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E-businesses for a targeted audience should pay attention to content personalization. This usually involves customized user experiences and targeted delivery of content. Personalization can have a significant impact on web site loyalty and e-commerce revenue by working with different audiences and different content types.

Personalization can be of four types:

  • Explicit personalization based on profile information gathered from the customer, such as biographical information, likes/dislikes, preferences, and so on. This information can be gathered by asking the customer to fill in an application form. E-businesses should be very careful in obtaining this information, however, because customers can find this process threatening, and may actually shy away from the web site because they don't want to reveal their personal information to an arbitrary site that they may not really know much about initially. The organization should address the security and privacy concerns of the customers.

  • Implicit personalization can be performed by information gathered about the customer base indirectly by means of surveys. This form of personalization is less intrusive than explicit personalization, but may not be as effective.

  • Historical personalization is another form of personalization commonly used at sites such as Amazon.com. In this case, the data driving the personalization is derived from historical information about how that particular customer has visited the web site in the past; for example, categories of products visited, types of books purchased, web links traversed. The idea is to determine what the customer might like to see based on what he or she has done in the past at that site.

  • Customization is another form of personalization used in e-businesses to provide flexibility to customers. Essentially the customer is allowed to "create" his or her own web site, such as a home page where the user determines what he or she wants to see. This form of aggregation technique is commonly used in e-business to make customers "feel at home." The customer would essentially have a familiarity with the web site created and also have a certain expectation about what kind of information he or she would see when visiting the web site. Content-driven sites such as Slashdot.org make use of personalization to encourage repeat visits, by allowing visitors to select the topics that interest them and then perform content customization based on their preferences. These "extras" can differentiate a good e-business from a bad e-business. For customization to be effective, it's important to provide customers with the necessary tools and help to allow them to quickly and easily create the web site that they want.

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