How about another approach to website personalization! Rather than using guesswork, aka sophisticated algorithms, to determine the current state and mind of your website visitors, why not just ask them? Maybe I’m being naïve, but surely, the visitors know what they want to see.

Even before we click on a link to a website, we already have expectations of what we want to see. The setting of these expectations is actually achieved by the:

  • Referring website
  • Text/images around the referring link
  • URL of your website

Today, failure to meet expectations is a virtual crime, but we often have little control over setting them.

By the time the first web page appears the visitor is well advanced in their thinking and hopes fly high as they feverously try to find the information that led them to the site. At this point in time, because they are anonymous, the site can only start tailoring content based on location, browser type or referral source. Real automated personalization cannot begin until the visitor starts to navigate the site and feed the algorithms the much-needed data they need.

So why not let website visitors manually set their preferences on arrival, or at any subsequent time? This "individualization" has wide-ranging advantages over automated personalization:

  • Individualization begins immediately
  • Individualization is more accurate
  • Visitors have buy-in and can “drive” the website to meet their expectations
  • We can ask other questions at the same time, like GDPR data sharing consents
  • Less effort is required to develop the website

Sure, we are delaying visitor access to information but at the same time empowering them to get better information, meet their expectations, and ultimately, stay longer on the website.