The first step in our recipe for Personalization success is really the most important step, but it is a step that is often overlooked. If you forget to consider this step you can waste a lot of effort with very little results, so don’t overlook this step in your personalization journey.

Step 1 – Define the Persona that you want to influence

Simply put you have to focus on the person part of personalization. It’s very easy to begin with design and pick a location that you want to focus on but more importantly, you need to understand the person that you are trying to reach. If you don’t understand what your persona (customer, prospect, candidate) wants, needs, is motivated by, measures success by, and is excited about then you will not have any luck with personalization.

If you have well-defined Personas for your company, pick one that is both important to the organization and that you understand and can get inside the mind of. If you can’t personally, then you need to find someone in your organization that can. It’s important to be able to “walk in their shoes” so that you can create personalized experiences that resonate with them.

If you don’t have defined Personas then you need to start with this step before you begin your personalization journey. Focus on the key segments of your business, what motivates those users, what is it they are trying to achieve, and what is it they are trying to avoid. If you haven’t created personas it’s often smart to bring in a partner to help facilitate and challenge your thinking about your customers. It’s very easy to have an internal bias about your company and product that isn’t the same perspective that prospects and customers have about you.

The best place to start in either case is looking at the data. Understand what your customers are doing on your site, what are they engaging with, and what do they find important. This level of insight about your persona will be invaluable as you continue through the rest of the steps of our recipe card.