This article was published on February 8, 2008

Why advertise if nobody buys? Go personalize!

Why advertise if nobody buys? Go personalize!
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
Story by

Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

When online marketing expert David Sadigh from IC Agency asked the LIFT08 audience who used the Internet in 1995, he was surprised by the huge response. “In 1995 it used to be a tool for geeks”. The situation has obviously changed, since the Internet is a mass medium now. “Even dogs are about to go online” Sadigh joked (no response this time). That makes it interesting for sales, he said. But the striking thing about the Internet is that the content is the same for everyone, yet we’re all unique and have our own wishes.

davidBecause the content is not adapted to their needs, 98 percent of the visitors leave commercial sites without buying. Yet business pump in 35.5 billion dollars in online marketing on a yearly basis to attract visitors to their site. “Imagine if you had a store where everybody walks in but nobody is buying anything – you would definitely fire the person whose running the shop. Then why do we accept this on the Internet?”

As you might have guessed, Sadigh had the answer to this shocking question. ‘Internet isn’t really born yet”, he said, it’s a new medium, sort of like a 2 or 3 month old fetus”. So because of its new character, we’re not yet focusing on things like customer experience. Well, actually we just started, since Sadigh confronted us with this phenomenon. He urges companies to decode the visitors’ intentions and personalize content according to the decoding. Just like Amazon already did in the early years with the personalized recommendations. It’s just that Sadigh wants us to take it to another level.

How can we do that? What can we personalize? Some suggestions made by Sadigh:

  • Intentional targeting, display a specific product related info related to an engine search on that specific model. When somebody searches for family vacations in Italy, you don’t show just a classic Italian picture but go for the family-eating-at-a-big-table photo.
  • Geographic targeting
  • Event targeting, like showing product info related to a current TV campaign.
  • Behavorial targeting, when people buy something on your site, they’re probably there for the third time. So keep track of their surfing behavior and adjust the product related info to that

To be honest with you, I find the numbers Sadigh mentioned shocking, but his suggestions don’t sound revolutionary to me. Maybe he sees them merely as a way to prepare companies for the REAL personalization, or the techniques needed aren’t available yet. To give it a positive twist at the end: things can just get better.

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