7. Personalization & Product Growth
I spent this time talking about how we’re communal, but we’d like to feel that we’re all unique snowflakes, that we are special.
Personalization comes in a lot of different ways. Avatars are one area. My kids will play a video game for hours to accumulate points to get their avatars’ headphones. I was thinking really, you spent a week on that? But they’re super excited. Gamification and creating these personalized products can be powerful motivators.
When you think of personalization, obviously recommendations, machine learning, or Artificial Intelligence, the goal is to customize the experience for people that goes a long way in terms of driving conversions. Netflix innovators, not only do they use AI to pick what movies to show, but what photos to display, what clips get shown to you when you hover over video options. They have a ton of images for each of the movies and they personalize that to each person.
This is being smart about how you talk to your customers—knowing what channel to connect with them. Should you text? Should you send an email? Should it be push notifications, if so what time of day? There’s a lot of smart methods you take for personalized communication.
Think back to our evolution of humans. We survive on this ability to be able to focus on the important things. And that means you create habits so you don’t have to focus on stuff that’s not important—think about brushing your teeth, it is a habit.
Starbucks has an amazing app, loyalty membership program, where you buy coffee and get points. They make it fun, they gamify it and you can earn more stuff and reach higher levels—it helps a lot with product growth.
These feedback loops can provide a bunch of different progress indicators and completion rates. By giving people rewards for completing steps and potentially creating a habit, you’re making that feel like progress and creating another loop.
This goes back to the idea that people want to feel special. They want to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
Yelp is the king at this. They make it feel elite to be in their program. They make you feel special. They give you recognition, parties, and all kinds of stuff. These people are working their butts off for Yelp for free, and it’s good that they recognize them.
You don’t have to create a massive program, like Yelp or others. Think about how you show appreciation for your customers. How do you make them feel good about being part of your brand and make them feel special? It’s as simple as wishing them a happy birthday or telling them about the good they’re doing or why it’s important they’re a part of the brand or family. You can do a lot to make people feel good about your brand and build that brand perception without having to send them a swag.
I don’t mean to call you all lazy, but I assume that if it’s between doing something hard or easy we’ll pick easy, that’s kind of the way we are—the path of least resistance. What you can do to reduce friction, reduce hurdles for your customers, can go a long way. Auto-renewal services can be a huge driver of revenue.
But how can you make, in general, things easier for the customer? A lot of the work that Google, Apple, and Microsoft are doing around assistance is about how do you get ahead of people and help them before they even know they need the aid.
The more helpful you can be to people and understand what they’re going to want and predict that the more value you’re going to add.
About the speaker
Nate is Vice President, Product at Zillow and has been with the company for over 13 years. He is responsible for Zillow’s Growth and Rich Media Experience teams, helping expand Zillow’s audience and unique rich media. Nate has built and managed a number of Zillow products, including its Growth teams and mortgage business. Nate joined Zillow from Microsoft and has an MBA from the University of Washington and a CS degree from DePauw University.