How to use web personalization to increase sales

In today’s highly competitive market, having engaging online content is fundamental when attracting new and returning customers.

Personalization is a great way to target your audience and tailor your website to their needs. The travel industry in particular is a perfect example of how to use data to improve overall customer service.

For the best chance of success, websites must be engaging and dynamic, as well as playing a part in the company’s overall online presence. Personalization uses the priceless information you gather about customers, both new and returning, to tailor content, information and offers. This gives visitors the information they’re likely to be looking for quickly and easily, reducing the amount of searching required.

In the travel industry especially, competition is so fierce that, if companies don’t deliver a perfect customer experience, they risk losing out to competitors. Monitoring users and collating data is a priceless tool for marketers, as this information can then be used to increase sales through a more personalized website for each customer. A personalized experience online, where the site adapts to the visitor, can secure that you actually can bring your segmentation strategy online, which means that you can communicate to each target audience in a unique way. 

Award winning travel company Co-operative Travel is a great example of a company utilizing personalization techniques to deliver a superior customer experience. When the company recently consolidated two websites into one master site, www.co-operativetravel.co.uk, to become the UK’s largest independent travel agent, it implemented a complete personalization and localization strategy.

The personalization features used by Co-operative Travel, embedded within its Episerver CMS, enable customers to seamlessly glide through to booking pages, providing an easy to use and integrated site, increasing conversion rates, and reducing the number of customers dropping off after an initial search. In 2011, since the joint venture switchover, Co-operative Travel has seen a 95% increase in visitors and 217% increase in revenue, demonstrating just how much personalization can help your business increase sales.

Think context

Consider how you contextualize the experience for the visitor. One of the best ways to start is using geography  - or localization.  using a visitor’s IP address to determine location, companies can gear content on the site, including offers and promotions. For example, if a customer logs on from Bristol to book a flight or holiday to Tenerife the airline can, via IP, identify where the visitor is located and automatically suggest relevant holidays from Bristol Airport.

A second step for contextualizing the visitor experience is to use external factors, such as  the most popular day and time when people search for holidays, for example, more people search for holidays on Mondays as they suffer Monday blues after the weekend. Based on search terms entered by a customer too, the presentation of offers can be tailored so that if a customer searches for beach holidays the site can automatically display all offers for travel destinations with hot weather. It is all about serving the appropriate content in the right context – to help your visitor!

Return on investment

To effectively measure the return of your personalization strategy, you need to determine tangible business value metrics, identify and record real-time or long-term shifts in customer behavior, and build teams capable of monitoring the results. It’s also important for strategies to remain dynamic in order to respond rapidly to any information or customer insights you obtain and use them to evolve your online content.

The online landscape is constantly changing, so it’s important to consider what the future holds for online marketing, and remember that consumers will be the driving force for change.