Imagine Netflix or Amazon without recommendations.
Pretty weird, right?
In both, the recommendations do wonders in driving engagement and ultimately, increasing revenue. While the personalization is an added touch to the core streaming and shopping services of Netflix and Amazon respectively, it’s hard to image either without product personalization.
A complex algorithm on par with those of Amazon and Netflix might be too far-fetched for your product's use case. But providing users with a personalized product experience is still a worthwhile endeavor. Personalization can make users feel more connected to the product and help them make sense of all your product offerings.
Here are 4 ways to personalize your product experience. They’re easier than trying to compute all your user behavior data, but can still make a huge difference in the user experience.
Embrace Creative Non-Personalization
Etsy users are greeted with a generic message that doesn’t try to disguise itself as anything else. While not quite product personalization—this happens on Etsy’s homepage—Etsy’s tagline acknowledges that it’s catered to everyone, “whoever you are.”
By embracing a generic message that’s centered around the diversity of its user base, Etsy manages to celebrate individualism.
Other products throw on a generic “for you” in their messaging and pass it off as targeted communication, but celebrating individualism should not be mistaken with overgeneralization.
Hotwire is guilty of overgeneralization in some of their promotional emails. The following offer for “members like you” attempts to engage users. There’s nothing here that distinguishes me from any other Hotwire member.
While this email may engage some users who just happen to be interested in hotel deals, the personalization aspect of the message isn’t all that compelling.
Remember, just because a message has the word “you” in there somewhere doesn’t mean it’s personalized.
Teach Users About Their Behavior with Data
After a quarterback finishes a Sunday game, they spend the next week reviewing their own tape. They review every pass, fumble, and run to identify their own strengths and weaknesses. Reviewing the tape lets them pinpoint exactly where they could have improved and gained an extra yard.
In the world of software, users often engage with your product because they want to improve some aspect of themselves. Like a quarterback’s game tape, your product’s usage data can help users learn more about themselves and find out exactly where and how to improve. This knowledge can be incredibly empowering.
Showing users this data in a digestible way is key to helping them reach their personal goals and become more attached to your product.
Mint has been a pioneer in leveraging users’ financial data and teaching insights back to users. Mint’s goal is to motivate users to have better financial habits, but the pretty slicing and dicing of data also drives users deeper into the product.
Users can spend a lot of time in Mint’s product, setting up budgets, reviewing financial history, and evaluating new offers for credit cards and banks. All of these activities tie back to their data.
One thing to watch out for when dealing with potentially sensitive user data is giving users the wrong information at the wrong time. In Mint’s case, an email alert about spending too money on coffee may be helpful, but emails about users’ comprehensive financial profile isn’t usually digestible outside the product. Plus, many users don’t want personal financial data sitting in their inbox.
If your product handles less sensitive data, you may have more channels of communicating that data. Grammarly’s weekly progress reports do a nice job of showing fun data that can make users feel productive and sort of special.
Help Users Find Relevant Value
It’s probable that some of your features are more useful for a certain subset of users. If you don’t already slice elements of your user experience by persona in order to create a packaged experience, you should think about it.
One place where you can give your users a lot of value based on other software tools they use is around your integrations. AdRoll did this successfully for users of both their platform and MailChimp. They knew their MailChimp integration had been under-adopted, so they used Datanyze to isolate a list of users of both AdRoll and MailChimp.
They then inputted that user data into Appcues and created in-product messages that announced the integration to only relevant users.
The above modal window yielded a 60% adoption rate and led to deeper user engagement.
AdRoll took an in-product first approach when communicating the integration to users because in-product messages organically target the most active users. With email announcements, there’s a risk of annoying the users and suffering from unsubscribes.
Reduce Sign-Up Burden
Forms are tedious for users to fill out, but they’re important for capturing important user information and thus often necessary to provide product personalization.
You can emulate any number of well-designed forms, but eliminating the form-filling task altogether can really delight users.
For every email address entered, Clearbit’s Enrichment API can access and give back a ton of user information, from the user’s name to job title. When Mention implemented Clearbit to their sign up forms, conversion went up by 54%.
Instead of learning from user data, many products go in the opposite direction and collect contact information without returning value. Far too common, email addresses are used to add extra steps in the sign-up process. Many products require new users to confirm their email addresses before they can activate their accounts, adding one layer of friction before users reach an Aha! moment.
Build A Deeper Connection with Users
Personalization enhances the product experience and makes it as easy as possible for users to engage further with your product.
Product personalization sends the message that you care enough about users to direct their attention towards what's most important. When done well, it makes users feel valued and more connected to your product.