Personalizing “Big Brother”

big-brother-poster-smallExtreme Web Personalization (a How-To)

While I was at TuVox, I created quite a few one-of a kind marketing programs.

One really cool idea was personalizing www.tuvox.com based on the domain name the web visitor is coming from.  That is, the website “morphs” depending on whether the visitor is a (1) prospect, (2) partner, or  (3) competitor.

At TuVox, I had a library of 350+ demo audio recordings created for our prospects.  In addition to the logo, these visitors get a little audio player that demonstrates what their system would sound like with TuVox.  That is what I refer to as extreme personalization.

All of this is done without the visitor giving up any information or filling out a form.
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The reaction I get from most people is “how the heck did you do that?”

How it’s done

This level of personalization is accomplished using a database that resolves a visitor’s IP address to their domain name, which is typically their company name.  The database I use actually has the company name, like this:

192.168.10.10 –> xyzcompany.com –> XYZ Enterprises, Inc.

Then the company name is used to pull information out of a home-grown MySQL database.

The fields in the table control things like which type of page to show (prospect.html, partner.html, competitor.html) and whether a company logo or audio file should be used.

The results

When web personalization is done well, most people have a positive reaction.  It makes the website more memorable, and enables work to get done faster.  The responses I received were overwhelmingly positive.

To be fair, I was contacted by two companies that asked me to take their logo off my site.  I don’t think they grasped that only visitors from their domain would see that page.  Two out of 350 isn’t bad, right?

So let’s hear it for Big Brother.

By the way, if you are reading this article, I have already received an email telling me that you are on my site.

– Nick