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Getting started with personalization: The basics for a user-centered web experience

Summary: A longtime buzzword, personalization is gaining traction as a web design best practice, proven to convert users into advocates. Here’s why it works, what types of data you need, and approaches to reaching your niche audiences.

Illustration of a bullseye.

POV: You’re in the market for some new furniture, so you check out the website a trendy, economical, furniture outlet that seems ubiquitous these days. The first thing you’re greeted with is a screen to select your country. You select your location and go about your business, later closing the browser window. A couple days later, you want to go back and look at that table again, and once again, you’re asked to select your country.

What? I literally just told you that. Do you not remember me? Fine. Let’s do this again.

That’s friction between a brand and a consumer, creating an experience that’s memorable for the wrong reasons.

Let’s compare that to this experience: You’re in the market for some new furniture, so you check out the website of a popular, modern drop-shipper. This site remembers your name, serves up similar styled products, and even sends you an email later on letting you know when the price drops. It’s as if they actually care about who you are, what you like, and how much you’re willing to spend. How about that?

That’s the power of personalization, baby.

Why personalization matters

Previously, most websites have been designed with a one-size-fits-all approach. All users receive the same website experience, regardless of persona or intent. But more and more, personalized experiences are outperforming these generic ones by providing unique, customized website experiences designed specifically for the end user. This user-centric approach to website design creates online experiences that feel personal and provide a user experience that is streamlined.

And it works. Consumers tend to buy more from companies that tailor their experiences. Website visitors are diverse in their intent, motivations and needs. Using personalization to anticipate and respond to those needs is a tool to:

  • Optimize website performance

  • Improve engagement

  • Increase conversions and sales

What is website personalization?

Website personalization is a data-driven approach to providing users with a unique and customized experience. Rather than providing a single, broad experience, website personalization allows companies to present users with unique experiences tailored to their needs and desires. Examples of personalization include filtering content based on a user’s website behaviors, notifying users of specific events based on past browsing history, and recommending specific actions and products based on audience segmentation.

Personalization allows your website users to more easily engage with the elements of your website and services of your mission that matter most to them. Users initially come to your website for your products and content, but they stay and return because of the experience. Personalization creates a unique experience that makes your website noticeable.

Types of personalization

There are multiple opportunities for personalization across your website. Some personalization types include:

  • Dynamic Content - Replace hero banners, CTA buttons, or any other in-page element with dynamically generated content variations

  • Popups - Highlight a specific product offer or service

  • Recommendations - Display content based on data collected on previous user website behaviors

  • Messaging - Customize messaging across the site

  • Landing Page - Personalize landing page variations for each audience segment

Personalization starts with data

The key to starting off with personalization is data collection. Specifically, you’ll want to collect information about the user and their interactions with the website. This can include campaigns that drove them to the site, pages visited, location, products added to a cart but not purchased, and forms submitted.

After data collection comes segmentation. With the data collected, you begin to understand the different user needs, desires, and motivations, and are able to segment your users into audiences that reflect those characteristics. Then, you are ready to customize your website content tailored to these specific audience segments, and create personalized user journeys.

Ways to Segment Audiences

  • Location

  • Technology

  • Traffic sources

  • 3rd party data

  • Behavior

  • Explicit data

  • Time

  • Current page behaviors

A/B testing to personalization success

The number one tip for successful personalization is test, and test some more. A/B testing is a great tool to help ensure that your personalization tactics result in an improved user experience and drive more conversions. By utilizing A/B testing with personalization, you can effectively measure the impact of your personalized content on the target audience segment. Personalized experiences should be continuously tested, reviewed, and optimized.

By using personalization to shape the content that users need, you increase the value of your website and its ROI. You also enhance how users interact with your website and create experiences where users feel connected and engaged with your website.

We can help

Just as personalization is not a nice-to-have, it’s also not a DIY endeavor. Seemingly simple personalization strategies, like geolocation, require strategy and sophisticated integrations to operate correctly. Reason One’s team of strategists, marketers, and developers are here to answer all your personalization questions and help point you in the right direction. Let’s chat.