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Personalization is a great way to grab your audience’s attention and make them feel important. But how much personalization is too much?

On this episode of “It Depends,” Paul and Shiva discuss how to use personalization properly—and what to avoid.

They recommend to start personalizing only if you’re ready to make changes as your strategies flourish or flop. Here are their top recommendations: 

• Tip #1: Think of personalization as experimentation

• Tip #2: Build a strategy 

• Tip #3: Personalize based on prior behavior

Tip #1: Think of personalization as experimentation

“I would not look to start personalizing until you have a very strong approach in experimentation, because it's very easy to do the frilly things around the sides that don't make a huge change. And my push back on that is: think of personalization as experimentation, and ensure that it does give you a return back,” Paul said.

Sometimes people will see personalization as a way of making changes to the site without really having to report on impact. So you have to ask yourself: am I doing this because it’s nice, or am I doing this to make a real difference? 

Tip #2: Build a strategy 

“There absolutely has to be a strategy involved with experimentation. And now, with tools that have a bunch of if/then statements built into personalized chat bot, there has to be a strategy around that, too. I don't want to say it depends because I think it should be done, but it should be done well. Like, don't buy a chat bot tool if you don't plan out actually customizing and spending time to try and make the product better. You can take that money and effort and time and put it towards something else that could drive the business more, other than flipping a switch and just seeing if it works,” Shiva said.

When it comes to personalization, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Sometimes people find it off-putting if you put their name everywhere on your website. Strategize when and where to use personalization so you don’t overdo it.

Tip #3: Personalize based on prior behavior

“Ideally, a robust experimentation program starts to personalize your experience based on your behavior. That's why I say personalization is a tool in the toolkit of experimentation, because one of the things that I've built in the programs that I've run is, you have a one-page solution. So then you diversify and you say, all right, well, each search is going to have template A, and then they're going to have template B, and then you keep on breaking it down. That's personalization by its definition. You're personalizing based on the audience. ‘Well, behavior A is going to look like this, behavior B is going to look like this.’ User A, user B. Logged in versus not. Desktop versus mobile. All of these things, depending on how you define personalization, start to create that one-to-one experience,” Shiva said.

Personalization shouldn’t just be based on current data points. True personalization breaks down the information related to a person’s past and current behavior in order to target their interests more accurately.

Personalization is all about balance; don’t overdo it, but make sure you’re taking care of what your clients need.

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