Personalization is important… when done correctly

One of the hotter topics discussed this week at the just-ended Gilbane Conference in Boston was personalization. In a CMSWire article, panelist Scott Liewehr of the Digital Clarity Group stated that he's “not suggesting personalization is bad. But it can be bad if overdone. The more personalization the better — I don't think those two correlate. How many times do you just want to browse and you end up in a very different place than you started? Just because I bought a pony doll for my 8-year-old daughter does not make me an 8-year-old girl."

While I agree with Scott that more is not always better, a little personalization is better than none at all… when done correctly. The key point is that technology is the facilitator but the human factor is very important since, as our friends at ISITE say on their website, “Technology needs to enable the customer experience agenda, not define it.”

So how important is personalization? According to Gartner analyst Gene Alvarez, “By 2018, Gartner predicts, B2B companies with effective personalization on their e-commerce sites will outsell by 30% competitors without the same level of personalization.”

Overloading customers with information purely based on their past online interactions is obviously not the way to go since it may ultimately turn your customer into a former customer. So why is personalization such a hot topic? Because companies that can deliver customized content that doesn’t overwhelm customers but provides them with a real value end up securing loyal customers.

Here are five benefits from leveraging superior personalization technology that should be part of your content strategy:

1. Improved sales process: Personalization helps you deliver well-qualified leads to the sales team and shortens the sales cycle.

2. Improved search engine rankings: Regularly adding new and interesting content to your website helps your SEO.

3. Simplify the experience: Targeted sales, noting preferences and making the purchase process easier, improves your customer’s experience.

4. Repeat customers: With good and targeted content you strengthen your company’s brand which means that customers will most likely become that ever so valued commodity…the repeat customer.

5. Brand ambassadors: Happy customers are great references. They will talk about their experiences good or bad. So make it a good experience they will share their opinions with other people.