Over the last ten years, website personalization has been one of the driving factors in website redesigns. In fact, over 70% of website redesigns we were involved in listed personalization as one of the core reasons why they initiated the redesign.
So if personalization is so important, why are so many personalization tools collecting dust? Personalization is included in the cost of the content management system (CMS), so if most companies paid for it, why don't they use it?
In our experience, the cost of the software (or feature) is never the reason why website personalization is on hold, delayed, or never implemented. The root of the problem falls under these three areas.
1. Budget Overrun
This is an obvious problem. If your website redesign runs over budget, you will likely take your personalization dollars/resources and use them to finish other core features; hence you will put your personalization on the back burner.
Once your personalization is out of sight, it's out of mind as well. It is not uncommon to see website personalization delayed for 1-2 years after the new website launch.
2. Underestimating The Implementation Effort
The well-polished personalization demo you see in a sales demo often requires substantial development to replicate. And any significant development typically needs UX, Visual Design, and Business Analysis.
Most businesses incorrectly assume that everything they see in a Vendor CMS demo is out-of-the-box. So ask a lot of questions, and if possible, ask for a Sandbox - testing environment, ideally with only out-of-the-box features.
Also, your personalization objectives will likely change after you launch your new website, and because change often means "rework," your new requirements will demand more labor, time, and money.
3. Buying More Than You Need
Buying a content management system (CMS) often reminds us of purchasing a vehicle. Many buy an SUV because they imagine themselves driving off-road and exploring new places. However, in reality, most people will not take their SUV off-road. And if they do, it will only be a few times a year, and on a terrain that doesn't need an SUV.
In other words, they purchased more capability than they needed. This is also the case with website personalization. Many CMS buyers will choose a CMS with sophisticated personalization capabilities when, in fact, they only need some basic features.
To use the car analogy again, buying a new car is expensive, so you will have to live with your purchase decision for many years. Therefore, the temptation is to get as many features as possible, because you may need them down the line. The same applies when buying a new CMS. It's expensive; it's a long-term investment, so its only natural that you want all the latest bells and whistles.
You don't need those features now, but how do you know that you will not need them in the next 2-3 years? Better safe than sorry, right?
Not exactly. Knowingly or unknowingly, by taking this stance, you are taking a position of an early adopter (often equates to higher cost, compatibility issues, and higher defects).
What most CMS buyers fail to realize is that the CMS space is very competitive, and to compete, CMS vendors will quickly copy features. So those high-end personalization features you saw in a vendor demo will eventually filter down to other CMSs; therefore, only buy features you need right now and not what you may need in 5 years.
If you see personalization as a critical component of your website or a competitive advantage in any way, then don't make the mistakes we covered above.
For the most part, these mistakes can be avoided by carefully estimating your budget, recognizing the level of effort required to implement personalization, and finally not buying more than you need.
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