Adobe Recommendations: Personalizing the Customer Experience

Harnessing the Power of the Adobe Digital Marketing Suite

August 16, 2012

Our evaluation of Adobe Recommendations, with the support of its complement, Adobe Test&Target, reveals great strengths in the scalability and reliability of its services; the depth of testing capabilities; automatic integration with each other and with the rest of the Adobe Digital Marketing Suite; a reporting interface that facilitates and enhances communications by marketing teams; and the accessibility of the customer profile data created by the solutions. Adobe Recommendations should be on the short list of marketers in retail ecommerce, B2B ecommerce, media, financial services, high tech, or publishing who seek to personalize their customer experience and drive higher revenues.

NETTING IT OUT

Adobe has been serving recommendations since 2009 to more than one hundred retail, B2B, media, high tech, and publishing sites. Adobe Recommendations, one of Adobe’s personalization solutions, is deployed on five continents and in seven languages, with a majority of customers in North America and Europe. Adobe’s recommendation and personalization solutions are part of Adobe Digital Marketing Suite, a collection of integrated applications that share an open platform for online business optimization. This report focuses on two members of the suite, Adobe Recommendations and Adobe Test&Target.

The strengths of Adobe Recommendations, with the support of its complement, Adobe Test&Target, are the scalability and reliability of its services; the depth of testing capabilities; automatic integration with each other and with the rest of the Suite; a reporting interface that facilitates and enhances communications by marketing teams; and the accessibility of the customer profile data created by the solutions.

Adobe Recommendations should be on the short list of marketers in retail ecommerce, B2B ecommerce, media, financial services, high tech, or publishing who seek to personalize their customer experience and drive higher revenues.

Encouraging Intimacy: Bakers Shoes

Encouraging intimacy: Bakers Shoes
(click on image to enlarge)

© 2012 Bakers Footware Group and Patricia Seybold Group Inc.

Bakers Shoes supports its customers’ self expression, which encourages a deep relationship and frequent contact. This relationship generates valuable data for Bakers Shoes campaigns, customer experience, and investment.

RECOMMENDATIONS VS. PERSONALIZATION

What Personalization Means

As consumers, our lives are replete with personalized services and products. My checks, credit cards, and investment accounts have my name on them, and my financial suppliers seem to make adjustments constantly to the services I receive (especially after a late payment). While my shirts do not have my initials on them, I encounter “monograms” at every meeting I attend. I live by my Microsoft Word custom toolbar and Microsoft Office autocorrect file. My Dropbox reflects my current projects and relationships. Personalized products and services abound.

Personalized customer experiences are less common, and less satisfying. It’s great that Amazon remembers me and that Netflix has a few interesting suggestions for my entertainment. But they show me too much stuff, and it’s too hard to find anything that interests me. Electronically pawing through the displays of irrelevant items until I lose all motivation is an all-too common experience. I’m also too often discouraged by experiences that are more trouble than they are worth: too many pages on the path to my goal, too many fields on forms, questions that I can’t answer, so many objects on a page that I struggle to locate the link I need. My research focuses on personalizing customer experience to solve these problems, delivering a streamlined and engaging customer experience.

I define this type of personalization as the delivery of the most relevant and engaging content (such as products, images, or articles) for the visitor’s current task. Personalization is enabled by tools that gather, store, and analyze information about site visitors, and select and present the most compelling content. There are different approaches to adapting customer interactions to the audience, including targeting, tailoring, customizing, segmenting, and personalizing. Personalization is the only approach that requires identifying and responding to a person. This identification might be anonymous or by name and might be performed via cookie or by log in.

Benefits of Personalization

Done well, personalization improves both customer experience and revenue for these reasons:

  • Customers are not distracted by irrelevant content and offers. Rather, they are attracted by content that is interesting and useful.
  • Customers’ attention and time are not squandered, leaving them enough of both to complete a transaction.
  • There is a meeting of the minds: customers are guided smoothly to their end goals in a manner that achieves the business’s goals.
  • The risk of neither customer nor business achieving their goals is minimized: your interaction is less likely to show so much content that doesn’t interest the customer that he gets lost or gives up.

Recommendations as a Tactic

Selecting the most engaging content for each visitor on each visit is a key tactic for personalizing the customer experience, and this is the role of today’s recommendation solutions. For this reason, recommendation solutions are generally touted as personalization solutions, although they lack key content management services and don’t help with elements such as strategy, organization, or policy.

Recommendation solutions may provide “personalization,” but the recommendations delivered to your users are not necessarily ...


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1 comment


  • Ronni_author
    Ronni Marshak on September 12, 2012 at 11:16 a.m.

    I really enjoy encountering recommendations when they are on target. But all too often, they miss the mark because they don't take into account the complete customer context (e.g., they bought things for others, not themselves; they've moved on to another life stage so have different product needs--for example, they were in college and then they graduated and no longer need textbooks). I like how Amazon allows customers to refine their recommendations.

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