Four reasons your website needs to deliver a truly personalised experience

Four reasons your website needs to deliver a truly personalised experience
As the director of online marketing, Sarah Fruy leads the strategy, goals, and road map for Pantheon's public-facing website and online programs. Fruy is a Certified ScrumMaster® and joins Pantheon with over 10 years of experience in the marketing, digital publishing, and online advertising industries, along with marketing strategy and digital marketing certifications from Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management. Previously, she worked at emerging media companies, such as Say Media, as well as heritage brands like the San Francisco Chronicle.

According to a survey of marketing professionals, 98% of marketers agree that personalisation improves customer relationships. Additionally, 88% believe their customers already expect their experiences to be personalised.

When companies fail to meet those expectations, customers can feel disappointed with a brand. Add on the challenge of exponentially shorter buying cycles, and businesses often struggle to deliver a positive personalised experience. This is especially tricky when businesses want to stay ahead of a potential client’s spending.

Anyone who has shopped online has received an abundance of banner ads immediately after making a purchase. I once jokingly tweeted at a company to stop following me because I couldn’t get away from ads for shoes I had already purchased. And being too good at targeting can be problematic as well, as Target learned when it inadvertently informed a father of his teen daughter’s pregnancy.

Personalisation in the face of regulation

Balancing personalisation and timeliness is further complicated by increasingly stringent regulations. Under the new GDPR standards, prompting visitors to accept cookies, offering unsubscribe options, and providing tools for stronger passwords are all essential for compliance. You should also have a published privacy statement online explaining terms and conditions in language the average consumer can understand.

Not only should these regulations be adhered to, but they should also be embraced with open arms. Even though the GDPR transition certainly created more work for organisations, embracing compliance presents a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate your company’s concern for the consumer’s best interest.

Ultimately, consumers know you’re using their data — the key is to use their information to enhance their experience with your brand, not diminish it.

Your website: Your personalisation epicentre

As one of the dominant ways consumers engage with brands, your website is the best starting place for meeting consumer personalisation expectations. There are four reasons for this:

  • You can test your theories: With tools such as Optimizely, you can test your theories about which personalisation strategy is most effective without committing to a full overhaul. This gives you the ability to pivot quickly, saving time and money as you uncover the best way to give your unique audience an enhanced customer experience
  • You can adjust in real time: With the right tools and the right metrics, you can adjust your website almost as fast as users are interacting with it. If one approach isn’t working well, quickly roll back your website. If you find success, scale those efforts across multiple pages. You can control your website more than any other area of the digital world; personalisation helps maximise its effectiveness
  • You can identify known users: One of the most significant moments in the customer journey is when previous customers return to your site. If you are selling products or registering visitors online, you can use that data to greet them and showcase more relevant content on your site. When retention is more important than acquisition, how do you talk to your customers? Do you highlight their purchases, preferences, or status on your website in some way? Consumers who have registered tend to assume you’re tracking their data. Find ways to make it benefit them
  • You can identify new visitors: Even if you don't know who specifically is on your website, you can still leverage IP addresses for personalisation. This is the digital address of each location, and it changes depending on what network a person is using at the time. While working on your laptop in Starbucks, you use the same IP address as the other dozen people using the network. Your IP address changes when you go home to your personal Wi-Fi network, and if you travel to Spain, the IP addresses you use will be Spanish

Of course, everyone working from the same IP address will not have identical needs, but you can still use this data to make observations about language preferences, time of day, seasonality, currency, etc. In this way, you can make new visitors feel like your brand recognises them and their needs.

Using personalisation to achieve goals

With all these potential benefits, keep in mind that doing personalisation for the sake of personalisation is a waste of time. So as you begin experimenting, be sure to clearly define your KPIs so you can measure them against specific, measurable goals. Look at click-through rates, conversion rates, scroll and exit rates, time spent on the site, and other relevant metrics to determine whether you are improving the overall engagement on your site.

Then, look at ROI. Was the investment worth the lift? Did your numbers stay flat? Or worse, did personalisation backfire and have a negative impact on performance indicators? As you evaluate changes, keep your goals top of mind and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Personalisation is a powerful tool in engaging consumers with your brand, but it can also drive people away. If you start personalisation on your website and make sure concrete goals drive your strategy, you can surprise and delight users in unique ways to stand out in the noisy digital landscape.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.  

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