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From customers to investors to potential hires: how does a single website manage to meet the needs of all its various users? Website personalization entails structuring sites so that navigation clearly conveys to visitors where to find the information they're most interested in. This doesn't happen by chance. You need to consider strategically how different audiences might access and interact with your organization's website — and which users take precedence over others.

 

On a large retail site like Walmart.com, for instance, shoppers clearly get top priority. The home page showcases popular, discounted and timely products consumers might be looking for. It's only when you scroll to the bottom of the page that you'll find pathways for Walmart's other audiences, including job seekers, investors, suppliers and the media.

Website personalization drives engagement

The process of determining website design and user priority generally involves developing audience personas, which help create "user journeys" based on the kind of information each audience segment is likely to look for or the types of activities they might pursue on the site.

 

Brand loyalty is based on every interaction a person has with a brand. As every aspect of life today is becoming more selective – from the media we choose to watch, to the clothes we choose to wear – there is an increased impatience for users to get what they need quickly and easily. The best brands adapt their digital estates to deliver this and thereby keep users coming back.

When it comes to home pages, one size may not fit all

One way to address issues that might arise from competing interests among various audiences is to vary the ways you communicate directly with these audiences, directing them immediately to specific parts of the website — or to specific landing pages.

 

In communications with investors, for example, Walmart is likely to use the URL for its Investors landing page which, in essence, serves as the "home page" for investors. The Newsroom landing page serves as the home page for the media. These URLs can be shared directly with these audiences, as opposed to the general, consumer-focused landing page.

 

Importantly, despite potentially having a variety of target audiences, the UX/UI should remain consistent. You don't want your various properties to feel disjointed. Web personalization should recognize that individuals may belong to multiple target audiences or their audience segment may change over time. An individual might wear a variety of different hats when interacting with your company — as both a consumer and a member of the media, for instance, or as both a shareholder and a consumer. As these users visit your site for various purposes, consistency helps to support the overall brand, while landing pages and targeted content serve specific interests.

Engaging based on personas and buyers' journeys

Web personalization can allow brands to have more of a conversation with consumers. In the process, they can serve them with more relevant products and get them to what they want faster. For example, fashion retailer JustFab has a quiz that's both fun to take and delivers prospective buyers items based on their personal tastes. By giving consumers a chance to participate and express their opinions, JustFab boosts engagement. Plus, in order to receive results, you must fill out a form that funnels consumers into their email marketing campaigns.

 

The bottom line: As with any other form of marketing communication, website personalization must begin with a thorough understanding of the target audience and what matters most to them. In a competitive online marketplace, those who understand their audiences best will reap the greatest rewards.

Linda Pophal, MA, SHRM-SCP is owner/CEO of Strategic Communications, LLC, and a marketing and communication strategist with expertise in strategic planning, PR/media relations, social media and SEO and corporate communications. Linda is the author of several books on marketing and business practices. Pophal is an accredited member of SHRM, IABC and the American Marketing Association.

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