Before content personalization was possible, consumers were forced to engage with whatever content businesses provided for them, whether it was relevant or not. Today, this is no longer the case. The fact is, we crave personalized experiences when it comes to engaging with businesses because we want to feel like our interests and preferences are actually taken into account. Personalization is like giving someone a suit already tailored for them. On the other hand, a non-personalized experience is like giving someone a one-size-fits-all baseball cap with a random team's logo on the front. The difference is that personalization takes into account personal preferences and interests.
The Perception of Choice
The good news is, we have the technology to personalize content and web experiences-home pages, landing pages, calls-to-action (CTAs), and emails-so we should. Yet, the question still remains: Why do customers prefer a personalized experience? According to a study conducted by the University of Texas, consumers crave personalization because there is a greater perception of choice, which results in a "perceived decrease in information overload due to the connotation that the information displayed in a customized online environment is tailored to one's needs." The combination of a perceived decrease in information overload and a feeling of control resulted in the surveyed consumers experiencing greater media enjoyment.
Although consumers aren't actually making any choices when they view personalized content, they do know that they are engaging with something tailored towards their preferences or interests, which makes them perceive that they have some level of control over their experience. So, on one level, consumers desire personalized content because they want some control over their web experience.
Reducing Information Overload
On another level, consumers desire a personalized content experience because it reduces their perception of information overload. We are bombarded with marketing and information messages every day on the internet. Personalization reduces the overwhelming amount of information directed at consumers to a manageable, useful, and digestible level. By personalizing content, you can directly and positively affect the way consumers perceive engagement with your brand. Moreover, Consumers don't necessarily even have to be aware that they are engaging with personalized content to prefer it. According to HubSpot, even if consumers have no idea that they are engaging with personalized content, they still prefer it over non-personalized content.
Humans naturally have selective attention, meaning that they only really care about information or ideas that they are invested in. This is why consumers prefer personalized content experiences-they don't have to concern themselves with the inconvenience of blocking irrelevant content because it's already done for them. This is way incorporating a customer's name into personalized email or placing it at the top of a webpage to greet them after they login is so effective. In fact, according to HubSpot, when people hear their first name, it causes them to become more invested in the situation at hand.
Consumers Crave Control
Consumers respond better to personalized content because they perceive that they have more control over their web experience. Personalized content also helps reduce information overload on the internet. Consumers would rather not spend time filtering out irrelevant content if they don't have to. With personalization tools, you can ensure your customers are only presented with relevant content, which will make them feel like you understand their needs, interested, and preferences. There really isn't a limit to how far you can take personalization, but if it seems like a daunting endeavor, it isn't. You can begin simply by using dynamic tags in your lead nurturing emails or by greeting customers by their name on your homepage when they login. Even small efforts at personalizing like these will have a significant impact on the way your customers perceive their engagement with your brand.