Cara Harshman at Mozcon 2015.

Mozcon 2015: Cara Harshman On Personalization

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How can we as marketers provide personalization that actually works? We don’t necessarily have the resources behind us like a site like Amazon does so what can we do? Start smaller:) Choose a group you can use rather than aiming to personalize to each individual user. You can build up to a more defined experience over time if you have access to the resources.

How does personalization work? Well, it creates an experience that targets the experience to who the user is and what their behavior is for example, the users first visit may lead to them browsing your site, looking at an item, adding it to a cart and then possibly leaving based on something like the price which is not all that uncommon but a business can personalize their next experiences based on that visit. A personalized email with a deal on what the visitor was looking at on the website can bring that visitor back, and then if they don’t buy then another email even more personalized asking “still thinking about it?” can be the trick that brings the visitor back for the purchase. Email can be a very useful tool for personalization, much like remarketing is. Your website can also be used in personalization and it should be. The one size fits all web is dead and maybe even lazy. If every visitor gets the exact same experience it’s really not as good as it can be. We can provide a more personalized experience for the visitor based on context, demographic and behavior.

A good framework of personalization begins with asking “Who are you targeting?”. You need to know who your target audience is, that’s a good place to start. You’ll want to personalize any landing pages coming from an ad campaign based on the keyword that is bringing them there. A travel company, “secret escapes”, did this and saw a 32% increase in conversions using this tactic. You can also personalize based on whether the visitor is pre-sale or post-sale, this simple tactic is more useful to the visitor by offering options that would most likely meet their needs best given that they may need product info if they are new or support if they have purchased already. Next ask “What are you showing them?”. A/B testing is very useful in understanding what to show your visitor. You should really use this ongoing as it will always provide you with valuable information that will help you form better personalizations moving forward. Think about what would be helpful to a user, a new visitor may benefit more from an introduction or tour of the site where a return visitor would benefit more from a newsletter sign up option or a “welcome back” message. For a visitor that hasn’t visited in a long time you may want to personalize a promo offer for them to help them remember how great you are:) Personalization creates a personal experience but there is a line that can be crossed that may make a visitor feel uncomfortable so remember to not be creepy:) In short, personalize without making someone feel stalked:) Your visitor needs to feel good about you and their experience. Next ask yourself “What is the potential impact of this personalization tactic?”. You want use tactics that you are capable of while creating the biggest impact you can with the resources you have. Take big bites for impact, not little nibbles. The one to one personalization (little nibble) like Amazon does can eventually be achieved but start with a group personalization (big bite). This form of personalization is still creating a good personal experience and it is much more attainable for most companies. You also need to know “What is the technical effort needed to execute the idea?” Do you have the resources needed to actually identify your audience? You’ll need that! Diversify your efforts and see what works best for you with the resources you have. It may work better for you to have a couple simple personalization plans if that’s what you are set up for or maybe one more complex effort if you are capable. You know your resources and you will need to discover what you can do with what you have.

You need to personalize in a manner that is sustainable for your company or your clients that you are providing this service to. In the end personalization is important and regardless of how complicated or simple your tactics are some personalization is better than none as it creates a much better experience for the visitor.

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