If anyone is looking for a strong example of the impact of website personalization, they don’t need to look any further than this year’s redesign of ESPN.com. ESPN’s move shouldn’t come as a surprise—after all, most enterprises redesign their websites every 18-to-24 months. But the reason that ESPN received so much attention is that it made one very significant strategic shift—its new website adapts to the person who is viewing it.
Some of the techniques that were built into the site allow it to reflect the location, preferences, interests and the device of each of its visitors. For example, it can predict (within reason-more on that later) your favorite team based on its best guess on your location. Once preferences are determined, it can prioritize relevant content every time you return to the site. That means the dynamic delivery of relevant content, a tailor-made river of information that is constantly updated.
ESPN certainly isn’t a pioneer in website personalization—after all, Amazon has been delivering that type of individualized content for years. But ESPN has figured out what every enterprise company needs to learn: Website visitors across all industries and sectors now expect at least some level of a customized experience. In fact, according to one recent survey, three-quarters of online consumers get frustrated when websites offer content that has nothing to do with their interests.
In other words, enterprise organizations that don’t start offering a more personalized experience will soon see their target audience abandoning their websites—resulting in lost opportunities for conversion, and, ultimately, lost revenues.
Here are four tips to help get you on your way to a better customized experience for your visitors:
Go Mobile First. This means installing technology that identifies the various devices that visitors use to view your content. First and foremost, Google rewards mobile-friendly sites in its page ranking, and is beginning to penalize those that aren’t. Viewers using their mobile devices need to be easily able to access content on those devices, and that requires a far different design than for a desktop or laptop.
Recognize the Buyer’s Journey. A first time visitor is going to need different types of content than someone who has already visited the site on several occasions. That means more general explanatory content for first-time visitors, with content moving towards specific questions and specifications as they move through the journey and towards a purchasing decision.
Use the Best Tools for Persona-based Content. Cookie technology is a necessity to understand and track where returning visitors have been on the site, what types of information they have sought, and what they might need next. Anticipating their needs and interests will result in a significant increase in conversion, and a decrease in frustration.
Allow Visitors to Contribute Their Own Personalization Settings. In the case of ESPN, it might seem obvious to assume that a visitor from Washington, D.C., was a Washington Nationals fan. translate But they could just as easily be a Baltimore Orioles lover. Checking in with that visitor directly will deliver better engagement, and better results.