The wide availability of products and services across the Internet makes product and price differentiation more challenging. 20 years ago, businesses venturing into digital only need to build an appealing website, publish content regularly, and make smart investments in email, search, and paid media to attract and engage visitors online. But, as the Internet landscape has become more saturated, brands and marketers turn focus to creating more personalized web experiences for customers to get a competitive edge.
What is website personalization?
It is the process of creating a more-focused, customized, one-on-one experience for visitors to a website based on demographic or behavioral data. According to the time of day, number of visits to the site, past purchases, location, and more, personalization tailors the experience to the individual customer rather than providing a broad, uniform experience. According to research, 75% of marketing professionals believe that the ability to enhance the customer experience is crucial to increasing user engagement.
How does website personalization work?
More than just a buzzword, website visitors are diverse, and come with their distinct interests, motivations, and desires. Therefore, serving the default site experience, or one built for a broader audience, is not effective for driving action or conversions. Website personalization works by automatically tailoring web pages, content, offers, and experience to individual customers’ preferences or characteristics.
Advantages of website personalization
It increases site engagement
The biggest reason brands and marketers are turning towards website personalization is to engage and satisfy customers. Using a customer’s name, suggesting new services or products, making recommendations, or allowing a customer to change the website’s look, such as changing font size or background image, helps customers differentiate the brand and hook them for the long term.
Aids the customer in selection and drives conversions
As stated in research, brands that integrate advanced technologies and proprietary data to create personalized experiences for customers see a 6 to 10% revenue increase. Think of personalization techniques used in the websites you use regularly. On Amazon, we are now used to seeing “People who bought this also bought this” to look at complementary and competing options. This type of dynamic personalization is called a collaborative filter. For instance, streaming services, like Hulu, Roku, and HBO Max keep subscribers by suggesting new movies and shows they’ll enjoy. That’s how website personalization drives conversions and keeps users coming back.
Helps to offer better customer service
Personalization helps customers feel like they know your brand, your website, and eventually you. As you automate more, keep enhancing personalization. For example, provide a customer portal that presents the most common needs by default. Offer easy access to order tracking and previous order information. Keep a list of previous topics searched for and accessed in help. Offer user choices on whether to send receipts by email or by message.
Disadvantages of website personalization
You can’t always get it right
Personalized experiences can go wrong with minor mistakes. For example, calling a customer with the wrong name in email or on arrival if they share a computer with other family members, suggesting a product that is not a good fit, or continuing to offer a product or service after they purchased or decided not to purchase. These experiences sometimes make the person realize you are tracking and trying to personalize and can give them a creepy or privacy-invaded feeling.
It gets expensive with time
Personalization requires more software, logic, and data as you go from one website to effectively thousands. Brands must gather and analyze data, create profiles and personas, create a user list, maintain a team, and manage algorithmic technology that creates personalizations for customers to create a personalized website.
Creating personalized experiences is time-consuming for the teammates that work on it in marketing, product marketing, IT, and development. Just think about the amount of research and experiments that go into the personalization concept before even sketching out the first wireframe. Besides that, keeping up with customers’ demands isn’t a one-time thing; it requires full-time effort, constant updates, and huge data storage and management.
Personalization experiences and workflows
Personalization can be delivered through multiple mechanisms and events:
Triggered from email, segmented experiences – Companies who email have multiple point of data about that contact, so they can segment the campaign into groups and provide different experiences. A national hotel chain could regionalize its message to draw booking from areas they are more likely to go.
Triggered on arrival at the site, based on existing cookie or referring site – At the point of arrival, companies often know which digital channel they arrived from, they would know the paid search query, and they would know historical and purchase information from the first party cookie. Using this information, they could redirect to a different landing page, they could dynamically add the query into the headline, or provide a “welcome back” message.
Triggered by site behavior, like number of pages, dwell time, or idle time – On-site in-session behavior is a good way to determine when to popup an offer and which offer has worked best with visitors exhibiting similar behavior.
Triggered by shopping cart actions or inactions – Adding something to cart is a very high-intent action. Leaving something unpurchased in the cart is a clear opportunity. The simplest personalization is to keep the items in the cart and pop up a reminder when that browser and cookie return to the site or if the visitor logs in.
Close tab, back button, and exit triggers – “Wait don’t leave without reserving that table!” Is pretty persuasive. Adding a button to Book Now or Remind Me Later will allow the transaction to be completed or rescheduled.
Location-based messaging – Near-field id and geo-fencing can be used to promote offers only to people in near proximity, like “Happy Starts Now” or “Get a Free Appetizer with Your Entrée.”
Delivery mechanisms and assets
The personalized experience can be delivered via various asset types:
1. Full web pages – Visitors can be redirected to a different page and url.
2. Partial pages in sections, banners – The url can stay the same and boxes or banners can be modified to deliver personalized messages.
3. Dynamic text on page or in buttons – Text in a headline or button could be modified to say for example, “Buy in the next 30 minutes to save 30% with a countdown timer.”
4. Progressive Web Apps in popups – On Android phones and in the Chrome browser, messages can be delivered as cards, popups, or sliders.
5. Mobile apps often secure permission to send messages as alerts or notifications even when the app is not open. SMS text messages can be a personalized extension of the app and site experience.
6. In social media, each person’s feed is customized with network updates and targeted personalized ads. That combination is one of the things that makes social media sites/apps the most used of any category at 2.5 hours per day.
What are the some website personalization software solutions?
Hubspot allows brands to build stunning personalized websites. Brands can leverage chatbots and forms to give customers customized experiences. In addition, its drag and drop editor makes it easy to add smart and personalized features. Hubspot is an easy-to-use software package best for businesses of all sizes.
Barilliance offers tools to effectively personalize online storefronts with options including relevant recommendations to help brands reduce their shopping cart abandonment. Additionally, brands can add relevant product or service recommendations according to visitors’ interests.
Qubit offerings are categorized into three parts named Start, Grow, and Pro. Qubit start is for brands that want foundational tools such as recommendations or chatbots. Qubit Grow offers solutions for specific goals like integrating customer data across multiple platforms. Qubit Pro provides various features, including recommendations, integrations, tests, and omnichannel personalization.
Everybody likes customized experiences and this can be translated online in the form of personalization. Personalization of the message on your website is key to establishing a deeper connection with your customer. Your CMS should be able to personalize the messaging by the user’s geography or based on their interest as determined by the ads or the keywords that attracted them to your location pages.
Personalization tools built into CMSes can firstly help the business reach out to audiences based on their location (Geo-targeting), interests, and behavioral patterns on search. Secondly, it can personalize the buying experience of the customer to improve the buying rate. The CMS judges the likes and dislikes of the customer and displays what he/she is most likely to purchase to improve the buying rate.
Website personalization examples – Hotel industry
One of the popular types of personalization in the hotel industry is to remember the dates and places searched for and show those on return or reach out in email if not purchased. Using a login or a 1st party session cookie, hotels can offer previous customers better offers and upgrades on page or via a popup.
Website personalization examples – Banks and Credit Unions industry
Banks and credit unions use portals to personalize the customer experience, where they show current products and programs used, for example loans and interest rates.
Website personalization examples – The retail and ecommerce industry
Retail and ecommerce tend to be the most sophisticated user because of the complexity of hundreds or thousands of skus and pages. Cart abandonment re-reengagement and in-session offers would be two popular applications.
What does website personalization impact?
Personalization should help customers move along the buyer’s journey, and that means more of them buying more and more often.
Website’s page loading speed
Webpage loading speed is an important factor in website performance. The longer it takes to load a website’s page or its contents, the more visitors you’ll lose. All aspects of the website, including page layout, font size, images, etc., impact the site’s page speed.
Personalization has several benefits in improving the site’s overall performance. However, there’re potential downsides this tinkering can bring, such as a reduction in page loading speed. You can offset the speed loss by optimizing the code loading order so the user perceives the page is loading while the personalized content can load later. Also, a content delivery network or CDN can hold the needed assets closer to the end user in a process known as edge caching. Make sure the gains in personalization positively outweigh any loss in speed and SEO traffic.
Cart abandonment and revenue
In today’s eCommerce landscape, cart abandonment is increasing at an alarming rate. Customers expect a personalized experience from brands. With personalization, visitors can find exactly what they are looking for instead of browsing the inventory aimlessly. When brands efficiently meet customer expectations, they maximize the likelihood of a complete transaction.
Wrapping it all together
In today’s competitive digital world, being relevant, timely, and personal is a key to performance. A tailored and immersive experience on a website is essential for business success. Website personalization will not only boost conversion rates, but it can turn a business website into an efficient and highly targeted lead generation machine. However, it also brings a lot of complexity, which can be managed using a strategic approach and top-notch tools.
Personalization is much more than we’ve discussed in this article, so this guide can just be a starting point. Ensure to keep your website personalization strategy subtle and don’t be creepy. Handle the cross-channel and multi-channel experience and select the right tools.