COVID-19 Update

Relevancy: The Case for Personalization


By Brad Heidemann, Founder and CEO, Tahzoo

Relevancy is worth its weight in gold these days. There are too many channels and too much content from which we can all choose each minute of the day and night. If we hit a site that doesn’t click with us immediately, we’re gone. We want the right information, in the right format, at the right time, on our device of choice.

How do we as digital marketers achieve relevancy? It begins with personalization.

There are two primary types of personalization:

  1. Implicit — The user visits a site and indirectly provides information. How? By browsing, spending time on the site, clicking through and so on. The web site takes information about the user and in turn, ties the data into the content management system. The user is not offering any information — but based on your implicit actions, the site reacts and adapts. With implicit, think of Amazon or eBay and the “people who like this product might also like this product” feature. These sites make assumptions based on what you’ve already purchased or clicked.
  2. Explicit — With explicit, the user is willing to give up information about who they are and what they want. For example, the user offers his ZIP code.  It’s based on a user’s confidence and trust in the site. In turn, the site models the delivery of content to the user’s profile, reacting to what it explicitly knows about the user. This enables the marketer to deliver rich and meaningful experiences that are pleasing to the site visitor and drive the goals of the site.

Taking personalization a step further, there is customization. In this case, the user shares details on what he or she would like to see — an RSS feed, for example. Customization has the greatest power when it comes to relevancy. If each individual user adds the criteria that he or she wants, each person’s experience is tailored and the user gets the most out of the site.

Many companies model the visitor experience differently. At our company, we take a three-framed view towards creating highly personalized experiences:

  • Content;
  • Creative; and
  • User Experience

Working within each of these categories, we refine the experience to match the audience. For example, with a creative lens we may use a different color palette for an audience segment or modify the navigational structure of a site for an audience that is viewing the site from a mobile device. Working with our clients to understand the audiences and their preferences, we create a model for tailoring the experience that will drive the goals of the site. We then use the model to create a process of ongoing improvement and optimization for each audience segment.

The one-size-fits-all web site is a thing of the past. The personal expectation in personal computing is only increasing as we adopt mobile computing. Delivering relevancy is no longer the domain of Google and Amazon. Technology innovations have brought that capability to the mainstream at a reasonable price. These innovations are reshaping the digital channel and marketers who move to engage their audiences with personalized experiences will see significant benefits.

Our ability to publish digital experiences across multiple channels has changed.  Marketing and technology vendors are bringing it all together to enable us to present multichannel, personalized content, and to do so at scale.