The days of online visitors searching through a website to find what they’re looking for may be quickly coming to an end. In an effort to create an optimal user experience, companies are personalizing the look and feel of their websites for the individual visitor based on a number of factors, including location, age, interests and browsing history.

It Began with E-commerce

Site personalization originated as a savvy IT technique used by online retailers to boost sales and increase conversion rates. Upon visiting an e-commerce site, shoppers were greeted with a set of recommended items they may also be interested in purchasing. These suggestions were based on pages the visitor had previously visited. This information had been stored in cookies in their browser. The suggestions made it easier for users to find products they liked without having to search for them.

It Expanded to Other Businesses

It didn’t take long for other types of businesses to catch on to the benefits of site personalization. A tailored browsing experience is now extremely common in most industries, as companies have found that customers simply respond better to customization. This personalized experience has made it possible to offer a different viewing experience for users based on a wide variety of considerations, such as current URL, referring URL, search keywords, cookie value, referral type and more.

The more that companies are able to segment users into smaller groups, the better equipped they can be to help visitors find what they need. For example, many international corporations offer a different user experience for visitors in North America than the experience for a user in Europe. Many businesses also use location-specific targeting to show users where to find the company’s closest retail outlet.

The Future of Personalization

A new focus on data-driven management may very well lead to an increase in site personalization. In fact, the one-size-fits-all mentality of many websites could soon be a thing of the past, with the new emphasis on user experience boosting site traffic, which could consequently lead to higher sales.

There are a number of ways for companies to test their personalization techniques to find the most effective way to increase conversions from their target audiences, including:  

  • A/B Testing: The most traditional form of testing allows companies to test one variable against another to see which one produces more of the desired behavior, such as sales conversions.
  • Split Testing: Using this approach, a few different versions of a site can be split evenly among visitors to allow companies to see which design and content perform the best.
  • Conversion Tracking: Marketers can see how each version of a site performs in relation to visitor conversion when using conversion tracking.

The type of testing that is most effective depends on how the company defines a conversion. The data that is gathered can then help businesses know what kind of content their customers want to see when browsing their site, creating a highly personalized experience that can result in increased traffic, customer loyalty and higher conversions.

There’s no doubt that people can look forward to even greater site personalization in the future, as innovative web marketers find even more ways to customize the user experience on their websites.

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