Personalisation matters: bringing the most relevant content to every user
The NSW Government Digital Channels Search and Personalisation team has been exploring location-based personalisation to improve customer experience.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that someone’s location can make a significant difference to the information they want to get from a government website. The NSW Government Digital Channels team aims to optimise nsw.gov.au so people can get information that’s relevant to them as they need it. With personalisation, we are one step closer to achieving this goal.
Whether it’s emergency relief, information on COVID-19 restrictions or the mouse plague, we’ve uncovered a need to tailor homepage information to citizens depending on where they are based.
What is personalisation?
Personalisation is the tailoring of content to reflect an individual person.
In the online realm, personalisation can happen automatically by leveraging the non-identifying information shared by a user. A website can tell where someone is likely to live or work based on the IP (internet protocol) address of the computer they are using. This makes it possible to localise the content that is presented to them.
Retailers and publishers may ask customers to create accounts and share information to further tailor content. It’s also possible to use ‘cookies’, which remember customer activity and can personalise the experience. In the case of nsw.gov.au, we have been running tests to personalise content based on a customer’s location. This is based on an individual’s computer IP address rather than cookies or specific user details.
Some of the benefits of personalisation include:
- more relevant content and recommendations to customers
- fewer search queries
- improved customer satisfaction
- improved customer conversion.
Initial personalisation tests for nsw.gov.au took place on the homepage during a peak in COVID-19-related activity, with the goal of providing relevant and easy-to-use wayfinding links to regional NSW customers.
Without personalisation, content for regional customers about COVID-19 restrictions and travel requirements sat lower down on the page, beneath content that was targeted at Greater Sydney customers.
Targeting customers in regional NSW, the test replaced Greater Sydney information with COVID-19 rules for regional NSW at the top of the page. It also surfaced other relevant content for regional NSW customers, such as government support for people affected by the mouse plague.
Results were studied over a period of 17 days and covered close to 60,000 user sessions. The outcome was a 60% lift in conversion rates, meaning that regional users who were served regional content were far more likely to click on links and stay on the website longer.
This test demonstrates the benefits of localised personalisation and how surfacing the most relevant messages improves the customer experience.
The future of personalisation at nsw.gov.au
Search sites and social media create extremely personalised results based on your behaviour, location, age group, marital status and interests. nsw.gov.au is unlikely to provide this level of personalisation, however current testing indicates that there is potential to improve customers experience, even with access to very limited information about the customer.
The range of possibilities include surfacing different content for overseas customers or predicting which content customers will be interested in based on their previous interactions.
As nsw.gov.au progresses towards a more personalised customer experience, a combination of data analysis, content strategy and new page layouts are required. This will help to understand user patterns and requirements so that personalisation can be strategic and based on what we know about our customers.
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