Personalized Content for Authenticated Users

Contextual Websites for Authenticated Users

In the previous post of this series on contextualization via a CMS we looked at how to provide a contextualized experience to anonymous users (read previous posts now). But what if your users have created an account and are logged into your website? You can of course still do all the anonymous tactics for personalization, but now you have many more options at your fingertips.

Personalization, the next level of contextualization when a user is logged in.

Once a user has created an account with you, you can set preferences on your website that will persist with their account. One of the problems with the anonymous experience is it is temporal. If the session expires or a user clears their cookies or they change location, you have lost some of their contexts. You can rebuild that on the next session that is created, but it is temporal.

When a user creates an account and is logged into your site, you can then store preferences with that account. Those can be explicit preferences they set - like notification preferences, location, user profile pictures. Or implicit preferences like last 10 pages accessed on the site, preferences of content categories and so on.

The concept is not entirely new to the web. User-generated content sites and communities have been around for a long time. These are essentially highly personalized experiences - however, that does not mean as a marketer and site owner you need to build entirely different experiences for every customer.

Think Facebook or LinkedIn. The UI is entirely identical for all profile pages, however, no two profile pages are the same. Users personalize and customize these pages with their own user-generated content, set images, cross-post with friends. It is a highly personalized experience, however from a site building and administrators perspective it’s a single template.

As a marketer, you can accomplish the same thing with your website. It is about establishing the framework for the personalization that makes sense for your customers. This tends to involve a wireframing process - a great way to have a generic page and think through a personalized experience that will flow into a common UI.

Some examples of these from our own clients:

  • User profile pages

  • Company profile pages

  • Activity dashboards

  • Notification preferences

  • Activity tracking (content viewed, videos watched)

  • Internal event feeds (think timelines)

  • Favorites lists

  • Saved searches

  • Filter preferences, location preferences, etc...

Domu is a great example. As an anonymous user, you can search and look for apartments in Chicago.

When you create an account a new “dashboard” is created for your user. It lets you set up and save searches and then be notified via email or SMS each time a new listing matches your criteria. And by using Facebook as a login method, reduce friction by using established accounts where possible.

My favorite apartments list:

Domu

One; a basic user or pass account has been established. You enter a new world for marketers - allowing you to “hang” all sorts of personalized content, user preferences, user generated content, notification preferences, off an account.

Moving a customer from anonymous to authenticated can be a challenge. Each site needs to find its own levers. On Domu if you find an apartment you like, click on the and it goes into a favorite list (stored with the anonymous session). If you want to keep that favorite list, you need to create a very simple users/pass account. This makes a lot of sense for users, they then have all their favorite apartments and searches saved. For Domu it opens up new levels of personalization and the ability to “persist” data for their customers.

That works great for some sites but for others (for example, a content-only publishing site or many corporate sites) it just won’t ever make great sense for a customer to create an account.

In the next part of this series, we’ll look at a middle ground where you can use event tracking and marketing codes to serve a contextual, personalized, segmented, or individually targeted experience for customers.


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