MarTech360 Interview With Harry Hanson-Smith, RVP at Dynamic Yield, Mastercard company

“In today’s world, personalisation must be omnichannel because digitally-savvy consumers expect it when they interact with a brand.”

Hi, Harry, can you tell us about your professional journey with Dynamic Yield? How has it been so far?

Well, I joined the company four years ago as Sales Director for UK & Nordics, and it has been quite a journey both for myself and the company. To see the company go from carving out a completely new category in personalisation and revolutionising the A/B testing / CRO space as a startup to being acquired by Mastercard is a testament to our industry-leading technology and the amazing people who work at Dynamic Yield. This is set to be another exciting year for the company as we accelerate growth in response to increased demand from more diverse markets and industries looking to embrace personalisation.

Tell us about your current role at Dynamic Yield.

I am the Regional Vice President looking after the UK, Nordics, MEA, & APAC. I am responsible for the team driving business growth and acceleration in our priority markets. Ultimately, our mission is to bring greater personalisation to enterprise businesses so we can make digital experiences hyper-relevant, optimised, and seamless for consumers.

Tell us more about the recently launched Element. How it enhances personalization across digital channels as part of the Experience OS.

In today’s world, personalisation must be omnichannel because digitally-savvy consumers expect it when they interact with a brand. They want to be able to move fluidly between channels, and for their past activity, purchases, and in-the-moment preferences to be reflected every step of the way. To deliver that, you need a flexible and unified operating system to collect and consolidate data as well as manage and activate personalisation campaigns across channels – our Experience OS is the foundation that lets you do that.

And now, with Element, brands can bring powerful insights from Mastercard’s exclusive services and solutions ecosystem to deliver hyper-personalised experiences that go above and beyond what is currently available in the market today. For example, an issuer could serve tailored offers to a consumer within their banking platform based on that consumer’s own purchase behaviour. To take it a step further, that issuer could predict future activity with proprietary prediction models, allowing more accurate recommendations. And this works across industries – retailers, for example, could better reach a consumer visiting their website for the first time. Leveraging insights from users in similar geographies, the retailer better understands their probability to purchase something from a specific category and automatically personalises the experience from the first pageview.

Also Read: MarTech360 Interview With Alexa Kilroy, Head of Brand at Triple Whale

Hyper-personalization is no longer the future but rather a burning need of the present, where does hyper-personalization go from here?

While there are so many more possibilities at the marketer’s fingertips, it’s going to take businesses time to scale to the level of hyper-personalisation that’s actually available today. There are still organisational challenges that present themselves around resources (the right talent and internal commitment) and processes (the methodology to back it up), but we’re working to help brands overcome these so they can deliver on the promise of the experiences their customers expect –from both technological and organisational perspectives.

But the industry will continue to evolve, which is why it’s so important for companies to make the proper investments now. The future will only become more omnichannel-focused, with more immersive and personalised interactions taking place in the store that will be used to further inform what’s taking place online, and vice-versa. It’s also going to be way more predictive in nature, allowing brands to go beyond traditional machine learning to delivering the next best piece of content, offer, recommendation or experience through advanced deep learning, affinity, and predictive models.

Dynamic Yield was named a Leader for the fifth consecutive year for Personalization Engines research. Can you share some details and highlight the issues Dynamic Yield intends to address?

Our position as a repeated Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Personalisation Engines directly correlates to the superior quality of our products, our ability to execute vision, and the methodologies our team has put in place to help our customers succeed.

We believe this has to do with a few things, including:

  • Fully agnostic, accelerating experience delivery with future-proof technology that’s designed to stay compatible with a company’s existing tech stack.
  • Unbounded, extending personalisation to any touchpoint and unifying different teams (web, app, email, instore, loyalty) – within the same system and workflow.
  • Business customisable, allowing teams to say goodbye to a one-size-fits-all personalisation platform and tailor our Experience OS to their specific KPIs, industry, and business needs.

What are some of the biggest and most common challenges faced by brands today, and how do those challenges impact brands?

Even though a brand may be rich in customer data, results are often hampered by a lack of proper methodology to put it into practice. Too focused on the ideal future state of website personalisation, teams end up creating dozens and even hundreds of micro-segments to try and support the delivery of 1:1 experiences. This is incredibly difficult to scale and is fraught with inefficiency. These granular segments result in time wasted on tedious audience creation for campaigns that are either negligible in terms of audience size and impact or clash with other customer experiences.

How Brands can increase and improve personalization.

Instead, businesses need to start with the basics, identifying and coming to understand what their 3-4 primary audiences represent and then using that information to personalise experiences accordingly. By consistently targeting, analysing, and optimising toward the few but important audiences, brands can circumvent their resource constraints and become more efficient, effective, and agile.

What is A/B testing and its benefits of running on the website?

A/B testing is all about figuring out what experience works generally across the site, whether it’s a certain layout, message, experience, CTA, or more. However, given no two users are the same, brands can’t afford to only deliver experiences based on the average user – they need to layer personalisation in to ensure those experiences are resonating with their primary audience groups. Those experiences can then also be A/B tested to understand which variation of a message, layout, image, and so forth is best suited for that particular audience – so the two really go hand in hand, and we see A/B testing as the foundation of personalisation and the Dynamic Yield platform.

Is there anything that you’re currently reading, or any favourite books, that you’d recommend?

I am currently reading Stories That Stick by Kindra Hall and would strongly recommend it.  Whatever your role in business, the ability to engage and influence your audience is a critical skill for success. This is particularly true for technology leaders who must influence and lead a range of stakeholders, from customers to employees to investors and partners. What I love about this book is that it provides a very clear and actionable framework to help anyone be a great storyteller — and it does so through engaging stories.

I am also reading some great fiction: Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me, which is quite timely as we continue to figure out and monitor our relationship with AI (and each other).

What is up next for you in the next six months to a year? What are you really excited to be working on?

While I’m really excited to see how the eCommerce industry continues to mature when it comes to personalisation, I am also looking forward to seeing our work within the Financial Services, Quick Service Restaurant (QSR), and Grocery/CPG really grow as we go deeper into what personalisation looks like for these brands. These sectors are each incredibly unique, and though there is certainly overlap in certain concepts, each has its own business needs and KPIs to address, and Dynamic Yield is uniquely poised to do so with Experience OS, our strategic partnership with brands, and the scale and scope of Mastercard. The future of personalisation is truly industry-agnostic, and the innovation we’re driving will help shape that.

Thanks, Harry!

Harry is RVP for Dynamic Yield, a Mastercard company, leading the commercial team across the UK, Nordics, MEA and APAC, and is based in London. He has been in the Personalisation and Optimisation space for over eight years and has helped many leading brands strategise and implement their personalisation programs.

Dynamic Yield, a Mastercard company, helps businesses across industries deliver digital customer experiences that are personalised, optimised, and synchronised. With Dynamic Yield’s Experience OS, marketers, product managers, developers, and digital teams can algorithmically match content, products, and offers to each individual customer for the acceleration of revenue and customer loyalty.

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