Many con­ver­sa­tions at opti­miza­tion events this year are focused on per­son­al­iza­tion, and deliv­er­ing “the right con­tent to the right per­son at the right time.” I am sur­prised by how many com­pa­nies still find them­selves mired in mere iso­lated test­ing in high-value loca­tions such as home or con­ver­sion pages, and eval­u­at­ing results at a super-high “new vs. return vis­i­tor” level. Inevitably, many will admit that they haven’t quite got­ten to tar­get­ing and per­son­al­iza­tion … yet.

Truth­fully, there is con­ver­sion and rev­enue lift to be seen by tar­get­ing the best-performing con­tent at this super-high, very basic audi­ence or seg­men­ta­tion level. When employ­ing this basic level of tar­get­ing, we must ask our­selves what we are miss­ing in terms of crit­i­cal sub­seg­ments of the test pop­u­la­tion and their pref­er­ences. How are vis­i­tors per­form­ing on sub­se­quent pages in the fun­nel after a test, when they’re dumped into a more “vanilla” and less per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ence? What rev­enue, con­ver­sion lift, and brand loy­alty is being lost when these crit­i­cal sub­seg­ments are over­looked in the test­ing and tar­get­ing of rel­e­vant, per­son­al­ized content?

In the nascent years of opti­miza­tion, there were many valid excuses for why a test­ing and opti­miza­tion pro­gram could not evolve beyond iso­lated high-value test­ing into more advanced tar­get­ing and per­son­al­iza­tion. First, there could be lim­ited cre­ative resources. Test vari­a­tions required heavy lift­ing by a design team to build, and sev­eral expe­ri­ence vari­a­tions were too costly and time-consuming to create.

Sec­ond, uti­liz­ing only basic a/b test­ing tools or func­tions lim­ited the abil­ity to test sequences, or mul­ti­ple pages oper­at­ing together in one test. This inhib­ited the abil­ity to deter­mine a test’s influ­ence fur­ther down in the expe­ri­ence and to pro­vide sequen­tial per­son­al­iza­tion for key seg­ments. Lim­ited suc­cess met­rics in the tool and insuf­fi­cient com­pound audi­ence or gran­u­lar seg­ment fil­ters (think “Mac User Moth­ers Dri­ving Mini­vans from Mon­tana”) made it dif­fi­cult to deter­mine dis­tinct vis­i­tor pref­er­ences, which could very well dif­fer from the test pop­u­la­tion as a whole.

Third, there was an inabil­ity to tar­get this audi­ence appro­pri­ately in real time. Whether man­u­ally or through auto­mated means, the tech­nol­ogy didn’t exist to dynam­i­cally update con­tent based on test results. Fourth, scal­a­bil­ity was an issue. Peo­ple were unable to run many con­cur­rent tests while main­tain­ing accu­racy or to ensure that these tests did not adversely influ­ence the test results of another test run­ning within a par­tic­u­lar region of the site. Finally, there was a bar­rier to entry in terms of under­stand­ing how the test­ing tool worked and imple­ment­ing best prac­tices for build­ing suc­cess­ful and high-value tests.

With recent advance­ments in Adobe Tar­get, com­pa­nies can now scale and mature more quickly from begin­ning inci­den­tal test­ing to more advanced test­ing and per­son­al­iza­tion. At a recent Adobe Sum­mit tech lab, I wit­nessed opti­miza­tion man­agers who were new to Tar­get beat­ing the teacher through the program’s learn­ing process and exe­cut­ing on tests right away. In fact, Target’s guided, visual inter­face and work­flow has reduced train­ing from three days to a cou­ple of hours.

The new approach reduces require­ments for cre­ative resources in terms of expe­ri­ence vari­a­tions using advanced WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) edit­ing capa­bil­i­ties within Target’s Visual Expe­ri­ence Com­poser. This pro­vides the non­tech­ni­cal mar­keter with easy edit­ing func­tion­al­ity includ­ing the abil­ity to move, insert, and rearrange any con­tent within any con­tainer on the page, includ­ing text, imagery, and over­all design. All of this with built-in safe­guards that pro­tect against break­ing the page code.

The tool enables advanced test­ing sce­nar­ios, such as link­ing tests in emails, mobile and social apps, and dis­play ads, to onsite or sequen­tial page expe­ri­ences in order to accu­rately deter­mine the best jour­ney for val­ued seg­ments across chan­nels and touch points. Auto­mated behav­ioral tar­get­ing assists in these sce­nar­ios as well, when you’re unsure of how to tar­get an indi­vid­ual. This requires the mod­el­ing sys­tem to learn and self-optimize over time based on the best-performing con­tent and the most pre­dic­tive vari­ables at a par­tic­u­lar touch point or page. Not only does this per­son­al­ize your con­tent to a spe­cific, known seg­ment, it also offers seg­ment dis­cov­ery oppor­tu­ni­ties. Hav­ing sev­eral algo­rithms to choose from, and to test them against your own home­grown algo­rithm, is what we’re enabling with our auto­mated per­son­al­iza­tion functionality.

Recent data syn­chro­niza­tion between the Ana­lyt­ics and Tar­get solu­tions allows for apply­ing any suc­cess met­ric or audi­ence seg­ment defined in ana­lyt­ics to test reports. This cre­ates unlim­ited drill-down capa­bil­ity in reports to deter­mine the most rel­e­vant and prof­itable oppor­tu­ni­ties for tar­get­ing or to bet­ter define strat­egy. It also lets you mea­sure and tar­get win­ning con­tent in real time, either man­u­ally or self-optimizing. Mul­ti­level tar­get­ing, built-in pri­or­i­ti­za­tion, and col­li­sion alerts allow you to scale to more con­cur­rent tests in a loca­tion with accu­racy safe­guards and an enhanced abil­ity to direct test traf­fic for clearer, more effec­tive results.

Regard­ing ease of entry, you can invite any team mem­ber or depart­ment across your orga­ni­za­tion to be part of Adobe Mar­ket­ing Cloud and allow them to build test designs that you can pri­or­i­tize with the intu­itive inter­face. Target’s guided work­flow edu­cates novice testers on what they should be think­ing about in terms of test design and mea­sur­ing to effec­tively qual­ify their results. Roles and per­mis­sions let you man­age more peo­ple, as well as over­see and pri­or­i­tize tests based on busi­ness needs and cost-benefit analy­ses. An addi­tional ease fac­tor is the one-step sin­gle line of code imple­men­ta­tion, which lets you imple­ment and get up and run­ning imme­di­ately, or use a tag man­age­ment solu­tion for an even faster start.

The new Adobe Tar­get breaks many of the per­ceived bar­ri­ers to opti­miza­tion matu­rity, allow­ing mar­ket­ing teams to expand their test­ing pro­grams to prof­itable per­son­al­iza­tion across all of their touch points, quickly out­per­form­ing and leav­ing the basic, base­line con­ver­sion lift of inci­den­tal test­ing in the dust.