Prepare for the Proliferation of Personalization
This week I read two really neat books. One of them is called
"Weaving the Web: The Original Design and Ultimate Destiny of
the World Wide Web" by Tim Berners-Lee, the original creator
of the web. While the first half of the book Berners-Lee gives
a brief history of how his invention came to be, the second
half provides some fascinating insights on where it's heading.
According to Berners-Lee, as the growth of this network of
interconnected networks (we call the Internet) grows so too
will the need for computers not only to communicate with each
other (through hypertext for example, as they do now) but also
to work more efficiently in concert with each other. In one
example, Berners-Lee mentions pooling and streamlining more
powerful resources together, which go beyond mere information
or applications. His vision includes the process of combining
the greatest of all human endowments: Creativity.
But the underlying requirement for accomplishing such is the
need to increase the level of interactivity between computers.
Consequently, Berners-Lee mentions that new, more powerful web
languages (like the increasing popularity of extensible markup
language, or XML, and extensible style language, or XSL) will
help the development of both applications and websites to
become more dynamic, more interactive and more efficient than
ever before. Now, how do these apply to Internet marketing?
Personalization, which is the obvious parallel in the field of
ecommerce, will provide consumers with greater flexibility and
choice, a more personalized online experience, and greater
leverage when it comes to buying products on the Internet.
Since the web is completely user-driven, and when compared to
other types of interruption-based, broadcast media, it is no
wonder that the demand for personalization is growing.
Internet marketers must therefore realize that the web is not
just a communications medium but also a direct marketing tool.
In fact, the web is more of a process than it is a medium. A
site that interacts with its visitors, personalizes their
experience and provides an atmosphere that can be completely
customized by the user will reap greater rewards down the
road. Whether that atmosphere is commercialized or not, it is
still more powerful than the TV, radio or telephone.
It is true that the second of the two books mentioned above,
Seth Godin's "Permission Marketing," discusses a completely
different issue -- i.e., the benefits of niche-oriented,
permission marketing versus broad, interruption marketing.
However, there is a parallel. As time goes on, more and more
marketers will rely heavily on personalization, which in turn
will require a greater level of interactivity with visitors.
And the technology for accomplishing just that is exploding.
Take for example the recent partnership between pop diva
Britney Spears and a company from my own hometown of Ottawa,
Canada, called www.YOUtopia.com, a teen "e-loyalty"
site. Other personalization sites include:
Granting a marketer the permission to solicit one's business
provides, with the help of the Internet, the ability to also
personalize that experience to a tremendous degree. This is
the fascinating twist: With the web, one can not only grant
permission but also customize that permission. Imagine calling
your cable company to tell them not only what shows you want
to watch but also what commercials you want them to air, how
to air them and the level of interaction you wish they have
with you. This is all possible with the Internet right now.
These two well-known authors, Godin and Berners-Lee, conjoin
at a level of which all webmasters and Internet marketers must
be aware: A growing need for more personalization, dynamic
content and interactivity on the web. Keep in mind that
maintaining a simple website is fine. However, netpreneurs
could be shunning away from the enormous potential of the web
if they fail to make their sites more interactive.
In essence, long gone are the days of the "one-size-fits-all"
or stale site (or email message, for that matter) that provide
mere information that's too broad or too passive. We are, as
Stephen Covey once mentioned in an interview, transitioning
from the "Age of Information" to the "Age of Wisdom." To find
out more, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, the CRM (customer
relationship management) consultants at http://www.1to1.com/,
provide many resources on new technologies in this arena.
If you run an ecommerce site, you may want to find out if you
need personalization or not, or if it can help your business.
Take this very informative survey, provided by the folks at
http://www.guesttrack.com/, a personalization tool supplier:
Nevertheless, this growing need for customization (as well as
the growing distaste for broad, interruption marketing), which
are both part of a trend that's reflected in John Naisbitt's
http://www.hightechhightouch.com/, is silently creeping upon
us. But as the number of marketing messages continue to rise,
particularly on the web, that silence is slowly being broken
over time with consumers demanding for more control and
companies that provide it breaking new sales records.
The potential is screaming at us. Are you listening?
About the Author
Michel Fortin is an author, speaker and Internet marketing consultant dedicated to turning businesses into powerful magnets. Visit
SuccessDoctor.com. He is also the editor of the "Internet Marketing Chronicles" ezine delivered weekly to 100,000 subscribers - subscribe free at SuccessDoctor.com/IMC/
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