Website personalization – Learning from the real world
There is a lot of buzz going on around personalization in the online world, such as how to use it, does it matter, won’t the visitor be suspicious, and other factors. In the offline world, personalization is everywhere; if I go shopping for clothes and enter a store I have never visited before, the sales clerk will immediately analyze and segment me, according to parameters like:
- What I’m wearing (suit or casual clothes)
- Style (beard, hair, watch, etc.)
- Brands I’m wearing
Say I’m 33, male, wearing jeans (Hugo Boss), shirt (Eton) and brown leather shoes (Lloyds)—the clerk will show me clothes which match the brands I’m wearing and my style. Perhaps the clerk will try to up-sell me on other more expensive brands, like Armani, but would never recommend “cheaper brands”.
If I buy a new pair of shoes and return a few days later, the sales clerk will probably remember me and ask about the shoes, thereby showing interest in me. He could try to sell me a belt, which matches the shoes—and he would probably succeed. One thing is certain—he would never try to sell me the shoes I already bought.
The highest priority business objective at the clothing store, as with most companies, is to increase revenue. And how do they deliver that? By focusing on customer service, with personal advice that treats each customer as a unique individual
The online world can learn a lot from the offline world! Today, even after many decades in which technology and the online experience have improved by leaps and bounds, many sites are still nineties static, showing the same content to all the visitors, even if the visitor has bought one or more products (if it’s e-commerce), signed up for the newsletter, or completed another action.
These static sites are primitive and don’t provide compelling reasons for a customer to visit again or spend more time on the site. This can result in low conversion rates.
Why is that?
The reality is many companies have not transferred and translated their business objectives to the online world and built their online presence with desired outcomes in mind. Instead, the focus has been on the redesign, user experience and SEO.
There’s no denying that these are also important objectives, but the main question “What do we want with our website?” is often left hidden in the background. Therefore the entire budget ends up going to redesign, and when you’re finished, you get a very nice, more user-friendly, more SEO-friendly website…that hasn’t fundamentally changed from its prior incarnation.
In fact, if you compare your online presence today to your online presence in the nineties—what is the difference, besides a more appealing site with higher Google rankings?
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