Marketers may personalize their websites to appeal to visitors based on certain characteristics, such as their demographics, interests and/or behaviors. When a website uses personalization, the elements that are personalized are done so using known information, such as which pages have been viewed and/or what prior purchases have been made. This differs from “customization” in that users drive customization by selecting preferences and rating/liking information. Personalization is done behind the scenes without the user making website appearance choices; whereas customization is done with the visitor knowing that he or she is making decisions that will impact how he or she interacts with the website.
Personalization can be done based on visitor group characteristics, specific behavior of each visitor and/or a combination of the two (collaboration). Overall, personalization is used to improve the user experience by ensuring visitors see the information they want to see in the way they want to see it. For example, if a college student visits a website, he or she may see more video options that a senior citizen who wants to read large print. Savvy marketers incorporate website personalization in to their conversion optimization plans and employ tools and/or services to ensure they capitalize on this capability.