< Back


10 considerations before building an in-house personalization solution

March 23rd 2023

Mike Austin

By Mike Austin

CEO & Co-founder

It’s no secret that customer experiences tailored to each individual lead to more conversions – the value of personalization is well documented.

In fact, on average our retail customers see a 17.6% increase in website conversion rates throughout the first 12 months of implementing triggered messaging and personalization tactics, and a 14.6% increase in AOV.

And with consumer expectations rising – 73% of shoppers expect brands to understand their unique needs and expectations – implementing personalization is no longer a nice-to-have.

There are different paths to take towards implementing personalization into your marketing.

One option is to invest in a best-of-breed personalization platform.

But with a squeeze on budgets in the current economic climate, perhaps you’re exploring another option – creating a personalization solution in-house.

However, before you start investing time and money into developing an in-house personalization solution, here are 10 considerations to take into account.

1) Reliance on internal IT and development teams

An in-house personalization solution will be developed by your IT team, which means that you have to rely on them for ongoing maintenance and upgrades as marketing tech progresses. For every new feature and enhancement you want to add, you’ll need to wait for IT to have the time to work on it.

A dedicated personalization platform, on the other hand, puts marketers in control. With a tool like Fresh Relevance, you can implement, test and improve personalized elements on your website and emails without relying on your internal IT and development teams. And you’ll have access to a dedicated customer support team to guide and help you on your journey to setting up personalized experiences for your users.

2) Access to personalization experts

With an in-house solution, it’s up to you to research the latest trends in personalization and customer experience, which can be daunting and time consuming. However, with a personalization platform such as Fresh Relevance, you’ll have access to expert account management and customer success teams, who can draw on their vast knowledge of the field and experience working with other clients to offer tailored recommendations for your business.

Learn more about customer success at Fresh Relevance.

3) Range of capabilities

With an in-house personalization solution, you’ll be limited to the capabilities that you’ve specified and that your IT team have quoted for. Personalization platforms, on the other hand, will have capabilities that you haven’t even started to think about yet, all available at your fingertips.

4) Data privacy regulations

Data privacy regulations are complex and can vary between countries. But if you’re gathering customer data and using it to personalize the customer experience, you must make sure you’re compliant. 1 in 4 consumers would stop shopping with a retailer if there was a lack of transparency about how they handled customer data and privacy, so besides risking a hefty fine, you could also lose business if you get the rules wrong.

By using a dedicated personalization platform that uses a combination of zero-party and first-party data to personalize the customer experience, you can rest assured you’re complying with data privacy regulations.

Learn more: Personalization buyer’s guide to identity resolution

5) Integrations with other systems

At the bare minimum, your in-house personalization solution will need to integrate with your eCommerce system (for product and transactional data) and your email service provider (for sending personalized BAU and triggered emails). Plus, it could also be desirable to integrate with other platforms in your tech stack, such as your ratings and reviews provider or SMS provider.

It’s worth considering what will happen if your website, ESP or any of the platforms you’ve integrated with change. Will your custom solutions continue to work or will you need to start from scratch to reimplement your program?

Personalization platforms like Fresh Relevance enable you to seamlessly integrate with the tools you already use through robust pre-built integrations.

6) Opportunity costs

Before building your in-house personalization solution, you’ll need to factor in lots of costs, some obvious, some less so.

Explicit costs

Personalization solutions aren’t built in a day, or by one person. There are lots of people and resources involved. Here are some of the staff you’ll need to create your in-house tool:

  • Full-stack marketer(s) – a full-stack marketer knows your business inside out and stays on top of researching competitors, trends and more.
  • UX/UI designer – a UX/UI designer can build customer journeys and make sure your personalized elements are intuitive for users.
  • JavaScript developer(s) – front end developers will code your personalized client-side experiences.
  • Back-end developer(s) – back end developers will capture the data and build the necessary infrastructure.
  • Data scientists(s) – your data scientists will develop and implement the AI models that underpin personalization.
  • Content writer – a content writer will create copy for everything from CTA buttons to triggered emails.
  • Optimization consultant – an optimization consultant will understand the basics of testing and will help optimize your personalized experiences for maximum results.
  • Business sponsor – finally, you’ll need a C-level champion for your in-house personalization project to help you secure budget and resources.

If these people aren’t in your business yet ready to be assembled into your personalization dream team, you’ll need to spend budget on hiring, outsourcing and/or training.

Implicit costs

Your team will have to spend a substantial chunk of time developing and maintaining your in-house personalization solution. For example, your IT team will have to spend time developing the solution, which is time that could be spent on building something that will really benefit your customers, such as a sizing guide, your messaging and presentation or improving the check out experience. Likewise, your marketing team will have to spend time testing the solution, as well as researching customer experience and personalization trends.

7) AI development and models

AI models are essential to personalization solutions. And while a handful of bigger companies may have in-house data scientists with the expertise to develop and implement AI models, most companies don’t. Since it’s not possible to build a personalization solution without AI models, you’ll need to factor in the cost of hiring data scientists or developing the expertise in-house when building your own solution.

Personalization platforms are a simpler option, since the AI models are already built and factored into the solution.

8) User interface

An in-house personalization solution built by your IT team will most likely have a limited user interface and will therefore be harder for other teams to use.

Personalization solutions are built with UI requirements in mind. For example, Fresh Relevance customers benefit from our drag and drop functionality, user-friendly Site Editor and ability to pause campaigns with ease.

9) Cross-channel personalization

Getting the cross-channel customer experience right should be a key priority for retailers, with 63% of consumers saying they interact with at least 2 channels before making a purchase. But delivering a personalized experience that’s consistent across channels is hard, and many businesses won’t have the in-house expertise to develop a solution that supports this.

With a personalization platform like Fresh Relevance, you can customize and coordinate the experience that is presented to each shopper within emails, SMS, onsite, app and ads.

10) Cross-device identification

To deliver personalization that improves the customer experience, it’s vital that you’re able to identify the same person across all the devices they use. For example, a shopper might abandon their shopping cart using their home computer, then see a triggered cart abandonment email from you on their smartphone and complete the purchase using this device. Your solution needs to be capable of identifying these actions as the same customer, otherwise this disconnect will reflect poorly on your business.

With a personalization platform such as Fresh Relevance, you can identify and engage customers across any device that they use, in line with the latest privacy legislation, including GDPR and CCPA, and the changing cookie landscape.

Final thoughts

Building an in-house personalization solution is rarely a simple or cost-effective endeavor. The opportunity costs are high and you run the risk of delivering sub-par, inconsistently personalized customer experiences that aren’t compliant with data privacy regulations.

With a best-of-breed personalization platform like Fresh Relevance, you can create personalized customer experiences with ease and the ROI is undeniable. You’ll save time and be in control of delivering relevant and consistent experiences across channels.

Don’t just take it from us. Here’s what our client Roberto Gennaro, Chief Digital Officer at redtag.ca has to say about their experience with Fresh Relevance:

“If we had built the functionality ourselves it would have taken a lot of time and effort and it wouldn’t have been as good. A lot of custom coding would need to be done. So we decided to use a third party tool like Fresh Relevance because that’s where the expertise is.”

“The initial issue for us was getting budget. But we’ve seen 129X ROI with Fresh Relevance, and so have been able to invest more in using the platform.”

Mike Austin

By Mike Austin

CEO & Co-founder

Mike Austin is co-founder and CEO at Fresh Relevance. Recognizing the challenge of data aggregation in the ecommerce space, Mike launched Fresh Relevance in 2013 with co-founders Eddy Swindell and Pete Austin to solve this need and optimize the customer journey.