This puts me in a rather interesting position, as I have to interact very often with the technical teams when we discuss SmartTarget implementations, at any of the different stages - Pre-Sales, Proof of Concept or actual implementation.
And one thing that always strikes me as odd, is that technical teams just don't get it. Ask any developer about SmartTarget's targeting abilities and he will say "I could do it better". Without realizing that this is exactly why SmartTarget is so valuable to a marketing department: they don't need you to do it better.
Another thing that technical teams always ask for is the "generic", "magic button", "configuration based" personalize this page switch. Why would you want generic personalization? Actually, how can you do generic personalization? That's a contradiction in terms.
So, here's some examples of what you can do, out-of-the-box (meaning no custom code), with SDL SmartTarget:
- Show a specific promotion if visitor comes from google.com and searched for term "holidays"
- Show a specific promotion if day of the week is tuesday
- Show a specific promotion if geo-location says you're coming from New York
- Show a specific promotion if your profile says you have kids
- Show a specific promotion if you're browsing the site with an iPad
- Show a specific promotion if you're coming from "our-affiliate-site.com"
All of these are really easy to do with custom code too, any run-of-the-mill developer can do this.
What is really hard to do is:
- Show a specific promotion if ALL OF THE ABOVE are true.
- Let me change that 1st condition to be if visitor comes from Google OR Bing and the 3rd condition to be anywhere in the US except California
The possibility to target a specific individual is priceless in today's world, and Personalization is not about targeting "Large groups of individuals". We could do that in the past rather "easily" with Tridion Target Groups already.
And, of course, you can also use Predictive Targeting (or Personal Recommendations as our Fredhopper colleagues name it) to go that one step further and recommend a product based on YOUR visitors' past behaviors.
One of my latest stints discussing SmartTarget with a prospect was particularly enlightening in this respect. After being flooded with quite a few technical questions and remarks on how the system should automagically personalize everything, someone who had been quiet throughout most of the session asked:
"So, with this system I can tell it to show my promotions to <product X>
Yes, you can. Interesting times ahead of us.