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Stop Making Your Website Look like the Vegas Strip. Start Personalizing.

Las-Vegas-StripToday, UX designers have an impossible task. Create an online experience that directs a visitor to whatever their goal is, on a website that has a lot of different potential audiences with competing interests. Think about it from a visitor’s perspective. This is pretty rough. If you only fall into one or two of a website’s 3 or 4 different audiences, you’re always being forced to endure a lot of content that’s not relevant to what you’re looking for. Because of this, visitors often don’t find what they’re looking for and will bounce off your website.

At AddThis, we believe 2015 is the year of online personalization. We’re seeing a rise in online marketing tools that allow you to tap into big data that exists around online consumer behavior. These marketing tools allow you to leverage the data to deliver the right content, calls to action, products, and promotion, to the right user at the right time.

Before these types of marketing tools, there was no way of figuring out what audience your visitor falls into. You were stuck with showing everyone the same thing and throwing everything at them in order to grab their attention. With so much going on, the end result is your website starts to look a bit like Las Vegas Boulevard: Busy and overwhelming. At AddThis, we call this the “Vegas Strip problem,” aptly named.

Example: University Websites

A great example of a type of website that has to serve many distinct personas is a university. There are prospective students, current students, faculty/staff, alumni, and sports fans. While some visitors may fall into multiple audiences, like being both an alumnus and a sports fan, each of those audiences has different interests in different types of content that you should be presenting to them.

Website Personalization Means Showing Me What I Care About

As mentioned earlier, with personalization you know precisely what the makeup of your audience is and you can start to make decisions about how you activate or show different pieces of content depending on who’s coming to your website at any given time.

Let’s play out the university example above. If I’m a prospective student, you’d want to highlight financial aid, what the dorms look like, or getting testimonials about student life. If I’m an alumni, I might want to know about the upcoming alumni weekend or how to donate money. If I’m faculty/staff, I’d want to see HR material, “is there a university holiday coming up?”, or how to get a staff discount to the upcoming football game.

The only way to show the right content to the right people is through website personalization tools. You can then serve content tailored to the needs of individual visitors because you’re not competing for real estate with all the other audiences. This also allows you to simplify your website design. Learn how to start personalizing your website’s messaging and content now.

  • Telling me that I CAN get this kind of personalization is mind-blowing. I have now read half a dozen AddThis blog articles that have convinced me. Now tell me HOW to do it. I realize that I will need to upgrade to Pro (which is not an issue), but I would like to understand how before I jump.

  • J. Fernandez

    I click the “Learn how…” link at the end of the article and go to a Marketing page with nothing that resembles instruction. I understand the need to drive traffic to your website, but as an instructional designer, I also see value in closing the loop, especially when you lead people via other links with “learn how” statements, with no actual learning, instruction, training, or otherwise at the end of the article. Eventually this tactic to increase hits will fail because readers who want to close the loop or actually follow-through with the claims to “learn how” will become disenchanted with the fluff and just start hitting delete on any future unproductive articles.

  • Thanks for the feedback. We appreciate it and will be adding more instructional guides.

  • Further, I used the contact form on the AddThis website 4-5 days ago asking this same question, “Show me HOW to use AddThis to personalize content.” So far, only crickets chirping! I want to think that you can show me how to close the loop with web traffic to my site, but you are not practicing what you preach!

  • Feel free to email me directly – thorp@addthis.com