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Design & Technology September 08, 2015

Approaches & Challenges of Developing a Web Personalization Strategy

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One of the most important challenges we face in digital, is providing our customers with more relevant and engaging content and experiences.

Customers increasingly expect a personalized and unique experience that is fully tailored to interests, browsing habits and brand loyalty.

Your approach to personalization will increasingly determine how much long-term value you can derive from your customer base. An effective approach to personalization can also be an important driver in differentiating you within your sector, by providing great user experiences.

In short, it’s one of the defining future success criteria for your business, so it’s vitally important that you start to define an approach.

What can you personalize and what are the common approaches?

Modern Content Management Systems offer increasingly sophisticated methods to personalize a customer’s experience. Some of the common approaches include:

  • Detecting where the customer has come from to infer their interest in a particular theme or product area. You can then tailor the key content to match their interests.
  • Tailoring content dependent on time of the day or week. For instance, if you know you have a spike in short term lunchtime traffic, you can change the site content to make it much more sales-orientated to capitalize on a lunchtime rush.
  • Analyzing a customer’s activity over time to observe their interests. If they show an interest in a certain product line on their first visit, you can skew the content (product teasers, offers etc) when they return, to match this initial interest and encourage conversion.
  • Assigning customer engagement points based on their long term engagement. For example, if they engage with forms and purchase a product, they accrue engagement points. You can embed milestones, so if a user accrues lots of points, they are identified as a more valuable customer. You can then treat these customers differently with enhanced offers and bespoke content to encourage loyalty.

4 key personalization challenges

1. Obtaining a single view of customers and their engagement
You need to gain a clear picture of a customer’s content needs over time, and what content will encourage them to engage, convert and keep returning again and again.

At Building Blocks, we work with clients to construct profiles (personas) of your audience types, and then develop Experience Maps for each.

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An Experience Map details a customer’s engagement with your brand over time, likely activity, content needs and opportunities, to deliver personalized content. We use this as a template to guide personalized strategies and a content development plan.

Next generation content management tools also enable the tracking of all of a customer’s engagement over time, and helps identify common patterns and experience profiles.

2. Internal Editorial support to supply content
With such a dependency on timely and relevant content also brings with it a need to develop streams of new and diverse content.

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It’s important that you have adequate editorial resource to support your personalization strategy, and that this is factored in as part of your delivery planning.

3. A component-based website structure and delivery mechanism
To deliver personalized dynamic content elements, you will need a content management and delivery system that is capable of serving content dependent on website engagement triggers and user events.

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Your site structure also needs to be highly flexible and responsive. It needs to have a dynamic, component-based structure, rather than traditional static templates.

4. Maximizing and centralizing customer data
There may be many different sources of customer data within your organization (i.e. Customer Relationship Management tools, Content Management System systems, Email databases, Social Media, Sales databases).

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The challenge is to integrate connections between data sources that can drive engagement, automation and customer intelligence.

Effective planning and strategy

An effective personalization strategy will undoubtedly increase the value of your customer base and maximize your overall investment in digital.

Effective planning will identify the interdependent elements of your digital strategy early in the process and increase your chances of success.

Personalization is a big commitment and needs rigor in your planning and strategy. Our Digital Foundations Workshop can help formulate an effective short, medium and long term roadmap towards Personalization.