Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a Personalization Specialist

July 16, 2016

personalization specialist

In our latest survey, we found that half of marketers cite the lack of personnel as one of the greatest obstacles they face in making personalization a greater priority in their organizations. We predict that as more organizations make personalization a top priority, an increasing number of marketing teams will be looking to hire personalization specialists to help them maximize the impact of their personalization efforts. But this job title isn’t widely used in the industry yet, so it can be challenging to find the right person for the job.

So where do you start? We work with a lot of marketers who are responsible for personalization in their organizations, so we’ve learned a few things about what makes a successful personalization specialist. Use these tips to build your job description and ask the right questions to find your perfect candidate.

Key Responsibilities and Required Skills

To define the personalization specialist’s responsibilities, you need to think about the gaps that exist on your own team. Here’s a job description you can use as a starting point:

Key Responsibilities

  • Track, analyze and understand visitor behavior on your website
  • Collaborate with team members and execs to conceive personalization campaign ideas
  • Plan, implement and monitor personalization campaigns across channels
  • Maintain ongoing testing to optimize campaigns
  • Measure success and communicate learnings to relevant stakeholders
  • Iterate and augment campaigns based on new learnings
  • Troubleshoot any problems that may occur within personalization campaigns

What are the personal characteristics required to best manage these responsibilities? This person needs to be deeply inquisitive and always questioning “what would happen if we tried this?” This person is constantly innovating, and will never answer “that’s not how things are done here” to a question about trying something new. This person wants to test new things to keep improving, and will never fall into the complacency trap.

This person needs to be able to think about the entire customer journey, from driving people to the site, engaging them, and encouraging them to return — and how each aspect of this journey can be personalized to the individual.

He or she needs to have relevant experience, and while an ideal candidate would have a background in personalization campaigns already, a background in other digital marketing campaigns (such as conversion optimization or demand generation, depending on your industry) could provide a sufficient foundation as well. Innovative email marketers and marketing analytics specialists can also make great candidates.

With that in mind, here are some necessary traits and skills for you to consider for your job description:

Required Skills

  • Curiosity and creativity
  • Innovative spirit
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to multitask
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Digital marketing experience
  • Experience with HTML
  • Experience with a web analytics tool
  • Familiarity with A/B and multivariate testing

Questions to Ask in an Interview

The best person for the job might not have “personalization” anywhere in his or her current job title. Here are some questions to ask to figure out if a candidate is the right person for the job during your regular interview process.

Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.

With this open-ended question, you’re looking to uncover what gets the candidate excited about his work. You want a personalization specialist that thrives on continuously improving and solving complex challenges, so his answer should reflect this. For example, you may know that this person has the mindset you’re looking for if he tells a story about how he was able to improve a critical KPI for his organization, but still believes he could do more.

Would you consider yourself a big-picture person or a detail-oriented person? Please elaborate.

The ideal personalization specialist can see both the forest and the trees. She needs to be able to internalize your company’s cross-channel personalization goals and then identify the best tactics and campaigns to reach them. Use this question to probe for how the candidate thinks, and if she can handle the big picture and the nitty-gritty details.

What would you do differently with the personalization on our site?

This question can be particularly useful if the candidate has digital marketing experience, but no direct experience with personalization. You can assess whether the candidate fully understands what personalization is and can come up with compelling campaign ideas, whether he understands your goals, and whether he has done his research on your website. Use it more as an indicator of how he thinks, rather than trying to catch him unprepared.

What is your favorite website and why?

If you can assess what the candidates thinks of as a successful website, you can get an idea of what she will want to implement for your website. For this question, the answer itself is not important, rather it’s the reasons she gives for her favorite website that are key. Does she like Spotify because she can create her own personalized playlists? Or Amazon because she can always find what she’s looking for quickly? These are good areas for a personalization specialist to value.

Wrap Up

Finding an amazing personalization specialist that you can trust to manage and implement your personalization strategy is a challenge, but it’s worth the effort because a great match will ensure the success of your personalization campaigns. Make sure that you’re looking for the right skills and asking the right questions to find the perfect candidate for you.


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