At CJU18, we caught up with Simon Bird, co-founder of RevLifter, to get his perspective on personalization within affiliate marketing and how RevLifter leverages this approach to drive success for its advertisers.
CJ: Can you briefly explain your company/business model?
Simon: RevLifter is a disruptive ecommerce tool that allows advertisers to increase revenue by sending personalized incentives out to the exact customers they want to convert. We do this by gathering data from the customer’s basket (e.g. its value, the currency they’re checking out in, their status as new or existing) all in real time, before using our tools to serve them an offer that is in-line with the retailer’s goals.
RevLifter is a relative newcomer to the market having launched in late 2017. We enjoyed an official debut midway through 2018 and things have moved at a rapid pace due to the great reception we’ve had.
CJ: What makes your brand unique?
Simon: Deal personalization is where we often start when outlining what makes us different. If a customer goes to Google in search of a discount, they invariably end up on a coupon site which will serve them anything from movie deals to food offers and everything in between. What is personalized about that? Worse still for the original retailer, a customer could even be targeted with deals from their competitors. The whole process is archaic and ignores the human at the other end.
We’re switching things up by offering deals that suit the customer’s unique profile but with emphasis on the retailer’s objectives. We only target the people that retailers are looking to convert, allowing our focus to go toward the business they actually want to drive.
Advertisers want to see a more considered approach from the publishers and tech providers that drive business for them. It’s happening in display advertising, social media, email and yet this area of performance marketing hasn’t adapted to the new standard. We’re glad that we can add value through an approach which is fueled completely by our users’ goals.
Another feature we’re particularly proud of sees the use of AI (machine learning) and automation to hand-pick the incentive that is most likely to convert. Both concepts are used in communicating with the customer’s data and our past campaign results to find something that really hits the mark. Our machine is constantly learning in that respect.
CJ: As a company who has really made their mark by effectively implementing personalization strategies, how do you define personalization?
Simon: For RevLifter, personalization is the ability to tailor the content of a message (e.g an offer, an incentive, or a regular piece of communication) based on the person it is intended for.
Personalization comes in different forms, though. While there is an air of a personalization in being able to start an email with someone’s first name, true one-to-one person is taking data from a basket or a user’s profile and feeding that back into your conversations with them. We focus more on the latter in our own approach.
CJ: Can you elaborate on how you approach personalization from your business’ perspective?
Simon: We realized in our previous roles that coupon sites don’t always know who their customers are and what they’re about to buy, leading to a totally irrelevant bunch of offers being presented to them. RevLifter is purpose-built for real-time, one-to-one personalization.
Our technology is able to read the contents of each user’s basket to assess their value. It could be that they’re checking out for the first time, or ready to convert with lots of high-margin items. If they navigate from the site in search of a deal (the very first stage of cart abandonment), we’ll aim to get them back onto the retailer’s property with our coupon pages, which contain an array of personalized offers to meet their needs.
RevLifter is integrated heavily with CJ’s Affiliate Personalization tool, combining the network’s in-house expertise with our data to create valuable, real-time outcomes. A lot of work has gone into ensuring our engine can react to the changes that happen around it. But we’ve proven that by showing the right consumers the right deal at the right time, you can see much more valuable results.
CJ: What role can a network play in terms of scaling the personalization process?
Simon: Networks play a massive role in scaling the personalization process. For one, they can educate retailers on the concept through the agenda at events like CJU, case studies, webinars, blogs and more. Anything that talks about their learnings is going to be of interest to someone that’s yet to really explore the potential of personalization.
As the intermediary, a network is also in an ideal position to facilitate the initial introduction between a retailer and a publisher or tech provider. Meanwhile their internal staff are on hand to support the vital integration and account management responsibilities.
We find that CJ really understands RevLifter and the angle we’re coming from, which always helps things along. The sheer fact the network has invested in creating a personalization tool and allows its data to be available in real time should spell out its commitment to great marketing.
CJ: How does RevLifter set up a personalization campaign for success?
Simon: It all starts with assessing the retailer’s goals; the customers they want to drive, the items they want to promote, and anything else that might influence a transaction. These are the building blocks for the rule-setting architecture within RevLifter.
We offer simple integration via the placing of a pixel on the retailer’s site, which enables us to gather the data we need to serve offers. The deal page is tailored to each retailer’s requirements and is populated with deals that fit in line with the customers they want to drive.
Everything moves in tandem with the situation at play, so we’ll put a lot of effort into setting the technology up for every scenario. For instance, on Black Friday we gleaned data from some of our clients’ warehouses to assess their levels of stock and determine which items needed pushing.
It’s then up to us to assess the performance and outline ways of getting an even better set of results on the next time out.
CJ: Can you share any success stories around the impact of personalization?
Simon: We’ve used external data to great effect. That includes utilizing things like the time of day and weather readings to personalize offers and the experience at hand.
One campaign saw us working with a large pharmaceutical company who sells a lot of sunscreen and hayfever medicine at certain points of the year. They’ve been able to serve deals based around pollen counts and UV levels as, by knowing a consumer’s IP address, we can target someone in a location that is showing the conditions we’re after.
In terms of using the time of day, we’re able to dive into Google Analytics to see when our offers get the most uptake. We can then alter the contents of a deal page during low and high-converting periods to ensure a consistently good level of performance.
It’s also very easy for us to measure incrementality via A/B testing. All you’d need to do is have a basket freeze before and after someone sees a personalized offer and assess the result.
CJ: A personalization strategy requires coordination across different departments and various resources. What sort of a business case do you have to put together for Advertisers to build advocacy around what RevLifter is doing with personalization?
Simon: We work with some of the biggest advertisers around the world. It always starts and ends with the same question: “What’s important to you?” Is it new customers? Is it driving margin? It is getting customers to buy in-store?
From here, we’ll share some of our successes we’ve had with other clients and businesses similar to theirs. We discuss a realistic ROI and equip the retailer with all the information they need to be able to present a business case to their internal teams (legal, CMO, executives etc).
The data is arguably the most important thing we have to offer throughout the exchange. Without demonstrating how well we can perform for clients that give us the necessary support, we’d just be another solution offering to increase someone’s revenue. It’s been great to be able to prove the worth of what we’re talking about.
CJ: Any advice for a business that is looking to start enabling personalization for their consumers?
Simon: The journey of personalization can be really overwhelming. My advice is to start simple and begin with the end in mind. By that I mean, ask the following questions: How am I benefiting the person I’m targeting? Do they really want to receive this offer or message? With that approach, you can’t go wrong.