How can companies improve Web content personalization?

Web content personalization remains a challenge for companies that want to deliver targeted information and tailored experiences to customers. What needs to change?

We increasingly expect our environments to be smarter, to understand our queries and contexts and, perhaps, even our intentions.

The problem with personalization is that you really have to define what you're trying to personalize and in what context. It's important to create user scenarios -- or try to define, in some detail, the user experience. In order to do that, you have to get very precise about what it is the person is looking for and what kinds of information that person needs to have. Then, you have to ask the second question: Once users achieve one task, how do we continue to keep them engaged?

You need to avoid a failure of design. For example, once I've bought a TV, the last thing I want to know is about all of the other TVs I didn't buy. But maybe there's something about the viewing experience that the company could tell me -- tips on how to use the TV or how to find related services.

The issue with personalization is that you have to decide if you're personalizing at one point in time or throughout a continuous flow of interactions, and then determine how much the company knows about the user or the user segment. Then there's always a question of privacy and the right to be forgotten. I think personalization is one data point in a much larger conversation.

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