adapting website content to the individual

Just about anyone who has looked at the website analytics for a corporate website will be aware that the percentage of visitors using the homepage as their landing point is on the decline. This is likely to be due to a mix of the following:

  • the inclusion of deep links in search results for a brand name (see screenshot below)
  • people are getting better at refining their search queries –  typing brandname careers for example
  • the long-tail of past content appearing in a myriad of search results
  • inbound social media links tend to go directly to content of interest rather than the homepage

Despite the data, many brands and organisations continue to assume their homepage as the entrance point for everyone. Because those visitors have not self identified, through the links they’ve clicked on (whether those are from search results or social), the challenge these organisations face is providing navigation and content to guide a users with a wide variety of potential interests to the content quickly, so the homepage ends up offering a little bit of everything.

There are now, however, ways of getting around this challenge:

1.Wrapping Site Visitors in Relevancy

The first, and obvious one, is for brands to think of every piece of content as a potential landing point. Assuming that users land in the right place in the first instance, it’s easy enough to figure out, editorially and perhaps with a bit of help automation guided by content tagging, what other content might be relevant to that user. Someone who lands on a careers page, for example, might also find it useful to find, on that same page, details of corporate investments in training initiatives, stories of people who work in different roles within the business, details of the application process, etc.

2. Using Data on Inbound Users to Trigger the Display of Specific Content

Enterprise content management platforms are becoming more sophisticated, offering a way to wrap users in relevance not only on specific content pages, but also on what used to be a “generic” homepage. By integrating the CMS with an analytics platform, it’s now possible to trigger the display or priority of specific content to specific users based on what is known about them. Here’s a few scenarios to help illustrate what I’m talking about:

  • A website from Canada clicks on a link to a piece of regulated content (think finance or pharma) published on BrandX’s Australian website. The CMS recognises the geo-IP of the inbound user and flags the content as being non-compliant in Canada, or restricts the user from viewing it altogether, potentially replacing it with the relevant and compliant content for the user’s market.
  • A site visitor clicks on a link from a business or financial news site, for example or the BBC News Business index. The CMS notes the source of the referral and prioritises last weeks Quarter 4 results and investor relations content on the landing page, since that’s what the user is likely to be interested in.
  • A site visitor, who works at a leading competitor, searches for BrandX and clicks on the homepage link. They CMS recognises the IP range of the visitor and serves up content highlighting careers for experienced hires, in the market where the user is visiting from.
  • A user is a fan of BrandX on Facebook. According to their profile, they attend a technical university in Canada. When they click on the homepage url listed at the top of the brand’s Facebook page, the content they see on the homepage when they land highlights Engineering and Science careers in Canada
  • A user visits a website or Facebook of an opposition group. When the user clicks the link to the brand’s homepage, the CMS highlights content that addresses the concerns of the opposition group, and doesn’t display the stunningly good Quarter 4 results because those might inflame the visitor more, nor does it display careers information because the visitor is unlikely to want to work there

When I’ve mentioned some of these scenarios, all of which are possible to support today, the questions I usually get are around user privacy – “won’t people be upset that the brand already knows something about them and services up content based on that data?”

I don’t think so. To me, this type of functionality is all about reducing the number of clicks in a user’s journey to content they are likely to be interested in. That is, because it’s helpful to the site visitor, few are likely to be upset by it. Anyway, most if not all of the data being gathered is readily available to anyone who bothers to investigate the website’s analytics – the main difference is that in the scenarios above, the data is being used proactively, and productively, for the benefit of the website owner as well as visitors.

Many brands already do this sort of thing with search and social advertising as well as to target branded posts at specific fans – and about the only time one hears anything negative about it is when they get the targeting badly wrong. Now it’s possible to do this on the brand’s owned website.

There are several ways of delivering relevancy to every visitor to a website – through editorial decision making, by thinking of every page of a website a user’s potential entry point, by using tags or other meta data to display related content so as to wrap the user in relevancy, and to use the data available on inbound users to trigger specific content based on that data.