This may be an understatement, but we all want what we want. Profound, I know. Back in the day of cave dwelling and the ice age, there may have been fewer options to customize things according to your tastes, but, in the 21st century, we’re attuned to personalizing exactly what we want. We personalize our cars, wardrobes, homes and playlists to match our tastes and lifestyles. We expect options, automation and access that make customization easy.
The personalization trend is evolving and has infiltrated the way brands market to their customers and prospects. For the past decade or so, personalization has been making inroads into marketing, particularly from an outbound perspective. Fueled by technology and big data, brands began to understand more about customers, and their preferences and actions, and applied the knowledge to email marketing and advertising to more precisely target and message to individuals and segments of individuals versus the masses.
Now we’re seeing personalization move to inbound experiences that customize a visitor’s website experience. If you spend any time on the sites of big online retailers like Amazon or Zappos, you’re accustomed to seeing web content that suits your preferences. By tracking where you’re navigating and your interest in certain products, they’re able to create a profile to serve you content based on your past actions to create a more relevant site experience.
With that said, we haven’t seen a lot of this customization from business-to-business brands on their sites. As personalization technology and tools become more readily available, business-to-business companies have the opportunity to personalize experiences for their customers and prospects. This is especially intriguing for companies that sell a range of products and services to unique vertical markets. Instead of delivering broad site content across specific markets, these companies can serve content, images, messages and promotions that are specific to the incoming visitor’s vertical market only. By using third-party tools that leverage reverse IP lookup databases, along with other data layers, website visitors for business products and services can begin to experience the same personalization as traditional retail sites.
Personalization by vertical market is only one way to customize content delivery on websites. Businesses can also personalize what visitors are served based on their demographics, location, time, device or behavior along with a slew of other factors. For example, if someone visits a site from a European country, the experience could reflect products/services that may be more applicable to that region or even have language adjustments based on that country. Or returning visitors to a site can be served specific content based on what they viewed in previous visits with more relevant messaging and suggested products. As big data expands, so do the opportunities and possibilities for more personalization.
In theory, site experience personalization sounds great to many of us. In practice, it takes a tremendous amount of commitment to make it a reality. That commitment comes in many forms. Bigger budgets are required to invest in the technology and tools to make it possible. Increased personalization means developing more content that is more specific to particular audiences. It requires additional time to test, measure and optimize site content against conversion points. Marketers need to consider and evaluate all of these in order to make customization successful.
Mass marketing is extinct. We’re already able to directly pinpoint audiences with paid media programs, social programs, direct marketing and other outbound marketing. Now, the opportunity exists to carry that experience through to an inbound website experience. Not just for consumer audiences but for business audiences as well. By delivering a more relevant and valuable website experience, site conversions go up and visitors are more satisfied.