Personalization at Scale: The Right Message, at the Right Time

Personalization is the approach of choice for leading brands. In fact, personalization is a large part of what has made some of the world’s biggest brands the enormous successes they are today.

Amazon knows what you want to buy. Netflix knows what you want to watch. Why shouldn’t an educational portal know what courses you’re interested in taking? Or, better yet, what courses you haven’t thought of yet?

“Why shouldn’t an educational portal know what courses you’re interested in?”

Since I was recruited as CMO of UCLA Global Online and UCLA Extension, I’ve had a vision to create an educational portal that’s as easy — even as fun — to use as Amazon or Netflix. One that understands your interests and acquires a sense of your passions and objectives, by analyzing your behavior, comparing your behavior to that of similar website visitors, and utilizing every other tool in the algorithmic tool belt.

“I’ve had a vision of creating an educational portal that’s as easy as Amazon or Netflix.”

Such a portal has never existed for education. This is why, at UCLA Global Online and UCLA Extension, we’re building one practically from the ground up.

Why is personalization at scale so important?

In the olden days (in Internet terms, anyway: meaning not so long ago), websites were mere buckets of information. In a sense, they were imagined as not much different from books or catalogs: they were just made of pixels rather than paper. Visitors came by and tried to find the information they needed, and — except for the ability to send a message or sign up for a course — that was the end of it.

The modern concept of a website as being embraced by UCLA Global Online and UCLA Extension is rather different. In a sense, there is no home page. Rather, there is a framework into which information flows, based on where the user has been before, what they do when they arrive, and where they go next.

“The site is a framework into which information flows.”

Much like your Amazon or Netflix homepage won’t look the same as that of your friends, the UCLA Extension and UCLA Global Online homepages will “speak” to you on a personal level. They will motivate you to complete a certificate you may have started, by showing you what courses you have remaining, and display your progress toward your goal. It will even help you explore new opportunities you may not have thought of. (Yes, you like nursing science. But did you know 80% of people with similar interests also studied to become an anesthesiologist — which pays considerably more? And that they often enjoy Renaissance painting, as well?)

The goal is not simply to monetize, but to inspire.

When finished, UCLA Global Online and UCLA Extension will serve as an educational concierge, helping visitors improve their educational and job prospects, and even help them tap into undiscovered talents.

Point. Click. Learn.

As the big brands have already discovered, the future of marketing is not talking “at” customers, but listening intently to them. When you understand their needs, you’re able to speak to them: at the right time, and with the right message.

 

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