Web Marketing. This Time It’s Personal

Aaron Branson
October 27, 2011
Digital Marketing

Remember back in the day when people would tout their website as “it’s like a salesperson that works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!”? Well, if this salesperson of yours gave the same tired pitch over and over to every single prospect and even existing customers who he’s already sold to (and also doesn’t recognize those loyal customers), I think you’d fire him faster than he can say “417”. That’s the HTTP status code for “Expectation Failed”, when the server cannot meet the requirements of the Expect request-header field. Get it? The website salesperson is not meeting expectations. I bet that joke flopped. Ok, sticking with my day job.

So, anyway… that’s exactly how most website interaction is today. And it’s getting old and customers and prospective customers are realizing it. The only time this website/salesperson takes the time to remember who you are as a visitor is if you basically reintroduce yourself – i.e. login and explicitly tell it to “remember me”.

But that’s all changing and changing fast! If you are not aware of the terms “personalization” or “engagement automation”, then I hope you’ll find this exciting. If you are aware, then I hope you are leading the way and implementing these concepts.

In the effort to conserve pixels, I’ll keep this brief. Today, let’s focus on just personalization. This is all about firing that website I described above. Your website, just like a salesperson, needs to have to have a two-way conversation with customers. Your website needs to remember the people it conversed with and offer relevant, engaging, personalized content the next time around. This can take shape in two ways: rules-based personalization or predictive personalization.

  • Rules-Based Personalization: Simply identifying traits about the current user via analytics (i.e. city, country, organization name, time of visit, etc) and creating rules that display content geared. This can go a long way in showing customers you recognize what may be more relevant them instead of treating them the same as everybody else. Good start for the new salesperson!
  • Predictive Personalization: This one gets more complex and is a good step up from “rules-based”. With predictive personalization, you still serve up content that is relevant to the user, but now you do it based on their behavior and interactions with the website. This requires a technical solution that can track behavior “real-time” (not yesterday’s stats) and react accordingly. Perhaps a user has viewed 12 pages all about basketball shoes. So, hopefully your knowledgeable salesperson (aka website) will not show the same ol’ sales promo for hockey skates that everyone else is seeing. Hey, now this salesperson is actually thinking about his customers and offering some valuable recommendations!

So, if you’re website is still behaving like that 24/7 robotic “salesperson”, it’s time to put him on notice.

This is especially powerful for B2B marketers. Imagine for instance, customizing your website for particular sales prospects – 1) to know exactly when they’re visiting your website, and 2) deliver a personalized web experience by presenting them the information you know they are looking for.

I’m personally very excited about the unique marketing and customer service possibilities this affords us. If you’d like to discuss it further, get in touch with me.

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