What Consumers Want From Websites

what consumers want from websitesUser experience is a critical component of a successful website. And as data collection becomes more widespread and sophisticated, consumers are starting to expect personalized, tailored website experiences with one major caveat: responsible data use.

Janrain’s recent “2013 Online Personal Experience” study takes a closer look at what consumers want from websites, both in terms of the overall experience and how website owners and admins use personal data that’s collected by the site. Here’s a look at their top-ranking expectations:

Just Say No To Irrelevant Content

You know how we continually harp on data collection and analysis? That’s because it’s important to not only know your audience, but also serve them the info and resources they need to solve their problems. Case in point? Seventy-four percent of the respondents in Janrain’s survey say they get frustrated with websites that offer content, ads and promotions that have nothing to do with their interests. That doesn’t mean you need to have a separate website for every single customer—that would be silly. It’s important, however, to get to know your audience and focus on serving them. Look for opportunities where you can specifically target their questions, problems and interests—and create content that does just that. Chances are good they’ll keep coming back for more.

Use Data Responsibly

Consumers are becoming less leery of online data collection. That being said, they still expect companies to use their personal data responsibly. According to Janrain, 77% of consumers would trust businesses more if companies explained how they’re leveraging data to improve the overall online experience. Plus, 57% of respondents have no problem providing personal information while on a website as long as it’s for their benefit and used responsibly.

Not only did this study provide interesting insight that all website owners and marketers can use—it may also have introduced a different consumer subset.

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“The study results paint a picture of a more eager consumer than other research,” writes the Marketing Charts staff. “For example, a recent study from Adobe and Edelman Berland indicated that 30% of US consumers believe that a website recognizing them is an invasion of privacy. Another study from Consumer Action suggested that only about one-quarter of Americans saw no harm in being tracked if it resulted in their being shown more relevant ads.”

Those findings certainly don’t discount what Janrain discovered—after all, different people have different preferences. That underscores a larger, more important point about taking the time to get to know your audience. If you’re not collecting any personal data but want to start, consider distributing a short, incentivized questionnaire to your mailing list to get their feedback. If you give them a chance, your audience will tell you what they want—and it’s up to you to collect and implement that feedback in a way that creates a meaningful, results-driven experience, both for your company and your customers.

What’s your take on Janrain’s study? Do you collect personal data on your website? And if so, how do you use it to deliver personalized, targeted content to visitors?

Image: http://heretakis.com via Compfight cc

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