Highly personalized experiences deliver conversions gains — but take a mix of art and science to implement. Creative Director Jay Sojdelius explains the “marriage between intelligent technology and insightful creative strategy” required to personalize at scale.
All design is inherently subjective.
How people perceive and are affected by design depends on who they are, what their circumstances look like and what their expectations are. Subjectivity applies not only to media and graphic design, but to art, fashion, architecture or any other form of visual expression.
We judge with our eyes.
This is especially problematic in the world of user experience, which to a large extent revolves around functionality and usability. The usefulness of browser- and app-based experiences depends on how well they enable users to accomplish what they’re trying to do.
Accomplishing goals, on the other hand, also depends on how motivated users are. This adds an emotional dimension to this otherwise highly rational discipline. Structuring a website (or an app) so that the user merely understands how to use it is simply not sufficient. If the user does not want to use a website, the empirical knowledge of how to use it is largely inconsequential.
Therefore, content must be packaged in a way that the user is emotionally motivated to partake of it and here, design has an important role to play.
A survey conducted by Carleton University in Ottawa, published in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology, determined that users form their impressions of a website and its visual appeal within the first 1/20th of a second of visiting it. Even more surprisingly, these first impressions colored the entire experience of the site, whether or not the whole site actually turned out to match that initial perception. The conclusion of the survey was that this first impression was “unlikely to involve cognition” – meaning it is largely an emotional response.
However, presenting a differentiated audience with a unified, undifferentiated design – however well optimized – will not account for the variances in people’s preferences and goals. Such a design will never be entirely effective. Given that users are different and have different preferences and expectations, effective UX design has to be personalize-able. This is quickly becoming an expectation, if not the norm.
A recent study published by Salesforce found that 80% of users expect online experiences to be personalized and tailored to their needs. This means that brands simply cannot afford to broadcast the same uniform message to a single, undifferentiated audience. Marketers need to find ways of communicating to individuals, not audiences.
This posits a problem of scale.
Very few marketers or publishers of content can afford to employ armies of designers and content producers to tailor experiences to each individual user. More importantly, they cannot do so in real time.
Enter dynamic personalization.
By devising smartly constructed, modular design systems based on creative componentry that can be freely interchanged, it is possible to compose entire user experiences based on incoming media signals. These signals can reveal behavioral-, demographic- and psychographic details about each individual user, allowing the experience to programmatically flex and adjust to some of those factors.
This ensures a successful, results-oriented communicative solution that scales. In addition, such solutions may even be able to predict favorable outcomes through the application of AI-technology such as machine learning. Done right, it will allow marketers to dial in the most effective combination of content and design with increasing accuracy. Testing becomes a central element in such solutions, where a multitude of creative options can be fed into the learning engine. The ideal mix can thus be determined, assembled and verified as users arrive on site.
In Leapfrog’s own testing, we regularly demonstrate incremental conversion gains through dynamic, personalized experiences. Our knowledge of such marketing solutions affords us the ability to progressively segment our creative so as to truly achieve effectiveness at scale. This capability is enabled and enhanced by our proprietary LFX Platform, which continues to deliver exponential value for our clients.
The marriage between intelligent technology and insightful creative strategy opens up exciting possibilities for improved marketing performance – performance that has thus far largely been untapped. However, fully capitalizing on this opportunity requires a shift in how brands look at design and how brands go to market.
The era of the static, monolithic brand is over. Modern brands need to understand their audiences, find ways of communicating on a personal level, and truly become interactive.