January 9, 2017
Effective Web Experiences Pt. 2: Personalization and Content Targeting

Your customers expect a tailored experience, and that requires personalization. Personalization and content targeting is the process of customizing the visitor's experience through content, promotions, and recommendations based on known attributes. This is a key tactic required to develop effective web experiences, and so it makes the list of essential elements in our series on web experience.

There are two different types of personalization: explicit and implicit. 

Explicit Personalization 

Explicit personalization happens when you know the person who is on your website through authentication. Using the information in their profile, you customize the experience.

For example, if they purchased a certain product from you, you can display product information such as blog posts, how to's, product guides, FAQs specific to the product - in additional to complementary products.

You can also do some degree of explicit personalization by storing a static cookie on the visitor's desktop and recording information about their activities, tailoring the experience based on past activities on the website.

Implicit Personalization 

With implicit personalization, you don't know the actual person, but you can glean some ideas about what type of content they might find interesting. Monitoring traffic patterns and search queries can help. You can also look at group visitors in segments based on geolocation, clickstream behavior, or other attributes.

In some cases, you can use both approaches at the same time.  

"Companies that incorporate personalization into B2B digital commerce strategies will make their business customers more efficient, provide a better customer experience and increase the likelihood of greater purchase value as well as upselling and cross-selling - all leading to greater revenue."  [Source]

Tips and Best Practices

Personalization is a top demand from customers, but it needs to be implemented using a firm plan.  

  1. Don't personalize just for the sake of personalizing the experience. Without a plan including objectives and measurement, you are wasting your time. 
  2. Don't try to personalize to everyone. You can set up some basic content targeting without much effort but for an in depth personalization strategy focus on a key segment (s) of your prospects.
  3. Don't over personalize. You can't personalize the entire web page or website. Know which elements of a page you want to personalize and focus on these areas. 
  4. Keep the visitor's context in mind. Find the stage in the buyer's journey where personalization is more important and focus your efforts there.
  5. Consider personalized search. Using clickstream analysis and demographic information you can customize search results to provide a better set of results to the visitor.
  6. Once you decide who your audience is and what you will personalize, you'll need to figure out what data is required to implement the personalization and how you will get it.
  7. Decide if you have the technology you need to implement personalization. Many web content management systems provide personalization capabilities, but you may also need a separate technology. Integration will be critical here. 
  8. Determine how you will measure success. You need to know if the efforts you are putting in are paying off. Set your targets and measure regularly. 

Here are some useful links that provide more information on how to do personalization and targeting: 

Coming up next we'll look at optimization, both search engine and content optimization. If you missed our first installment of this series, check out part one of building effective web experiences. Use the form below to subscribe to our blog and get updates when we post the next installments of this series. 

Posted by David Hillis
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