Exactly Why You Don’t Deliver Targeted Content Online

The right content, delivered at the right time, can help solve the widespread problem of the “stupid robot.”

“Welcome to our little site.  Is this the first time you’ve visited?”

A lot of web sites ask such questions  of their visitors – even if not directly.  Some do it by routing folks to the same introductory page every time.  Which would be fine if all visitors were first timers. But if many aren’t, it’s redundant.  Its like a stupid robot.  Which just might bounce a hard-earned visitor. and have for years targeted at least minimal content for registered users.  This simple, and increasingly unnoticed practice is just a start.

But I’ll assume you know that.  It’s  why you probably cookie someone so you know to hit them with something different when they return.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Altering your delivered content in cooler ways that anticipate the wants of your users based on prior activity can lower bounce rates, increase conversions and just plain seem smarter and more genuine.    Its something the folks at know all about.

For example, when I rewrote the Universal Studios Orlando site, I noticed that their big fancy website was treating all prospective online ticket buyers the same.  That’s was a real problem because unlike Disney World, Universal Studios gets a lot of twenty and thirtysomethings visiting to drink and party.  So we created personas reflective of the disparate parties, and others for the kids and families going on vacations, and delivered targeted content to each before we asked them to buy tickets.  We quickly doubled online ticket sales.

Why?  Because we anticipated the questions and concerns of different types of visitors and delivered targeted content based on their behavior.

Are you doing the same?  Probably not, huh?

Why?  I’m guessing its for one of a few reasons

1)    its too hard

2)    it s too time consuming

3)    its too expensive

I’m going to spend some time over the next few posts attempting to prove to you that delivering intelligently targeted content doesn’t have to be any  of the above.

Fun & Stupid Idea: know of a site that acts like a stupid robot?  Maybe yours?  Please share so the rest of us can chuckle about it and avoid adding that stupidity to our own.

Now go be not quite so stupid.

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8 Responses to “Exactly Why You Don’t Deliver Targeted Content Online”

  1. Lindsay Wilson November 8, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

    Great stuff, Chris. I can’t wait for your follow up posts!

  2. Michael Drew November 8, 2010 at 6:24 pm #


    Great post, I’m especially intrigued by seems really interesting, I signed up for a demo.

    I look forward to your future posts.


  3. Lynne MacQuarrie November 8, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    Thanks Chris! Great post. I’ll keep an eye out for robots and get smart about my content.

  4. Andrea Reindl McLean November 8, 2010 at 10:33 pm #

    Chris, I’m a little scared to comment, you might call me stupid. However, I agree with you. Targeted content is actually less work in the end. Getting clear is the hard part, after that communicating your message becomes much clearer. I’ll keep my eyes open for ‘stupid’ sites we can all learn 😉

  5. Brandon R Allen November 9, 2010 at 12:44 am #


    I felt like I just got called out and was told to step up my game. Thanks for making me think about this again. Going to check out Get Smart Content also.

  6. Lehi Drew November 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    I enjoyed this. It reminds of all of those times I call some customer service number and I have to deal with a machine. Sometimes it’s maddening, but sometimes the machine anticipates what you are looking for.

  7. Cinde Johnson November 10, 2010 at 4:52 am #

    Chris–you’re so right! Seems like delivering targeted content would be common sense, but alas…! (And I remember the before and after on the Universal-Orlando site–great work there!)

  8. Tom November 11, 2010 at 1:40 am #

    Good points, Chris. I used to write radio ads that asked a lot of questions before I realized how many people I was turning off whose answers were different than the one the rest of the ad assumed they were giving.

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