User Experience

Intelligent website personalization

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Opportunities to create value with personalized UX

Personalized search results on Google, a customized Newsfeed on Facebook – people are used to web content being fine-tuned to reflect their desires and interests, and they also expect this from the brands that they interact with.

For this reason, brands have to adapt and address their (potential) customers in a personalized way – both on their own websites and on other relevant channels. This kind of personalized communication is being made possible by technological advances:

  • There are more and more big data service providers in the market that are using the increased processing speeds of servers and processors to analyze large volumes of data and display results in real time.
  • A growing number of content management systems are providing personalization functions out of the box that are immediately available once installation has been completed and do not require any further adjustment. Content can be configured in different variants and displayed according to fixed rules.
  • With Optimize 360, Google has launched a tool onto the market that can be used not only to carry out A/B tests, but also to dynamically swap out content – an uncomplicated method that can be used to examine the potential of the opportunities being presented by personalization.

However, the hope that technology will fully take on the task of personalization by itself is not being fulfilled. On the contrary: using technology like this requires additional effort, because every personalization strategy has to begin with a fundamental understanding of user requirements. Target groups then have to be identified, while existing and future content has to be allocated as part of a content mapping process and subsequently aligned with brand messages and KPIs. Only then can content be developed and optimized.

Making it personal: the website

In sales, 1:1 communication has always been standard, whether in a store or on the telephone. Personalization now means that this standard can be applied to digital communication, which, until now, has generally been directed at many different recipients at the same time. But one website for all users is now turning into one very personal version for each user. This reduces click paths, increases conversions and improves customer satisfaction – and could eliminate the need for the search function on websites in the future.

A huge hurdle, especially in Europe, is that users will only register for a website if they see high added value for themselves in it. However, many companies find it difficult to create services that can provide this. Companies that require real user data late in the customer journey or not at all should therefore offer users the option of registering with an existing profile from Facebook, Amazon or Google.

Addressing customers personally on external channels

But personalization should not be limited to a company’s in-house channels alone. Two-thirds of all interactions with brands and products are already taking place outside of touchpoints that belong to the company, that is, beyond the (company) website, service center or store. What makes this development especially exciting is that it is not just limited to affordable items for everyday consumption. According to a study carried out by Google (https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/consumer-car-buying-process-reveals-auto-marketing-opportunities/), of an average of 500 digital interactions before buying a vehicle, only 186 are accounted for by the manufacturer’s touchpoints. The others include, for example, web searches, YouTube videos, automotive media and much more.

Once a company has identified which usage habits correlate with which content preferences, it can also efficiently apply this knowledge to online marketing. Using narrow segmentation to target relevant messages or products to certain groups can generate a lot of attention – as the people being addressed by banners or social media advertising, for example, feel like they are being spoken to directly. This works above all if the target site has also been perfectly adapted to the relevant preferences.

A German version of the article was published on internetworld.de.

About the Author

Jörg Heidrich
Executive Director UX

As Executive Director UX at UDG United Digital Group, Jörg Heidrich optimizes the user experience for strong brands. The qualified designer consistently focuses on customers and motivates companies to actively engage with their needs and habits, generating sustainable brand-appropriate growth.