I want to tell you a tale that may sound familiar.

Once upon a time, at a conference in a faraway land, a marketing/digital executive sat in a session on web optimization and personalization. The presenters showcased examples of amazing user experiences and unparalleled customer journeys. They flashed metrics on the screen touting massive gains in conversions and boasted about decreasing costs of customer acquisition. At the end of the presentation, they told the audience they did it all through this magical platform called Adobe Target.

After the conference, the executive rushed back to the office and told management about the wizardry they had seen. They were mesmerized. They looked at their budget, found funding, and purchased Adobe Target.

But the magic didn’t happen. Why not? The presenter at the conference had made it look so easy.

Unfortunately, stories like this occur too often when it comes to Adobe Target. The need for optimization and personalization is palpable in the digital space, and Target fills that. With its reasonable price tag, user-friendly interface and enhanced product features, Target is best-in-class when it comes to optimization and personalization. So, why do so many organizations struggle to implement full-scale optimization programs using this platform?

Here are my top 5 reasons why your Adobe Target optimization program may be having trouble:

  1. You didn’t allocate enough resources

This is a big one, and probably the main reason the magic didn’t happen. Many organizations invest in the platform, but don’t take the next step to invest in the resources to run the program.

In the beginning, it may not be necessary or you may not have the justification to hire an optimization team. But in order to utilize Target well, key players need to be identified. And you may not know where to start.

How to do it well:

As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and in this case, the optimization program is your child.

  • You need to have a sponsor who will be responsible for the budget—for both the platform and the personnel—and for removing roadblocks.
  • There needs to be a program owner. This person may end up doing many of the other vital functions for the program, but first and foremost they are the keeper of the strategy and the main contact for all things Adobe Target.
  • It is important to identify other key players in your organization who will contribute. If your content and creative is done in-house, then it is vital to sit down with them and set up a process for how requests will be handled for A/B testing and personalization.
  • If the program owner will not be the one setting up tests, then a technical resource or someone on the content management team should be identified to assist with this function.
  • It is always a good idea to identify a resource to sign-off on the user experience (UX) before activities go live.
  • Finally, always involve someone from the web analytics team. While the program owner often does analysis, it is vital to have your analytics team plugged into what is happening in Target.
  1. You treated it like an IT process

Optimization, at its core, is not overly complicated. It follows a life cycle:

  1. You identify opportunities, usually by looking at data and tie them back to the organization’s KPIs.
  2. You outline the objectives of the personalization or test.
  3. You design the personalization or test.
  4. You build the content in the tool (i.e., Adobe Target) and launch it.
  5. You analyze your results.
  6. Finally, you either declare success or reiterate based on results.

This life cycle does not typically fit into many organizations’ IT processes. Optimization activities cannot be managed in two- to three-week Scrum cycles. Most of the time, dev teams are not involved with personalization or A/B testing at all, so attaching them to dev sprints or assigning story points to them only confuses Scrum teams and project managers.

How to do it well:

In reality, platforms like Adobe Target were made for the “business.” Target was designed to speed the time to market for custom user journeys and make taking action on data nearly real-time. Adobe Target should live in the same department as your other marketing platforms. This allows your teams to make cohesive decisions on the entire customer experience and journey. Binding Target up as an IT process defeats this purpose.

  1. You didn’t build the foundation with data

The first step in the optimization life cycle above is to “identify opportunities, usually by looking at data.” I put the word “usually” in there because sometimes you will test things that aren’t backed by data. Sometimes the HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) will win and you will need to test chartreuse against fuchsia buttons. But, outside of that, optimization programs should be built on user data.

How to do it well:

Let your users tell you what to test and what to personalize. If we all knew exactly what our users wanted, why would we need optimization platforms to begin with? The data will always lead you to the best ideas. The data will help you to prioritize. And the data will help you align your testing and personalization with the organization’s overall KPIs. We all have assumptions about what isn’t working for our users, but you know what they say about making assumptions…

  1. No strategy

Optimization programs need structure. They don’t flourish and mature without it. The idea behind implementing an optimization program is to increase revenue and decrease cost for your organization. This cannot be accomplished if there isn’t a method to the madness. There needs to be an underlying strategy.

How to do it well:

When starting your optimization program, ask yourself some questions: What are you trying to accomplish in the short term (for example, the next three months)? What are the goals for the next year or five years? And most importantly, does the optimization program strategy align and tie back to the organization’s overall digital strategy or digital transformation plan?

Thoughtfully answering these questions and creating plans around them will help to lay the foundation for a well-built program.

  1. Lack of C-level love

So, say that you don’t have any problems with the first four things I listed, but the C-level execs don’t understand what Adobe Target is and why they should care about optimization. Maybe you have heard things like:

  • “Testing sounds risky. The experience worked fine for me.”
  • “IT has expressed concerns about the Target platform.”
  • “Why would we need resources that specialize in optimization? Can’t our analysts do it?”
  • “The creative team doesn’t like what is happening with A/B testing. They don’t think the data is accurate.”
  • “Why do we need consulting hours for this? This seems like something that should be easy.”

This is when that strategy is handy. Without C-level love, optimization programs are doomed. Winning over the bosses is vital.

How to do it well (and get that C-level love):

The best way to get the execs to care is to show them how optimization is helping fulfill their goals for the organization. Also, it never hurts to show the incremental revenue or cost reductions generated by the optimization program. Being able to prove the worth and vision for the program shows how Adobe Target is not only paying for itself, but also for other initiatives within the company—all while improving the customer experience.

Get expert support for Adobe Target

If any or all of this sounds familiar to you, don’t worry—you are not alone. The good news is it doesn’t always have to be this way. Optimization programs don’t happen overnight. Doing it well takes work.

If you aren’t quite sure where to begin, we can help with our no-charge Adobe Target Health Check. Our Adobe Target Experts look at your current platform and provide technical recommendations and a high-level optimization program outline. There is no commitment and a second opinion never hurt anyone!