Web content personalization seems amazing until you discover how difficult it is to implement effectively! It's not technically that difficult but it is really hard to create and allocate targeted content for specific audiences and Gartner agrees. To be clear, I'm not questioning web analytics which is used to generate individual personalizations. Analytics is a powerful source of data for optimizing your website and great sales intelligence when pushed to the CRM.
The following article looks at various types of personalization, their benefits, and their issues.
The key challenges around traditional website content personalization are:
- The effort required to plan and implement personalization is a huge effort. It requires collaboration between multiple parties at many levels and there is a risk that it may never be entirely completed
- In the end, the ROI may not justify the effort and expense
- Personalizing to targeted segments removes other closely related content that may be of interest to visitors
- If the personalization structure is not perfect, a copious quantity of content is needed to meet the needs of different segments
- Having multiple versions for each page makes it harder to create great content - not to mention the SEO optimization and landing page challenges
- Visitors who are no longer interested in an item often continue to get personalizations of the item. They may, for example, have purchased a product and want to move on
- You risk dissuading visitors by over personalizing. Exposing personal information could invite litigation for privacy breaches
- Website performance is sacrificed as processors continually try to identify the correct content to render to concurrent visitors
Integration Driven Personalization
Being across the sales and marketing space we do see greater personalization benefits if they are directed at known website visitors like leads or contacts. These are typically driven from the CRM by the sales team:
- Set a personalization segment after learning more about the prospect
- Generate friendlier content to known visitors
- Expose CRM campaign subscription preferences to visitors
- Popup reminders to prospects returning to the website
- Create gated content controllable from the CRM
Driven from the CRM, live personalization is used to help sales reps during important high-value calls or deal negotiations. Live personalization lets reps control web content during sales calls to augment the active conversation. A common use is to direct callers to a specific landing or download page, for example, FuseIT's S4S integration lets reps populate a link in the website page footer that redirects visitors to any local or external web page.
In the same way we now routinely accept cookies as part of the access process we could also set the personalization preferences at the same time. This, at least, gives visitors some control over their own experiences.
Personalization is a beacon that attracts buyers to particular WCM systems. More often than not, it is instrumental in the buying decision but not implemented once the system is operational. Paying a premium price for a feature you don't need, and one that further complicates an already complicated space makes no sense. Any time scoping out exactly what you're hoping to achieve with personalization is well spent.