Our company helps website owners understand their audience on a deeper level by analyzing the data their visitors provide when they use a simple social sign-in form. We also aid them in personalizing their pages according to the preferences, professional interests, education and other attributes of their users.
With this post, I’d like to show you how content personalization could improve the experience of visitors to a huge and popular site. To this end, I decided to analyze the web page of USA Network.
A few months ago, I had the privilege to talk to some of the executives at the American television network, and got a better understanding of its digital presence. During the meetings, I was really sad to learn that USA Network is currently not involved with high-level personalization.
The site is visited by more than a million people a month, and it is very likely that users have significantly different viewing habits and preferences. After all, it’s hard to imagine that “Royal Pains” and “WWE SmackDown” have the same fan base.
This is just one of the reasons why I believe content personalization could have a huge impact on the TV network’s online presence. Let me show you how the website would change if the network decided to use some of our methods to create different versions of it!
Social media channels
The social communication of USA Network is great, as it is used on every possible option. The network has half a million fans on Facebook. One of their shows, “Suits,” has three million fans in itself!
The network reaches an amazing amount of people this way, and if it encouraged visitors to sign in to their website with a social account, for example to watch an episode for free, it could build an expansive database of its audience.
It would allow the network to create tailored messages about shows, and of course, to personalize the experience for the visitors of the website.
It wouldn’t even need to ask people to log in every time they navigate to usanetwork.com to see the personalized version. After one occasion, with the help of cookies, it could instantly display the most relevant content for every visitor!
Website personalization: the front page
Let’s take a closer look at usanetwork.com. I’m going to go through every important element on the site, and show you how it would change if USA Network implemented some of the personalization methods that we use.
Front page slider
This is the most eye-catching element on the website. Since all pictures in the slider have the same length and height, the company could change their order dynamically with a really simple front-end development. This way, if there is a movie or an actor or show that I like on Facebook, and the network has a picture of it, it could be shown to me in the first place.
The schedule in the menu shows what’s going on now, and I believe it’s really useful. But if I’m not interested in that, and would like to find out when one of my favorite shows will air, I have to navigate to the full schedule and spend some time looking for this information.
We could change this with a hoover or by bolding the text in the CSS file to highlight programs that are relevant to the visitors. This would make a much more convenient experience.
In the site’s trending posts, instead of showing what is trending for every visitor, it should show what is hot for you.
The website could complement it with a similar part that shows what everybody is talking about, what the community is interested in. Using the information from social profiles and the activity of the users would allow the network to create this section easily.
We can expand this part of the site to find out more about each show. This is a great feature, but we could improve this, too, with personalization.
So let’s say I’m just not interested in “Mr. Robot.” I’m not a fan. I didn’t like anything in connection with the show on Facebook. Then, maybe finding out what it is about is more important for me than the latest episodes. I would change this, and in this case put the “about the show” to where the latest episode is.
The other way around, if I was the greatest fan of “Mr. Robot,” rather than finding the latest episode, information about the cast would be more important for me. By changing the position of the content blocks, we could create a more relevant experience in both cases.
Personalization, of course, could go deeper than changing the order of the elements on the front page. Let’s see how we would make a subpage, in this case, the page of “Mr. Robot,” more relevant to the users.
There are plenty of articles and videos on this page, and we could easily pick and highlight the ones that are more interesting for the signed-in visitors. For example, here’s a whole section about “Mr. Robot” at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. I was there in 2016; I checked in with Facebook while there, and liked many things about the festival. News about this event would catch my attention since this is something that I can easily resonate with.
The site owners could find this out by analyzing my digital footprint, and automatically display news about the event and the show in a prominent place for me, with the help of a tool like SpringTab.
Further down the page there is a section for the latest news. I believe it was a good idea to place it lower than the most important posts. But the same way we have the latest, we could have something else: the most relevant. The most relevant posts for you.
We could show content here that is related to your preferences, location, etc. This way, if I liked certain actors within a series, then I could see news about those actors. If I was at SXSW, then I could also see news about the event here.
It’s also possible to personalize individual posts. This one lists every song from the first season of “Mr. Robot.”
It’s a very long post, which collects about 50 to 70 tracks, and it would take a long time for me to find the ones that are important for me. If USA Network could find out which musicians I’m interested in, it could highlight them for me, and put them right here on the top.
The network could also use some dynamic tags in the intro line and insert the name of musicians that their visitors like. This way the first sentence could end like this: it has some of the coolest music, like Queen, on TV.
An intro line with my favorite band would catch my attention better, and generate a larger engagement.
Besides content creation, personalization could also help USA Network to fine tune advertisements for logged-in visitors. If the company took into consideration what it learned about users during the sign-in process, the website could display more relevant ads and significantly increase click-through rate from the site.
SpringTab helps companies personalize their sites according to the data their visitors share on their Facebook profiles. But this is just one source of information. A site like usanetwork.com could use our service to complement behavioral information about their users.
Analyzing the site activity, the viewing habits, and the personal preferences of the visitors would provide great insights about the audience’s expectations for the channel. The network could use this information to create a different version for its site for each user by changing a few things I collected for this post.
Compared to all the other expenses of maintaining a digital presence, it would require a surprisingly small investment from the channel. And it would make all the company’s other efforts much more effective.