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CX & Design September 04, 2014

The R.O.I. Principle for Website Personalisation


Past. Present. Future. These three simple words hold the key to effective website personalisation.

Remember the Past: Do we know anything about this person, and if so what? Can we encourage them to identify themselves? If so, what does that tell us?

Observe the Present: What drove this person to the website or app? How did they find us? What are they searching for and looking at? What tools are they interacting with?

Imagine the Future: We now know certain things about this person. Is their profile similar to that of other customers?

We can use all of this information to predict their future demands and requirements. By anticipating this we can pre-empt what tools or information they will need. But listening is only one part of effective personalisation. Once you have understood who the customer is and what they want, you have to act on it.

There are three key principles to follow: remember, observe and imagine.


Don’t switch off – every customer word is a golden nugget

Asking for information and listening to the response is pointless if you don’t remember it. It is a wasted opportunity to gather valuable data. It will also disengage and annoy customers if you have to ask for the same information more than once.

Businesses need to remember each interaction with a customer. This information needs to be carefully stored so it can be easily located in the future. But it’s not just online information that is valuable. We also need to absorb and carefully store offline information. This may be detail shared with a call centre, or a form completed in response to a direct mail campaign. It all helps to build a more in-depth picture of each customer and their needs.


Digital clues abound – look and you shall find

When we meet someone in real life we ask questions. We listen. We get to know them. But we don’t base this knowledge purely on what they say. We also take note of how they say it. And sometimes you have to read between the lines.

Relationships in the digital world are no different. We need to look for digital clues to better understand people’s behaviour.

Ask yourself:

  • Did a customer visit your web site following a search on Google?
  • If so, which search terms did they use?
  • Are they accessing your web site via their mobile phone, perhaps on their morning commute to work, or via their desktop in their lunch hour?
  • Which pages are they looking at?
  • Which search terms are they using within your web site?

These clues really add colour to what can begin as a sketchy picture.


Walk a mile in their shoes

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. You have information about who they are and what they are trying to do. Now use your imagination. What are they trying to achieve? And importantly, how can you help them?

  • Try and think like your customer. But don’t forget to consider and balance your own commercial goals.
  • What are they trying to do?
  • What will they want to do next?
  • What information will make that goal easier for them?
  • How can you assist them while supporting your own business objectives?

This is an exercise that needs to be carried out for different customers. Each one will be in a different buying mode.


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