Delivering personalised content at scale with Smart Links - Part 1
Need of personalized visuals at scale
Contrary to what social and news media suggests, we are truly living in an era of unprecedented abundance. Across every metric, humanity has never had so much of so many things. There is one thing that was limited and continues to be limited for the foreseeable future - time.
This makes attention a very precious commodity, especially in this digital era. Today, it is easier than ever to get in front of someone but not as easy to hold their attention. We are swamped with apps, emails, calls, ads across an ever-growing inventory of products and brands. Standing out from the noise is essential to capture someone’s attention. Only brands that capture attention have a shot at a deeper relationship with users.
We have seen the highest level of engagement when this happens:-
Users already have a relationship with the brand as users of its app
The app has visually-appealing banners and videos
These visuals are personalized by user preference, location, …
Troubles with today’s publishing process
Rocketium helps campaign teams run more effective visual campaigns faster. This involves creative design, management, collaboration, review, and more throughout the four stages that every campaign goes through:-
The publishing stage is a critical part of this lifecycle where creatives are delivered to ad platforms, marketing automation software, and, increasingly, apps and websites.
Today’s publishing process is extremely cumbersome. This summary should tell you how much worse this is in reality:-
Designers share banners and videos with marketers as giant zip files
Marketers pass these along to operations or product teams
Operations or product teams upload these files one by one in an internal tool
Rinse and repeat every time offers or prices change (typically, once in 2 days)
Our solution - Smart Links
Smart Links are an elegant way to bridge the gap from creation to handoff to delivery to analytics. They are a unique live link (URL) for a project (collection of creatives) that can deliver personalised creatives at lightning-fast speeds.
There is more to Smart Links than meets the eye.
Search - A project can have hundreds or thousands of creatives in them. Each creative can have any number of tags associated with them as key-value pairs (for example,
type: premium). Smart Links have a search mechanism to choose the best-matching content given a set of tags. More on this in part 2.
Real-time updates - Any updates made to the creatives on Rocketium are immediately visible to users. This eliminates the multi-step publishing process every time offers, prices, or messaging changes.
Embed or programmatic use - Smart Links can be used directly in apps, websites, or other software just like image or video links making this a nice drop-in replacement for internal CDN links. With another query parameter, they can also return a structured JSON response. This allows deeper integration with marketing automation software or internal content management systems.
Smart Links in action
Preparing data for personalization
Let’s dive deeper into in the world of personalisation with Smart Links using an example.
Alice is a Category Manager at an e-commerce giant called Galaxy. She handles clothing department and oversees the process of delivering personalised banners for apparels on the landing page across the app and website.
Galaxy’s biggest sale of the year is during holiday season and Alice wants to make it a big success. Personalisation has been the cornerstone of Alice’s success in past campaigns and she wants to repeat it in this sale by reaching as many users as possible with highly personalised content.
She wants to start simple by personalising on four attributes:-
# past purchases
This means a 35-year old man from New York might see English creatives with blazer offers in English while a 18-year old girl from Paris might see French creatives with sneaker offers. The discount percentage each of them sees will depend on the number of past purchases.
Alice along with Galaxy’s designers and brand team plan the design language, layouts, experiments, and personalization points for the campaign. Designers make a base design template (aka key visual) that has a headline, offer, product, and a call-to-action (CTA).
In parallel, Alice plans all the user segments for whom she wants to personalize her campaign. These are combinations of age, gender, location, and number of purchases. Below are a few examples.
30-45 years, male, London, 5+ purchases —> Dress shirts, English, 30% discount
20-30 years, male, Delhi, 2-5 purchases —> Trousers, Hindi, 40% discount
20-30 years, female, San Francisco, 5+ purchases —> Summer dress, English, 30% discount
<20 years, male, Sydney, 0-2 purchases —> T-shirts, English, 50% discount
She creates a spreadsheet with rows for each combination containing the above metadata and the content she wants to personalize for each row - headline, image from the website / internal content management system, CTA, and so on. She can create dozens or thousands of rows based on her needs.
Getting the personalized creatives
Alice logs into Rocketium, chooses the template that the Design team made, creates a project from it, and imports her spreadsheet into it. This replaces the placeholders in the template with spreadsheet data to create a new variant for each row.
Alice exports the project to render these creatives instantly.
Using Smart Links
Exporting a project automatically generates a Smart Link for the entire project. A Smart Link URL is of this format:-
To see full specs visit our API documentation.
Alice can hand over this URL to the Operations or Product team. Each individual creative within the project can be retrieved in milliseconds by passing the right attributes for it. For example:-
As you might have noticed, you do not need to pass all the parameters to fetch the right creative. Smart Link is smart enough to return the best-matching creative based on the parameters. Oh yeah, and it is case-insensitive.
And here you go! Just like that, this holiday sale became a huge milestone for Galaxy and Alice.
Benefits of Smart Links
Instantly update offers, make edits, or correct errors without deployment or further hand-off.
Personalize emails and push notifications by replacing static images or GIFs with dynamic Smart Links. Smart Links integrates well with customer engagement tools like Braze, CleverTap, and Iterable.
Add or remove personalization attributes as needed by modifying creative metadata. No technical or design effort needed.
Things are about to get technical. We’ll take a deeper look at what runs behind a simple yet powerful Smart Link URL in part 2 of this series.