Back to Basics: Personalization only adds value if you do it right




  • While personalization can be tremendously valuable, it has to be relevant in your user’s journey.

    Everyone knows that in our digital economy, data is more valuable than oil. But it’s what you actually do with data that makes it so valuable. Personalizing your user’s experience can do wonders for your conversion rate: the Boston Consulting Group has estimated that personalized experiences could show brands a revenue increase between 6% and 10%.

    If you do it ineffectively, though, you’re at risk of wasting money. That’s where Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) comes in. CRO experts are all about finding out the best ways for you to optimize the user experience to boost conversions, and personalization is a great place to start. So, here’s my Personalization 101 to help you get going.

    Segmenting and targeting audiences

    First things first: don’t skip the basics. Know your audience and know yourself. If your company doesn’t have the budget, a rich set of data, or the technical capability for large-scale changes, that’s fine! A little personalization can go a long way. 

    Imagine you own a business selling pet supplies nationwide, and you’re running an online flash sale on dog beds. By segmenting your audience by what type of animal they have, and then targeting only dog owners with your sale ads and your sale landing page, you’re already making small steps to providing a relevant experience to your customers. 

    One British retailer does this by encouraging new customers to link their social accounts. This way, the company can, with consent, use information such as location and gender to segment their audiences and provide them with personalized offers and sales.

    Ultimately, you want to make your site and your products as accessible and attractive to each potential customer as possible. As Steve Krug said: “As a user, I should never have to devote a millisecond of thought to whether things are clickable – or not.” 

    Be relevant in your user’s journey 

    Knowing that a user abandoned their cart is really helpful information. Why did they abandon it? Was the product too expensive? Did they run out of time on their lunch break? Did they see something else they preferred? Personalize the experience for them. If the products in their basket have a high value, you could send them an email with a 10% off code or suggest similar, more affordable options at the top of the page next time they visit. It’s personalized, but it’s not intrusive. It’s giving the user something that will actually benefit them.

    It’s worth bearing in mind that people are often not buying for themselves: not all people buying baby products are parents themselves. Relevance means still being able to reach them without targeting them like expecting parents. 

    Don’t overdo it – and don’t be creepy

    As with most things, personalization is best done in moderation. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. Data should be used wisely. Transparency and user consent really do matter. We’ve seen the trouble the tech giants have been in with opaque consent flows and some outright omissions. Users want to know how their data is being used.

    Remember Target making the headlines for alerting a teenage girl’s parents to the fact she was pregnant by using her shopping behaviors to send her personalized coupons by mail?  Even Amazon, with its amazing resources and data, doesn’t get it quite right. They might show you the “buy it again” option for products you’re likely to need to stock up on but are equally likely to suggest repurchasing products no one is going to buy repeatedly in a short amount of time. 

    Consumers have become used to super-relevant ads and expect highly personalized experiences. In order to keep providing this within a world of less data and more regulation, we need to be smarter about what users want and how we can best deliver it to them. Invest your time and money into asking users what would be beneficial to them (e.g., in a quick survey or form when they arrive on your site). People know what they want, and they’re not afraid to tell you.

    Do it right

    Personalization done well can make consumers feel like you are engaging directly with them, making them more likely to convert. But remember that personalization isn’t the be-all and end-all. While it can be tremendously valuable, there’s no point in getting caught up in the buzzwords. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Don’t just copy what others are doing; figure out what’s best for your own clients or customers. Start small and build up in complexity, test everything, and always, always keep your end-user at the forefront of your mind.


    Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


    About The Author

    Laura Robinson is head of conversion rate optimization at Brainlabs. Having conducted hundreds of experiments across several industries from e-commerce to finance, she is passionate about facilitating the increase in online sales for clients.

    Marketing Land – Internet Marketing News, Strategies & Tips

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