Design & Technology September 15, 2014
Creating the 'Warm & Fuzzy' with Website Personalization
Personalized experiences, which are specifically tailored based on preferences, can make potential customers feel valued, encourage conversion, and increase long-term loyalty.
For example, the barista at the coffee shop next to the office knows that at 8.05am every day, I’ll be walking through the door to order a large Americano with an extra shot.
So, at 8.05am every day, my coffee with my name written on it (spelled correctly), is already waiting for me on the counter. Sometimes I even get a smiley face drawn on it.
Having my routine remembered makes me feel a bit warm and fuzzy inside. It makes me loyal. I even feel obliged to tell the barista when I’m away on holiday to prevent him from wasting his finest Arabica.
The personalized service I get from the coffee shop is an experience I seek to find in the digital sphere. When websites get personalization right, I get the same warm and fuzzy feeling I get from my morning coffee routine – it makes me loyal. It makes me spend more money.
I like the warm and fuzzy moments, so I had a trawl around the web to try and find some great examples of web personalization:
Recommendations & Reminders: Nordstrom
US fashion and beauty retailer Nordstrom has invested heavily in its own Innovation Lab – a multi-disciplined team of ‘techies, designers, entrepreneurs, statisticians
- Our Stylists Suggest – this is a recommendation engine that analyzes transactions in Nordstrom stores that were facilitated by a personal stylist, and relates it to past purchase history to make automated suggestions.
- Hey Beauty Queen! – this automated email function sends customers an email reminding them to replenish their beauty products, based on the date of last purchase.
- My Color Palette – this does some seriously cool color analysis on the product you’re looking at and matches it to items that would suit. It even looks at purchase history to create ‘color fingerprints’ for individual users, so recommendations can be even more targeted.
- Recommended API – the Nordstrom Innovation Lab built its own API to power product recommendations using Node.js and AWS. Find out more
The Nordstrom site feels like it’s all about me – my colors, my style, even my beauty buying cycle. It’s intelligent, slick, and emulative of an in-store experience.
Tailored Content: Amazon
Amazon was probably one of the first websites I noticed was tailoring my experience. Variations of its personalization have since been implemented by a vast range of companies, from Facebook to Netflix.
When logged in, my Amazon homepage is crammed with products related to my recent searches and purchase history. When I click an item, displaying ‘people who bought this also bought…’ appeals to my instinct to make purchasing decisions based on the recommendations of others.
Although Amazon’s re-marketing may feel a tad intense (I’m often stalked by the ghosts of items I’ve clicked on but decided not to purchase), there is no denying that Amazon successfully implements a personalized experience aimed at cross-selling and up-selling.
Social Media Campaign: Purina
If your social media feeds are anything like mine, they’re littered with shared cat memes. Pet care company Purina successfully tapped into the marketing opportunity of Twitter users’ love of sharing pet pictures with a personalized social media campaign.
When someone tweeted a picture of their beloved pet, Purina turned it into a personalized digital card and tweeted it back to the owner. The result was a whole host of re-tweets, favorites, and blog articles about the campaign.
Not only was it a novel personalization campaign, but it psychologically linked Purina to said pets (“They care about Buddy’s birthday as much as me! Aww!”), resulting in an increase in brand trust, awareness, and engagement.
Tailored Listening: Spotify
In 2013, in a bid to capture customers before Apple and Amazon rolled out their rumored music streaming services, Spotify launched ‘Discover’, which recommends music to users based on what they and their friends have been listening to.
It also drags in information from other apps, such as Songkick and Tunigo, offering details on upcoming concerts and artist news.
I just kick back, relax and Spotify supplies me with a seemingly endless stream of music that it knows I will like, based on my current track-lists and what my trusted friends are listening to. I enjoy the music so much that I even pay for the premium service to get rid of the adverts…well played, Spotify, well played.
B2B Sales: Avery Dennison
A good example of B2B personalization is office and consumable manufacturer Avery Dennison’s approach to online sales.
Avery researched what it felt the thirty largest business clients should be, based on a combination of known sales and intuition, including company size and the propensity to use merchandise similar to what Avery offers. The thirty companies, along with the various domains they operate under, were then tagged and tracked in a test campaign.
Tagging enables Avery to know when visitors from these companies enter the site and tracks the pages and template files they look at. The consumption patterns also allow Avery to determine ancillary products that might be of use to those visitors. All of this information is fed to its salespeople to help initiate conversation.
The information also influences the content these visitors see. Avery’s technology enables it to identify visitor characteristics nearly instantly, and to serve up content or ads that reflect the visitor’s industry. Avery used field surveys to understand how its products were used and to generate story-based sales material.
Making Digital Human
This is just a tiny example of the personalization initiatives taking place across the web. What’s evident, is that regardless of sector, website personalization is a growing trend. When organizations get it right, personalization can bring a multitude of benefits.