The greatest benefit to consumers on the mobile web—and the biggest source of complaints—is the personalized experience that website owners provide by understanding the context of the consumer. Website operators, managers, and online retailers struggle with this fundamental dilemma: customers want a personalized experience, they want it fast, but they also want privacy. Providing all three is a difficult challenge.
It has been proven time and again that personalization leads to more sales and increased loyalty. But, that personalized experience by necessity comes through forensics that allow online sellers to better understand their customers, present personalized offers, and predict ongoing customer behavior.
Retailers need to strike a balance, and this can be achieved in part by consolidating the many different tools and sources of customer information. This consolidation brings two useful benefits. It makes it easier for website managers to be more transparent with customers regarding what information is being collected and how, and as a happy side effect, it improves performance – giving the customer other much-desired benefits.
Understanding the Customer
As more people stay more connected to their mobile devices, businesses are facing the need to optimize their mobile web presence, especially as users express a preference for the mobile web over mobile apps.
Businesses need to understand context to extract value from their mobile customers, and a large ecosystem of tools have emerged that do three things. They provide forensics to understand customers, present personalized offers to customers, and predict ongoing customer behavior.
There are two problems that sometimes arise. First, consumers do not want to reveal personal information, and there is some pushback to common tracking mechanisms, even when they are anonymous. If tracking is necessary, consumers at least want to be informed about it. The second is, to achieve that level of tracking, performance may take a hit.
In the Internet age, online customers are not easy to please. They want a highly personalized online experience, they insist on privacy, they demand transparency, and they want it all now, with a website that offers excellent performance. The old-school backroom IT attitude of “you’ll take what I give you” has given way to a more customer-friendly blend of marketing and technology.
Underlying this need is a major shift away from IT to the line of business and the growth of marketing technology or MarTech tools, which makes sense, because people in marketing roles tend to be more in tune with customer needs than IT staff members. As a shift towards the MarTech role continues, new approaches become necessary, and website owners are scrutinizing the tools they use for personalization and context.
Personalization can no longer be strictly a backroom function. Marketing understands the need for transparency with users about how personalization is implemented, as they demand higher levels of transparency, personalization, privacy, and no tracking. Unfortunately, it is exceedingly difficult to offer a superior, personalized experience without some form of tracking.
You can give customers everything—privacy, transparency, customization—and make the website fast and responsive at the same time.
Some level of tracking is essential to provide personalization and an adequate context for an excellent web experience. Marketing specialists and MarTech practitioners taking over the role of personalization from a technology perspective see the need to get past the situation where multiple sources and tools are being used for tracking and fingerprinting.
Fulfilling the Mobile Imperative
Tool consolidation makes it easier to be transparent with users about how personalization is being done. In addition, consolidation takes on even greater importance as the mobile imperative becomes more prominent. More people are now attached to their mobile devices, often preferring the mobile web to mobile apps, and the mobile web presents inherent performance-related issues.
Besides the transparency benefit, there is more icing on the cake that speaks directly to the extra demands that mobile web puts on the website operator.
Consolidation also enhances the customer experience in other ways by improving site performance. Site owners do not have to compromise performance to add more functionality and are better able to customize their personalization features to accomplish their customer experience goals.