Survey: Personalization Crucial to Scoring New Customers, Data

Christopher Saunders

Updated · May 14, 2001

Consumers are more likely to purchase from a Web site that's customized to their individual needs, according to findings from a Cyber Dialogue study this week.

The survey, conducted in March by the New York-based research outfit, queried 512 respondents out of a universe of 3,500 people who used the Web and made a purchase in the past twelve months. It's goal was to assess the attitudes and behavior related to the use of personalization tools by experienced online purchasers.

Despite the study's industry-friendly leanings — it was sponsored by the Personalization Consortium, an industry association promoting the use of personalization marketing and technologies (and the firms that provide them, of course) — the results did put some hard numbers behind the need for Web marketers to offer personalization on their sites.

For example, more than 50 percent of the study's respondents said they'd be more likely to purchase at an e-commerce site that offers some sort of personalized features — suggesting perhaps that discounts, favored by many e-commerce sites to undercut established offline retailers, aren't necessarily the only way to encourage sales.

Furthermore, some 63 percent said they'd be more likely to register at a site in exchange for personalization or content customization features on Web sites. And 82 percent of the study's respondents said they would be willing to provide information like gender, age and ethnicity, in return for the site's remembering their user preferences.

That's a key finding for Web publishers and site operators who want to know more about their audiences, and resell the data to advertisers. Those figures are also interesting considering that Web marketers often go to great lengths — like conducting sweepstakes and running loyalty programs — to encourage registration.

"Experienced Web consumers clearly value the relevance, convenience and improved service that personalization offers, and they are willing to supply personal information online in exchange for these benefits," said Mike Capizzi of Frequency Marketing, who chairs the consortium's research committee. "They also place a high value on privacy and security, and their sustained loyalty to any business requires the business to clearly state and adhere to acceptable policies in both arenas."

Additionally, consumers who personalize also are more likely to spend more online, according to the study. Twenty-eight percent of consumers who used personalized Web sites spent more than $2,000 on the Web last year, versus 17 percent of users who did not use sites' personalization features, if they were offered.

"Online marketing has now entered a stage where personalization is the rule, not the exception," said Peppers and Rogers Group' Don Peppers, who co-chairs the Personalization Consortium. "Savvy marketers will need to provide consumers the convenience of customization, show consumers its benefits, and earn the consumers' trust by carefully guarding all their personalized data."

Reprinted from Internet Advertising Report.

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