In our previous post on personalization, we focused on the importance of customizing the content a user sees while entering a website, receiving messages via chat or e-mails. Here, we will take a deeper look on the techniques Amazon, TripAdvisor and Ryanair use in terms of personalization.
What's the ultimate in personalization? When "you go into a bar and sit down, and the bartender puts a whiskey in front of you without having to ask what you want,"
Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com CEO
[PC World, June 28, 2000]
There is no person in this world that isn’t familiar with Amazon. The so-called King of Personalization. It is believed that Amazon has been the very first e-commerce website to have understood the significance of recommending a given range of products to users or sending them emails, informing about special offers selected especially for them.
Before we move on, I want to ask you one single question.
Why was the feature below incorporated into Amazon.com?
The answer is basically very simple because by sharing our personal opinion, we directly indicate what we like/dislike. In other words, recommendations on the front page have been prepared with the data that users deliver by themselves.
When it comes to the strategies Amazon.com has in terms of personalization, it all starts when the user registers his account. The system automatically recognizes the IP and segments the user as the one from Poland, Sweden or any other country. It’s very valuable information because it helps to customize newsletters and other forms as well. For example, one may receive a message, informing that “only today” the shipment to a particular country is completely free. Isn’t a nice way of encouraging a user to buy something?
What’s more, the system analyzes the shopping patterns - what has been bought so that an email campaign can be designed to meet a user’s needs. It also stores the data about what has been added to our cart, but not necessarily bought. As a result, the items appear on the screen as a sort of reminder.
I found an amazing summary of the strategies of Amazon.com and I just couldn’t help it but share some of the information with you . According to SFNIGHT Project the main personalization features and goals are:
|Recommendation 7 Recommendation Wizards||Evaluate with the user if the recommended option||User specify in a form their favorite Author, Movie, Artist, Interest, or use some ideas to get start, but in this case doesn’t offer options for books outside literature: in this case, Amazon presents Recommend Like this option|
|Friends & Favorites: Add to My Wish List||Business value: Another way of knowing user intensions.
User value: provide ways to facilitate later shopping, instead of adding/erase from the shopping chart; make birthday list, wedding list etc
|In every product page users have the option to select the item for wish lists. Also provide Delete, Change quantity, and Add to my shopping cart. It is possible to sort by date added or by last updated or price. It can be viewed by product type.
In addition to that, there is
Friends & Favorites: Find the People you Care About, with option to search for friends.
|Special Occasion Reminder||Business value: be connected to the user, and create opportunity for purchase
User value: get organized and be remembered
|It start with Add a Reminder; The user specify kind of occasion; date; when would like to be reminded; The remind note; also there are fields related to the other person tastes. Person interests are defined by keywords, then Amazon display a list for each topic. It also send you an e-mail with confirmation, and giving you option to edit or delete.|
|Purchase Circles||Business value: stimulate||Highly specialized bestseller lists. They let user know what people are buying around the world and in their hometown, at your workplace and at your alma mater.
Individuals and companies can request erase their data from this circle list.
Amazon group the items sent to particular zip and postal codes, and the items ordered from each domain name. They then aggregate this anonymous data and apply an algorithm that constructs bestseller lists of items that are more popular with each specific group than with the general population. No personally identifiable information is used to create Purchase Circle lists, according to them. It is updated according to the purchase amount: large, every week; small, every month
Options by organizations, geography, companies, education: work + live + school
TripAdvisor.com is one of the most developed travel communites in the Internet. Users can add their reviews and opinions about more than 220,00 hotels and attractions. The website is believed to be the very best source of unbiased information that many people can’t live without while planning a trip.
The website’s success can be measured in the number of 20 million unique visitors each month (comScore Media Metrix, July 2006) and according Trefis.com, earned around $1.2 billion on revenue. Of course, we will not get into the details the history of the website but we will focus more on the current strategies to make marketing effective. So far, TripAdvisor is successful.
Firstly, the management decided to focus on pumping huge amounts of money into inbound marketing instead of TV advertising which resulted in the cooperation with Booking.com that significantly increased the number of visitors.
We can see clearly that it’s estimated that the total TV advertising revenue to be lesser than the one from the Internet sources. Seems pretty logical what TripAdvisor is doing right now.
Not only is it focused on integration with different travel sites, like Booking.com or Expedia.com to generate valuable leads but it also puts a great emphasis on the process of personalization of what is seen and delivered to the users.
Integration with Facebook
Take a look on the picture below. What is the goal of such a message?
Basically, by integrating with Facebook, TripAdvisor has an access to the entire list of friends of a given user. So for example, if I log in with my Facebook account, I will see messages notifying me what my friends recommend, write about and where they have stayed. The purpose is very simple because the offer seems more ‘friendly’ to a user who knows exactly the person he can discuss it with. What’s more, the information seen by the user is not longer connected with cold facts because having access to one’s friends’ reviews make it more personal.
Brittany Darwell lists what kind of knowledge TripAdvisor has possessed about users thanks to Facebook:
“ [...] can show any logged-in Facebook user which of their friends has indicated that they’ve been to a destination or reviewed something on the site. It pulls data from users’ profiles like hometown, current city, check-ins and Likes, as well as data from the Cities I’ve Visited app. The company also launched an Open Graph-enabled version of Cities I’ve Visited this year and is considering ways it might do the same for the main TripAdvisor site.”
For the purpose of this post, I registered on TripAdvisor to check on my personal experience what is being personalized for me.
Firstly, I see my name on the top of the page so that I know what the message is directed only to me.
Nice, what else. There is also my profile picture but I expected they would import it as well. “Write your first review” - OK, the message is pretty clear that the system detects I haven’t posted anything and it enables me to do it with one simple click on the button, which is right there!
The system automatically imported the number of places I have visited. How was it possible?
It’s actually very simple because all the information about the places can be found on my Facebook posts and what my friends have posted and tagged me as well. So that, Trip Advisor knows that I’ve been to 16 different cities acc. To the data from Facebook.
Next thing is - Warsaw. The website can simply figure out the IP address and on its basis, find out where I am. On top of that, it also connects the information with the Booking.com and my old reservations in Warsaw. The result is a list of hotel reviews and most popular places in Warsaw.
Everything is right in front of my eyes so TripAdvisor delivered me a solution not having asked what my problem was.
As a summary, I will refer to Corinne Bagish and her interview with Barbara Messing, CMO of TripAdvisor, currently sits on Mashable's Board of Directors, where we read:
“At TripAdvisor, we personalize and customize our communications to reflect all of the information we know about you, the traveler. We also layer on the universal principals that impact all travelers: For example, everyone wants to get the best price possible, and everyone wants to know how to make the most of their trip. We know that at different stages you need different things. Right before you go on your trip, for example, we know that you will need our app so that you can use our great features like "near me now" to figure out where to eat when you leave the museum, or so you can book an attraction or tour while you’re in market. And we know that no one wants to incur data fees when traveling so we make sure you know that our app will work in offline mode without incurring fees.”
Changing into a totally different field, I want to discuss the techniques used by Ryanair which is one of the most recognizable low-cost airlines in Europe. Many people ask themselves a question what lies at the bottom of this Irish based giant. It seems paradoxical that the airline which provides way too less space for legs, uncomfortable chairs and charges passengers with everything but the ticket. Yeah, right. The ticket is cheap. Dirty cheap.
But is it really the key to their success?
Yes and no.
Undoubtedly the price is the major factor. However, without a personalized offer to a user, it wouldn’t have been such a success for Ryanair.
According to the article on Bloomberg :
“The airline has doubled the size of its digital-technology team in six months in a project dubbed ‘Ryanair Labs,’ and is combing through customer data in advance of the rollout of a new website in October. The surge in activity comes as O’Leary targets a 30 percent increase in passenger numbers to 120 million by 2019, seeking to out-pace rivals led by EasyJet Plc.”
If a user registers on a website, all the data gathered about a user is used to recommend him/her the very best offer. For example, if somebody has bought or just searched a specific place to visit, the system sends an automated e-mail with a personalized offer - hey, you can like these offers ...
However, Ryanair is believed to be less involved in Inboud Marketing, thus Social Media Marketing as well. That’s why, one of the main objectives is to increase their activity on Twitter and Faceebok. To give you an example, I will use Alan Gleeson’s article on the digital strategies of Ryanair, where he states that: Looking at Twitter, their audience of 115,000 followers is less than half the numbers of Easyjet’s and one fifth of British Airways. In terms of Twitter activity, there is currently evidence of a nice mix of customer engagement and promotion. Testing paid-for campaigns (like Easyjet’s cross channel ‘Happy Bums’ campaign) makes obvious sense in terms of a next step.
To sum up, personalization is a word that can be heard everywhere, where digital marketing is discussed. As presented in the article, you can see various strategies that the companies use to engage users in interaction in a customized, but automated way.
I have one suggestion for you. When you visit any of the discussed websites again, instead of looking for the very best offer for you, think about the strategies the company is using to personalize the material that is delivered to you.