Marketing has evolved well into the age of personalized experiences. Targeted ads, dynamic web content, and account-based marketing enable personalized experiences that drive real results. It’s effective, and with an entire ecosystem of companies analyzing every decision people make online, there’s too much opportunity to ignore it any longer.
However, personalized marketing isn’t without its issues. Despite personalization’s effectiveness, many consumers are turned off by the “creepiness factor.” The technology personalization relies on isn’t always accurate either, and personalized content runs into trouble when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO).
That’s why we’re excited to build a solution – MapleIQ – a landing page concept that feels like a story. Remember those awesome choose-your-own-adventure books? MapleIQ applies that creative concept to personalized marketing. Stories and adventure are meant to be fun – sounds a lot better than a 200-page white-paper, right? What we’re finding is that this narrative adventure solves many of the “problems” of web personalization along the way.
What’s Wrong with Web Personalization
Showing people content based on personal metrics (e.g. search terms, pages visited, age, job title, etc.) nurtures them through the buyer process. It’s simple. It helps customers filter out the noise, as well as reduce the cost and effort for marketers by not wasting budget on off-target individuals.
So, what’s so bad about personalized marketing? Let’s explore why marketers should carefully consider their tactics.
The Creepy Factor…
In 2015, market research firm Ipsos conducted a survey about the use of personal data for marketing tactics. Ipsos conducted the survey on behalf of TRUSTe. Based on the results, Chris Babel, CEO of TRUSTe said, “Our research shows that the majority of Americans (68 percent) are still uneasy about having their online activity tracked for use in targeted ads, mainly because they feel like they have limited control.”
What applies to targeted ads here also applies to emails and on-site experience. Too much or too specific of personalization is creepy and can send people up in arms about big brother. Marketing automation company HubSpot followed up the Ipsos survey with commentary from industry leaders, who discussed how to do personalized marketing the right way. The consistent message:
- Give people the chance to self-select.
- Make it obvious where personal data is coming from.
- Let people feel like they’re in control.
Pro-Tip on Personalization
Give the power to the people! Empower your customers by giving them the choice to self-select. Make it obvious where personalized data is coming from. Most importantly, make customers feel like they’re in control.
Technology Can Be Inaccurate
Companies like Marketo, Demandbase, and Optimizely have given us the ability to change web page content based on individual behavior or attributes. It’s called real-time personalization. Each company touts a multitude of guides (see links above) on how these tactics can be effective. What they miss are some of the issues still common in the current technology.
Most real-time personalization products rely on cookies or reverse-IP lookup. Cookies only work for known and returning users, cutting out your new or first-time users from the experience. For new users, you have to use the reverse-IP method. As Demandbase points out, a hefty percentage of companies aren’t proprietors of their own IP address. This leads to these companies getting labeled as Comcast or some other ISP. As a result, a good portion of your traffic misses out on the customized experience.
The best real-time personalization products can generally do is provide a “filter out ISPs” feature. Some companies like Demandbase, are developing new technology to work around the great ISP barrier. However, these technologies are still more like best guesses—their accuracy can vary.
Reverse-IP lookup isn’t the only technology with issues when it comes to real-time personalization. Most of these products run on scripts that load after the page has already started rendering. Not only does this slow down page load speeds, it can create an awkward experience where people have a few seconds to digest the generic content before the page updates to the dynamic content. Once a person receives the dynamic version, it can be next-to impossible to return to the generic version should the personalized content be off target.
Lastly, there’s the SEO implications of personalized content. Web crawlers are just starting to understand multivariate pages, such as pages altered with scripts for personalization or A/B testing. Web crawlers may only pick up your default page, which means your SEO could miss out on your tailored content. Google also has guidelines about showing web crawlers content that differs from what you show human visitors. The short answer is it’s not good, but they’re working on exceptions for multivariate pages.
What Makes MapleIQ Different
MapleIQ is an all-in-one landing page system that enables viewers to select their own journey, curated by you. It’s similar to a choose-your-own-adventure story. You start off with a bit of content and give people a choice to identify who they are or what they’re interested in. You give them a bit more content tailored to their choice and then another set of choices. Each decision takes only a second or two and is rewarded with new content, keeping people on the page longer. In fact, early analytics suggest that this method extends the 5-10 seconds you have to capture a user’s interest to nearly a minute.
Lace your content with forms or links to products, deliverables, etc. Now, you’ve not only engaged your audience; you’ve delivered personalized content specific to that individual’s interests and stage in the buyer journey. Not every choose-your-own-adventure ends the same, and neither does every MapleIQ page.
Does this setup sound familiar? You might have seen something similar from companies like Comcast, who have been using a similar approach on their support portals to help customers self-serve. MapleIQ applies this strategy to marketing (of course, you can use it for other self-serve functions too) and backs it by data. Pump that data into your marketing automation or CRM system, and you have what you need to personalize future communications—all through a method that put the control in the user’s hands without creepiness and without the technology pitfalls.
How Does MapleIQ Avoid the Technology Traps
While not an apples to apples comparison to other personalization technologies, MapleIQ is an innovative system that works around the common technology problems. For starters, it doesn’t rely on reverse-IP or cookies to identify users. Instead, it encourages users to make simple choices and rapidly personalizes as they progress. If the content they receive stops being applicable, they can go back and change their answers to get new content.
Perhaps the biggest difference with MapleIQ is that its content is fully integrated on the page. All choices exist in web crawler-friendly code and then hidden with scripts that load before the page finishes rendering. This means every permutation of the page is readable by SEO web crawlers, and viewers get a satisfying experience without delayed loading or disruptive content updates mid-consumption.
Explore MapleIQ Today
Want to give choose-your-own adventure landing pages a try? Check out mapleiq.com for live demos and early access. Join now and get the opportunity to shape it to your exact needs.