Ideas & musings about consumer behaviour

Personalisation of the web experience is critical for success

By Jette Doherty, Senior Client Advisor, Global Reviews

Personalisation in the offline world is no new concept. Personalisation in the digital world is also a concept that has been around for a few years now, but no organisation has done a good job of executing this. Retail sites such as Amazon have been at the forefront for some time, with many other consumer sites, such as Zappo’s, Trip Advisor and Expedia having since embraced personalisation.

At Global Reviews we include assessment of personalisation in our Digital Sales Effectiveness Benchmark.  The results reveal that personalised experience across most websites in many industries is limited.

One excuse is that technology has been somewhat absent in facilitating this, but even simple personalisation has been ignored for mass communication.

With enhanced digital technology and data now being available the excuse for personalising messages, websites and all other parts of the digital experience is no longer there – and consumer want to feel special – they want a human experience. Recent research from the US market (as published by the Economist Intelligence Unit via Marketing Charts) suggests that users want more relevant website experiences. The majority indicates they get frustrated or would even leave a website if the content was irrelevant to them.  You can probably recognise this yourself – I certainly can.

Executing personalistion – simplify and remove unnecessary “noise”

Personalising the customer experience is all about providing content and journeys that are more relevant to one consumer against another, and reducing the noice. Your goal therefore is to:

  • reduce the options available to customers
  • reduce the volume of content a customer needs to interpret
  • be relevant and helpful at different stages of the customer discovery and decision-making journey.

As a marketer you can’t afford to ignore it

As the digital experience is, in many cases, the face of the brand, personalisation is not something that can be ignored.

Basically, personalisation is about winning the customers’ loyalty. A focus on building long-term relationships and engaging website visitors in ways that add value throughout the entire customer lifecycle and across devices, channels and touch points is key to success.

It is therefore vital that you think about personalisation and what it offers. Not only will you be left behind in terms of the experience you provide to your customers,, it’s highly likely you will also lose business. There is still a great opportunity for business to tap into this market and by the looks of it, customers will be more satisfied as well.

This customisation is not only for existing customers, it is also very much a tool for new and first time visitors to your brand and digital offerings. There are many types of personalisation and many ways of embracing and executing personalisation. Here are a few ways that may help you get started:

1. One is to personalise for the first-time visitors who you know nothing about
This one is hard, you do not know anything about the first time visitors – but as the new visitors start browsing and navigating they leave valuable traits on your website which provide you with insights about them and their needs. You need to take that information and start communicating with the customer there and then, such as devoting a section on the page to their latest viewed content/products, or ‘it looks like you are interested in this type of product, we would suggest that you also look at this…’
2. Another is accommodating visitors that have already visited your site
Once they come back (assuming they use the same computer) will allow you to recall the last visited products and start using this information to service the prospective customer with information and products accordingly. Customers who return to your website will not only be able to find the information or item they were after quicker, they will also receive more relevant content.
3. Personalised marketing goes a step further
This is where you start collecting some information about your customer once they have agreed to interact with you. You can then tailor messages and target advertisement accordingly.
4. Tailoring content to an existing customer should be a given. You already know a great deal about your existing customers, they may have opted into an email or newsletter or they have bought something from you – you know enough about your customers to tailor experiences to them in the digital space.

Personalisation and Privacy

We really can’t talk about personalisation without mentioning privacy. Many consumers still believe that website recognition is someway a breach of their privacy. With this in mind, consumers need assurance that their personal data will be handled responsibly. The same piece of research from ‘Marketingchart’, per above, indicates that 77% of consumers would trust businesses more if they explained how they’re leveraging the data to improve their online experience.

I recently visited a Danish website for recipes on my tablet and found that the site had a prominent but non-intrusive panel informing me about how this site use cookies and that this was necessary in order to optimise the content to myself and other visitors. It went on to explain how the cookies and the privacy information the website collected was used and informed me that choosing to continue browsing implied that I would accept the use of cookies.

This type of upfront honest communication of why and how the information is used instils the necessary trust and breaks down some of the barriers between personalisation and privacy.

Good luck on your personalisation journey. Please let us know of your personalisation stories.

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