In the current age of digital the success of any online business depends on satisfying its website visitors. Competition in most sectors is fierce and business owners should go the extra mile to improve the user experience and engage with customers.
Interacting with a website should be like having a one to one conversation between the business representative and the customer. When a customer walks into your store and asks to look at a product, for example a ‘Samsung S5’ you show it to them and encourage a purchase. If the customer leaves without buying and comes back later, you recognise them and ask if they would like to see the ‘Samsung S5’ or alternative products again. You use your knowledge about the customer, their interests and where they are in the buying funnel to have a conversation.
The visitor experience on your website should be no different. It should be based on your customers’ needs. You should let your knowledge of your audience inform how the website responds to your visitors, how it looks and what it says to trigger a productive conversation.
Unfortunately, only a handful of websites achieve this successfully.
How many websites leverage personalisation?
Vast majority of websites still follow a ‘one size fits all’ approach which may work for niche businesses but definitely not work for businesses offering a variety of products and services.
Example of a lost opportunity
Here is an example of how even marketing savvy companies such as Samsung, whose recent advertising campaign aimed at Driving Online Conversions From Offline Ads, which I discussed in one of my previous posts, fail to personalise websites based on the knowledge they have about customers.
I saw their advert on a building wrap in the centre of London and decided to search ‘5 reasons’ in Google. I clicked on a paid search ad and arrived on a campaign specific landing page describing the smartphone.
I left the website and after a couple of days decided to come back, only this time I went straight to the Samsung website.
To my surprise, the home page did not ‘recognise me’ and helped me to get to the product I was interested in during my last visit easier. The home page featured the latest curved TV, another smartphone and a camera. I went to the products page and then smartphones page but the product I specifically expressed interest in during my last visit wasn’t even elevated to the top of the page or featured in the image gallery.
There are a number of steps to leveraging the full power of predictive personalisation. To do it properly you would need to start with identifying who your audience is and why they come to your website and create profiles or personas. You would then profile your content, create predefined visitor patterns and implement it on the website. At the end of this cycle you would review the results and start optimising every step.
There are a few enterprise level content management systems which let you manage personalisation. At Delete agency we partner and work with Sitecore. It’s Customer Engagement Platform is perfect profiling and predictive personalisation. But for many businesses such systems are out of reach because of high licensing costs and expensive implementation.
If you do not have enough budget for a system which provides personalisation tools you can develop your own basic version of profiling and personalisation relatively inexpensively using cookies.
This effectively makes your cookies the personal property of your website domain, and the data cannot be altered or retrieved by any service on another domain. It also means the cookie can be placed without explicit consent from the user, as per the EU Cookie Directive.
Start by storing information about how visitors reach your website (particular campaign name, source, medium, etc.), and what products or product categories they view on your website.
Set the cookie to expire in one months from being set and updated it on every page view.
Create personalisation based on knowledge about customer
Now you just need to enable personalisation based on the knowledge you have about the customer.
Is it important to identify areas on your website where you would like to deliver the personalised content. This could be areas on the homepage, sidebar slots on different layout templates, and more. Identifying the areas where personalisation can be enabled will direct the format of the personalised content, whether text, image or video.
Leverage Geo location information
Geo location information is another excellent piece of information you can use to personalise user experience.
You can introduce Geo API lookup into your process to check where the customer is located and embed this information into the website. For example, an airline may use Geo location information to pre-populate value in the field with the name of the airport to fly from.
Personalisation is essential for all businesses. Designing great user experiences that are relevant for all types of customers helps you optimise the outcome of your digital channels.
Develop customer profiles (or personas) instead of creating user experience based on guesses, and measure and optimise the impact on your outcomes. This process does not have to cost a fortune; you can start small and expand as you go. This will help you improve your digital marketing efforts to engage more prospects and customers.