Finding The Best Data-Sources To Drive Personalization

Mark  Ryan

June 08, 2012

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Lately we've been implementing various personalization features on sites to improve conversion rates and improve the user experience. With each site we look at the options of data sources to drive personalization to see if different data sources provided specific benefits.

Below are some of the data sources that have been the most beneficial:

External Sources -

  • Ad Networks: Many ad networks are great at providing demographic details such as age, gender, and product preferences about visitors allowing sites to drive personalized advertising.
  • eMail Servers: If the site is able to attain an email address from the visitor, many email service providers can supply specific information about the users such as industry of employer and age to drive personalized messaging.
  • IP Lookup Services: If the visitor is looking at your site from work and you can attain an IP address associated with the business, many IP lookup services can provide information such as company name, industry, headquarters address, revenues, # of employees, and the names of competing companies. This technique is great for personalizing messaging to your largest customers and prospects.

Non-authenticated Visitors On Site -
There are many opportunities to personalize a site to visitors that do not provide personal information or log in.

  • Search Engines: Using phrases given by external search engines such as Google or from internal search engines, we can often see the intent of the visitor on the site (i.e. product research, support, career seeker) and personalize the navigation, messaging, and imagery to better fit the visitor's needs.
  • Referrer: The originating location of the visitors often gives context to the visit. Especially when visitors are coming from sources such as industry blogs, partner sites, chat tools, or emails. This context often gives the site a hint at the visitors intention.
  • Web Analytics: Using the web analytics platform to detect user patterns such as browsing, hunting or looking at events that visitors triggered on previous visits allows the site to personalize content recommendations to visitors on the site without knowing who they are.
  • Custom Code: We often implement custom code to track simple visitor interactions such as repeat visits over brief periods of time. This allows us to gauge the visitors level of interest and personalize messaging to them accordingly.

Authenticated Visitors On Site -
When a visitor has logged into a site and the site can access internal systems with visitor information, the opportunities for 1-to-1 marketing get really fun.

  • CRM: When the CRM can expose information about visitors such as the industry they work in, their role in the company, where they are in the research/sales cycle, the types of information they have requested as well as the customers loyalty to the organization, we can personalized the types of information the site provides to them (i.e. introductions vs detailed product information vs testimonials).
  • Support System: If the visitor has interacted with the support organization by email, chat, or phone we can often search the data to find the customers specific needs, nomenclature, and preferences for interaction.
  • eCommerce: Once a visitor has logged into the store and the site can see the products they own, the length of time since their last purchase, the complimentary products they do not have, and the general category of products they have added to their cart the site is able to personalize navigational elements such as product categories as well as quick links to specific products.

Implementing and maintaining Personalization is time consuming and requires more resources than sites without personalization. However, to date the extra resources have always been worth it. In each site that we have implemented personalization we have found that visitors that are exposed to the personalization and interact with personalized content convert at higher than average ratios and the lift in conversion creates a positive ROI.