By Luke Hardwick
September 11, 2019
Personalization has become the name of the game for customer experience optimization. Customers not only want, but expect brands to provide them relevant information, know what they want, and provide their preferred content front and center. And, this expectation doesn’t just apply to the behemoths like Netflix and Amazon, customers want the entire Internet experience tailored to them. The thing is, this expectation is perfectly possible to meet. But, you have to make sure your approach is smart. These are three best practices to keep in mind when embarking on personalizing your site.
1. Base your experiences on behavior, not just demographics.
While you can glean some information from general geographic data, it’s unreliable. People’s demographic information can only tell you so much, and ultimately a large chunk is going to be based on assumption. For example, it may seem safe to assume that a shopper from Vermont is going to be more interested in winter parkas than a shopper from California, but this doesn’t account for the Los Angeleno who frequently travels to Canada or the Vermonter who takes pride in wearing shorts all year round.
Instead, you can start with demographic information but then move to more sophisticated segmentation based on behavior. For example, a shopper with a California IP address may also be browsing in Chrome, on a Google Pixel phone, have reached your page from an Instagram ad, and previously viewed parkas on your website. This gives you a lot more information on how to provide the best experience to this customer than the fact that they are in California.
2. A/B Test your personalized experiences.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in personalization is assuming that personalizing an experience is enough. But how do you know if it’s working? If you want the benefits of personalization and not just a tick in the box that you’ve done it, you need to actually A/B test and measure those experiences.
How do three different versions of your personalized experience for users to your site stack up? Considering multiple designs and approaches will allow you to A/B test out different creative and a spectrum of options from the subtle to the very bold. Taking this approach will avoid the pitfalls of a single variant suffering from poor execution rather than a disproved hypothesis. Additionally it always helps to consider if these learnings apply to other areas of your site. Without A/B testing you’re really only scratching the surface of personalization.
It’s a truth that in digital optimization what works today may not work tomorrow, and what works on your site probably won’t work on mine. You’ll notice that all of our best practices are process-based — not best practices on what your experience should include. This is because there’s no general template for websites that work. To achieve a personalized site that works for you and your customers, you have to try, try, and try again. If you hit on something successful that’s wonderful, and the first step towards your next set of campaigns. To have a truly personalized digital experience you have to be continually evolving along with your customers to offer them valued user experiences.
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