Marketing teams are inundated everyday with scary statistics about subpar digital experiences and wasted marketing dollars. Often, the answer to these issues is to personalize or optimize content on your online channels. But what do these two strategies really mean? When should one be used over the other? Or are personalization and optimization complementary strategies meant to be used together?
Our take: Personalization and optimization are the new peanut butter and jelly. Together they help destination marketers succeed in this new era of customer experience.
Personalization is the process of delivering content based on a user’s demographics, interests, preferences, previous actions or implied intentions. At the core of personalization is user data — to personalize an experience, we need to know where a customer is coming from, what they are interested in, the context of their brand interaction and more. While it’s tough to get this data in the world of destination marketing, where users rarely complete transactions or login to accounts rich with personal data, new tools and technology are helping us unlock information behind the scenes.
Personalization shines in presenting the right content to a visitor, and therefore enhancing their experience on a site and helping visitors sort through a clutter of content. But this strategy falls apart when not linked to a goal or action. What good does it do to lead a site visitor to an article page or a vendor who provides services relevant to their interests, if you don’t then prompt a conversion?
That’s where optimization comes in. Optimization means many things, centered around understanding why people do the things they do and then encouraging those behaviors to benefit your organization — like driving a user to sign up for an email list or book a vacation package. There are a variety of methods available to help us to understand and encourage. Things like mouse tracking, user testing, surveys and more can give us insight into behavior. Various conversion rate optimization testing methods (A/B, multivariate, impression) then help us encourage an action by finding the best way to present information and content to a user.
A Marriage of Marketing Strategies
Understanding the root of both strategies, it’s clear why they are beneficial when used together. Personalization allows us to show users what they want to see and optimization helps us leverage that personalized content to drive users to complete an action that’s beneficial for our business.
On a destination website, this might look like a personalized header image relevant to a visitor’s location, with variations of copy all encouraging them to book a hotel. A destination may also choose to target visitors based on an interest, serving content about specific activities available in market and pushing variations of a fly-in encouraging visitors to book an excursion with vendors relevant to that interest.
There are many ways to leverage personalization and optimization together on your website, or any other owned marketing channels. To start, define who you are trying to reach and what you want them to do. Then use personalization and optimization to connect the dots via the most beneficial path for both your customers and your business.