VentureBeat recently published a report on Web Personalization: How big (and small) companies are increasing conversions and boosting retention. We’re proud to be included in it, and we wanted to provide some takeaways in case you haven’t had a chance to read it yet. The full report itself is jam-packed with value (especially for marketers), and it’s available here from VentureBeat. (Note: There’s a fee for the report, and Boomtrain does not receive any compensation for promoting it.) 

#1 Personalization might be a big buzzword, but it’s currently underutilized (especially on the web).

According to VentureBeat, marketers using personalization are very much in the minority. On top of that, most marketers have a narrow view of its potential: “web personalization was not commonly employed: about a third are doing limited personalization on a landing page or the home page, and fewer than a quarter are personalizing content or products.” 

If you’re only personalizing via email, for example, you’re not personalizing to your anonymous users — which, depending on your industry, makes up between 57% and 98% of your audience. You’re missing out on a huge chunk of the people who touch your brand, and on the opportunity to convert a percentage of them into habitual readers or dedicated customers.

 

#2 Still, it’s becoming more and more accessible for businesses of all kinds.

Amazon has been tracking everything its customers buy since the late 90s; the company pioneered personalized product recommendations. Machine learning — the technology that powers those recommendations — has evolved significantly since then, and it’s become much more feasible for companies of all kinds to take advantage of it.

Like so many forms of automation, personalization is on its way to moving from a luxury to a necessity. The report “likens web personalization today to A/B testing in 2009. Some companies were testing, but it wasn’t widely adopted or easy to do at the time. Today, though, if you’re not testing, ‘you’re throwing away your money.’”

Though personalization is underutilized right now, companies that don’t take the time to learn about it will find themselves behind the curve sooner than they might expect.

 

#3 Personalization impacts a wide variety of metrics (two in particular stand out).

People frequently misunderstand the real definition of personalization, so it can come off as something fuzzy — a nice-to-have rather than a no-brainer. But VentureBeat’s report demonstrates that personalization delivers results, and they’re pretty easy to track: “If we exclude those that say it’s ‘too early to tell’ – limiting our audience to only those who have seen some results – 87% have seen a lift of at least 5% in their most important metrics. Two in five (39%) have seen increases of at least 20% in their most important metrics.”

And which metrics are marketers focused on, you might ask? The top two are Return Visits and Conversion Rates, with 1 out of every 4 marketers zeroed in on these.

Other top key metrics marketers are looking to impact with web personalization include: Time on Site (22% of marketers), PageViews (20%), and Registration/Signups (17%). As can be seen, most of the focus revolves around Engagement and Retention, with Acquisition (Registrations/Signups) trailing.

Companies are primarily using personalization as part of a long-term strategy — as a way to reduce churn and increase the value they get from each user.

 

#4 Companies will rely less and less on third-party data.

“First-party data is growing in importance and third-party is being viewed with increased skepticism.”

In a previous article, “The Most Powerful Data is the Data You Already Own“, we outlined the importance of First-Party Data. Simply: Only you can truly know your customers through your first party-data. Third-party data can help “fill in the gaps”, however the real valuable insights are taken from the data directly collected from your users.

The advantages of using First-Party Data:

  • They’re Your Users: No one else has access to this data, and you actually own it. You aren’t relying on generic Third Party Data. It’s unique to your brand and your users.
  • It’s Accurate: The data comes from either your users’ onsite behaviors or information they have provided in forms and opt-ins. It comes straight from the source!
  • Readily Available: You’ve been collecting it in your server logs, CRM, partner technologies, and other means. Yes, it is cumbersome to marry these data sets together, but it is worth it.
  • Always Up-to-Date: Since it it your data on your users, you aren’t relying old data from another source.

The resurgence of the importance of First-Party Data for marketers has been made possible with the rise of technologies and vendors who are making it easier to access and actionize this data – giving rise to a centralized intelligence layer that marketers can use across multiple channels.

“We expect more companies to rely more on first- and second-party (from data partners) and less on third-party data in the future.”

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