Published On: Sat, Aug 24th, 2013

Serving Your Customers a Slice of the Personalised Web

Transmedia ContentAre you ready for the personalised web? Earlier this year I highlighted it as a trend that businesses need to explore in order to get ahead and succeed online.

So just what is the personalised web?
As its name suggests, the concept is all about serving up an experience that is tailored to each web visit. It’s where big data, technology and content collide to ensure that each person has a fantastic, unique experience. An experience so good they want to return.

The personalised web presents businesses with the opportunity to provide visitors with the content they really want. Just think what impact serving the content at exactly the right time on the right device will have on engagement metrics, such as pageviews, average visit duration and bounce rate, as well as the more important business metrics like conversions, data capture and ad revenues?

This isn’t some far off idea. We’ve already had a sneak peak of the personalised web, just look at Amazon, eBay and Netflix product recommendations, as well as Google and Facebook advertising or HubSpot. With the slow death of the homepage and as content cements its places as the currency of the web, we’ll see the same technology widely applied to content.

Who has already personalises the web?
In terms of business models, the internet has arguably had the biggest impact on the media industry. It has torn down boundaries, levelled the playing field and hammered the nail in a few coffins along the way. The threat and unique pressures the media industry has felt, caused fear and panic, but it’s also led to disruption and arising from that, some amazing innovation.

That’s why media websites are streets ahead of corporates ones when it comes to personalising the web. When you’re fighting for attention, ensuring that you provide website visitors with the content they want first time around is absolutely crucial. The personalised web of the future promises to deliver relevance and recency, as well as add longevity to content.

So what does the personalised web look like?
In many respects this is still being played, but if you have a website you need to think beyond updating it regularly with fresh content. This is now a given. The next step is A/B testing content and then using an algorithm to provide visitors with tailored content, offers and recommendations based on their interests, previous behaviour, preferences, recommendations from social networks and any other information that cookies have managed to glean. Businesses will increasingly automate follow-up communication e.g. discount codes, special offers, invitations etc. based upon a person’s visit to the website, thereby increasing the chances of a repeat visit and conversion.

Still looking for real world applications of the personalised web? Then check out my former Edelman colleague, Robin Hamman’s post advising how you can ‘adapt website content to the individual’.

And if you’re still in any doubt about importance of the personalised web, ask yourself, do you want to serve content that is perfectly tailored to the individual or take a carpet bombing, one-size-fits-all approach? The businesses which succeed in adapting to this change will be the ones which forge deeper relationships with customers. It’s no longer about targeting audiences, but using technology to market to individuals.

In the future algorithm served smart content will become all pervasive and crucially, means people will view the web and consume content through their own unique lens. The ongoing battle for attention and relevance is no longer confined to the creation and publication of content, but serving it at precisely the right moment. Like many things in life, timing is everything.

About the Author

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Marketing Manager with a passion for inbound at HubSpot, Founder of Growth Hack Talks, Blogger at Ben-Cotton.com and Chief Quaffer at CraftySwine.org .

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