Personalized Content Catered to You, But Who Are “You”?
Personalization on the web has lent itself well to providing users with a customized and targeted user experience. Personalization can help your site perform better for your users and increase user traffic to your content. There are numerous different approaches for how you can choose to personalize content but the first step is identifying who you are personalizing experiences for.
You need to identify who your audience is first and foremost and then you can dig a little deeper to determine what makes each user within a user group unique. We can do this by asking specific questions like:
- Who is currently using the site?
- What are their demographics?
- Are they tech-savvy?
- What do they want/need?
- How will we help them achieve their wants/needs?
- What will we do to add value to their visit?
- What competitors are vying for your audience’s attention?
- What are competitors doing right and wrong, are they creating opportunities for you?
Once you learn more about the differences within your various user groups like their age, location, etc., you can hone-in on specific goals that users would like to accomplish and assess how those goals align with your business’ objectives.
Identifying unique goals, actions, or behaviors you want your user types to take will vary depending on your business and industry. For example, if you have an online store to sell your products you would want to focus on conversions; as opposed to a membership-based organization that wants to focus on onboarding new members. These actions fulfill both the user’s intent as well as your business’ objectives. To strategize balancing user goals and business goals, you will want to ask yourself questions like these:
- What message do I need to get across to support the user and my business goals?
- Features and benefits
- Counteract negative interpretations
- Inspire and educate
- Visual or text focused
- And many others
- What is the best way to relay my message to my audience?
- Notifications and Calls-To-Action
- Cross-promotion of content – lead users on their requested journey
- Personalized User Profile and Dashboard
- Simple, single page design or a multiple layered taxonomy
- It could be all of the above
- What metrics do I want to track to determine if I have the right personalization strategy?
- Form submissions
- User behaviors
- Time on site
- And many others
After the user and business goals have been defined, it is time to determine what personalization approach will be the most successful at engaging your audiences.
UX Personalization Approaches
User Experience Research is the first step in content personalization; you can’t beat a strategy that is based on real data and feedback. There are many different ways to gather user data and obtain the information needed to learn more about your users and their needs. These are some of our favorite processes to help inform our content personalization strategies:
- Collecting Data – There are different approaches to collecting data from users. You can rely on Google Analytics data, use geolocation information, or survey users from a subscription or mailing list.
- User Journey Mapping – Once the user personas are created with their core needs and goals in mind you can begin mapping out workflows or journeys. These user paths should naturally lead the user from point A to point B; which in turn, fulfills user needs as well as your business objectives.
- Information Architecture – User journeys and Information Architecture go hand-in-hand. Once the conversion funnels are mapped out, you need to make sure that your site more than supports that journey – it needs to feel easy. If it is not easy for a user to navigate from point A to point B the user will abandon your site. Information Architecture analysis will address any re-architecting of navigation strategies and user interface (UI) layout designs to support each unique user journey.
- Personalized Content Strategy – Once the Information Architecture supports the user journeys you can begin thinking about what types of content, imagery, and Calls-To-Action (CTA’s) will best speak to each user type. Targeted imagery and strategic use of CTA’s is a great way to silently lead users on their specific path through the site to fulfill all needs.
All of these processes will help you determine a good strategy for personalized content on the web. One thing we didn’t fully address is the best approach to collect data. There is nothing that a user dislikes more than feeling like their privacy is being violated and it is important that you are thinking morally about how you are accessing user data to inform personalization strategies. Companies that are fully transparent about data collection with the goal to improve the online experience are often times welcomed by users.
What About User Privacy?
Privacy is very important to consider when creating a personalized user experience on the web. Have you ever been talking about a product that you are interested in with a friend, only to login to your Facebook account and see an advertisement for that product at the very top of your newsfeed? This can be very convenient for some consumers but there are plenty of consumers that will instantly be spooked and log out of the app. Privacy is very important in the digital world we live in and users need to feel like their privacy is supported in order to build trust with your site and company.
There are many ways to collect and use data to gain user insights, but what data can you collect ethically these days? New laws have been put in place, or will be effective soon, that require businesses to get opt-in approval prior to collecting or distributing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from your customers or users. Europe led the way by implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and as of January 2020, California will be implementing the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Here are some different ways to gather insightful user data to support the user experience that we would like users to have on the sites we build:
- User Surveys and Interviews – We love this! We get to choose the questions we ask and the users are happy to share pain points and ideas in order to achieve a better user experience. Plus, there’s nothing better than getting qualitative information directly from the source.
- Google Analytics – This is great quantitative usage data that can show trends to see what pages are most popular, show demographic data, show usage on different devices, and much more!
- Campaigns and Landing Pages – By setting up specific marketing campaigns that target unique user types you can learn how users interact with those landing pages to help determine their core goals. Knowing the user’s specific goals is helpful for personalizing the experience for them.
- Geolocation – Mobile devices are smart, really smart. They can tell where users are at when they make crucial online conversions. For example, many retail stores are using beacon technology to strategically display relevant discount messaging to users when they are close to the store to encourage conversions.
- Machine Learning – This is newer AI technology that can analyze data and identify patterns that inform actions based on those learned patterns. This can be used to strategically recommend a relevant product to a user based on their purchasing patterns.
These are all great data gathering strategies, be sure that all data collection is gathered ethically by allowing users to easily opt-in or opt-out of sharing their personal information. You can read more about collecting personal data in our February Talk Nerdy To Me blog about the CCPA.
Design and Develop for Your Users When You Can, But Don’t Force It
Above all else, make sure you are designing and developing for a great user experience for all audiences. With that being said, content personalization will require some work from you in order to be successful. Personalization strategies need resources to support new content generation. You need to ensure that there is enough viable content and you are regularly creating fresh content to target audiences; you want to keep them coming back for more. A personalized user experience is key in engaging and re-engaging users to interact with your site. Personalized content is a great investment and ROI booster by building a sense of trust and understanding with users. If users feel cared about, they will keep coming back. Do your users or website need some love? Schedule a free consultation with us!