Connecting with customers is the top priority of all marketing material to come out of a business. A company website, when utilized properly, provides a variety of benefits, ranging from e-commerce store and point of sale to literature and media on services provided. Marketing and customer outreach are two additional aspects of the website. When a client arrives on site, a well designed website works as all quality advertising does. It connects with the customer, highlighting how it can improve their lives or businesses. The most most successful marketing campaigns are finely tuned to meet the personality of a company's key demographics. That is exactly what website personalization is and why it should be implemented into any business site.
What Exactly is Website Personalization?
Regardless of the form of marketing, a blanket approach attempts to cover all demographics, yet fails to target any. These advertising approaches typically stem from businesses with either an inferior marketing department or a company that does not understand its own target demographic. Instead of going after everyone, a business with proper understanding of its clients should personalize all marketing and outreach methods, to better meet the needs of its customers. Website personalization takes the same approach. It offers a customized experience for visitors, dedicated to meet their individual needs. Personalization highlights products, services, or content that a particular customer might like while connecting to them on a more personal level. By establishing this connection, a potential client becomes more inclined to not only shop or use the website, but return to the site for future needs (Hubspot, 2014).
The Development of Website Personalization
Jeff Bezos, the creator of Amazon and its nearly $100 billion empire, started from the ground up in the late 1990s. Even in the early infancy of the consumer driven Internet, Mr. Bezos understood the importance of creating a unique experience for all visitors. In 1998, he told the Washington Post the goal of Amazon was not to have one store. Instead, he said "...if we have 4.5 million customers, we shouldn't have one store. We should have 4.5 million stores." Jeff's vision took years for technology to catch up to, but now, every individual who visits Amazon has a slightly different user experience. They see product recommendations based not only on previous product searches within Amazon, but on searches performed outside of the service.
The major problem with creating a single website for all customers is major corporations likely spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, annually to identify their target audience, understand what they like and determine what sells a product and what doesn't. All of this information is vital to the development of varying marketing campaigns. Despite all of this, with a static, single website, all of the money spent and valuable knowledge obtained goes right out the window. Instead, with website personalization, a company has the ability to take this valuable data and implement it into the website. This way, much like Amazon and other major online retailers, it becomes possible to provide a unique visitor experience while on the site.
Nothing is (or Should Be) One Size Fits All
Even when a company's key demographic is universally the same, individual clients and customers are not. They may shop for slightly different items or have different buying habits. This is where individualized personalization really comes into play. While it does not change the aesthetics of a website for every visitor, it does alter what products are showcased. For no retail outlets, the website can provide regionalized weather information, news reports, travel insights based on season and so on. Everything is designed to meet the needs of the individual.
Customer outreach has greatly shifted over the past decade. Individuals now expect a personalized experience, dedicated to providing information more akin to their preferences. With the ability to ask digital assistants (such as services offered through Amazon, Google and Apple) questions and receive instantaneous responses to verbally informing a television what kind of program they are interested in, a customized response is more important now than ever before as it is what customers now expect. Offering this personalized experience through website personalization is what all companies, from small to the enterprise level, should strive for.
How is a Website Personalized?
Data is the friend of any website. Data mined from a visitors can provide valuable insights not only into the key demographics of a site, what advertisements are working and how inbound marketing campaigns are working. Real time data analysis makes it possible to directly affect the way a user experiences a website. The first time a visitor comes to a site the company will not have any information based on the user yet. However, that changes nearly instantaneously. When arriving at a cite, the user's unique IP address provides them with a unique identity. As they click on different images, display listings or other interact with videos, all of this information is sourced and logged. If a visitor is spending time looking at outdoor lighting on a landscape company's page, highlighted information on the website can target additional recommendations based on the outdoor lighting the visitor looked at. By taking in and continually analyzing real time data, it becomes possible to offer on-the-fly website personalization for every visitor.
As the same IP address returns to a website, additional information is obtained, which allows fine tuning of the personalization. However, real time data analysis is not the only element when it comes to website personalization. Personalization doesn't matter much if it doesn't increase sales. To ensure not only an improved personalized experience but to improve lead generation and sales, additional planning and continual improvements need to take place on the site. Planning for visitors comes from a greater knowledge of a company's key demographic. By understanding what a visitor is likely to look for or why they are on the site, the entire layout of the website can be altered to better fit the target consumer's needs.
Lastly, understanding how certain website personalization works and continuously making improvements allows a website to identify what is working and what isn't. Not all personalization will lead to a potential client purchasing services from the website. If part of the website personalization continually underperforms and does not connect with the customer, it is necessary to adjust, remove or implement other personalization changes to correct the lack of sales generation. All of this becomes possible with the help of continually monitoring website analytics and data (Search Engine Watch, 2014).
The moment a visitor arrives, a website needs to connect with their personal needs, wants and desires. By understanding key demographics, it is possible for a company to setup its website to prove more attractive and beneficial to customers. This acts as a welcome mat, waving the customer in. As the individual spends time on the site, continual data analysis allows for a personalized, custom experience, unique to them and them alone. By taking advantage of website personalization, companies not only connect directly with a potential client, but increase the chance of the customer both making a purchase and returning for future purchases. Due to this, implementing website personalization is a must for all businesses.