it off, right. And so eat the elephant, one bite at a time to steal a phrase that I tell my nine year old very often, but just start take that first bite. And you will learn so much along the way that all of a sudden, you'll get to a point like well, we have a we have a whole program now. And we wouldn't start, so one thing that I've seen is just the like overthinking how to get started.

Sarah Ohle  38:48

I think just to just to add to that, we talked about AI a little bit earlier. And I think when you're talking to companies, it's important to be realistic about where you are on the digital maturity curve. And where you want to be three to five years from now and figure out the map, the digital map that gets you from here to there. And then as Kevin was saying, it's not going to be straight to AI, there's probably going to be steps in between. So just starting small, if that's where you are, and testing, learning, and continuing to revisit and reevaluate that digital map that's going to get you to that Northstar of where you want to be. We have some clients we work with who their goal is to get to one to one personalization. That's great, but that's going to take a little bit of time. So what can we do in the meantime, we can segment your audience based on personas, we can send them on personalized content journeys, we can give them product recommendations based on who they are, there's a lot of stuff that you can do as a starting point. And as you continue to build and test and grow those capabilities, you will eventually be able to get to where you want to be with the one to one

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  40:01

Awesome. And then going back to that, okay, if you're starting, and I love the quote of you're no longer a company, you are a digital company. And so your roadmap is going to look different future moving and who are the stakeholders that should be in the room having those conversations and are engaged on the front end, as you go down that journey of personalization?

Kevin Lazorik  40:27

Yeah, it's a really good question. And I think in this area, it can kind of depend on your own company and sort of some of the company culture. When we, I would say, you definitely want obviously, your web team or agency partner, however your store and digital channels are run, need to be part of it. And then the business stakeholder, like be it on the head of revenue, or beyond. So you're sort of starting with tests that are going to move the needle. And then depending on your structure, legal and privacy, should have a seat at that table. In financial services, I always tell people don't even bother if you don't have legal privacy in the room, because you don't put in all the effort and then find out later. Retail, there's a bit more flexibility than banking, but it's still important. So you don't want to go down a path that you then get stopped when you're looking to kick it off, right. You've invested all the time, you've got the thesis, here's where we're going to go test, and then you find out you can't. So anyone who has to approve should be in the room or send a delegate in there. Because once you have that, getting past that hurdle, then it becomes it's not this scary, unknown thing to the company. It's a known practice that you have, and you've got your guardrails on, here's how we approach this. And here's what we do do. And just as importantly, here's what we don't do, and the guidelines we live within. And so having those key roles in place, or there is important. And then for your organization, there might be different views. I always if you can get stakeholders who disagree on what it should be. And they go and they'll get an answer. And then once people get something answered and see how quickly and straightforward it is to get some of that information, it becomes a habit very quickly, because you will ultimately want to do more. You run one test, learn from it, people want to run them, how many tests we were at a time? How many are we doing a week? What are we testing? Are we talking about just the acquisition? How are we personalizing the post-sale process and what that that looks like in terms of what the user is looking for? So it really becomes a habit and frankly, is a very fun habit when organizations are all in and pushing on that personalization and saying, "Okay, we learned that now what can we do?" And what you're also then doing, like Sarah touched on is you're building up your own data source as you're building up your own ability to say, "Oh, can we maybe do some machine learning about a particular task or artificial intelligence around persona based on what we're seeing here, because now we've done this so much?" It starts happening very organically. And that's when you know, it really sticks.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  43:19

Yeah, I think that's such a great point of don't look at that stakeholder that doesn't agree with you, or maybe isn't on board with the concept, look at it as a challenge. And it becomes a friendly competition internally, and then you start your AB testing, and it really becomes interactive, and there's engagement, and then you'll see success, because people are excited, and they want to see the results.

Sarah Ohle  43:40

I would also add, from the strategy perspective, we get brought in a lot we like to talk about taking companies from doing digital to be in digital. And a lot of the times when we as a team get brought in to talk about that digital roadmap or assess what we want to do, we're almost pitching digital to other stakeholders. So often there's one person in the company who's a champion for digital and has, like knows that's where I need to go, has a really strong idea of it and is like, I'm going to bring in my CEO who isn't really quite on board, things like what we're doing working doesn't need to be broken. And so a lot of the times is working with stakeholders internally to evangelize the idea of why you need to do this, the impact it's going to have on your business in terms of ROI. Other places we've seen successes, again, going back to the deep understanding of the customer and why this matters for who they are today, and who they're going to be three to five years from now as well.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  44:36

Awesome. The question here about success stories when you're talking about the zero party and people are willing to give up the data if they get something and can you give any success stories or ideas of like what is that? What is that give that makes them excited to say, yes, we want to share and we want to share more?

Sarah Ohle  44:58

I mean, I have a very basic example. And maybe Kevin can think of a more complicated one going over that. But I think one thing we've done ourselves and proposed is almost a benchmark against other people in their industry. So if you want to see, you can ask them three questions and say, "If you give us all your personal information, by all of your personal information, your name, your email, whatever it takes, we'll be able to send you a almost like a scorecard of where you stack up." People love seeing who they are compared to their peers. So that's something that's like, a very sort of small level of insights that I think motivate people to actually want to see that.

Kevin Lazorik  45:47

Yeah, I think that's a really good examples, Sarah, and the gamification technique you can use within zero party data is always interesting as well. Like, I know, on like, LinkedIn, if I ever have profile data missing, and I have that little tribe that says you're 80% complete, I'm like, up, I have to finish this now. So there's different personalities to go and tie to. But I think the other thing for retailers to keep in mind with in there is, all of us have purchased a product that's been either recommended to us, maybe it was a targeted ad we saw, maybe it was a social ad we saw on Facebook, I know. I've made those purchases. So it's not that people don't want personalization, they do it's, they want control over their privacy, right. And because I want personalization, that doesn't mean that you can just drop a cookie and track where I go and know everything about me by default. So I think if you're sharing why you're asking for this, how you're going to use it and not in a like legal disclaimer way. But hey, if you could let us know, your gender identity, we can go and maybe recommend some of our products are on sale, right? Simple cases like that are really what people are looking for. So it depends on what you're selling in terms of what you would be asking for from a zero party data standpoint. But really just sharing, hey, here's why we're doing this. One company, I think that does a little less than zero party data, but sort of the user experience centric approach to like the privacy topic, it's called a Class Dojo, they do educational online learning. Sure they're doing well. But they've been around for a while, if you go and look at their privacy page, they do have a link that you can go and view all the legal use of what they do and all the lawyer speak, but they go and they say, here's our team in charge of privacy and their backgrounds. And here's what data we have and what we do with it. Here's what we commit to never doing with data. And it's really geared towards the parents who are like, okay, if my kids are using this, children's privacy is becomes an even extra level of consideration. So just that openness and transparency around, hey, we'd like to ask you these questions to make your experience better while you're here is a simple straightforward way of doing it. And it really then just aligning it to who your target audience is that the best way.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  48:23

Right. So we do have a question too, about the privacy side. And you touched on third party cookies and privacy? What are some pitfalls that you see brands getting into today?

Kevin Lazorik  48:37

I think the biggest one is thinking it's a temporary thing. So it's not a temporary shift. It is here to stay the mountain the third party cookie horses left the barn and it's not coming back in. And it's momentum that that's going to continue. And I think that's where I just start by just embracing that. We see a number of companies also sort of think of third party cookies like they did GDPR, which is, okay, well, here's a finite set of things I have to do. And I have to have this little call out on my page. This is more a shift in your thinking. And it's ongoing it. I think the better parallel is more around like accessibility and compliance, where with accessibility, there's not a finite set of if you do these things, you're accessible. There's some but ultimately, what accessibility is about and especially if there's legal considerations around it is, do you have programs in place to ensure your site of success but accessible to everyone? And think of privacy the same way? Do we have those items in place to go and protect people's privacy in terms of the data we asked for and how we are managing the data we have. And then I guess the other pitfall we see which I kind of touched on earlier, so I'll keep it brief is people underestimate how customers feel about privacy. So embrace that your customers do care about privacy. And just know that and don't be like, oh, yeah, that's the talk about it, but they don't really care. People do care. And if you know that people care about it, and you are transparent, acknowledging that it's a way for you to really elevate your brand and the relationship you have with them.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  50:23

That's a level of respect here, your customer is showing that transparency and that act. A final question here, we got a few more minutes. The retail trends, what do you find the most interesting in retail personalization?

Kevin Lazorik  50:41

I think zero party data we touched on but that's the one that I think every brand could be doing that and doing more of it in a lightweight way. It's simply by asking people, what their high level goals or what they're trying to achieve, is a really great way of doing that. I think the other one that I find interesting is identity resolution, right? So being able to fingerprint and identify anonymous users, that it unlocks a lot of new things you can consider, right? So for example, if you're doing that you could have a shopping cart, follow someone across devices, even if they haven't logged in, right? Retail that could be pretty interesting, right? Now, we need to talk about is that, are we going down the creepy route? And where are we on that line, but the ability to go and have that where, hey, I looked at a product on my laptop, and now I'm sitting somewhere on my phone, never registered, never did anything. But you can go based on that process and say, hey, we appreciate this as Kevin as well. And you pick up right where I left off, right? That's a way to really optimize a journey in a new and unique way that I think is pretty interesting.

Sarah Ohle  51:57

I think, just to add, and this is more of a broader retail trend. But we talked a little bit about Omni-channel and sort of the blurred lines between in store and digital. And I think it's important to remember I always say there's, there's almost like no such thing as digital marketing. Now it's all just marketing. So you're interacting with the same person, whether they're in your store, on your phone, on their desktop. So trying to understand how to take all of those levels of inputs into their full profile of who they are, I don't think you can look at a single channel in a silo any longer. So I don't know that there's a perfect solution. I mean, we've touched on a couple of things that you can do for that. But that's where retail is going is to one big blurred view of marketing and of retail. So the more you can take that understanding of a person as a whole, rather than a channel, I think it's going to be really important to consider and personalization going forward.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  52:58

And remembering you are now a digital company, whether you like it or not. So embrace it. Awesome. Thank you so much, Sarah and Kevin, this was fantastic information. We have some good before you go. So we got to get into this.

Kevin Lazorik  53:12

Yeah, three, three quick ones. So we have partnered with Adobe on some bundled licensing and accelerators. So if you are looking at Adobe analytics and Adobe target, we have very cost effective ways to get started quickly, right. So get you over that immediate hump, and just start getting value. So you can reach out to us at Hero Digital, if you want any details on that. Second, we touched on privacy and cookie lists, we launched a report that's on our website, if you want to go and access to that does much deeper dive into that topic is relevant for you. And last and most certainly not least is Adobe Summit is right around the corner. It's a fantastic event. It is virtual again this year. And it's also free. So if you are a user of any Adobe product or considering it, definitely check it out. And Adobe has a great job over the past number of years, categorizing all the content by product by experience levels. So if you're a super advanced person in personalization, and you know the ins and outs of Adobe target, there's a track for you. If you are, we're considering this, we're just getting the ball rolling, there's a track for you. So it's really got everything that's not just that has everything, it's also easy to find it and build your own agenda. So I highly recommend you also attended Adobe Summit.

Tiffany Serbus-Gustaveson  54:32

Very cool. Thank you. Well, a huge thanks to Hero Digital and Adobe for being fantastic partners in our network. We encourage a follow up conversation with Hero Digital with anybody who's on the call, definitely connect with them and we'd love to have a conversation with you as well. Feel free to reach out to me We'll talk about anything in the digital space from drop shipping marketplace, SEO, international expansion. We're always open up into a good chat talking about digital topics. So with that, I'm going to wrap it up. Again, thank you Sarah and Kevin, wonderful conversation. Really appreciate it. Thank you all for attending and we will see you on the next event. Take care. Stay safe. Bye, bye.

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