Personalization is one of many new buzzwords making the digital marketing rounds these days, but in fact it’s not really new at all. The concept has always been there, the platforms have always existed, but perhaps the reason for the buzz is the fact that ‘more’ platforms now exist? Regardless, the same issues exist today as they have for many years and why many sites haven’t implemented any personalization features.
Personalization is difficult
Well, yes, implementing personalization on your site can seem daunting. First you have to either learn about your content management system’s capabilities or install plugins or software that require even more education. But that’s the easy part, the next step is actually coming up with the strategy. This is where I have seen about 98% of all personalization discussions end. Why? Because this takes a lot of time, conceptualization and [fingers crossed] a large whiteboard. You need to get in a room and think through the possibilities. A few questions right off the bat: How will you personalize? Who will get personalized content? What messages make the most sense?
How will you personalize?
The how is more about the content and less about the software/platform. You may want to simply show a banner ad to the visitor, or maybe a large text box at the top of the page, or perhaps a completely dynamic content block within the page copy. All of these are options, but the question is, which one will work best? Strategizing will help, but either trial and error or, better yet, AB testing are really the best ways to find out.
Who will get personalized content?
When you personalize it’s not an all or nothing kind of thing. You can target iPhone users or residents of New York. That doesn’t mean those that don’t fall into those groups have to get something too. This also helps in your testing of personalized content, as maybe you test a message to the eastern United State and leave the standard copy to the Western US. The basic question is, will a visitor falling into ‘this’ group be more apt to engage if you display them a personalized message versus standard copy?
What messages make the most sense?
Typically action-based messages ‘tend’ to do the best, but it really depends on the audience. For instance, content sites may display soccer-related content for anyone viewing a Women’s World Cup page or perhaps a visitor from Florida gets a text box saying there’s a 50% chance of rain today. Commerce and Lead-gen sites may push visitors towards an action based on navigation behavior. “Only 10 left in stock” to a visitor who looked at blue widgets or “Contact us today and save 10%” to a visitor looking for rental properties.
It all boils down to having a strategy. Think through the questions above and how you’ll implement the messaging. Personalization is an incredibly powerful tool, as eMarketer notes “Nearly three-quarters cited increased visitor engagement as a main benefit from real-time personalization.”