Search is currently the biggest digital marketing investment for businesses, but the gap is closing. With display ads (videos, rich media, banners, etc.) set to overtake search this year, those looking to gain a competitive advantage online should start looking beyond search and towards personalization.

It has been increasingly difficult to get value out of search. Google’s shift towards large, content-driven search results makes search a huge investment of time and labor. Search will always be an important way to attract new business, but it’s now becoming more important to convert the visitors that you do get at a higher rate. This is where personalization is becoming the rising trend.

Convert The Users Searching For You

As businesses invest more in digital assets and advertisements like video and graphics, there is usually plenty of content to give users, but users don’t want to dig through a ton of content until they find what’s relevant to them. Users want relevant content right away. By providing timely and relevant content, personalization increases conversions by 20%.

It’s difficult enough as it is to convert users that are coming from long-tail keywords, but many smaller and medium-sized businesses are getting pushed out of those results. For many businesses, branded keywords are their primary source of search traffic. Personalization makes sure you give those visitors a great experience and converts them at a higher rate than a typical, flat site.

Like search, personalization will give the competitive advantage to the early adopters. Before, when Google gave more weight to keywords, those that were search savvy had a distinct advantage over their competition. Now that Google has made it more difficult to gain a competitive advantage in search, personalization is the new way to beat your competitors.

Those that begin to personalize now will have a wealth of data to use and years of experience. This experience will allow them to optimize better than those who only start to personalize later on down the road.

Personalization also offers a more direct route to users than search. If a user finds your site using a non-branded search term, they have to look around your site to find out who you are and if you can provide the information they are looking for.

By providing a personalized experience, you can find out who they are or at least use clues about them to try and give them the information without them having to search for it.

Personalization also has long-term benefits. If your competitor is ranking over you in search, but you provide a more personalized experience users will come back to your site more often. That loyal following is more important than a bunch of traffic from visitors that bounce when they don’t find what they are looking for.

Personalization also helps develop a loyal fan base because as you learn more about them, you can continue to improve their experience. Because you know who they are, you can even reward loyal users which can, in turn, develop an even deeper relationship.

 

Find The Right Mix Between Push (Search) And Pull (Personalization)

Search is not going away anytime soon, but for those struggling to keep up with Google’s algorithms, personalization offers a new tactic to gain a competitive advantage. As with any other data-driven model, investing early and gathering as much information possible will put early adopters at a distinct advantage.

Personalization isn’t replacing search, but it works in cohesion with search to provide users the best possible online experience along the entire customer journey, from awareness to conversion.
Instead of pushing out your content and hoping search engines pick it up, personalization is a way to pull users in by providing an outstanding user experience. Pulling users in is much cheaper than pushing content to bring in visitors. That’s how personalization is becoming the antidote to search.