In today’s digital age, we're more connected than ever, which means there’s a greater opportunity for connecting in a meaningful way. According to Statista, the total amount of data created, captured, and consumed globally was expected to reach 64.2 zettabytes in 2020.

Enter personalized experiences. Personalization unifies data and content design to provide your users with a world-class browsing experience, increasing their likelihood of achieving your business goals. The emergence of personalization across all industries in both digital and physical experiences is nothing new, but the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic and the implementation of physical restrictions to contain it further amplified this change.

Organizations can no longer treat their online channels as secondary. And as nearly every consumer and B2B market becomes crowded with options and competition for customer attention and dollars, your buyers will require more assistance than ever to cut through the noise and reduce the cognitive overload that comes with their purchase decisions.

Even though the word personalization is thrown around by every marketer, only 42% of organizations report having a defined team or process dedicated to running personalization campaigns. Why should more organizations focus on personalization? The benefits are clear: Increased revenue, reduced costs, reduced risk, and enabling your organization to deliver best-in-class customer experiences. Getting these benefits, however, requires an investment in analytics capabilities.

So why aren’t more companies ahead of the curve on personalization? Perhaps it's because they lack the analytical foundation and technological infrastructure to compete, as well as the executive incentives to invest in these capabilities.

Investing in analytics capabilities

My favorite definition of analytics is “the process of turning data into insight to make better decisions.'' The reason I like this definition is that it makes it clear that there are three important ingredients for proper analysis: Data, insights, and decisions. If you’re missing one of these, you can’t leverage your raw numbers to turn facts and figures into personalized experiences.

As organizations take steps to unlock this value, they face a challenge in making it stick. Their approach to using data misses the mark in integrating the insights into their organizations. In general, there are three main causes for this:

  1. Foundation overbuild
    Many business leaders believe that in order to be used successfully, data must be extremely clean and well organized, and that any legacy system storage needs to be integrated and consolidated before real analysis can start. This has the effect of ensuring that a data lake turns into a data swamp, and useful insights are rarely (if ever) generated. Instead, organizations can start where they are — identifying sources that can benefit their customer experience strategy. Often this means starting with website data (like user segments and site engagement), which is easy to pull and run analysis on. Leaders must remember: Starting small is much better than never starting at all.
  2. Poor questions
    When analytics investments and strategy are guided by vague questions like "What trends do we see?" or "Where is there an opportunity to grow?" it almost always results in a ‘fishing expedition’ that delivers little to no value and may have no chance of being implemented. When you begin with vague questions, it’s easy to see what you want to see in the data. Moreover, executive opinion and intuition can take over, and data can be manipulated to support pet causes. In other words, there is no focus on the data insights, and departments or groups will operate on opinion and consensus, not really serving the customer. The analysis will be effectively useless at this point. To combat leadership by opinion, start by identifying what you already know. Ask specific questions and fine-tune by testing against competing tactics.
  3. Analytics isolation
    In many large companies, analytics initiatives and resources are not integrated, and the teams that deliver the insights are siloed from teams with decision-making responsibilities. This communication breakdown leads to decisions made in the absence of data and a lot of frustration on both sides. This is not just a strategy problem but a culture problem, too. To fix this issue, analyze how all your distribution channels align to various stages in the user journey and conversion funnel. Where can you inject data, and where can you align your teams ahead of decision-making? This responsive and agile approach to analytics and decision-making will have an enormous impact on your bottom line.

Connecting analytics with tech infrastructure for seamless customer experiences

With informed hypotheses to improve objectives, it’s time to operationalize your insights and turn your attention to your technological infrastructure. Platforms like a headless CMS enable your business to deliver exceptional customer experiences, backed by data, for an engaged and loyal online customer base.

Headless CMS platforms allow organizations to capitalize on new opportunities, increasing revenue. Migrating to a headless CMS in small, testable batches is part of a bigger pattern of initiatives you can undertake in your company to become more responsive to your customer’s needs. Considering migration as part of a larger digital transformation, the work becomes a series of small bets that add up to a change in how you deliver customer experience, how your teams work together, how you get to market faster, and how you create new digital experiences that launch in-market faster.

In our digital transformation book The Better Way: Transformation principles for the real world, we call these small bets micro-transformations. Micro-transformations allow companies to build strength upon strength and position themselves to catch the next wave in their industry — and combat whatever unexpected changes may come as well.

Reducing operating costs with a headless CMS solution

Headless CMS platforms are also the best way to get market learnings that are integrated rapidly. Getting to market quickly with a product or new feature allows your teams to learn as they build. Even after your digital platform launches, the speed and learning benefits continue for your team and your business. The speed of integration with a headless CMS solution increases productivity substantially. This, in itself, is cost savings, but headless platforms have further cost savings associated with them. Integrating microservices is much easier with a headless CMS solution than with an enterprise CMS solution, and these integrations are often cheaper and faster with a headless model. Microservices also create unprecedented flexibility, allowing your teams to change tools as strategies change, or to adopt the latest and greatest tools on the market with ease, benefitting your end-user experience and differentiating your digital experience from your competitors.

Best of all, the iterative, experimental approach to building a headless solution can keep your teams closer to your customer needs, continually iterating on the product to improve the experience. The speed that an agile product team produces means you can always be the first to market with new experiences that improve customer loyalty.

Managing risk with an integrated analytics and platform solution

With a headless CMS, organizations can better manage risk by maintaining a high level of data integrity. A headless CMS or digital experience platform (DXP) serves as an organization’s single source of truth for sharing data. Moreover, a headless CMS—when integrated with an analytics solution—enables the right environment to test and learn from hypotheses made from data and insights.

With a prioritized focus on data and analytics, organizations can better understand their customers and provide best-in-class user experiences. By leveraging data and insights through your headless CMS, organizations can meet their customers where they’re at by seamlessly putting the right personalized content in front of them. This results in reduced costs and increased revenue, and customers can better engage with your products and services at different digital touchpoints.