Search Instead of Searching: Personalization on the Internet

1A search on Google gives each user a personalized result. If a customer calls up the Amazon shopping platform, products tailored to his interests are recommended. Even surfing on the usual magazine and portal pages are now displayed to the Internet users individual advertising and link recommendations. Personalized content on the web becomes self-evident.

Also in the development of online services and corporate websites, this trend will not stop: The targeted approach of users, personalizing the content according to their interests but also the analysis of this information for downstream (online) marketing activities is becoming increasingly important. But how can personalization of a website be done technically? What are the possibilities for personalized user interaction? And how can personalization measures be used in online marketing? There are some approaches, tools, and concepts for personalizing online actions.

Personalization by self-evaluation

A self-evaluation or self-assessment of the user is a form of personalization. This may for example by a slider ( beginner, expert, professional done) on the website concerned. Through the user activity, the website is informed of the complexity or detail depth of the contents of the web page. For example, product information can be reduced for beginners or the sorting of the products can be changed.

Personalization by user profiles

Probably the most frequently used form of personalization is the user logins: After successful registration of the user a personalized view can be displayed on the website and the content to be adjusted manually or automatically according to the needs of the user.

However, the necessary registration creates an inhibition threshold, which is becoming ever greater in times of social networks. Users are increasingly less willing to create or maintain additional profiles on different websites. An alternative can be the personalization option of Facebook, which allows a connection to the user profile at Facebook with the website. However, even here – with regard to the theme Notice acceptance among users used rather low and these functions are very cautious -.

Automatic personalization by means of stakeout tracking

The basis for the personalization of websites is a thematic mapping of content. By assigning web page content to different interest or topic profiles, a content management system can be defined for which target groups the content is appropriate. If the contents of an online offer are categorized accordingly, this information can be assigned to the user in the form of a cookie when the website is delivered.

Example tire manufacturer

A tire manufacturer offers summer and winter tires as well as all-weather tires (category: season), cheap and expensive variants (category: price), tires with special quality features and good test results (category: quality). If a new visitor arrives on the website, he offers various content and entry options on the homepage. If for example, he chooses an article on the latest test report, a page is called, which is assigned to the quality category. It may also be a cheap tire (category: price). Thus, the user is credited with points in both categories, which can be used for a later evaluation.

By visiting different thematically assigned pages, the user profile is formed piece by piece (or click by clicking). After four to five pages, it is quite possible to determine which type of user is currently browsing the website. These data can be used for personalization.

Personalization by geo-coordinates

The currently most widely used form of website personalization is done on the basis of geo-localization of the user. This allows users to draw conclusions about their whereabouts via the user’s IP address and use this information, for example, to present the nearest branch office or a suitable service center.

This information is also very well suited to link it with other regional data: The information that is currently on the site the sun shines or for the next week snow is predicted, can again be used when visiting the website for a suitable product recommendation.

Enrichment of customer databases

The data obtained through the various personalization concepts are ideal for personalizing or optimizing downstream marketing measures.

For example, in the case of a newsletter registration of the visitor or the use of a contact form, the corresponding interest profile, the self-evaluation or the linked information from the user profile can be transferred to a customer database or a CRM system. Corresponding personal data should be stored according to the guidelines of data protection and the users should be informed in advance by the consent of the data protection regulations.

Personalization of e-mail marketing campaigns

Based on this data base, e-mail marketing campaigns or newsletters can be generated and personalized according to the interests profiles of the registered recipients. Modern Newsletter systems support the customer in this case and allow the creation of profiles and interest groups. On this basis, information in the newsletter can be displayed prioritized or supplemented by product recommendations.


A newsletter of the tire dealer described above could then be dispatched to pre is sensible customers in a certain region or made a special action for winter tires.

Personalized advertising through remarketing

Since the beginning of 2010, Google has been able to use its remarketing function to capture visitors to a website or landing page, and then to address them specifically via advertisements. For this purpose, a critical mass of 100 users, who have called up the corresponding page, must first be reached for reasons of data protection. Subsequently, the advertisements can be delivered.

For the tire supplier in the example, it is now possible to address visitors who have looked at specific products again by means of advertisements on the Google search or the Google advertising network. These can be referred to special offers or special discounts.

View of the personalized web

Social networks such as Facebook and Google+ give users more and more information about their interests and needs. These data are already used (at least at Facebook) for the purpose-oriented distribution of advertising. Google will surely follow here and deliver AdWords Google+ members even more appropriate ads.

This trend will surely also have an effect on the loose-selling online services such as corporate websites. By reducing spreading losses and improving the user experience, success rates, and conversion rates can be optimized and new customers can be gained. The web will be further personalized – from the search results page to the corporate home page, to the e-mail newsletter.

Author: Austin Colin is the owner of WebEIdea SEO company.

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