“Personalization” means understanding user needs and interests, and catering to them without them having to ask for it. It learns and adapts to the user behavior. Think of Netflix, where shows are surfaced to give you optimized recommendations, or Google Maps, where pinning your places give you easy access to future used directions.
In an age where customer data is collected by at every point of their journey, using such data to enhance their experience at every touchpoint seems like a great way to enhance engagement and encourage retention.
Think of personalization as a relationship; one party offers up information about themselves, and the other responds to it, ultimately creating a feedback loop. Too much information without much positive feedback feels like a waste of time, and too much feedback to information in general can give off creepy vibes, like you’re constantly being watched.
Here are some best practices for leveraging personalization to your advantage:
Surface Relevance Information
While the recommendation model isn’t perfect, as a service you can try to offer up relevant information in a way that is non-disruptive to the users’ flow.
E-retailers such as Amazon and Zappos have the pattern of putting a section below products displaying common products that customers like you may have viewed. This cross-selling is meant to encourage browsing and purchasing of products that you might be interested in as well. People are limited in time and resources, so making meaningful recommendations when there are too many options is a valuable feature to have.
Make Personalizations Feel “Magical”
Netflix recommendations are built, not only from their trove of existing customer data, but also from ratings that the user adds to shows they have seen. By anticipating shows users might like to watch, the experience feels more responsive and magical.
Another example of magical personalization is from Spotify’s running feature where the music company recommends a song that matches the tempo of your run. The outcome is surprising, fun and definitely magical.
Personalization can enhance user experience by delivering the most relevant content, experience, or functionality that matches users’ role. Designers can aid this strategy by making sure that personalization occurs in a frictionless way and using relevant content to make experiences more memorable, differentiated and satisfying.