Personalization: Fast and Slow
by Guy Gouldavis

A personalized experience over one that isn’t will generally be more meaningful to people. For it to have meaningful business value, companies face the dual task of both scaling personalization and deepening its application. More advanced undertakings such as omnichannel connectedness or immersive retail experience take significant marketing technology and personnel investment. Legacy systems and platforms contribute to a delay in achieving a transformative experience of value to consumer and brand. Given the time taken and investment required, what is a business to do? How should it steer efforts for the best cadence of return?  

We recommend taking a Kahneman approach: build fast and slow. Architecting a comprehensive approach will take time. The master plan will need a foundational data strategy, one that anticipates waves of future learning coupled with a testing roadmap to get there. It will have to craft a judicious balance between yield from the current to the new infrastructure. In the meantime, it will also need to immediately level-up the caliber of current personalization with targeted efforts that make progress quickly. Here’s how:  

  • Start first with key opt-in platforms and channels in your marketing ecosystem. An addressable audience with historic data provides a richer basis on which to model.


  • Focus on key moments. Experiences aren’t created equally in the lives of your customers. Zeroing in on the biggest inflection points in the buying journey — or ownership journey — puts efforts on areas commensurate with greatest return.


  • Leverage insights. Evaluate "known" customer segments for modeling data among "unknowns" to increase performance among key opportunity groups lacking historic data.


  • Develop successive MVPs. Progress to higher tiers of personalization performance using an agile test-and-learn approach.


  • Regularly review the personalization program for indications of diminishing marginal utility. If there is a consistent pattern of falling ROI, either the structure of the application is wrong or it’s an area of personalized experience that consumers simply don’t find meaningful.

In scaling personalization marketing, companies do better pursuing a deliberate combination of fast and slow speeds of progress. Repeatedly leveling-up current performance feeds ongoing confidence and, despite its more tactical nature, provides crucial insights to help with its more strategic, slower-moving cousin.