As marketers, we can be guilty of using buzzwords.  Sometimes, they become so ingrained in our vocabulary, we don’t always use them in exactly the right way.  This is often the case with personalization and customization.  Two words with similar meanings, it is understandable that marketers and customers alike, use these words interchangeably.  But they are in fact quite different.  Both aim to create personalized experiences for your customers — but they do so in different ways.  According to Loyalty 360, 78% of consumers will only engage with a brand if offers have been tailored to previous engagements.  And, customers want brands to get to know them — according to 81% of consumers in a study by Business 2 Community.  With the demand for personalization on the rise, it’s important to get to grips with what customers want.  It is up to you to decide which method is most effective for you, but we can help you along the way.  Let’s explore what each one is, what it does, and how it can enhance your business.

What is website customization?

In a Forbes article by Larry Myler, he writes:

“Any study of how to sell to millennials will reveal that you’ve got to give them exactly what they want, give it to them now, and allow them to have total control over as much of the process and product as possible.”

This request for control is at the heart of customization.  Users — millennials in particular — enjoy being the ‘co-creators’ of products.  Traditional mass marketing is no longer an option for businesses.  In fact, according to Evergage, 63% of consumers are annoyed when brands use old-fashioned marketing strategies.  Brands that are not giving users a personalized marketing service are already behind the curve.  In his 1987 book, ‘Future Perfect’, Stan Davis defined customization as:

‘The process of delivering wide-market goods and services the mare modified to satisfy a specific a specific customer need.’

Customization is all about taking an existing product and enabling a customer to make it their own.  Think NikeID giving users the chance to design their own pair of trainers.  Or Nutella, simply enabling its customers to replace the brand name with their own.  Or even TV shows like Black Mirror giving users the chance to select their own ending.  Customization is in the hands of your user, and it can be applied to digital products, apps and websites, too.  Users can change interfaces, move and hide elements, create ‘personal’ feeds based on their likes and interests.  They can turn on notifications, hide posts, and set preferences.  It gives them the ability to see what they want, when they want and avoid what they don’t want to see.

How is website personalization different?

Where customization is in the hands of the consumer, personalization is in the hands of the business.  Or, similarly, in the hands of the automation the business decides to adopt.  Website personalization makes use of innovative software to create personalized web experiences for visitors.  Rather than users deciding what they want to see, intelligent personalization software will use a combination of accurate customer data and criteria set by the business to present personalized content to the user.  This ranges from greeting the user by name and using behavioral targeting to anticipate their purchase behavior, to making personalized recommendations and altering calls to action.  According to OneSpot, 87% of people surveyed said that personally relevant content influences their opinion on a brand.  And, CMO found that it positively impacts your company, too — with marketers seeing an average of a 19% uplift in sales from personalized web experiences.  Think about your customer experience with companies like Amazon.  When you land on the website, everything you see has been tailored to create a personalized user experience.  While they have collected your data over time, you didn’t actively customize the site to meet your needs.  The difference lies in who has the control.

Which one is right for your business?

As the growing demand for personalization shows, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for anything.  And it seems that marketers are struggling to adopt personalization.  According to Monetate, 68% of marketers struggle to achieve a real-time view of their customers, and Rapt Media found that 86% say creating personalized content is their biggest challenge.  It is up to you as a business to decide whether personalization or customization model works best for you.  A great user experience is at the heart of both, but there are pros and cons to each, of course.  Customization gives users back control, builds trust and guarantees customer satisfaction — after all, they’re the ones who designed it.  But it can be limiting for businesses too.  You could miss out on valuable opportunities because of hidden content options.  And, customization relies on users being engaged because they must take the time to customize their own feed.  Real time personalization, on the other hand, happens when users land on the site.  It presents great opportunities for upselling, cross-selling and creating a loyal customer base.  It makes your customer’s life easy, and helps you learn more about your users.  However, personalization relies on automation — so without a high-quality solution and database in place, it won’t be effective.  Select a software you trust.

Go back to your marketing strategy and think about what your goals are.  Every marketing activity you execute needs to align with your wider goals.  Then, think about how personalization and customization fit into your strategy.  Take a look at our guide to your personalization strategy here to ensure you’ve considered everything.

Webeo is the global leader in website personalization software.  Our leading technology tailors webexperiences based on IP address, so key businesses and accounts will receive an entirely unique experience when they land on your site.  Greet customers by name, alter imagery to suit their needs and more.  If you want to learn about the power of website personalization, discover Webeo. Take your B2B website to the next level and book your free demonstration today!