Customer, prospects, and partners alike gathered last week in New York City’s Flatiron District for the final stop on the multi-city Optimizely Roadshow event. From customers representing the likes of Birkenstock, Bloomberg, Baked by Melissa, Verisk, and AMEX to partner sponsor Valtech and their special guest, Arterra Wines, it was an afternoon full of fresh content, future-focused conversations, and (of course) a rooftop networking happy hour under mid-spring sunshine. In case you missed it, here are four key takeaways from the Big Apple event.

1. Personalization takes center stage 

A warm welcome from CEO Alex Atzberger ushered CMO Shafqat Islam onto the stage as he opened with a keynote dedicated to personalization and how expectations of hyper-tailored experiences are higher than ever before. Personalization is no longer a pipe dream or ambitious goal, it’s now the baseline standard when consumers interact with brands.

“We’re much more open and willing to participate in a tradeoff with our personal online data to receive a better, customized experience,” Islam says. But he continues with a crucial reminder, “Digital relationships are still human relationships. It’s not just a data point. It’s a real person making this tradeoff, so in return we need to give them something of value.”

It’s a huge opportunity for marketers to forge a deeper relationship with customers across devices and touchpoints, Islam notes. And the rapid pace of AI adoption allows us the newfound luxury of creating content at record volume and velocity without sacrificing quality.

2. Experimentation: Company culture, product adoption, and communication

Reporting on experimentation metrics that matter
A comment from a customer in the crowd during the closing panel discussion highlighted the importance of being tactical when reporting experimentation outcomes to leadership. The attendee, an Experimentation power user, commented that while velocity in terms of number of experiments is great, it’s not necessarily an ideal method of communicating value to people at the top. Instead, we need to talk about business impact and shift the conversation from “we ran X amount of experiments this quarter” to “our experimentation program directly impacted revenue by X percent.” That’s how leadership buy-in is further enforced, and the culture shift that follows becomes a direct result of that support.  

Communicating decisions with other stakeholders
And Michiel Dorjee had similar sentiments during his Thinking in digital experiences workshop. “It’s just as important to involve other people in your work as it is to make changes and updates,” he says, “Talk about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Bring people on board to explain the user issues and the things you’re fixing.” The goal is to create more context around these decisions. From metrics and experiments to site updates and design, you have to be able sell your work internally. If you can’t communicate it out, your culture is going to fall flat.

Scaling your experimentation program
We heard a lot of event chatter about successfully scaling experimentation programs and being able to effectively run as many concurrent tests as the heart desires. Alek Toumert covers this exact topic during his workshop, with a focus on moving from executional start to a solidified culture of experimentation that permeates throughout the organization. Some key habits of an experimentation-driven culture, he notes, include solidifying your workflow from the beginning, aligning teams to the right metrics, and celebrating all wins, loses, and inconclusive results.

In the face of team silos, bureaucracy, and difficulty gaining organizational buy-in, adoption isn’t necessarily about the robustness of the tool or the features and functionalities, but rather the discipline each company has in using it. Culture shift must come from within the organization with an onus to build a plan in advance, or the tools—and their value—just become byproducts of lost procedure and management.

3. Maintaining and investing in your content engine

We’re back with Shafqat to cover The next-generation content engine. “The best content marketers are the ones who have some sort of operational repeatability in how they ideate, plan, publish, and improve,” he says. Investing in the volume of content and the sustainability of the process is what keeps the engine running. We then dive into some best-practices and insights:

  • Creativity and innovation is a team process: You need to enable ideas to flow in from the entire organization with an open, consistent known place to capture ideas that might connect later.
  • Content should be reusable: Marketers should create content with an eye toward the various forms and channels it could belong to. Remix and reuse your content while testing variables like length, quality, style, and CTA strength to see what resonates most with your audience.
  • Think past traditional websites: If you organize content in your CMS the right way, a headless CMS architecture allows for the ability to create content once and push it to multiple different channels, reaching your audience on the touchpoints they use most.

4. Optimizely’s product roadmap

While it’s great to talk the talk, how do we walk the walk? Our customers aren’t just looking to chat about the principles of technology, they’re ready to get their hands dirty with real-world application at the practitioner level. Jeff Cheal covered Optimizely’s roadmap highlights for the remainder of 2023, which include laser-focused innovation across three key areas with a few (among many) updates to expect listed below.

  • A unified user experience with centralized single-sign-on (expected in Q3): In a climate where our customers may be tightening budgets and reducing tech stack spend, it’s crucial that the tools they use work more seamlessly together. True investment in unifying our product suite not only reduces cost of ownership and development requirements, it creates a more streamlined user experience while simplifying user management.
  • AI and better ways of working: We’re infusing AI into everything we do, and you can now find our AI content generator in the operational CMP workflows where teams are already collaborating. You can generate content, blog posts, headlines, images, and spark creativity directly within the product itself.
  • Targeting and next-level experimentation: An exciting announcement of a new integration between Optimizely Web Experimentation and Google Analytics 4 means users gain deeper insights into how their visitors interact with their site, leading to more impactful experimentation and optimization. We’re also gearing up for Advanced Audience Targeting (expected in Q3) that will connect the native Optimizely ODP to allow use of existing segments for omnichannel experimentation, personalization, and feature management.

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