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Build vs. Buy: The Personalization Predicament

Blog title design reading, Build vs. Buy: The Personalization Predicament
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Should Marketers Build or Buy Their Personalization Solution?

Marketers looking to up their personalization game are faced with a pressing question: building a personalization platform in-house, or buying a solution that’s already in the market. The decision isn't a simple one. From financial forecasting to speed-to-market, marketers have to take multiple factors into account when evaluating which personalization option they need.

This blog is here to aid your careful consideration process with key questions, advice, and tactics to consider when committing to a personalization solution.

Set Your Business Goals

The first step in the build vs. buy decision-making process is to lay out your unique business goals and understand what you want your personalization solution to accomplish. Whether it’s reducing your time to market, increasing ROI, enhancing customer experiences, creating a framework of scalability, or all of the above, adding specific goals with concrete metrics is crucial when weighing your options.

From there, drill down further to the unique needs under the broader goal. If increased scalability is a priority, an automated option will be a deal-breaker. If omni-channel messaging is what you need, looking for a platform with smooth, sophisticated integrations is non-negotiable. Refining what features and functionalities you actually need will help you find that ideal personalization solution.

Identify Your Roadblocks

Getting rid of headache-inducing roadblocks is a key goal in itself. Choose a personalization solution that not only engages customers and generates revenue, but also resolves your biggest time-wasters.

Issues around data—activation, hygiene, and silos, to name a few—are among the most common challenges for every marketer. They’re also the most pressing, as the most successful personalization campaigns are truly data-driven. As a result, it should go without saying that the personalization solution you choose must leverage automated data activation in every step of the campaign process. It’s critical that the personalization solution can activate and use data from your entire martech ecosystem, from  insights to API integrations.

Make Your Personalization Simple

Watch Data-Driven Personalization Made Simple With Automation here.

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What Building a Personalization Solution Requires

Once your marketing priorities are established, it’s time to look at what each option requires in terms of finances, scalability, and flexibility. Take a look at what you need to build a personalization solution:

Build: Budget and Resources

While the initial cost for an in-house solution may seem lower, brands that choose to build personalization solutions will face additional costs inevitably cropping up. In reality, most will end up simply reallocating their funds, rather than saving financial resources. 

Whether it's training and equipping an existing team or outsourcing for necessary expertise, marketers will need to prepare for ongoing expenses and unexpected upkeep.

Build: Scalability

In the case of in-house solutions, marketers will need to prepare for ongoing maintenance costs, staff training, and software updates. Brands that choose this route will inevitably need a dedicated team devoted to these tasks. While more hands on deck will make the process more scalable, that can only be achieved to a point—and it will come with a higher financial cost.

Build: Customization and Control

Marketers who want very customizable personalization platforms may initially see building in-house as the best path forward. While it’s true that marketers gain complete control of their solution, it’s key to note that maximum customization will also require maximum time and resources. Before taking the plunge to build your own personalization solution, be realistic with what customizations you actually need—and take a look to see if the features you require are already available in existing solutions.

What Buying a Personalization Solution Requires

While building a personalization solution sounds good on paper, the approach comes with unavoidable challenges. Will buying a solution solve those problems or exacerbate them? Take a look at the breakdown: 

Buy: Budget and Resources

Whether you build or buy, personalization requires an investment up front. But while you may be able to eke out a lower initial cost by building it yourself, hidden costs can arise when it comes to maintenance and scalability. When you buy a solution, all ancillary costs are laid out from the get-go to help you make an informed decision.

Additionally, the benefit of buying a personalization solution is being able to investigate the platform’s track record before committing; you can uncover its proven ROI, client reviews, and how in-market campaigns perform. Having this type of research available allows you to maximize revenue in the long run and truly get the most bang for your buck. 

Just take a look at JetBlue. Through the power of automation, the airline was able to launch a real-time pricing campaign that kept customers in the know, garnering an 11% increase in direct opens.

Buy: Scalability

While building a solution requires manual updates and team resources, the benefit of buying an automated personalization solution means that those time-suck tasks are taken care of for you.

Not only do you save financial resources long-term, you accrue the most precious commodity of all: time. When your team has more bandwidth, they can turn their attention to creative brainstorming and execution, engaging your customers more than ever. 

It may be hard to believe, but Michael’s in-depth year-in-review campaign is fully automated. 

YIR from Michaels

Customers see their rewards progress paired with an exclusive voucher. Underneath, they get a complete recap of their activity, such as the number of purchases, rewards redeemed, as well as their most visited store and favorite item to shop for. 

Buy: Customization and Control

Truth be told, some personalization solutions will not offer you the range of actions you want for your campaigns. But just because some solutions don’t offer what you need, doesn’t mean that none of them do.

Once you define what your business truly needs from its personalization platform, prioritize those initiatives and examine existing solutions. Chances are, you’ll find a platform that fulfills what you need, with room to grow in sophistication.

Say Buy Buy to Building In-House Personalization

For the vast majority of marketers, building an in-house personalization is fraught with challenges, making buying an automated, sophisticated personalization solution with a strong track record their best bet.

To learn more about how Movable Ink’s clients hit the ground running with our personalization solution and how quickly they saw ROI and time-savings, check out the related resources below.


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