As a brand, it's important to understand the difference between on-site personalization and customization. Both of these elements help you meet customers' needs based on their unique preferences. Delivering individualized experiences is a recent concept that aims to enhance personalization, but you might not be familiar with it. What exactly is an "individualized experience" and how can it take on-site personalization to the next level? Let's find out!
Importance of individualized experiences
Personalization is a necessity in today's online environment. If your communication with prospective customers is too generic, this can be a big turnoff for them. Nothing says a brand is detached quite like a basic, detached experience trying to please every customer, even though everyone is unique and has varying wants and needs. If you can display an understanding of this with on-site personalization, you'll show your customers that you value their experience and individuality.
With so many brands out there trying so hard to get and hold people's attention, it's easy for consumers to become jaded. On the other hand, if you can speak directly to them, this will set you apart and may leave them more impressed with your efforts.
Today's stats also highlight the value of personalization, with 80% of people more inclined to buy from brands providing tailored experiences. In some cases, people won't even respond if you don't speak to them—72% of customers only engage with personalized messaging, according to SmarterHQ.
In providing personalized experiences for your customers, it's not enough to incorporate personalized elements here and there. You need to take full advantage of this tool by developing fully individualized experiences. If you consistently connect with people through personalized messaging and other content, you'll come across as more of a person talking one-on-one to each customer than some distant entity just trying to sell to them.
How to Create Individualized Experiences With On-Site Personalization
Personalization is key if you want to succeed online today. By creating individualized experiences for your customers, you'll build stronger relationships that keep people hooked and returning to you.
While you might see the importance of on-site personalization and individualized experiences, you might not know exactly how to go about using these tools. To give you some starting points, here are some ideas we would like to share to guide you along:
- Start with segmentation
- “Call me by my name”: Is that what your customers are looking for?
- “Good” personalization with zero-party data
- Don’t rely on third- and first-party data
- Follow the same personalization experience setup across all channels
Start with segmentation
One of the keys to personalization is audience segmentation. Historically, brands would try to reach as many people as possible within a broader audience. You'd see ads that include general information about the brand and offerings, with an empty brand slogan. Those days are long gone, however. People today respond best to the ads and messaging that build a direct connection with them, not general audiences.
Through segmentation, you can identify different groups within a larger audience. Each segment will have different wants and needs, and it will also find different types of content more resonant than others. You can get started with segmentation by looking at different demographics and psychographics within your existing audience. You can discern them based on traits such as age, gender, location, race, ethnicity, occupation, income, lifestyle, and buying habits.
With this information, you can then build unique personas for each segment, essentially giving each a fictional representative in the form of a character. As an example, let's say you have an audience comprising busy professionals and another that consists of stay-at-home parents. The professionals would make up a persona named Professional Pat, with a list of traits that this segment shares. Meanwhile, you'd target those parents using the persona Parent Parent Percy.
These two segments are likely to have wildly different pain points, which you can address through content that speaks to both audiences. For instance, you might offer a product that saves time and energy, such as a scheduler. In your marketing, you would show how professionals can use this scheduler to ensure they stay on time with meetings and take some time for professional development. Conversely, you might show parents how they can use your scheduler to manage their children's schedules while helping them set aside some personal time for themselves.
While good segmentation is a critical asset, keep in mind that bad segmentation is also possible. You might get certain details wrong about a particular segment, for instance, which could reflect in your messaging and turn those customers away. You can avoid this by taking the time to get to know each segment. Conduct surveys and ask people within each segment about their wants, needs, and pain points.
“Call me by my name”: Is that what your customers are looking for?
Many brands have the opportunity to really wow their customers with personalization, but instead, they opt for the most basic form of personalization. They add names to the hero sections that people first see on web pages, or they might add them to call-to-action phrases at the end of a page. This might be helpful in emails and other basic communications, but it's a dull practice on a website when it's the only form of personalization a brand uses.
If you want to use on-site personalization to its full ability, you need to go beyond just using people's names in your content. Collect, arrange, and use the various pieces of data you collect from customers. Everything from the type of verbiage you use to the imagery and offers you make should connect with each user based on their personality and preferences. Calling them by their name should merely supplement these efforts as the cherry on top of that personalized sundae.
“Good” personalization with zero-party data
You might have primarily used third-party cookies along with first-party data to gain insights into your audience, but third-party data is soon to phase out as privacy concerns grow. The main reason for this is that people are becoming increasingly worried about the integrity of their data as hacks and data breaches continue to affect top brands. The average consumer wants to be safe and secure when online, which is why companies like Google are taking steps to appeal to this desire. Specifically, Google is taking part by phasing out third-party cookies, which it originally planned to do a few years ago but now intends to complete by 2024.
To navigate a cookieless world, brands are turning toward other means of collecting data for personalization, including first and zero-party data. While first-party data is that which websites collect automatically from users, zero-party data is the information that people willingly give to you. You can obtain it through surveys and forms that request users to enter information ranging from names and contact details to preferences, personal context (such as how people found your website), and purchase intentions.
The insights you collect from zero-party data can help with effective personalization, which goes beyond simply using names and ages to personalize content. You can find out exactly what your customers want based on individual preferences, which you can use to cater the entire user experience to them. The key is knowing how to collect that zero-party data in the first place.
If you're looking for an effective way to collect zero-party data, consider implementing Storyly Stories, which helps collect valuable data while engaging app users and website visitors. Storyly enables you to create full-screen, interactive Stories on your app or website to maximize engagement and better communicate with users. To collect zero-party data using Stories, you can use surveys, polls, and reviews that encourage users to voluntarily share information about their experiences and preferences. On the back end, you can see the responses and use this data to assist with full-scale on-site personalization.
Don’t rely on third- and first-party data
Third-party data is going to be a thing of the past and first-party data can only get you so far with personalization. Instead of depending on these forms of data, you should focus more on zero-party data to create effective individualized experiences. You'll also want to carefully select the data you choose to collect and use for personalization. If you don't intend on using every piece of data for personalization, don't waste time and resources collecting it.
Some of the biggest brands out there are working toward providing personalized experiences without the need for third- and first-party data. For instance, streaming services like Hulu are doing what they can to harness the power of user feedback. These platforms allow people to select the specific genres that interest them most, and they can choose to like or dislike certain shows and movies. Based on this user input, streaming services can tailor the experience to each user and encourage them to watch only what interests them most. In the process, these platforms generate plenty of engagement and retention among users who continue to find the media they want to watch.
You can use Storyly Stories to get ahold of the data that's most important to you if you want to personalize the user experience. Ask about what users want to see from your brand and offerings through interactive polls. Allow users to select different categories of product offerings that appeal to them. You can then highlight the offerings that are most likely to resonate with these users, boosting engagement and sales.
Follow the same personalization experience setup across all channels
Consistency remains one of the most important aspects of marketing for any brand. This goes for branding, as consistency across all branded materials helps to shape a clear identity, but it also applies to individualized experiences. If people encounter a personalized ad when first introduced to your brand, only to land on a webpage that's jarringly different in its content, this is a prime example of "bad" personalization. People won't feel as though you're speaking to them so much as trying to simply get them to buy from you.
Make sure you start by greeting visitors from ads with a value proposition that's parallel to your ad. Use personalized content that uses consistent language to form a defined, recognizable voice. As people move along the customer journey, you need to maintain that same level of personalization to keep the customer connected. Otherwise, if you only offer a personalized experience at the beginning, it will feel as though you reeled them in by paying attention to them, only to drop them off in a pool with the rest of your customers and forget about them. Simply put, that personalization needs to stick.
Whenever you send emails, push notifications, or other forms of messages to your customers, you must speak to them with consistent personalization. They should also be parallel to the re-engagement channels you use within your app or website. This is where Stories can come in. Using Stories, you can captivate people on your website or in your app with personalized messages. This content can be congruent with the rest of your personalization efforts, converting users into customers and customers into loyal brand ambassadors.
Take the right steps to provide customers with individualized experiences
It's not enough to just incorporate a superficial level of on-site personalization—you must do what you can to personalize the entire experience people have with your brand. Collecting the right data and going beyond basic personalization can help you build a strong and lasting relationship with your customers. You'll impress new customers who seek personalized experience and retain loyal customers who continue to return because of that personalization. Personalized product recommendations and general experiences can go a long way in ensuring your brand stands apart from the competition in your industry.
For a tool that can help you take full advantage of on-site personalization, turn to Storyly. Using custom-branded Storyly Stories, you can connect with your customers in a way that few tools enable you to. Based on your segmentation and data collection efforts, you can develop personalized Stories that build connections with website visitors and app users that truly resonate. You can customize every aspect of your Stories and ensure they speak to each user who encounters them. Book a call now or register for free to get started.