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Personalised Content

Technology, for a real-time, on-page personalisation can now provide targeted messages to different, previously anonymous users as they arrive on your site. Shaun Ernst Breaks down what is new, what data is relevant and how to use that data to create a personalised experience for your site visitors.

Personalised content and design is providing the best web experience to different target audiences. At the most basic implementation, personalisation is setting up marketing campaigns for different groups of users, with ads for different audiences linking to different audiences linking to landing pages optimised for that audience. At the more complex integration, it is the use of browser cookie information or other technology implementations to dynamically display optimised content and design for a site as a site loads, to audiences depending on previous behaviour or demographic information.

What you are, probably already, doing.

If you are already running any sort of marketing campaigns online, you probably already use personalisation in your marketing campaigns. If you don’t, you can start this today. You ideally send AdWords leads to a landing page customised to a campaign that is different to the landing page that users who come to your site through social campaigns or organic traffic land on. In addition, paid channels such as Social and Display advertising allows you to target different campaigns at very specific groups; you can show different display ads to targeted groups. In your analytics, if you see that specific interest groups respond better ot a particular message, then you can create a specific target audience for that group. This allows you to only reach the most valuable customers while not advertising to those who are unlikely to respond positively anyway, or you can target the rest separately but pay less to reach them.

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What is new in personalisation?

Technology for real-time, on-page personalisation can now provide targeted messages to different, previously anonymous users as they arrive on site. This new tech stems form A/B testing software; software such as Optimizely or ABTasty, presenting a different version of a page to users at random, with the purpose of judging how the different versions perform. Rather than showing a different version of a site to different users randomly, personalisation solutions show the page according to personas or behaviour; different people will respond positively to different message at different times. On-page A/B testing is reaching the mainstream now; personalistaion will be the next wave of optimised content and is already being implemented by digital leaders.

What data can you use to personalise the content?

Cookies and other tracking formats that determine characteristics of users in real-time are becoming more advanced and at the same time, much cheaper. Pesonalisation tools tell you many characteristics of your users:

  • Where they came from
  • If they have been to your site before
  • If so, what pages they looked at previously
  • If they have been to a partner site in the recent past
  • Geo-location
  • Search terms used

More detailed information around demographics is becoming more accessible as well, such as gender, age group and interests.

Once you have this data, what do you personalise?

Once your site knows certain information about your anonymous users, it is able to dynamically provide content that is going to be much more relevant to those users. Users who have previously visited your site will not need to see a splash page explaining what your service is. An Ecommerce site that sells Men’s and Women’s clothes would increase sales by showing the right type of clothes to the gender of the viewer.

How do you choose the segments?

This technology is exciting, but using it to reach the best people is what personalisation is about. It is unlikely that you are going to be able to place all of your users into personas to target, but two driving criteria should determine those that should be a priority. Firstly, users who are already categorised as high-value to your business. Whether that means they typically have high order values, high conversion rates, or other criteria. The second and alternative criteria are those who are not currently high value but are alikely to become high value if they received a personalised experience. As with all digital marketing, once segments are chosen, you will nedd to test and measure using your analytics tools to see if the personalised experience has improved conversions.

Where is this going?

Dynamic on-page real-time personalisation is being taken up very rapidly by digital leader such as Google, Dropbox, and more. Unlike A/B testing, personalisation doesn’t yet have dedicated solutions. In the next 18 months, we expect to see a dramatic increase in the number of digital savvy sites using personalistation , and we expect the price of tools to drop and the usability to improve.

Google’s mobile friendly algorithm update

With the convenience of being able to connect to the web while on-the-go, it came as no surprise that mobile usage has seen a significant increase over the years. It was only a matter of time before Google would create an algorithm update with mobile-friendliness as a factor in ranking.

Walter Analytics-Mobile Friendly-SERP

As early as December of last year, Google broke it’s usual silence around SEO factors and announced its intent to introduce a new search ranking algorithm favouring mobile-friendliness. What the community would, later on, coin this day as “Mobilegeddon”, it isn’t really as dire as they make it out it to be. Why? Because the algorithm update only affects Google’s mobile organic search rankings.

Which is not to say, of course, that it’s not important. 80% of the global internet users own a smartphone, after all, with an increasing number of users using mobile as their only online device.* From today onwards, it will benefit your website to be mobile-optimised following a number of criteria such as readable content and font sizes, among others.

How to determine if your website is mobile-friendly? If Google has already indexed your website as mobile-friendly, it will be labeled as such in the mobile search results as seen on the photo above. If it hasn’t been indexed yet, there is also the Mobile-Friendly Test tool by Google. What’s more, with this algorithm change, a website can only be either “mobile friendly” or “not mobile friendly” based on page by page mobile-friendliness instead of a site-wide ranking . With that basis, even if some of your web pages are not optimised for mobile, it would not affect the indexing of your website as mobile-friendly. That should provide enough time to make sure that pages with important content are optimised for mobile view.

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As previously stated, this update will only impact search rankings on Google’s mobile search. Rest assured that this will not impact your desktop ranking or search rankings on searches done on tablets and the like. While the algorithm works real time, the changes in ranking of non mobile-friendly websites will be expected in a few days or even a few weeks (depending on how long the algorithm has to crawl through small or large websites) with the extent of the impact still unknown as of the moment.

To find out how the change will affect your rankings, feel free to reach out.

Here is a Q&A video from Google for more information regarding algorithm change.

*Global Web Index: Q3 2014 Global Popularity of Digital Device Usage

Data in marketing – Are you making the right choice?

In this article, our Analytics guy Shaun runs through how medium-sized companies are leveraging data in marketing for a competitive advantage. Price and functionality improvements are fuelling this exciting time.

We have seen the widespread adoption of A/B testing in large companies, with medium sized companies starting to make the move to incremental data driven changes through A/B testing as well. For web insights, new features in Google Analytics include Universal Analytics and Enhanced Ecommerce, and more recently Demographic and Interest Segmenting, has meant greatly increased insights into behavioural difference between different website users. So many changes in a market can be hard to grapple, and many businesses just don’t adapt at all. To ensure you remain competitive you must make a measured move to keep your marketing budget accountable, and new analytics insights now allows you to do just that.

“You can’t make good decisions based on bad numbers”

The best business decisions are always driven by data; data that is readily available, and data that is gathered specifically for that decision. Unfortunately, this mindset hasn’t always extended into marketing decisions as much of the data wasn’t available; this is no longer the case. The most significant change in 2014 is the advent of the ability of marketers to measure – almost exactly – how many sales have been made due to each and every campaign. You are no longer restricted to previously immeasurable success metrics such as ‘brand awareness’, ‘reach’, or ‘impressions’. With the new tools at our command, we need to crack down on how these and other marketing activities account for the bottom line. To do this, however, we need to wade through all available data to find those that help to inform decisions and measure performance.

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At the end of the day, you can have all the data in the world, but if you can’t or worse don’t – do anything with it, then there is no point in collecting it in the first place. Data in marketing, just as with all data, needs to be used to inform decisions relating to business objectives. It is all too common for businesses to fail into the trap of feeling that the data is more easily available is the data that matters. Think about Facebook post reach, the number of likes, and the number of shares. I get as warm and fuzzy as the next person when I get public recognition, but if it doesn’t bring you more sales, either now or in the futures, then this data is not informative for business goals. There are many example of this, you are probably thinking of other data you check every week or so. For this reason, it is important to focus on the end goal data; sales data.

“Likes are for Vanity, Sales are for Sanity”

Get in touch to see if you are collecting the right data for your decisions.

I, Image Search. | SEO Updates for Images

Google is well known for breaking barriers in machine learning. The example of programming every single possible driving encounter into their self-driving cars is a testament to their level of expertise in this area. Now, Google is expected to introduce an update to revamp the way it approaches image content in websites.

This might not be a big deal, in the grand scheme of things, but it’s worth knowing about.


The alternative to Alt-Text

Alt-Text, or alternative text is what you see when an image doesn’t load, is what Google currently uses to gauge the relevance of an image in relation to the content of the host website, or for image search queries.

Essentially, Google’s artificial intelligence has evolved to where it can see what the images are without having to be told by the alt text.

1006_cognitiveSEO_03-760x320Screenshot taken from http://googleresearch.blogspot.ro


Consider the above as an example of what will happen in google when you search for those image contents. Detected image elements will link to a keyword, or series of keywords, which will influence rankings.

SEO is about rankings, after all.

How this impacts us as marketers is that if we happen to have a website selling the most amazing red tables in the world, we won’t have to label each image any more. More images of our red tables will mean a greater contribution to rankings for ‘red tables’.


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Black Hat Picture SEO

Unlike keyword oriented SEO, and backlink building, which have both been abused and penalised in the past, it does seem rather hard to stuff your website full of targeted images without detracting from the quality of your website. It also seems hard to pass off a picture as something that it is not. Essentially, Google has gotten better at determining if this content is relevant to what people are searching for.

I’ll keep this short, there’s not much to this. This update, when it rolls out, won’t cause any major ripples, it’s simply something useful to keep in mind when designing content for your website. Fewer stock photos, more intentional image design.

Data Super Powers

Imagine being able to predict the future.

What if you had the power to read people’s minds?

Imagine the power you would have if you could instantly perceive someone’s deepest fears and desires.

What if you held the power to make people do exactly what you wanted them to?


Would these things make it easier to do business for you? Would it make it easier to sell things? It’s all possible.


There are people who can do all of this.  They don’t wear spandex or capes.  They don’t have catchphrases either. They’re usually behind desks, brandishing tools like Crazy Egg or Mail Chimp which you won’t find on any utility belt.

These are the super powers that come with fully leveraging data.


This post links to this one on properly collecting data, and this one on big data, but I intend for this post to fully impress upon you the possibilities which lie in store for you and your business.  Think Amazon, think Facebook, think Google and Kogan. These organisations have methods in place which record everything a user does, and remembers it for next time.  You can do similar things with your users.

Knowing your consumers is no longer speculative.  The way to your consumers’ hearts, minds and pockets is paved with big concrete blocks of data.

Let’s address your potential super powers:


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Predicting the future

Less predicting, more controlling. This comes down to directing observable trends. If you observe groups of individuals en masse, you can be statistically confident that a percentage of them will exhibit a certain behaviour.  Now, if you direct and engage with a group of individuals, you can be reasonably confident that a percentage of them, usually a high percentage if you have done a good job, will follow the path you’ve laid out for them. Not to describe users as sheeple, but the psychology of buying can be fairly predictable at times.  For example, if you drive good quality traffic to a well designed sales funnel, you can reliably control the future of your sales.  You can predict that x% of users will click here, enter information there, buy that, upgrade and so forth.


Mind reading

This usually comes in the form of re-marketing, but it relates to your ability as a marketer and an organisation to know the consumer better than they know themselves. Where this used to be intuition, it is now observable.  You can see what their interests are, what people like them usually search for, where they study, where they work, what they buy, and more importantly, what they don’t buy. If you think about it, it’s akin to sticking a camera on someone’s shoulder for their waking hours, but a little less creepy.  The information available to you is astounding.  All you have to do is capture it and leverage it.  That’s what we do.


What if you held the power to make people do exactly what you wanted them to?

Not by force, not hypnosis, simply direction of human behavioural tendencies.  It is possible for you to gain insights into the minds of your consumers, as mentioned above, and use them to find the triggers that drive people to action. It’s possible to find out why your consumers procrastinate, what misgivings they have, exactly which doubts need assurances and which skepticisms need to be addressed. Through analysis and action, you can be certain that if things are done right, a large percentage of your audience will do exactly what you want them to, because it provides them what they want.


To see what your data holds for you, ask us how today.