If you remember one word from the next few paragraphs, remember this: relevance.
The User Experience on the Internet is tracked, and that information is used. The web, the great equalizer when it comes to information, is evolving to fit the individual. It’s an equal trade off when looking through the proper lens. Users are giving up information about themselves through their activity. In return, they are receiving information from outside sources that fit that activity. They are repaid with relevance.
As marketers, this is a vital facet of understanding our customers and creating a web experience tailored to them. These tailored experiences are quickly changing from a pleasant surprise to a user expectation.
Our privacy is our currency.
When it comes to our online lives, we are all being watched. Everything from our last purchase to how long we hovered over a photograph of a scantily-clad model is being monitored.
As awareness of this fundamental truth grows, so does concern about it. Privacy settings are made available to users who don’t want Big Brother watching so much. What is the best way to keep the access of information flowing? Be a better Big Brother. For us to have access to how that experience is being used, we need to make it useful. Make it important. Make it relevant. When that happens our customers won’t see it as being watched, they’ll see it as being listened to, and that’s something everyone wants.
Who’s doing personalization right?
When it comes to creating a cutting-edge personalized user experience, it should come as no surprise that Google leads the way. Using an innovative algorithm, Google will give different results depending on the user. For example, the term “Modern Warfare” will get different search results if the person searching is a hardcore gamer versus a history student.
Netflix, the corporation who seamlessly transitioned from a DVD rental company to a streaming entertainment giant, sees the future too. They are investing $150 million in creating a customized experience through recommendation systems. And they have hired 300 people to create fresh, humanized and relevant recommendations. Why? We will all soon grow to expect a personalized experience.
Where’s personalization headed?
Now that we’re all on our mobile devices — and checking in on everything from Facebook to Foursquare – our location behavior is being added to our online behavior. In short, we’re bringing our online world into the real world. As this behavior continues to get tracked, we will soon have our content delivered based off where both our passport and our browser history has taken us. Things are about to get real. Very real.
What can we do about it?
As marketers, the opportunity is as relevant is the phenomenon. We can deepen our brand loyalty by making sure our brand fits the lives of our customers. We brag about treating people in person as more than a number. Now we can do that with our online customer service as well.
Here are four steps to personalizing your brand:
- Get to know them. By using web analytics, you can discover who your customer is by finding out what they want, when they want it and now even where they want it. You can then create the world where everything is in front of them. Everything just fits. Their online experience is as effortless as their experience in your branch.
- Give them an incentive. Here’s a great idea to solidify your personalization reputation. Do more than a broad promotion. Do a personalized promotion. Imagine getting a discount on a financial product in which you’re already interested. Now imagine trying to resist that temptation. Say a customer gave up on a loan application. It happens; life often gets in the way. Now imagine how that customer would feel if they were offered a discount to finish their application. How great would that be? That’s deepening your online brand experience.
- Give them assistance. Navigating the swarm of financial products can be intimidating for even the more experienced customer. Offer up a little human help that will be more valuable than 17 pages of FAQs. Investing in a 24/7 customer service rep or even making an online chat available to your user wandering through your website could be a lifesaver.
- Recruit them. We live in the Recommendation Age. If you have a fan of your company, it doesn’t take much effort to turn a customer into a brand ambassador. A referral program offering them $20 for every new customer they bring in to open a checking account is a great brand building combination. You bring in new business while deepening your relationship with a current customer.
Welcome to the new world; make sure you own it.
Our world of personalization is constantly evolving. Do more than embrace it. Celebrate it. Web personalization is a great opportunity to give your customer a voice, a passion, and a reason to love your brand. The time is now to make our information and our brand relevant in their lives — one customer at a time.