Anonymous Personalization: Creating a more engaging experience

Is anonymous personalization an oxymoron?

Anonymous personalization sounds crazy. Most of our approach to personalization comes after we identify someone. So how can you do it when a website visitor is anonymous? Before I get into it, let me ask you if this has ever happened….

Have you ever visited a website, gone to their homepage, then clicked on one of the categories in the main navigation (like you visit Macy's and then click on Men's) and from there click into a series of sub-categories (Shoes, Coats, Athletic Wear).

You would think, based on your navigation, the site could / would adjust and show you some things that are useful, right? But no, they show you whatever their system plans to show you (like potted plans, jewelry, or fitness equipment).

That's what happens almost everywhere. Other than Amazon. 🙂 And what happens on those sites is that they ignore your clickstream. They don't collect, analyze, or leverage the things you've looked at to shape your session.

It's crazy, when you think about it. Because imagine the experience in real life.

This would feel criminal in real life

I visit a car dealership. I walk on the lot. I navigate to one of their least expensive cars. The salesperson sees me and walks up.

“What can I help you with?” she starts, and I reply that I'm looking for my first car. I then mention that I'm choosing between two of their least expensive cars.

Would you ever imagine that she takes me to her top of the line, most expensive vehicle?

Never. It would waste her and my time.

The best salesperson would ask me a few questions, watch me closely, and then she'd make suggestions to help close a deal.

She might even do all of that without ever knowing my name, my job, or my family status. She could pull that off simply by paying close attention to whether I'm looking at a 2 or 4 door, whether I even look at trunk space, and any other number of things that might hint at my situation in life.

(Note: I'm not saying this fictional salesperson can't ask me questions. I'm simply saying she could do a great job even if she didn't.)

Shouldn't your website function as your best salesperson?

You know the answer to this because I've already told you that your website should be your best salesperson.

So doesn't that mean it should be able to handle things when your visitors are anonymous? The answer, again, is yes. And today I want to show you how to do it with a solution called Bento.

To be clear, Bento does way more than anonymous personalization. But it does handle it unlike many others, and at a price point that is hard to beat.

I'm sure I'll come back to this post and add more, but for today, all you need to do is watch my video on anonymous personalization with Bento.

What I did & how I did pulled it off

The first automation I created was to create a couple of counters to track how often you looked at posts in specific categories.

The second automation creates tags after you hit an initial level of interest. I measure that by specifying you have to visit a topic at least 5 times to “earn” the tag. I could have made that number anything I want.

The third automation compares your interests to define which is your more prominent, so that if I plan to make global site changes to copy, I can pay attention to what you care about most. In that automation, I add and remove tags so that you only have one primary. Bento has a feature that does that automatically, but I hadn't learned about it until later.

After that, I use Personalization to add an ad in the sidebar based not on the primary interest but if you have shown enough interest in a topic to earn the tag.

And I use Personalization and your primary interest to adjust copy on the home page.

But like I say in the video, I can use anonymous personalization in a lot of different ways. These were just the initial two examples.

Seriously, check out bento because it's incredible.

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Chris Lema
Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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