5 Content Personalization Tips to Improve Customer Experience
— Personalization features are powerful for competing in an ad-flooded digital market.
In this digital age the World Wide Web can be a bit overwhelming. Yet, I have found myself so bored on certain days that I was convinced I had reached the end of the internet. Maybe that’s because I wasn’t engaged with whatever I was doing. Though, how could I have been engaged? Arguments could be made for many different tactics, but ultimately it comes down to personalization – giving the specific user exactly what they want without a lot of effort on their part.
Oftentimes when talking about personalizing a website, people jump to the assumption that personalization means displaying “Hello Cara!” once I login to a website. Sure, that is an early example of personalization but not very impressive when compared with what can be done with tools like Sitecore’s Experience Marketing platform.
5 Content Personalization Tips
These days, there is so much access to information for marketers, personalization can be extremely specific and tailored to each user. Here are a couple of data points that can be used to personalize content:
1. New vs. Returning Visitors
One of my favorite implementations of personalization within Sitecore is very simple, yet extremely effective.
Recently, we launched a newly designed website for In Touch Ministries. We wanted to make sure that each user who was coming to the website for the first time since it was redesigned would receive a tour of the new capabilities and options. Upon visiting the site for the first time, users are greeted with an option to take a tour around the new site:
Once users navigate through the tour or choose not to take the tour, the website becomes aware of their visit and does not offer the tour upon the visitor’s return to the website.
Establishing new visitors versus returning visitors gives content editors and marketers the ability to welcome new visitors and introduce them to the business or to customize content for return visitors. Simply put, the conversation with a new visitor should be different than the conversation with a visitor that already knows and likes you.
A visitor’s location can be really beneficial for a marketer and it provides a great opportunity to customize content.
First, this is an extremely easy way to choose the language of a website as well as geographic promotions or events. For example, Disney World could create a geolocation campaign on their homepage that offers special prices on Florida Resident tickets when a visitor is located in Florida. If a visitor comes from any other location, they could show another promotion such as hotel specials or events.
Another key opportunity is with climate and seasons by location. Let’s say we’re running an ecommerce sports store. If our visitor is in Florida again, it’s unlikely they’ll be interested in the latest snow shoes. However, if our visitor is in Maine and it's December, we might want to showcase those snow shoes on the main homepage banner. Remember, using imagery that is cohesive with the lifestyle and location helps visitors feel “at home” and relate to the website they are visiting.
Keeping all of the content in context to the user is one way to ensure a fantastic user experience.
3. Demographic Information
Demographic information includes key traits like age, gender, income, and education. While some of these are harder to attain than others; all of these can be very useful in campaigns. The Sitecore Experience Marketing platform offers many tools to track user traits and leverage those through personalized content.
For example, when a website visitor has the traits of being a woman in her 40s, marketers can customize promotions to show her offerings that are important to her. Let’s say we run an online bookstore. Our female visitor who is in her 40s could be shown a promotion for Oprah’s latest book club selection as opposed to something like GQ, a traditional men’s magazine. We could also promote upcoming women’s book club meetings in her local store. As we begin to learn more of her traits, we can continue to customize content further. Now assume our female visitor has purchased Oprah’s latest book club addition and created a profile on our website. In her profile, she indicated that her name is Melissa and she is currently enrolled in college. This is a great opportunity to target Melissa for promotional campaigns around textbooks and supplemental college materials.
Ultimately, demographic information is an easy way to filter content and prioritize the display of particular offers, targeted to different users. It's also the basis of user profiles and building personas for your content marketing. Personas will take your personalization and marketing decisions to new heights.
4. Campaign/Search Term
My favorite thing to know about a visitor is how they got to the website. Whether they searched for “snow skis” on Google or clicked an advertisement on Facebook displaying the latest snow skis, we know one thing for sure; we better show you snow skis.
Oftentimes, search terms give us very specific insights into our web traffic and unfortunately most websites today are still not leveraging that knowledge to provide a better customer experience. If the customer is searching for “snow shoes” and our landing page content or site content does not explicitly display what they are looking for, we’ve lost them as a customer. But let’s take this a bit further. Assume now that they revisited our website from a campaign on Facebook that offered 10% off ski poles. Our website would be most effective if it displayed snow skis (what the visitor originally searched for) with ski poles (the campaign they most recently selected) sold as a set.
No matter where the visitor was referred from (which is also valuable information in general), the most important thing is to understand the context of what inspired them. Knowing why they visited helps content editors and marketers ensure the content complements the reason.
5. Navigation Patterns
Let’s revisit our online sports store. Remember when we talked about showcasing product offers based upon location? While geolocation decision-based marketing is effective in many cases, our visitor might live in Florida but be planning a vacation to Maine where he or she needs a fancy new down jacket. With implicit personalization we can assume that once our visitor navigates to winter apparel items he or she is traveling. Now we can display options for luggage and equipment travel bags.
Navigation patterns are also a great tool to personalize based upon the visitor’s journey through the buying process and customer lifecycle. New visitors will be in the awareness stage in which we aim to educate them and become a consideration. Once a purchase has been made, we aim to retain the user and ultimately see them return to finally become a brand advocate who shares, reviews, and promotes our content, website, and brand.
Content should always speak to the stage in which our visitor resides with the goal of moving them towards becoming an advocate and personalizing based off navigation patterns is a great way to help users take those steps towards brand advocacy.
In today’s online marketplace, personalization has become a necessity for a first-rate user experience. Our users are too overwhelmed with a flood of extraneous information and advertising which creates banner blindness and high bounce rates across traditional websites. It’s time to deliver the content our users want and eliminate the distractions of irrelevant information.
Do you personalize content on your website today? Which personalization tactics are you finding success with or are interested in implementing? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts.