In this information era, websites have proven to be a vital source for content. However, competition on the Web is fierce. The economies of scale have leveled the playing field. Anybody can build a website and open a Google Adwords account. Quality content, low prices and efficient delivery are no longer differentiators for online businesses – they are simply musthaves. Moreover, the competition is only a click away. In order to differentiate their online presence, companies must actively engage with visitors based on their individual preferences. IP intelligence can help immensely, offering companies a costeffective means of personalizing the customer experience beyond serving targeted banner ads. This paper offers tips for using IP intelligence to achieve those goals.
Good customer service in the brick-and-mortar world is often associated with personal experiences — one-on-one interactions with service representatives who offer specific products or services based on the customer’s needs and preferences. This personalized approach to doing business has carried over to the virtual world. “Today, with multiple businesses across the globe competing for one customer’s attention, the winners will be the businesses that can apply that same concept online, on a much wider scale,” said Jen McKean, research director, IDG Research Services.
According to a recent study by IDG Research Services, personalization is recognized as a key differentiator among online businesses, for both e-commerce and non-commerce sites. “Companies with an online presence are learning that they need to take action to learn more about their customers in order to increase customer loyalty, gain new followers and outshine the competition,” said McKean. “Given this, it doesn’t surprise me that more than 60 percent of the companies we surveyed are prioritizing investments over the next year that will enable a more personalized Web experience.”
The Benefits of Personalized Web Content
There are several benefits companies can realize by creating a more personalized website experience. Cited by 69 percent of survey respondents, improved website engagement is at the top of the list. When businesses employ website personalization techniques, the visit becomes a two-way interaction. Instead of solely clicking or pushing his or her way through the site, the user is enticed or pulled through the site via personalization, thus increasing website engagement.
The second benefit, according to 62 percent of survey respondents, is improved brand image. Visitors think highly of businesses that anticipate their needs and appeal to their individual interests. Finally, coming in third and fourth, 44 percent of respondents cite improved lead generation and decreased customer or website abandonment rates. “Whether it’s improved engagement or lower abandonment rates, all of these benefits have a positive impact on the bottom line. Businesses are going to see increased profits as a result of personalizing the visitor’s online experience with their company,” said McKean.
In order to provide a personalized Web experience and realize these benefits, companies need information about their visitors. Yet there are gaps identified when it comes to the information companies are currently able to collect. These gaps primarily exist around location, which inhibits the ability to offer visitors a personalized Web experience. For example, only 33 percent of respondents rate their company’s ability to measure or track whether website visitors are coming from home or a business location as either excellent or good. If a visitor is coming from a business location, less than one-quarter rate their company’s ability to determine the website visitor’s company name and industry as either excellent or good.
IP Geolocation: The Key to Personalization
Companies can close these gaps with IP address-based geolocation data. By examining IP addresses, businesses can determine the locations of website visitors, the type and speed of their Internet connections and other important data. This valuable information is known as IP intelligence, enabling businesses to offer a more relevant Web experience.
With knowledge of a visitor’s location – such as whether that user is visiting from a home or business location, and if a business, the business name and industry – companies can personalize the experience for a particular user. When that visitor is served content and related products or services that accurately address personal needs, he or she is more likely to engage with the website and do business with the company. What’s more, the company is perceived as delivering more value, and this improves its brand reputation among visitors.
Unfortunately, only 18 percent of respondents say they use IP address-based geolocation data today. Chances are more businesses use it – they just don’t know it, or they’re not using it optimally. And they’re missing a big opportunity to gather additional insights about their visitors. Web analytics solutions, which are in use in many organizations, employ IP address-based geolocation data. But they only provide very basic information about the visitor’s location. These solutions do not drill down into the visitor’s location type (business or residence), business name or industry. Most will provide the visitor’s city and state, and stop there.
There is a wealth of additional information that can be gleaned about visitors from IP data. For example, IP intelligence can indicate what type of connection visitors are using (such as mobile, Wi-Fi or satellites) and the speed of their connection, as well as whether or not they are coming in through a proxy server. All of this information can be used to determine the type of content that will best meet a visitor’s needs and optimize his/her experience.
How to Use IP Intelligence
Because IP intelligence can be a powerful tool in personalizing content, the reliability of the source is imperative. By making the decision to serve up one type of content over another, businesses leave little or no room for error. So it’s important to understand how best to use IP intelligence. In fact, there are several ways IP intelligence can be used to promote an online business and address opportunities that are otherwise missed when companies rely on limited IP address-based geolocation data.
- Use IP intelligence to better analyze website traffic for improvement opportunities. For example, by learning which industries visitors represent, a business may find it has visitors from an industry segment that it hadn’t previously identified. The business can then address this industry segment in its sales and marketing communications. The company might also identify whether visitors are coming from a home or business, indicating that users are possibly from small businesses or home offices.
- Tap IP intelligence to fortify online businesses with easily localized content for a more personalized and relevant user experience. For example, a business may choose to promote seasonably appropriate products and services to visitors. If a population of customers is experiencing an unusually hot summer, a national home improvement retailer may choose to offer those website visitors a discount on air conditioning units or display content on how to keep a home cool without incurring high power bills. The company thus seizes an opportunity to improve its sales and promote its website while showing visitors that it understands their needs.
- Leverage IP intelligence to suggest further information, services or products that may be of interest to website visitors based on the purchase histories of other similarly geolocated visitors. For instance, local events – be they natural disasters, product surpluses or shortages, economic uptakes or recessions – can drive shopping trends within a community. A new website visitor may learn that a business offers much more than the item or service that brought him/her there in the first place and start thinking about that business as a “one-stopshop” for many needs when the company serves up content or products in which prior visitors from the same geolocation expressed interest.
- Use IP intelligence to understand how customers connect to the site and improve their experience accordingly. For example, if a visitor is known to be on a mobile device, then that experience can be optimized for limited screen real estate. Or, if the connection is known to be slow, perhaps written content can be presented as opposed to a streaming video.
IP Intelligence from Neustar
These are just a few examples of how IP intelligence can be used to promote an online business presence. With accurate and reliable data from a provider that is serious about customer support, organizations can discover innovative new ways to promote their businesses via personalization.
Neustar is a trusted IP intelligence solution provider offering the most accurate and reliable data in the industry. With the right blend of technologies, processes and expertise, the company provides value-added intelligence that drives smart decisions for promoting websites and personalizing the Web experience. But it’s not all about the data. Neustar takes extra measures to ensure customer success. Customer support managers and professional services pros help ensure that customers optimize the effectiveness of IP intelligence within their business processes and greater marketing strategy.