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Personalization has been the holy grail since the internet first became a commercial enterprise as a tool for optimal customer experience. It has also historically been difficult to have the right data, to have enough data and to utilize the data in a way that benefits the customer as opposed to annoys them. Just because you looked at sheets once 10 days ago does not mean you want to be seeing ads for sheets for the next 6 months being an exaggerated case. Yet, if it is done right it has potential for consumer happiness and the revenue implications are tremendous. One report from the McKinsey Global Institute projects that at scale personalization could unlock $1.7 to $3 Trillion in value. 

Housewares and lifestyle giant Crate & Barrel joined Optimizely recently for a webinar (registration required) showcasing their use of our our new approach to the crowded space of Personalization, we call Adaptive Audiences. Powered by machine learning Adaptive Audiences allows for personalization at scale without necessarily the heavy lift of other products. the highlights of which we are happy to share with you here. As a lifestyle brand, with a diverse range of offerings from Entertaining to Kitchen and Baby to Bedroom, being able to personalize their offerings to better serve their customers presents a huge opportunity for the company. Christine Garvey, Senior Manager of Personalization and Optimization at Crate and Barrel, walks us through the process she has deployed and the ROI that it yielded.

Crate & Barrel’s clarity with respect to their purpose is central to being able to deliver satisfying customer experiences. Their goal is to, “Help people love how they live in the moments that matter.” With 55 million monthly website visitors and 5.6 million email subscribers Crate & Barrel has a tremendous audience to serve, and the better they serve them the more successful they will be. Even with 33 million people receiving their annual catalog, Crate & Barrel can be said to have fully evolved to be a digital brand. One proof point among many being that 53% of their traffic is on mobile. 

Since joining Crate & Barrel Christine has upped the retailer’s game wherein they ran maybe 30 tests a year with zero personalization to 100 tests, many of which feature personalization. Additionally non-developers are trained on Optimizely and running campaigns on their own. It all leads to, “more tests and more experimentation heroes,” as Christine puts it, adding that Adaptive Audiences helps Crate to scale. 

A foundational piece of Christine’s success at Crate & Barrel has been to identify stakeholders and be clear in the intake process from the get go, and moreover, to constantly share progress, results and findings as she goes. As she put, “You have to get out there and do PR with respect to what you are doing.” Sharing not only your results, but the entirety of the process, is an oft overlooked part of Experimentation and Personalization but one that can fundamentally affect the short and long term success of any program.

Set Your Team Up for Success

Having established their goal for testing was to increase CVR and sales, personalization was one of the strategies chosen to deploy. They honed in on audiences they wanted to grow, those categories being Housewares and Furniture as well as Parents and Kids. Having launched Crate & Kids in 2018, the team was eager to see how it could be further nurtured. Yet at the same time as with any resource constrained company they needed to be intelligent about how they attacked the problem. “We wanted to see if it was worth the time and effort to create separate content for the baby buyer audience,” Christine Garvey shared. 

In the past, distinguishing between “kids” and “babies” would be a  challenging segmentation exercise. It would also take time to set up rules based targeting and effort to  maintain these rules. But with Adaptive Audiences, Crate & Barrel simply researched keywords that related to the  baby persona, and developed an ‘Always On’ campaign featuring images that were more baby friendly as well as copy relating to top search terms. They even tested this natural language processing model against their own first party data, and the Adaptive Audience ‘Always On’ campaign for the Baby Buyer performed significantly better across multiple metrics. 

A Snapshot of the Adaptive Audiences Interface

 

Having proven the success of this approach, Christine and team then expanded the program, to the main Crate & Barrel homepage, in this case seeking to better serve the diverse audiences shopping for Furniture vs. Housewares. They even went so far as to deploy Adaptive Audiences on mobile with compelling and quantifiable success; CVR up 6%+, RPV up 20%, and bounce rate down 10%. From there, the program has continued to grow across silos and has been deployed within the Kitchen category as well. 

While not every personalization campaign may be as successful as Crate & Barrel’s, if you follow the basic tenets of what is laid out in the Webinar, you will be well on your way to increasing the satisfaction of your customer and in theory your revenue as well. 

For more insight and execution notes on Crate & Barrel’s success check out the Webinar here.

 

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