Personalization — the practice of targeting content to site visitors based on one or more of the following: who they are; where they are; when, why, and how they access the content; and what device they use to access it — has been possible for the last decade or so, although most organizations have yet to adopt the practice. But that fact seems to be changing as businesses realize that personalized content outperforms impersonal content. It increases engagement and enhances customer experience. And, when done right, can  improve conversion rates.

Researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah have added another dimension to personalizing web content — providing different content based on the emotion being experienced by the visitor. Professor Jeffrey Jenkins says he’s discovered (and patented) how to measure the emotional state of a website visitor by monitoring and interpreting mouse cursor movements.

“Using this technology, websites will no longer be dumb. [They] can go beyond just presenting information, but they can sense you. They can understand not just what you’re providing, but what you’re feeling,” Jenkins said.

“Traditionally it has been very difficult to pinpoint when a user becomes frustrated, leading them to not come back to a site,” Jenkins said. “Being able to sense a negative emotional response, we can adjust the website experience to eliminate stress or to offer help.”

Jenkins says work in the field of emotion detection (attentional control theory) should help brands provide better personalized content experiences to site visitors. Providing the right content in an appropriate emotional context is key to success, he says.