A personalized user experience is the conscious and subconscious preference of every human being that has ever visited your site. Whether they stumbled upon one of your articles on social media, or came to your website with no particular direction, every website visitor craves content that is interesting, and most importantly relevant.
For publishers, there is no product or service to sell with great content. Your content is the product. While this hasn’t changed in the past centuries, the context of this challenge, going into 2016 – the current saturation of content and data – definitely has. And so, the biggest challenges publishers face changed dramatically since the good old days of the 16th century. A reminder where publishers started from:
For publishers, this means your website must contain enough intriguing articles to be dispersed among a large sea of visitors, all of whom have taken different paths to get to your site, and most importantly, have different visions of how they want to navigate it. Personalizing the user experience has remained difficult, but it is undoubtedly a powerful digital marketing tool.
Many blogs and news sites have struggled with personalization for a variety of reasons, here are a few big ones:
Advertisements are seen as interruptions. Pay-per-click is king when it comes to revenue generation for publishers. Often times, the click bait-y banners hurt the website far more than they help, repelling readers with irrelevant calls to action that become more of a distraction than anything. For your website to find success, they must generate an abundance of traffic and most importantly, keep that traffic engaged. According to Jan Rain, 74% of consumers get frustrated when website content appears that has nothing to do with their interests. This is a frightening statistic for a publisher who has consistently seen their banner ads fail to generate clicks. If they’re not clicking, they’re probably bouncing.
Digital publishing economics favor large audiences. Success in publishing has found those who attract the highest number of eyes to their website. It has been more about getting them there, rather than keeping them there. For publishers that already entertain a large audience, implementing a personalized user experience will come much easier. But for those struggling to build a following, shifting focus to personalization for individual visitors can feel a lot like taking your eyes off of the (larger) prize.
A saturation of content and data. Because content is the product for publishers, being a source of relevance and interest is your only option. If you are consistently producing (and aggregating) thousands of pieces of content, optimizing the user experience can feel like a swimming lesson in stormy waters. That same feeling can apply to the editors who are responsible for implementing the content personalization strategy, and making sense of the analytics.
To implement content personalization on your website, you need a strategy and software that is tailored to the large body of content and subsequent data that exists within the site. While the overall goal is to generate engagement with the native ads on your site, increasing the number of pages each visitor views is step one. An effective content personalization strategy will not overlook this, as it suggests relevant articles based on the navigation patterns of the individual before, during, and after their visit to your site.
A marketing endeavor like this can appear as a daunting task, but it should not be viewed as a compromise to the greater goals of a publisher’s digital marketing strategy. Content personalization is a catalyst in improving the experience that each and every visitor has on your website, seamlessly suggesting the next piece of content they should engage with, and placing your native ads on a much more appetizing plate. The longer you can keep someone happy on your site, the more opportunity you give your personalized advertisements to generate clicks.
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