How to get Personalization Right with Juliana Amorim

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Juliana Amorim emphasizes that personalization is not a silver bullet and recommends its use when aligned with strong hypotheses and business goals. She co-founded Croct, a personalization experimentation platform, focusing on adapting user journeys to context. Examples include tailoring websites for diverse buyer personas within B2B companies and customizing content for users at different stages, like newcomers or existing customers. AI-based personalization and rule-based personalization can coexist. Brands should prioritize personalizing their websites and consider first-party data support.

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Juliana Amorim 0:00
and personalization is is not a silver silver bullet in the in the end of the day. So we usually, we usually suggest that our customers personalize when they have a strong hypothesis aligned with a business goal that personalization could address because personalization is not cheap. It’s not it’s not easy to maintain. It’s not simple to implement and to understand, which is which way is the better. So if you don’t have a strong business goal, that personalization can be helpful with, with without, we don’t recommend to use personalization.

Claire More 0:40
I am Claire with experiment nation. And I am here with Giuliana, ammonium. And she is the co founder of Croft, which is a personalization experimentation platform. So thanks for joining us today. Yeah, it’s nice to meet you. And I’m very happy to be here with you today. Yeah, super happy to have you on the podcast. Today we’re going to be talking a lot about website personalization. And what that means for E commerce websites as well as non e commerce websites. A topic I’m super interested in learning a lot about so I’ve been really looking forward to this interview.

Claire More 1:21
But why don’t we get started with you just telling us a little bit about how you got into the world of optimization and personalization?

Juliana Amorim 1:29
Yeah, sure. That’s nice. Well, my journey started actually with email marketing and search ads. But both of these areas required a lot of optimization and constantly testing different hypotheses and so on. So I got involved with a B testing really soon. And I’m passionate about this experimentation and discovery and etc. And as I learned more about shero, I also brought some tech to some basic concepts from this areas. And initially, it basically means audience segmentation, because it’s very normal for me marketing, but it quickly evolved and expanded to personalization. What I basically understood is that is that personalization was very powerful, but very underused it also and mainly because it’s hard to implement, and very expensive to maintain. So I just decided to go deeper into this field. It’s a very nice field, actually.

Claire More 2:30
Yeah, I mean, it’s super, I can understand how it can be extremely lucrative for businesses that want to spend the resources to implement it on their site. So I guess for our listener, and just to make sure we’re all on the same page, what are we talking about when we’re talking about website? Personalization?

Juliana Amorim 2:49
Yeah, okay. So when we talked about personalization, we mill adapting the whole user journey to the user context. So it’s, it goes way beyond to use their information, like their name to change a headline, or to use the product they have seen or purchase to recommend something. And it’s not it’s not that I’m saying that this is not personalization at all, because I know that personalization has born with this strategy. But it has evolved a lot today. And in one hand, when he when he talks about e commerce is, as you said, everyone is familiar with this common strategies, and it’s very normal. But on the other hand, known ecommerce business, such as b2b SaaS, or, for example, financial services, they require a different approach, comparing with not with ecommerce. And I can illustrate that with some examples. Let’s say that we are trying to build a digital bank, both of us and we have to serve a bunch of different people with different needs. It’s not easy to create a website or a mobile app, for example, that suits all our needs all the same place as with the same with the same strategy. So let’s say that I need a loan, but you have got plenty of money to invest. Our journey with this digital bank will be very different from the start of our journey to the final conversion. So the same applies for b2b SaaS, for example, or b2b companies that deal with different buyer personas, or for example, with marketplace that deal with different the opposite sides of the funnel and the sales funnel, the sales stage. So I think that we can say that basically, personalization is all about making sure everyone feels like they are getting what they need. Just like we have in our physical in real life, outside of the digital world.

Claire More 4:51
Right Yeah, super important. I mean, you get your tailored in person, helped by the whatever the agent is that’s working with you and Let’s see, I can imagine really hard to mimic that experience online. But very valuable. So how does it works? I mean, if we’re not just taking, like, purchasing, like recent purchases, like Amazon does, you know, how does it work?

Juliana Amorim 5:17
Yeah. So what we usually say here that we have two kinds of personalization. And I will split this into and explain both of them separately. So, on one side, and actually, let me also add that people usually think that this is opposite types of personalization, but they usually coexists. So on one side, we have, we have rule based personalization, rules based personalization are the simple ones that are based, that are basically personalizations aligned with a business business strategy. And it’s usually necessary to like differently position my product based on the personas that I’m talking to, or to highlight some specific orders based on their geographical locations, for example, or based on their behavior, if they have already purchased it from my brand or not. It can use it to adapt to the communication based on the funnel stage, or simply to validate some new hypothesis, for example. And on the other hand, we have the AI based personalization, which everyone is talking about right now. And then we can use this the second type to deal with Brother audiences, if we still don’t know exactly how to segment this audience, we can use this if you want to go deeper in the optimization effort and reach the individual level of it. Or we can use it to uncover completely new opportunities that only AI can can do for us. So it basically have these two types. And when we talk about the data that we have to use to this, both kinds of personalization, we have the anonymous data and personal data. And it’s very common to use data like anonymous data, like browsing behavior, ads campaign, the user interact with the content they read in the in their website to personalize the experience. And there’s a myth that personalization always have to show be applied with personal data into to information that actually identifies the user. But in reality, this is not needed in all cases.

Claire More 7:37
Okay, so yeah, so that was one of my my biggest questions. Knowing that we’re kind of getting away from from, you know, user specific tracking or data usage, and focus more on like session specific or different events that people are doing on websites, obviously, this is e commerce website are very specific to that scenario. But I guess that was one of my biggest questions was how does it work if we if we’re not tracking people’s identities based on? Yeah, the user on the website?

Juliana Amorim 8:24
Yeah, so I actually, I want to highlight that the world is changing. It has been a long time. But I think that the change is, is, is getting deeper right now. So companies that embrace the user’s privacy will actually be the first to thrive in this competitor. Because understanding the limits of what is nice to personalize and what is creepy, is actually the key for the success in the digital world. So I think that brands already are there understanding that we as a customer with value things, the opportunity they have with our information, but they just we just want them to like to, how can I say this in English, but to protect it, to respect our privacy, and to not be creepy? Creepy, exactly. And the good news is that we have seen this a lot with our customer base, you do usually need personal data to provide a better a better user experience. We have a lot of use case here, where we don’t have to get to this level. And just by understanding what the user is doing on your website, without checking everything related to third party, third party information. It’s more than enough to provide this better user experiences. So I believe that it’s not just delivering the user the experience that the user is expecting, but to show them that you respect to their practices. This is the the main goal today.

Claire More 10:04
Okay, amazing. So just to kind of go over what we just learned or make sure that I’m following. So I guess there’s two different ways we can approach it. And one is giving it rules to segment users and provide personalizations. Based on that. I mean, I think this is a super simple example. But like a weather website, that target, you know, shows you the weather for your specific location. It could know that I’m in Montreal, and you’re in Brazil, and, you know, give feed us different information based on that. Or there’s AI based personalization, which is, I guess you can use when you don’t really know how to segment your audience yet. And it kind of does that for you.

Juliana Amorim 10:49
Yeah, I have a very nice example of this different. We, we tested the first the first version of our AI model last year, we’ve had better customers from our user base, and that this next sample was very simple for AI, basic personalization, but not very simple for real, real basic personalization. So let’s suppose we run a website for news. So we have some news articles. And do you know that share icons that we have on every article, so you can share this news through your friends? So maybe you you, you are a user that? I don’t know, you like using email, and I may like using WhatsApp and someone might prefer LinkedIn, for example? What are the variables in this context that you can use to understand which is the preferred method for sharing this this news? So this is a nice, a nice example for AI based personalization. Because it goes, it goes in a deeper level, like an individual level, it can leverage some data that we make. We make no no, the what is it’s, it’s making the user using one way or another. And with our AI model, we discovered, for example, that here in Brazil, users on the countryside related to agriculture, and so on, they preferred WhatsApp, because it was their main communication channel. And users in Sao Paulo in business and business centers. They prefer LinkedIn, for example. And this is an example where rule based personalization couldn’t handle it, like AI based personalization.

Claire More 12:37
Or it would just take a lot more work to figure out those rules, I guess, right?

Juliana Amorim 12:41
Yeah, exactly. A lot of more money, more analysis more people and experience.

Claire More 12:48
Awesome. So when should brands be? I know, we’ve talked a bit about, you know, non ecommerce brands, versus e commerce brands. When should you know, I guess always, but when to brands be utilizing personalization more than others? And when might it not be appropriate to use personalization?

Juliana Amorim 13:10
Yeah, yeah, that’s what I think. Because usually people think that personalization should be used everywhere, or in every situation. But personalizing, just just for the sake of it is not cool, actually. And personalization is not a silver silver bullet in the in the end of the day. So we usually, we usually suggest that our customers personalize when they have a strong hypothesis aligned with a business role that personalization could address. Because personalization is not cheap. It’s not it’s not easy to maintain. It’s not simple to implement, and to understand, which is which way is the better. So if you don’t have a strong business goal, that personalization can be helpful with, with without, without recommend to use personalization. Start with simple experiments like A B testing and super simple segmentation strategy and add personalization as a final layer for specific, specific goals. Okay,

Claire More 14:15
so I guess jumping into that a little bit deeper. So say I have a brand and I’m noticing that people in California are way more likely to purchase this one product versus, you know, people in Montreal or New York or something. This is an example of a hypothesis where I think I would want to personalize my website for people in California to show them this one product and a hero banner on the homepage or something like that.

Juliana Amorim 14:40
Yeah, exactly. This is a very nice use case. And we have seen a lot of cases being conversion rates increase here with our customers. The example that you gave me was the first example every of our customers tries last year. It was very nice to see that even companies that in, in theory, Warren wasn’t related to geographic location segmentation, they started using this. And they discovered out of the blue, that segmentation for Joe geolocalization was a very good strategy for them. But we have a lot of different use cases that goes from the simplest one like this to the most complex one. Another simple one that’s very helpful with our customers is, for example, segments aging, people that have already bought from you from people that are new users, only commerce is very common to see new purchase discount or free shipping for first purchases. And it usually don’t, don’t hassle it very well with your customer base, because they’re just this discount doesn’t apply for them. So it’s the second simplest examples that we have here. It’s very we have seen increased like 30% in conversion rate just by doing this here,

Claire More 16:02
huh. Okay, that’s interesting. Yeah. I yeah, I have a client I’m working on where we’re focusing on on personalizing for people who have purchased. But it’s become a huge ordeal, of course, like very resource intensive, because we have two different experimentation streams, one where we’re focusing on people who are logged in, and we’re setting a cookie and basing everything off of that purchase cookie, or whether they’re logged in versus not, and you never know whether to trust the cookie or not. So yeah, it’s becoming a huge resource intensive ordeal. But it’s yeah, very interesting.

Juliana Amorim 16:42
Yeah, we usually, we usually don’t suggest our customers to try to implement personalizations by themselves in house. Because people underestimate the benefits, the benefits, I’m sure people underestimate how hard it is to implement and to take care of all the technical aspects of personalization. And they usually don’t have extension of how a poorly implemented personalization can actually hurt the hardness of the business. So it’s very common to have this kind of difficulty that you just said, with third party cookies, or first party cookies, and so on. Yeah. Yeah. Cool.

Claire More 17:25
Makes sense. So I guess we’ve touched on this a little bit. But what are some, maybe three examples for each of ways that an E commerce brand could use personalization, of course, there’s the obvious example or the two obvious examples that I just mentioned, and Amazon how they recommend products based on what you’ve purchased. So maybe we can focus more on non ecommerce brands. And what are some examples of personalizations other than other than the like bank? Yeah,

Juliana Amorim 17:55
we have so few examples here from b2b companies that focus in on selling that same product, or the same service or the same software for different personas inside the company. So it’s a little bit different from ABM, because when we talk about ABM, we are talking about reaching these different kinds of personas outside your website. But here we are talking about personalizing your website, due to this different buyer persona. So if I am an analyst, or if I’m a head of the area, or if I am the developer, I will mostly find some different valuable information in the website. And if your website just communicate the same message for all of them, you should you would probably lose some conversions along the way. So this is one of the examples for b2b companies. For marketplace, as I just taught in the beginning of our talk, we have some marketplace that focus on different pages and different like they like they have different websites inside inside the main website for the buyer and the seller. So if you could understand which persona this this user is you can change the focus of your website and the communication to to better address their needs. And let me see another one. Well, we can use it you can use personalization. It’s similar for the user inside the product, but you can use this on the website on the not login area to different the community difference the communication between these people that just match your brand and are in the consideration and discovery phase to the other people that already know the brand or already are familiar with the problem that you solve and are just worried about how you solve this problem. So based on the theory stage, you can change the communication with personalization to better address this this language market fit that you are looking for

Claire More 20:00
And with crocked and maybe some other personalization platforms that you would recommend? Does it start at the ad level? Or is it specifically only on the website? Or are you kind of talking like the whole funnel?

Juliana Amorim 20:15
Yeah. When we talk about personalization, we are talking about the whole funnel. One of one of the mostly common mistakes is to focus on a single channel when we’re talking about personalization. But it’s very hard to find a single platform that can address all this, these stages, or all these touch points. Because if you do everything, you don’t do this better, you know. So what we usually see here is that the ads platform, they already have some segmentations features, they are very good at segmenting users, so you can address the best communication for each one of them. So what we recommend here is to find a platform that can address your website first, because this is where we have the the huge opportunity, and where usually companies focus the less so correct, for example, just focus on the website. And we are about to launch the Mobile App SDK. So you can connect your SDK your your mobile app to, but it’s not, it’s not so easy to to find a platform that can synchronize everything and orchestrate this very well.

Claire More 21:30
Yeah, for sure. And I mean, with all the tracking issues that are happening, right, happening right now with, you know, iOS and different ads platforms, you know, trying to focus on that or make a seamless personalization funnel seems pretty difficult.

Juliana Amorim 21:50
Yeah, I believe that the most interesting thing is to focus on platforms that provide first party data or first first party cookie support. Because if you work with first party data, you are basically aware that you have the control of this data, you can ensure that this data is it’s right. It’s a quality data. And if you want to rely on third party data resources, you well, you should probably know that your your life won’t be easier next year, for example, in your strategy won’t won’t leave short.

Claire More 22:29
Right? Yes. So at the risk of being super redundant and repetitive. What’s an example of a perfectly personalized experience that you’ve come across or that you’ve worked on?

Juliana Amorim 22:43
Yeah, so I believe that since we just talked about this multi channel personalization, the state of the art is when we can personalize from the ads to the process of the discovering and conversion and consideration to the final stage of product usage. This is the state of art. So we have of course, we have some companies like Netflix, Amazon, as you mentioned it, and Spotify that they could do this because they have endless resource. But if you don’t have endless resource, our our recommendation is to focus on the part of this journey, where where do you have the most the huge opportunity the hugest opportunity and where you don’t focus for now, it usually is your own house, your own website, your own product and your own app. And here at Craft we have some advanced users that have already reached the state of art in the ads platform in the marketing platform. And they have already built a very nice product with a lot of business business rules and so on. But they like forgot for a little while about this acquisition funnel and how their website should show behavior because in their website, we don’t have a lot of data as we have inside of our products in the luggage areas. So it’s it’s sometimes harder to to address this kind of needs. So I believe that one of our customers that has the most the most nice case here it’s a tow company they are from the fleet grow Flipkart group in the US they like sell this tags for fertile for so you can pay without money without cash. And they reach it and stage where they could can now personalize everything in the ads platform. They know who are their buyers, which kind of usage they have for the product. So I travel a lot so I need to use this on towel. I don’t travel a lot but I used to, to use this on shopping malls or so supermarkets for pay parking, for example. And they brought all of this to the website to the purchase flow with product with our personalization platform. And they could, I believe that today they have like 80 different experiences on their website based on this clusters of users. And they they are starting use some AI based segmentation also, in Wait, when they read their users reach their their app, the mobile app, they have a completely different system, they that are connected with the website, and like, earn all of this this user context that they learned in the purchase behavior to personalize the journey inside the mobile app. It’s a very nice example. They started user personalization three years ago, I believe, and everything they do now is personalize it because they have done a lot of A B testing. And they have discovered a lot of improvements in the conversion rates and engagement rates and so on.

Claire More 26:01
Wow, that’s really cool. Yeah. So one last question. Before we go, I forgot to ask it earlier on. But I’m interested. I guess going back to when it might not be appropriate or may still be appropriate to employ personalization on your website? What about sites with low traffic like very, very low traffic when you typically, you know, might not have a solid amount of testing data? Yeah, to support AV testing, is it still a good idea to play around with personalization? I guess you still need a hypothesis to make it work well. But what are your thoughts,

Juliana Amorim 26:41
it’s definitely harder, because it’s harder to measure the impact of personalization. But it’s not impossible. And when you think about the benefits of personalization, it goes way beyond conversion optimization. Of course, the intersection is very large here. But we have some customers that use personalization for other purpose. For example, in b2b, it’s very common to use personalization, when we want to ensure that the user sees you as a reference on your market. So if you if you can show the users that you understand their needs, and you dominate this topic, this issue and you are the best competitor in the markets, personalization, can address can help you can help you with I don’t know, make, make the user comfortable with your brand, make the user comfortable with their choices. And it doesn’t require necessarily a B testing. So you can you can see benefits from this. We have some customers using personalization without TB testing today. And because of this, because their website has a low traffic. But they have proven that without personalization, the quality of the leads that arrived in the sales funnel in the sales pipeline is worse. So they choose to use personalization, even if they couldn’t A B test this hypothesis.

Claire More 28:06
Yeah, I guess at that point, you can, you can kind of default on best practices, and stuff like that to try to make your users feel more comfortable. And

Juliana Amorim 28:17
it also helps you. Basically, when you have a low traffic, you use this, this website to generate leads or something. And personalization can help you with lead qualification, for example. So the sales pipeline could be a lot better and a lot more qualified if you can use personalization to help this user find their way before they touch the database with a salesperson.

Claire More 28:45
For sure. That makes that makes a lot of sense. Cool. Yeah. I mean, obviously, we don’t want to be using best practices all the time. But if you can’t test, I think personalization is a good would be something that could be really effective. Even if you can’t test it seems you know, just like a great improvement. On an experience.

Juliana Amorim 29:09
Yeah, but you’re right. We always recommend to test as productive. We test everything, even with even when when we are absolutely sure about this hypothesis, even though we test because the numbers don’t lie. So you should always relies on testing.

Claire More 29:27
For sure. Yeah, of course. Okay, cool. Well, this has been super interesting. And I’m super excited about personalization. I think it’s yeah, just kind of beginning. And there’s so much available to us to personalize websites. I think it makes the experience so much better for everyone. So I think this is a really this was a super interesting conversation for me. Yeah,

Juliana Amorim 29:57
so

Claire More 29:58
I guess moving on. No. Do you have anything before I let you go? Is there anything exciting going on in your life that you want to share with everyone?

Juliana Amorim 30:10
Well, as I, as a founder, my life is pretty much above crocs every day. So I think that the most, the most nice thing that is happening here is that we just launched our free plan. And we are trying to approach personalization in a whole different array. So we know personalization can be hard, very hard, because we have to integrate a lot of a bunch of systems like A B testing CMS, and I don’t know, personalization engine, CDP’s, and etc. So we are tackling a challenge here to build a single platform that can deal with all of this. And we have just launched our free plan. And as a founder, this is very, very exciting. And it’s very, it’s a very, it’s a very, it’s a nice face of the company. And I’m really excited about all of this. And I, I believe that we can make the we can reach the goal of make personalization, like a B testing in the optimization market. We don’t we don’t want personalization to be a hard thing to do. We, our our goal is to make personalization as simple as a B testing, like everyone should, should, should be doing that. And we aim to make it easier. So let’s see if we can do that.

Claire More 31:27
Amazing. That’s really exciting. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. I was lovely to meet you, too. Yeah. Pleasure.

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