Internet is a place where something can be announced as the next big thing only to pass unnoticed in a few months or so. Many technologies have been declared as “a must” for any marketer and then faded away without anyone even noticing. Is this going to be the case with web personalization as a marketing technique?
Pandora is a great example of a recommendation engine that uses personalization to create a unique and enjoyable experience for users. In January 2014, Pandora had 73.4 million active users, an increase of 12% from January 2013.
This can be one of many proofs that personalization does cover a real need.
Of course it’s easier for personalization to be successful when it’s implicated in fun activities, entertainment and leisure on the internet.
When it comes to e-commerce, personalization is seen as ambivalent. Some users tend to care less about web experiences and more about privacy of their online browsing. Others do want personalized web experiences and content tailored to their needs, at the expense of data about their browsing history and patterns. It all depends on how personalization is used and how the targeted visitors feel about it.
According to a USC Annenberg study, millennials easier accept personalization and even embrace it: “Millennials, the survey found, report more willingness to allow access to their personal data or web behavior and a greater interest in cooperating with Internet businesses — as long as they receive tangible benefits in return”. 51% of millennials say they are ok with sharing some information with companies if they see any advantage in it. Only 40% of internet users age 35 or older think so.
Meanwhile, marketers do value personalization as a marketing tactic. An overwhelming 79% of marketers included in a study, thought that web personalization is worth the effort (compared with other digital marketing channels).
One thing users don’t like about web personalization: superficiality, as one study points out. 73% of users find attempts at personalization superficial, and 63% think that „personalization is so common that they have grown numb to it”.
So, is personalization a passing trend? We think not. It is too much involved in many aspects of the internet life, just to disappear. Technologies actually evolve and offer better personalized experiences to users.
In e-commerce, personalization will continue to be just as interesting if marketers learn from the other domains where personalization is applied. A good personalized experience responds to audiences needs and also takes into account privacy issues.