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How to Harness the Power of a Personalized Website: A Personalization Primer

by Eric Odell

A new era of expectations is driving change in the online world.  A generation of users Personalize the Online Experiencesteeped in Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media expect to find what they are looking for online immediately – regardless of where they are and the device they are using.  As a result, static, cookie-cutter websites are no longer enough ... your visitors want a unique user experience customized to their interests. 

Organizations must take a more personalized approach that proactively manages the online user experience and makes relevant information more accessible.

Think about Amazon.com and you’ll see what I mean.  When you visit this global online retailer, you most likely are greeted by name and offered suggestions relevant to the interests you expressed during previous visits.  Each time you search, select and order products, the company learns more about you and your preferences and further tailors a response. 

There is no doubt that personalization can pay off in a big way.  Studies show it reduces abandonment rates, improves conversion rates and drives a significant uptick in sales – all by filtering information to meet the needs of individuals or market segments.  Text, banners, images and other digital media are displayed based on what you know about your visitors, how they interact with your site and how they arrived there.  

Most experts agree there are two broad categories of personalization - Profile-based and Behavior-based.  To maximize your return, you’ll want to understand and use both.

Profile-based personalization focuses on specific user segments.  Profiles or “personas” are created based on groups of characteristics and information from your customer and prospect database.  Perhaps an individual provided an address and areas of interest before receiving a newsletter or downloading a coupon or a paper. That gives you data you can use to your benefit by establishing business rules for the delivery of certain types of content.   

Behavior-based personalization targets visitors who do not come to you with expressed preferences or fit into an established profile.  You can still use business rules to respond, though, based on their behavior and click-through patterns as they navigate.  Each choice made on your website helps you filter what comes next.  To begin to build a future profile-based response for these behavior-based targets, you might offer them an opportunity to answer a few questions at can help you narrow down their preferences – perhaps by brand, price, physical attributes, style, interests or other parameters. 

Your customers are unique.  Create a website strategy that breaks away from a cookie-cutter approach and personalize the online experience.  To learn more, download the Website Personalization white paper.

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