Targeting is something that people have talked about with web products for a long time, but it's disappointing to see so many products still get this wrong over and over again. This morning I was reminded of how when targeting is done right it is an incredibly effective engagement tool, and when done wrong just plain annoying.
Targeting & personalization done wrong:
Like many others, the economic situation has me thinking about my personal wealth (or rather the destruction of my personal wealth!) more than normal. So I go to my eTrade account a little more often these days than typical. In any event, here is a partial screenshot of the home page I landed on this morning after signing in:
Why on earth are they showing me a banner ad for a Complete Savings account when they know that I have a Complete Savings account already! In this case it's made even more ridiculous by the fact that the offer is literally pixels away from my account information. Considering there are a fair number of eTrade products that I don't have (e.g., a 401K roll-over) you'd think they'd be pitching me something else. I generally like eTrade, but this is really bad. Not only is it annoying, but they are also leaving money on the table.
Targeting & personalization done well:
Thankfully others out there are doing a much better job. And I'm not just referring to ad targeting. Check this out. This morning I get the following email from MyBlogLog:
Part of what makes MyBlogLog so special is our ability to automatically add you to communities in which you have shown a repeated interest. We have just added you to the following communities:
Bonus — The "Hot in My Communities" box on your My Home page will keep getting better and better with each community you join.
Note: If you decide one or more of these communities is not for you, simply visit that community's page on MyBlogLog and click the "Leave Community" button.
Edit or disable your "Join a Community after" settings here: http://www.mybloglog.com/buzz/e_profile.php
Absolutely brilliant. I read techticker quite a bit, but I had never taken the time to join the techticker MyBlogLog community. Rather than wait for me to do this on my own, MyBlogLog pushed me along and helped me do what they already knew I'd like to do, but am just to busy or lazy to do myself. And of course they also show me how to opt out if I really don't want to join the community for some reason.
Experiences like this one remind why I love the web so much. A newspaper has no idea which stories I read over and over again. A bank can't change their advertising banners hanging from the ceiling for every customer that walks in. But the web fixes all of this. The web can be built specifically for each one of us. If you are out there building a web product take advantage of this. Your users will love you for it.