A&E – Personalized pitches to shoppers are gaining brand loyalists

A&E is embracing the next generation of personalization: the secret kind.

Visitors to the A&E e-commerce sites, which include AandE.com, Historychannel.com and Biography.com, may already have experienced the new personalization without realizing it. Since its site relaunch earlier this year, A&E has had the ability to track the behavior of registered users and provide them with personalized pitches. So, for example, if you’ve registered with AandE.com and you’ve indicated your interest in history, ads you see on the site may appear according to your personal timetable. Say you visit once, twice, and still you haven’t bought anything. On your third visit, a specialized promotion may appear, designed to appeal to—surprise—a history lover.

The initial effort is to sell merchandise from the A&E store, says So Young Park, director of e-commerce for A&E Television Networks. But the bigger goal is to create loyalty among visitors, cementing their connection to the entertainment brand. Ultimately, anything A&E does is geared toward generating more viewers, says Park. “With cable fragmenting, this is a way to help align a customer with our brand.”

The behind-the-scenes method of personalization is a smart step, says Bob Langer, a partner at the Peppers & Rogers Group. “A Web site that says ‘Welcome Back Bob’ isn’t all that notable. That’s really the minimal level of personalization I expect,” he says. “Today, if I’m a sophisticated consumer, I know that flashing my name on the screen is nice, but no big deal. Now I’m looking for a heightened degree of timeliness, of relevance to me and of seeing that evolve over time.”

Already, the new site design and personalization efforts are paying off. A&E just recorded its strongest month of e-commerce sales in its his tory, says Park. And plans are already under way to use the personalization and other promotion tools during the holiday shopping season.