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 into being, 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
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, called http://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: http://www.guesttrack.com/exec/gt/doesitneed.html
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 High
Tech, High Touch, 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 a direct response copywriter and consultant dedicated
to turning sales messages into powerful magnets. Get a free copy of
his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning," when
you subscribe to his free monthly ezine, "The Profit Pill."
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