Rethinking “Personalization” – Today’s UX Golden Goose

“Personalize. Personalize. Personalize!” If there is any doubt, 2012 is certainly the year of personalization. For the past few years we have seen a growing focus on personalization. Whether it be in the message, the experience, the product, or even the reach out – making sure you personalize every step of the way is crucial.

personalization marketing

I think the recent upgrades to our common advertising options (Adwords, FB editor, etc.) as well as our traditional standards (funnels, UX, etc.) have brought the customized experience to the forefront. I, for one, love it. It may take more work upfront but the rewards on customer sentiment and lifetime value are obvious.

Focusing on personalization is always the better option. Except for when it’s not.

What Does That Mean?

These days I see marketers filling their funnels and products with what is called “gratuitous personalization” or “personalization that doesn’t hold value for the customer.” Examples of this are things like cute “Welcome back {enter random person’s name}” messages and “We’re happy to offer you, {enter random person’s name} this new product!” Yuck. Yuck. Yuck…Yuckity Yuck Yuck.

Don’t get me wrong, we do some of this at SEOmoz, and honestly I’m pushing for us to drop it. Those sorts of messages and name drops do not count as personalization. Or should I say – they don’t count as valuable personalization. 

Today’s personalization should be valuable. It should offer something unique to that user. It’s time to raise the bar friends. We have the data. You’ve created the customer profile based on cookies. You know where they are logging in from, what number visit that was this week. You know what they purchased last, and what they haven’t tried yet. You have profile information in most cases. You know their purchasing patterns, and their limits.

For the love of good freaking marketing –– USE THE DATA!

That is what makes for valuable personalization. That is what the experts out there are preaching right now. And trust me when I say that is what keeps customers engaged and retained. Today’s user has evolved and they know fluff when they see it. They know when something is a blanket invite, or message, or offer. They also know when something is unique and valuable.

So What Can You Do Moving Forward?

Challenge yourself and your team to look at your data and find unique identifiers that you can extract valuable customizations from. What data can you leverage?  I think you’ll be surprised how much you find.

From there you can all jump in a whiteboard and ask yourselves “if I were this person, what would catch my eye? What would move me? Or engage me? Or propel me to share?” These brainstorms lead to beautiful messaging that crafts an experience we can all be proud of.

I’d love to hear what you have all tried. Or hell for that matter – what personalization has worked on you?

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