Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Since the acquisition of Fredhopper and the launch of SmartTarget, I have been taking a keen interest on the development of the product, as I've always liked the concepts behind Fredhopper.

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
Which you can with out-of-the-box triggers provided in SmartTarget.

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> only if it is Monday morning, the visitor has not purchased it before, the visitor has purchased a competing product in the same category, I have too much of <product X> in stock, push it to a live system, and change my mind 3 times about which promotion to show without ever asking IT for help?"

Yes, you can. Interesting times ahead of us.


Nicola Meinders said...

I never tire of hearing how customers want to use SmartTarget and what it could mean for them. Each mindset is different, each customer is different = a lot of different approaches. Even though the business needs are the same (higher revenue, increased effectiveness, growth..) the ways to achieve this can be so multi-faceted. From the simple - if it's raining show a promotion abroad, through to "identify all the customers via IP look-up, show promotions for the products they don't yet have, but which follow this pre-created common progression path and adapt the offering into the option based on their role type (marketer/technical), and if they are a late payer offer them an incentive X to use direct debit/early payment offer... Marketing is never dull.

Anonymous said...

Great post :)

I think you hit the nail on the head here. Most of the power really does come from letting the right people make changes quickly, without needing any development changes.