Personalisation is a great way to improve a user’s visit to your site. Recently I have been really interested in the different ways of approaching this – the traditional and what I am calling ‘Soft Personalisation’ methods.
For commercial applications of web personalisation the site needs to know who you are. This happens at several levels:
Most information – You have an account or profile with the site. They can then leverage this data to show you relevant information, based on your personal details, history on the site, or previous purchases.
Amazon pretty much pioneered this with recommendations and bundles, which they introduced in 1997.I have lost count of the number of times someone has said during a project/brief ‘just do what they do on Amazon – things you might like to buy’. Not only do they use this information to tell you things you might like, but also use the information to tell other people with similar interests/purchase histories.
How you got there – How did you enter the site – PPC, natural search, a campaign? Custom landing pages for each channel, keyword or search term are easy ways to serve up highly relevant content.
Learning about you – Browsing history and prior behaviour. This works especially well on ecommerce sites as the site learns about you as you move around and view products.
Soft personalisation – working with what we have
What happens when you get a new user to your site and want to give them a personalised experience right away? They do not have an account and have not been to any other pages on your site. What are the options?
Just by entering your site each user actually tells you a lot about themselves. I am talking about the stuff that any web analytics package captures. Using this information for personalisation can be a potential gold-mine for adding features to your site as well as nice little touches which make things easier for the user.
A few examples:
1. The users’ location
Burton do this really well; they work out roughly where you are and use this to pull weather information relevant to you. They can then use this to show you useful information, but also to highlight suitable products for you at that exact moment.
Analog again find your approximate location and use it to add a nice personal touch to their site – they tell you how far you are away from each of their members.
2. Their operating system
This Skype example is really simple. When you visit the download page it shows you the version you need for your computer. Most users’ probably won’t even notice this, and they do not have to. They have been saved a click or the task of searching for the version they need. Seamless and super helpful.
3. Current time
The NOFRKS site changes styling to reflect the time of day the site is viewed. This example is really only adding a simple visual change. It’s not helpful like the Skype example or highly personalised like analog, but it is a nice subtle touch, and sometimes that is all you need.
Doing even more
I hope that the examples above show that personalisation doesn’t have to be intrusive; it can be helpful, clever and subtle.
This is really only a bit of what can be done. Plunder your analytics account and see what user information you are collecting. Much of that data can be used in some way or another.