Demystifying Web Personalization 3 Myths Debunked

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If you want your online business to keep up with the competition, you should be deploying website personalization.

Amazon set the precedent some years ago, and now receives 30 percent of its revenue through its pioneering use of product recommendations. Other e-commerce giants, notably Staples, have acquired entire personalization tools into their arsenal.

Research by Forrester found personalization to be the top priority for 55 percent of retailers. For B2C marketers, it was found to be this year’s top digital priority. Insights from another survey revealed that 83 percent of consumers prefer to receive a personalized cross-channel experience.

There's a number of studies and reports available that all point to the same place: personalization is the future of e-commerce.

Despite all this, several businesses still remain in the slow-lane when it comes to tailoring their customer’s shopping experience, with many not knowing where to start. In this article I’ll debunk the common myths that, I believe, ultimately hold retailers back from enjoying the undisputed benefits of personalization.

Myth 1: Personalization is too complicated

While adopting a personalization strategy can be a daunting task for a newbie, getting started is really not all that difficult. Adopt a personalization tool which suits your business size and goals. With an automated tool, you will receive a wealth of data on your customers which can open up opportunities after plugging it in. This data can be as varied as the gender or geo-location of your visitors to behavioral data, such as their browsing habits and product interests.

With this information you can segment your visitors based on attributes that are meaningful for your business. For example, a clothing e-commerce business could segment female visitors who have shown an interest in outdoor clothing so that they are shown outdoor female clothing products. This immediately gives the user a more relevant shopping experience.

A personalization tool will allow you to target your segmented buyers in various ways. This could be a personalized offer ($10 off hiking shoes!) or a targeted email (latest offers and products for hiking clothes). Not really that complicated.

Myth 2: I don’t have the time for personalization

While this age-old excuse is used by most of us at one time or another, a belief that personalization is very time-consuming is, again, a myth. There are plenty personalization tools available that are automated and do the hard work for you. Automated product recommendations and abandoned cart recovery features increase conversions but require zero effort on your part.

And while your tool works away amassing data, you can tune in and out as you like, altering segments when necessary. You may find, for example, at certain seasonal times of the year you want to tailor your personalization strategy. The holidays are the perfect time to target busy consumers, when competition is at its highest.

Myth 3 : I need lots of content for personalization

Smaller businesses spurn personalization on a false belief that they don’t have enough content. But consumers are less patient than ever, and are bombarded with irrelevant marketing messages -- three quarters of online consumers have stated they feel frustrated when encountering content irrelevant to their interests online. Making your website more relevant to their needs, regardless of how much content you have, is essential.

Start by personalizing the content you have -- use the products, videos, emails, blogs at your disposal in a targeted way and it will result in a more enjoyable shopping experience for your visitors. 

Personalization remains a nut to be cracked for many. Commonly held misconceptions may be holding back many businesses, despite the common acknowledgement that personalization will play a big part in the future of e-commerce. The good news is that it's easier than ever to get started and, by making small steps, rewards will follow.

Title image by Sthefany G. Santos (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license