While you should always consider product functionality and vendor predilections, the most important key to comparing technologies lies in how well they fit your particular business use cases, what Real Story Group calls "scenarios." In our experience, scenario analysis provides the most efficient shortcut for finding the best-fitting solutions and architectures.
- Scenario 1: Experimentation: Experimenting with logic, content, design, and other elements is an almost universal requirement, and increasingly begs omnichannel capabilities. This is a scenario that most personalization vendors support. In fact, several personalization tools, including Optimizely and Adobe Target, started life with this scenario.
- Scenario 2: Web Personalization: As the name suggests, this scenario targets websites and applications, i.e., deploying personalized content or services on one of your own digital properties. Like testing, it can be based on behavioral and contextual signals, but increasingly enterprises are trying to leverage first-party profile data. This sort of inbound personalization isn't new, and some of you have been fiddling with rules engines for as long as two decades. Today, rules-based techniques are slowly giving way to Machine Learning-based algorithms, often based on session behavior rather than customer profile. RSG has found that enterprise experience with these techniques remains mixed, however.
- Scenario 3: Outbound Personalization: This scenario caters to personalizing messages, mostly via email but also via text and in-app messaging. Personalization here allows you to tailor message content to segments or individuals and perhaps trigger messages based on behavior or events, as well as testing/optimizing outbound communications as you would inbound web experiences. Some personalization platforms integrate with email marketing platforms. However, the sophistication of integration varies. A few platforms provide advanced capabilities for email templates and email content on their own. In other cases, the email marketing vendor itself may provide channel-specific personalization services.
- Scenario 4: E-commerce Recommendations: Online retail and e-commerce more generally is a special use case for personalization. Since it promises a direct impact -- increased sales -- vendors have focused on advanced capabilities here. Key functionality might include product recommendations, cross- and up-sells, cart-related triggers, and more. Several personalization solutions provide specific point solutions for e-commerce, whereas others integrate with e-commerce platforms.