Don’t Forget: Sometimes Personalization Means Removing Content, Not Adding It

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Ideas and Strategies for Real-Time Personalization
Don’t Forget: Sometimes Personalization Means Removing Content, Not Adding It

October 13, 2017 by

As marketers, we typically have a lot we want to share with our customers and prospects. With every new promotion, product launch, eBook release, etc., we have a new message to share across our websites, emails, mobile apps, and other channels. Sometimes that message is broadcast widely and indiscriminately, or, hopefully, it is targeted to relevant audiences and individuals using personalization. But such messages are almost always additive – contributing to the noise and clutter people face. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Personalization can and should also be used to remove content on your site and elsewhere that isn’t relevant to someone, to improve the customer experience.

How does that work? Perhaps you have a version of your site that is hardcoded and generic for all visitors. You may use a personalization platform like Evergage to add or modify elements of that site for different segments or individuals that visit. But you can also use a personalization platform to hide elements of your website for different visitors. Those areas are, of course, still a part of your site and anyone who qualifies to see them (based on the rules you define) will see them. But those who do not will see nothing in that space. This tactic is particularly well suited for removing irrelevant messages, calls-to-action (CTAs) and navigation menu items.

You can always add more to your site. We’re all good at that. But sometimes, the best choice is to eliminate content. Let me share some examples.

Location-Based Content

The first example for removing irrelevant content is for location-based messages. A common use case we see among online retailers is for shipping information. Many sites prominently feature shipping details or offers to shoppers to serve as an incentive to purchase. Such messages may promise free shipping if a purchase is within a certain period of time, free shipping once a minimum order size is reached, fixed rate shipping, etc.

The challenge with displaying shipping information prominently on the site is that location-based restrictions usually apply. A site may offer free shipping only to domestic visitors, or visitors within certain countries. So when a site offers free shipping for all domestic shoppers, for example, the site can remove any mention of free shipping for international visitors. That way, an international visitor won’t see a message that doesn’t apply to him, resulting in confusion or annoyance that he is ineligible for free shipping.

Hiding Offers from Existing Customers

Many service-based companies offer regular promotions designed to bring in new customers. These promotions are generally not applicable to existing customers — who are likely paying more than the promotional price. When an existing cable/internet customer, for example, who is paying $179/month for your service comes to your site and sees a message giving new customers an offer for the same service at just $99/month, you can expect he won’t be too happy about it. To avoid such ill feelings, you can use personalization to remove any mention to the new-customer promotion for existing customers.

Irrelevant or Already Completed CTAs

Personalization can also be used to remove CTAs that are either irrelevant to the individual or that encourage him to take an action he has already completed. For example, if you have CTAs across your site to “get a demo” or “start your free trial,” there’s no reason to display them to people who’ve already done those things. Or, if a visitor has already signed up for a site’s blog newsletter, there is no need to take up space with a CTA asking her to sign up. The same applies to visitors who have already watched your homepage explainer video, downloaded your mobile app, registered for your latest webinar, read a particular case study or eBook, signed up for your loyalty program, etc. You can either use that space to display another relevant CTA, or simply remove the message altogether for those people.

Access to Features in a Logged-In Environment

When you have a logged-in environment, such as a SaaS solution, there are occasions in which customers should not have access to certain features. Sometimes, you’ll want to go back to your engineering team to have them make permanent adjustments, but this can be a time-consuming and inflexible approach in many situations. For example, features or content designed solely for admins can be removed for all non-admin users via personalization. Or features that are not covered by someone’s subscription (e.g. freemium users) can be hidden and only shown to those who are eligible. You could even hide certain features for users that shouldn’t access them until they have completed prescribed actions or onboarding steps.

Access to Areas of a Site Based on Company Needs

Other occasions may call for removing content on your site based on the specific circumstances of your business. For example, if you have a live chat feature that is only available during business hours, you can remove access to that feature when support is closed. This could help you avoid frustrating visitors who expected to be able to reach chat support when they saw it as an option on the site. Similarly, if you offer phone-based support for select customers, you may want to hide the phone number for those who are not eligible for that support level.

Testing Content Removal Campaigns

Finally, you can test removing certain aspects of your site for specific segments or your full audience with A/B testing. For example, does removing the navigation from the cart page decrease cart abandonment for everyone? What about just for first-time visitors? Or for demand generation sites, does removing the navigation from pages with forms decrease form abandonment for the full audience or for specific segments? Testing can show you whether it makes sense to remove certain areas from the hardcoded version of your site or if you should remove something only for specific audience groups.

Final Thoughts

The opportunities for personalization by removing content rather than adding content are numerous. It depends entirely on your site or app, the needs of your visitors, and the needs of your business. Any area of your site that doesn’t apply to someone can be removed or replaced with something else.

Think about the opportunities you have to remove content to make an experience more relevant, and, hence, better for different visitors or customers. You may be surprised by how many scenarios you come up with!

To learn how Evergage can help you personalize experiences, including adding, changing or removing content across your digital channels, request a demo today.

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