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Personalizing Web Site Content For Google Instant Preview

Facebook-Sears

Google apologized Monday for some Google Analytics users getting increased page views in their accounts due to an unresolved issue in the new feature Google Instant Preview, the ability to see the page in Google search query results by clicking on the magnifying glass without actually clicking through to the Web site.

Visits from Google Instant Preview will no longer show up in Analytics account. Google will not reprocess the data to remove past visits, but users can see the visits from Instant Preview in the context of your total traffic. Trevor Claiborne, a Google Analytics Team member, in a blog post points to three ways to deal with Google Preview visits in Google Analytics.

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Some suggest that Instant Preview, which Google announced earlier this month, will have a long-term influence on the Web page design and presentation that consumers see on the screen-copy, colors, images-all of which causes them to act or react. But what about dynamic Web site content personalized to a specific consumer based on search history or previous visits to the Web site? So what I see in Instant Preview might not be the same as what another person sees.

Zemoga, a full service digital ad and marketing agency with offices in New York, Bogota, Wilton, and San Francisco, four years ago began focusing on a more scientific approach on Web site visitor acceptance using something DJ Edgerton, the company's CEO, calls Tobii testing done through a company division known as the "Intelligence Bureau."

Tobii, a $70,000 computer, according to Edgerton, shoots infrared streams of light into the eyes of the person looking at the Web site page to make sure the designer does his job for the client, placing the content in the most desirable place on the page to gain the best results. The technology backs up claims on why certain design decisions get made, rather than listening to the client who might want to put the log in the left hand corner or make the type bigger, Edgerton tells me in a comical tone of voice.

"Interface design guides a person through an experience to a specific end result, and getting them there smoothly and quickly builds trust," he says. "One of the greatest ways to dilute trust is through a poor user interface design."

I agree with Edgerton that people don't want to interact on a site where they feel uncomfortable. They inherently believe a poorly designed site will result in a uncomfortable transaction. At that point they jump from the site and the bounce rate rises.

Zemoga's supports clients like Sears and Toyota, according to the company's Web site. Sears wanted to more actively involve their customer decisions when it comes to merchandising decision, so Zemoga developed a series of polls branded as "Brainwaves" and "Ustyle."

The Web site describes Brainwaves as allowing consumers to help Sears pick out everything from new chainsaws to gadgets for the home. Ustyle supports more fashion-focused merchandise and integrated with K-mart's StyleSip blog. Each poll consisted of three major products: a Facebook application that asks fans to rank products, a CMS that controls the creation, publication, editing and reporting of the results, and a widget that allows Sears to share the data on various web properties. Users can comment on the poll, share their votes on their Facebook Walls, and upload the content.

Burying product descriptions in categories that don't make sense can become a large retailer's biggest nightmare. I know. In the late 1980s and early 1990s I worked in marketing communications for the computer distributor Micro D, which eventually became Ingram Micro. At one point my job entailed organizing and helping more than 100 purchasing buyers and managers sort through descriptions for products that appeared in the company's catalog so value added retailers and retail companies could buy manufacturers' product to resell.

So what's my point? When organizing content and allowing people to search on Web sites, marketers need to consider the visitor's point of view. Take Sears as an example. How does a football mom go to Sears.com and shop for a camera? She comes with a bunch of simple language questions that fulfill needs such as "I want a camera that will freeze my child's catch of the ball on the scoring touchdown," rather than "I need a camera with a lumen rating of X or pixel rating of Y."

Earlier this year, Sears introduced a series of matchmaking tools to help consumer find the perfect product for them. Maybe I should have used the matchmaking tool for TVs before I purchased the Sony. It walks you through the purchase that's correct for you.

While all these tools will become part of what makes Web sites easier to use and more appealing, think of the possibilities when more companies actually use dynamic Web serving tools where each Web site configuration changes to personalize the content based on location and Web browsing history. Wow, I'll save that thought for another time.

2 comments about "Personalizing Web Site Content For Google Instant Preview".
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  1. Robert Morris, November 24, 2010 at 1:34 p.m.

    Laurie,

    Some great observations here. Instant preview is introducing yet another layer in the sales process, but I don't think this will directly affect website design. The experience "on-site" must continue to strive for a more intelligent, personalized experience that matches consumer expectations, a la Amazon. However, the impact on how we tell the marketing story is significant.

    In the old days, the marketing story was linear. The message began on the front page of the brochure or the first word on the print ad. But if we are practicing true integrated marketing, the story today is non-linear. The story must make sense regardless of where you start reading.

    Just as I might begin my story with an excerpt from a SERP or sponsored ad copy, the Instant Preview state of the website will need to communicate a broader yet relevant message. As I engage through links or other media components, the story should deepen and become more relevant. Once the story has led me to the website, the dynamic personalized content can take me to the point of sale.

    Your argument for effective user interface design is right on target. However, new features like Instant Preview have less to do with interface design and more to do with crafting the right message contained in another chapter of the ever-expanding marketing story.

  2. Laurie Sullivan from lauriesullivan, November 24, 2010 at 2:19 p.m.

    Thank you, Robert, for your thoughtful insight.

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