The Ultimate One-to-One Tool
Additional quantitative studies done via surveys or online data capture techniques help to shape idealized archetypal portraits of site users. Avenue A/Razorfish supplements these findings with nonpersonal, identifiable demographic information, such as gender or frequency of site visits, via its ad-serving application, Atlas.
For example, using a combination of personas layered with database information, a financial marketer can achieve a deeper understanding of who its customers are, how often they visit the site, as well as understand what they're accomplishing on the site. It then can use that knowledge to deliver more relevant content.
"If it's a retirement site or a personal finance site, we can serve up different messages to visitors in their 30s who might be building their 401(k) or saving to buy a home, and serve up different messages to someone in their 50s, as they're approaching retirement," describes McGrane.
Resource Interactive's studio director, Tip Rose, notes that persona development also calls for some hard choices on the part of marketers who must determine which visitors they really want to target. "That means diving into your data and making sure that you're targeting your most valuable customers," Rose says. He suggests creating between four to seven personas and building your site around those customer sets. Too many personas dilute the process and fragment marketing efforts.
There is a range of steps and solutions available to marketers on their path to site personalization. Rose feels that the increased interest in personas in the context of Web personalization in part is due to e-commerce application providers—such as Cambridge, Mass-based ATG—now being able to feed that information into their applications to help them optimize the overall Web experience.
"People are looking at navigation, time spent on sites—very common site analytics—and delivering content that way," says Reid Carr, president of San Diego-based Internet presence management company Red Door Interactive. To jump-start your personalization efforts, he suggests investing in analytics to enable better understanding of how different site visitors use your online content. Red Door uses HBX from WebSideStory to perform customer segmentation.