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Live from Big Design: Personalization Strategies for Better User Experiences

Personalization Strategies for Better User Experiences, by Brent Bice

big-design-logo-300x126Personalization is about relevance. Finding content that you know about and they need. Personalization is about providing the right content at the right time (when they need it). It’s about optimizing a digital experience for that user, and cutting through the clutter and the noise.

Why Does it Matter?

It’s not new – it’s been around since back in MyYahoo. But now the internet is faster, content is easier to produce, we have Twitter, video, audio files all coming into play. All of these solutions are now starting to talk to each other, so it’s much easier to take all this data and organize it in a way that is more useful.¬†

There is too much noise in the world. Our focus is limited. And we expect things to be fast and easy.¬†People get frustrated with content doesn’t apply to them directly. Companies that use data to deliver personalized experience are getting higher ROI (specific numbers are in the presentation). Netflix is a personalized Blockbuster. LinkedIn is personalized networking. Amazon is personalized shopping.

Why aren’t more people doing it?

Common Challenges

  1. It takes a lot of team members – digital marketing for data, UX, and development
  2. Technical complexity
  3. Performance and caching challenges
  4. Privacy concerns

How do We Begin

First, there are some prerequisites:

  1. Know your audience, including their:
    • Personas
    • Journey
    • Goals
    • Engagement
    • Drivers
  2. Define audience segments
    • Understand the demographics
    • Learn their style, interests, behaviors
    • Then break them into “similar” groups
  3. Develop a solid content strategy
    • What types of content do they want?
    • What channels do we use?
    • How frequently do we connect?
    • Are we reusing content?
    • What is the content creation workflow?
  4. Determine how to measure success
    1. Conversions
    2. Relevance
    3. Experience
  5. Collect and consolidate data across:
    • CMS
    • Social
    • Analytics
    • AMS
    • CRM
    • Decide whether to use implicit or explicit data
      • Implicit comes from geolocation, service/product interest, intent, engagement
      • Explicit comes from search, contact info, surveys, web forms
  6. Develop testing procedures
    • A/B testing, to test 1 element changes
    • Multivariate options, to try pairing various elements
  7. Pick the type of cookies to set
    1. 1st party cookies (recommended)
    2. 3rd party cookies

Design considerations

Understand the anatomy of your CMS:

  • Users
    • Are they authenticated?
    • Cookies
    • SSO integration
    • Location/device
  • Views
    • Lists of related content
    • [Marli adds:] Content types
  • Pages
    • Tags
    • Taxonomy terms
    • References
  • Regions
    • Banners
    • CTAs
    • Navigation
    • Footers
  • API

Figure out what on the page is specific to that user, and what the content options are. We can associate content with specific demographics or behaviors.

For example, for one image, ask:

  • How many image variations will you need?
  • What’s the effort vs. the payoff?
  • What’s the context of the user that will cause the new image to appear?

There are tools to help, like Lift for Drupal, Optimizely, and Demandbase. They provide personalization and tracking.

Key Takeaways:

  1. We appreciate focused messaging
  2. Start with a well-developed content architecture
  3. Create a unified visitor profile
  4. Implement and test in small chunks

Marli Mesibov

Marli is a content strategist with a passion for the user experience. Her work spans websites, web applications, and mobile. Marli is the VP of Content Strategy at the UX design agency Mad*Pow, and she serves as managing editor at UX Booth, a publication about all areas of user experience. Marli is a frequent conference speaker, and has spoken at conferences including Content Strategy Forum and LavaCon. She can also be found on Twitter, where she shares thoughts on content strategy, literature, and Muppets.

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