Imagine having an online shopping experience that rivals one with a personal stylist. A skilled salesperson would notice details about your physique and colors, ask questions to help get a complete persona, and then start to suggest styles that are spot-on for your needs.

The online version of a style adviser would be similar. A customer would be offered a series of easy choices, filling in the details that a salesperson would have observed, such as hair, eye color, and skin color, with a simple click next to a color sample. Customers would answer some questions that help to understand physique, personality and preferences. A personal profile is built from this information, and the customer would be shown specific apparel combinations with advice on how each choice is suited to their style profile and needs.

The experience I've described is possible, and it can be driven by our friend metadata.

Each question and answer is a metadata field with a set of possible values. The key is to have corresponding fields and values in the metadata associated with each product. The online adviser can then match these values in the form and the product. By offering the shopper the chance to indicate likes and dislikes, the adviser can learn more about the shopper's preferences.

Though metadata is incredibly powerful, it sometimes makes us cringe. No one looks forward to creating and managing asset metadata, even when it can help us and others in our extended teams easily find and use those assets. However, if you think about metadata as a key to unlocking better customer experiences, you'll begin to view it not as a chore but rather a catalyst to better business results.

The Hidden Power of Metadata

Check out how Verizon has used asset metadata to help customers filter and search through a large collection of videos in the Verizon wireless support center. Customers can check a box to select the brand, operating system, device type, or other features they want to explore and instantly drill down to find relevant videos. The center is powered by metadata. The videos are tagged with relevant keywords, and customers easily can filter and get to the information they need.

Metadata also helps influence SEO page rankings so customers entering terms on a search engine will be more likely to arrive on Verizon's page for helpful results.

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Vebeka Guess is a product marketing manager for Adobe Experience Manager, part of Adobe Marketing Cloud.

LinkedIn: Vebeka Guess