Mac & iphone

Personalisation is a great tactic to optimise conversion rates on your website.

Privacy is one reason why personalisation doesn’t happen on a much wider scale, as designers and web editors are worried they will infringe upon some written or unwritten law that creeps out their visitors. There are ways you can use analytics tools to help you do personalisation without being intrusive.

Use analytics to define worthwhile personalisation segments

Firstly use your analytics tools to define whether the user segment is big enough. You don’t want to start doing technical work or setting up A/B tests if the rule will only apply to 10 visitors per month. You want to find segments of your visitors that make it worthwhile.

Once you’ve done that there are a few ways you can personalise your content without freaking out your visitors whilst helping them in the process.

  1. Device types. If you’re running an eCommerce operation selling for instance mobile phones and the visitor arrives using an Apple product, the chances are that the visitor would be better served by showing the iPhone’s you have for sale first, rather than all the android devices. Similarly if you sell laptops then showing a related family of device types might help the visitor. So again, show Macs to Mac users, or PCs to PC users.
  2. New versus returning visitors. This one works for every site out there. If your visitor has never seen your website before then first impressions matter. Depending on where they land and where they come from you should present them with the options they need to make decisions to stay on your website and look around. It could be embedded links within the landing page they arrive at, or calls to action to gently persuade them to take the action you want them to take whilst giving them what they want. It could also be simply encouraging them to come back by asking them to sign up to your community. Returning visitors on the other hand might be looking for something that they bookmarked, or they saw from your website on their last visit. It might be easier for your visitor if you could show them what they were looking at when they were at your website last.
  3. Geography. We’ve discussed geo segmentation before but you could get a little more personal if you helped your user based on which city they’re in. If for instance you have a global website with a lot of contact addresses for locations all over the country (or the world) then by looking up where the user is located you could serve the closest location to them first, to save them searching through your list. Or if you’re in retail and have stores all over the country then showing the closest location to the user by default might help them.
  4. Language. Many websites try to predetermine which language you’re using based on the country you’re in. There is a right way and a wrong way to do this. If the user arrives at a Finnish website and sees Finnish language but speaks English then you’re doing the user a disservice forcing them to find the language options. Many sites force them to use a different version of the website (UK or USA as oppose Finland) and it removes local nuances from the content. The best way to do it would be to understand what language version the users operating system works in and present that along with very clear options for language throughout the website rather than force a user to fight their way through a language they don’t understand.

Four simple ways you can personalise without compromising privacy, but how do you go about doing it? This will be the subject of another more in depth tip, however in short you either need technical help from your website developers or you may set rules in tools like Google Website Optimize, Visual Website Optimzer, Adobe Target or Optimizely. For instance the rule might be “if the visitor is a new visitor > show content X otherwise show content Y” meaning that you’d by default show different content to new versus returning visitors.

Action Points

  • Define worthwhile segments from your analytics system. You want to personalise against segments of traffic that are meaningful.
  • Try the 4 segments above as starting points.
  • Start simple by finding something that won’t be too difficult to implement technically and see if it helps your users.