Five steps to make it personal

All visitors, even anonymous ones, want information that relates to their interests. If they don't find it on your website, they will look elsewhere. If they do, they'll keep coming back. According to Gartner (source: a Framework for Creating the Future Customer-Centric Web, Feb 2009) by 2012, organizations that lack customer-centric web strategies will soon trail competitors that have them. I'm often asked how you should you go about implementing website personalization. So here are my top 5 tips.

Know your audience

It is vital to address specific customer needs, but content needs to be manageable as well. Segmenting customers into groups with matching characteristics will address both of these requirements. You can match these segments or target audiences with products and services that meet their needs.

Target audience marketing can be tricky. It is important to identify the unique requirements of each target audience. If you want to reach a global audience, for example, the best conversion will be found if content is presented in the right language and relevant local information is served (e.g. customer case studies from the region).

A next generation web content management solution will help with mapping target audiences to a global business model. It will provide a method of organizing content and managing multilingual variations intelligently and easily.

Profile your visitors

Marketers recognize that the success of their marketing campaigns depends upon delivering the right messages to the right people at the right time. Relevancy is king. The marketing team must profile audiences according to meaningful criteria and tailor communications to the attributes of each audience.

The most successful profiling is based on rich, detailed demographics of targets, so that recipients feel you are addressing them directly. To serve your target audience with specific content that relates to their interests, you need to identify what these interests are. Building visitor profiles is the basis for personalization.

Match your content to the visitor

Profile information should be used to provide your website visitors with tailored content that is appealing and persuasive, whether they are registered users or anonymous. Cookies can be used to store information about an anonymous user's interests for future visits. Previous searches can be used to route relevant information to the visitor.

If a visitor signs in, you can take advantage of explicit profile information that they have given you directly, such as their contact details, areas of interest, location or demographic information, to present relevant information.

Closing the loop

Closed loop marketing is a form of interactive marketing where customer responses and behavior are used to direct and refine marketing strategy and tactics. There is a �closed loop' when collected customer data (from surveys, promotional entries, coupon redemptions etc.) and browsing behavior or a purchase are used to build a customer profile. These profiles provide the basis for further marketing initiatives. The recipient profile is enriched and adjusted, based on responses to the campaign and the campaign is consecutively adjusted to the recipient profile � there is a feedback loop.

Implementation checklist

Before you rush into implementing a personalization solution for your online marketing communication, it is wise to consider some related factors:

  • Privacy policy � do you clearly state that you are collecting implicit and/or explicit information about visitors and how you will use this information? Have you complied with the legal requirements for all the geographies in which you operate?
  • Security � do you have security measures in place to protect personal information?
  • Integration � does your website communicate with your CRM and other customer information sources? Do you have a central place that holds a single view of your customers, their interests and their behavior?
  • Analytics � do you have an overall view of all your offline and online marketing activities in one place? Can you drill down to uncover what works and what doesn't, which content is read and which isn't? Our survey found that only 53 percent of companies always measure ROI.
  • Infrastructure � a website must be reliable to evolve as the preferred channel for any type of customer centric interaction. Is your platform stable, responsive, convenient, easy to navigate, consistent and proactive?  

About the Author
Maria McCann
Northern European Marketing Manager

Maria McCann is the Northern European Marketing Manager for SDL Tridion Working at SDL Tridion since 2008, Maria is an experienced senior marketing professional with 20 years experience within the IT, IT managed services and interactive agency sectors. Maria has specific expertise in client-centric online marketing solutions in particular and believes in looking at all marketing initiatives from the target audience perspective, rather than the organization's.

SDL CMT division

Visitor interaction

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