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A new way to personalize your web site

I’ve talked before about multivariate testing, an exciting technique for optimizing your Web conversion rates. Multivariate testing tools perform this alchemy by substituting different graphics, text, or other elements on pages shown to individual visitors to your site, testing which combinations result in the best response. If you think that sounds cool, wait until you see what these tools are doing now.


Offermatica, one of the three most popular multivariate test tools (along with Optimost and Google Website Analyzer), is announcing a new feature today called Affinity Targeting. Instead of using the ability to dynamically swap out content only for testing, Offermatica now allows marketers to use it for personalization, based on business rules.
The newest buzzword in Web marketing is “behavior targeting” and Offermatica’s Affinity Targeting makes this technique something the average marketer can control.
Direct marketers are familiar with using recency (how long since your visitor has bough something) and frequency (how often do they tend to buy something) to segment their best customers. Offermatica puts similar techniques at the disposal of the direct marketer to decide which content to show on a page. For example, marketers can design rules based on how recently and how frequently a visitor has looked at a particular product category to decide which promotions to show.
Musician's Friend personalized for guitar customers
Check out these screen shots from the same URL at musiciansfriend.com—shoppers who have in the past shown a propensity for examining guitar equipment are assumed to be guitarists who should see ads for guitars, while those who favor keyboards would be shown those ads. The rules defined by the marketing folks at Musician’s Friend decide which ad to show based on which areas of the site the visitor has been in before, assuming that guitarists looking at the guitars should be shown a guitar ad the next time they come back to the home page, for example. But it’s dynamic—if a “guitarist” starts clicking on keyboards, then eventually the algorithm will start showing keyboard ads in other parts of the site.
Because Offermatica already integrates metrics from WebTrends, CoreMetrics, and Omniture, and because it works with mainstream content management systems, many companies can take advantage of this capability with little system integration costs.Musician's Friend personalized for keyboard customers
Chris Duskin, Offermatica’s Director of Product Marketing, explained to me why Offermatica’s approach trumps existing techniques for personalizing content based on business rules: “The marketer is in control. They determine what information they want to use and where.”
Time will tell whether this is a breakthrough in ease of use for personalization, but clearly that kind of breakthrough is coming. Personalization that requires programmers to integrate the results of Web metrics systems, cookies, and the business rules that pull content from a content management system are daunting, even for companies with well-funded IT infrastructures. And, they are not usually resilient enough to change as quickly as marketers need them to.
Offermatica’s approach based on the fast-changing needs of multivariate testers offers the promises of speed and ease-of-use to adapt marketing tactics in this fast-changing Web 2.0 world. As Offermatica rolls out its new capability, I’d love to hear from real-world marketers as to whether it delivers on its promise.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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