In the beginning, tracking web traffic was an expensive proposition. Only the biggest companies could afford it. And even when tools like Google Analytics started to make tracking more accessible, few enough analysts were in the market to make it universally beneficial for marketers.debunk_myths_personalization

Today, it’s almost unimaginable for websites to not think about traffic—where it’s coming from, how it’s distributed, and how much of the traffic converts. To a degree, that’s where split and multivariate tests have been moving as well: a democratization of tools and an increase in the number of analysts who can handle the insights.

With personalization, though, the jury is still out. Yes, it’s right for companies like Google and Amazon, but is it also right for your website if you’re selling door knobs in Seattle? The answer is yes—but you wouldn’t be personalizing as “deeply” as you would if you were an international clothing store. In order for you to find the level of personalization that’s right for you, the first step is separating fact from fiction.

Myth No. 1: All Personalization Is Complex

Nope. Some personalization can be really simple. A lot of companies get cold feet about personalization because some of the biggest types of personalization involve making your content management system (CMS) interact with your marketing automation tools and your customer relationship management system (CRM) serve different content depending on prior interactions and lead scores. While this is an important type of personalization, and is certainly valuable, it’s not the only game in town.

Look, a lot of companies out there do not have optimal data structures for web. If you don’t have the level of sophistication to treat first-time visitors versus repeat visitors and people who have already interacted with your calls to action, you’re not alone. That doesn’t mean you should ditch personalization.

At minimum, you should check your analytics solution to see traffic by geography and traffic by device type (mobile, tablets, desktop and laptop). You can start from there—providing options for geography, etc. Serving the correct type of content by device doesn’t require advanced tools or behavioral conditions, but they could be a huge win for web experience. You don’t have to be Amazon to afford those, either.

Myth No. 2: It’s Tough to Identify Whether You Should Get Started

Again, sorry, but no. If you’ve been investing in getting conversion rate optimization and web analytics expertise, it really shouldn’t be too hard to spot where personalization can make a difference, and whether you can start right away. Being “overwhelmed” by the data and not knowing where to begin is more excuse than a reason not to get started on personalization.

There are two aspects to this:

  1. The data that you have, and the segments you’ve already identified for web traffic analysis and split or multivariate tests
  2. A review of the tools running on your site, from your CMS to your CRM, and other technologies

If you have segments, then you will know which areas of the site move the needle when you start running conversion tests. From there, you’ll know the areas with the highest bounce rates, the lowest conversion rates, and the areas that will benefit the business most if you use personalization to drive relevant experiences and boost conversions.

If you know the tools running on your site, then you know how deeply you can take personalization. You’ll know whether you have content available by role or industry segment, you’ll know if your data is enough to support personalization by place in the buying cycle, and you’ll be able to identify if your site can support changing the content based on previous interactions both on the web site itself and through your other channels like social media, email and display campaigns.

If you don’t have either of those, it may be best to spend time and resources on basic web analytics and conversion rate optimization first, and have this level of personalization in the roadmap.

Approaching personalization sans the usual fear, uncertainty and doubt can go a long way in optimizing the web experience for your site. Almost all websites can benefit from at least localization by geography (and not just language, but topics and product availability), and serving the appropriate content by device. Whether you can dive in further is going to be determined by an honest review of your available tools, staff and specialization.

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