Think back to your last in-person shopping experience. If you looked confused or lost, an associate probably offered to help. When you told them what you were looking for, not only did they know where to go, but they probably suggested additional items to enhance your purchase. Or maybe you frequent that store a lot, the associate recognized you, and welcomed you back in and showed you new items they knew you’d like. When it was time for you to check out, the associate made the process easy.
Website personalization seeks to replicate this process online. Just like no two people in an in-person store should be treated the same, each website visitor should have a personalized experience.
So the question is, is your website providing this?
We’ve seen that the greatest wasted opportunity in modern marketing is static, one-size-fits-all websites –meaning, they show the same thing to everyone and are not personalized to each visitor. Marketers spend lots of time and money personalizing other channels, like email, ads, and direct mail, but often this strategy is lost when it comes to the website. However, audiences expect nuanced personalized experiences across all touchpoints with your company, the website included. And website personalization is integral to your success – Accenture found that 91% of customers prefer to buy from sites that offer personalized experiences.
So, what is website personalization?
Website personalization means creating unique on-page experiences based on demographic or firmographic data, contextual data, and behaviors and preferences of site visitors. It is a simple concept with an almost infinite number of implementations. Let’s look at some of the benefits of personalization and how you can start personalizing your website.
Benefits of Website Personalization
An effective personalization strategy not only creates immensely satisfying customer experiences and bolsters customer engagement but, because of this, it also helps you improve your conversions. On an e-commerce website, a conversion could mean adding an item to the shopping cart, or it could mean actually checking out (more revenue!). On a B2B website, a conversion could mean downloading a gated eBook, or submitting a request demo form (more leads!).
Here are just a few ways both you and your website visitor benefit from personalization:
Better Customer Experiences
It’s no secret that a fantastic customer experience is a huge differentiator and a key factor in a buyer’s chance of converting. When you provide your visitors with a relevant experience that makes sense for them, they’re more likely to see what they need, stay on the site, continue to click through, and convert per your desired conversion goal. Providing a great customer experience means you’re anticipating what your visitor needs or wants to see based on what you know about them (assessed through data).
For instance, if you’re a B2B marketer, you would make sure they see case studies that are in a similar industry as theirs (as opposed to e-commerce case studies) or that they are presented with products to browse that are right for their business size (as opposed to products that their business could never use). In both of these cases, you’re ensuring that the visitor is always experiencing what’s right for them at every touchpoint on your site, and therefore eliminating any need to comb through irrelevant content or options that would impede their journey to conversion.
Increased Customer Engagement
Personalization not only improves the overall customer experience, but also fosters greater customer engagement. Engagement is a key part of the journey to conversion. By tailoring your website messaging and content to a visitor’s unique preferences, there’s a higher chance they’ll engage with it and ultimately convert (e.g. request a demo).
One simple way to encourage customer engagement is by adding a “welcome back” message for anyone you identify as a return visitor. You can also take this messaging a step further by adding an option for the visitor to pick up where they left off. For example, if the visitor was last on your pricing page but didn’t buy, add a button below your welcome back message that links to your pricing page.
Optimized Conversion Rates
One of the most frustrating things for businesses is investing time and money in driving traffic to their websites and still seeing low conversion rates. As previously mentioned, implementing website personalization can ensure that this hard-earned traffic arrives at your site and immediately receives a personalized experience that provides them with what they expected, keeps them clicking through, and aids in their conversion. Further, this means that website personalization helps drive higher ROI from your other marketing channels.
How to Get Started with a Website Personalization Strategy
Between selecting the right personalization tool and defining your strategy, setting up your site to offer a unique customer journey can seem overwhelming. However, the process can be made simple.
When you’re ready to create a more personalized website to cater to each of your unique customer’s needs, here are your first steps.
1. Define Your Key Performance Indicators
This should always be the first step in any marketing effort – if you don’t have goals, you’ll have no way of tracking where you succeed. The best way to keep track of your progress is to define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) before implementing a personalization strategy.
Your KPIs should be unique to your business, but here are a few common KPIs used in B2B and e-commerce:
- Most B2B companies tend to focus on things like volume of website form submissions, volume of leads, and conversion rate from lead to the next stage in the funnel.
- Typical KPIs for e-commerce sites include increasing a customer’s cart size, increasing upsells or cross-sells, increasing cart check-outs, reducing abandoned carts, and increasing repeat purchases.
2. Understand Your Target Audience
Now that you’ve defined your KPIs, you want to make sure you understand your target audience. How are you supposed to create personalized marketing to draw your customers in if you don’t know who you’re trying to engage?
Start by answering these questions: Who is buying your product or service, and what do they love about it? What keeps customers coming back? What are the common paths that visitors follow on your site before they convert? Additionally, where are the drop-off or friction points along these paths? By examining this data, you can really get to know your audience and create better personalized experiences for them.
You can seek out these answers by conducting user research, such as using a website heat map tool or implementing a website exit survey, as well as looking at data in your analytics tool. For B2B, you can additionally interview your sales team to gather insights from their conversations with prospective customers.
3. Develop a Hypothesis
Once you have taken a deep dive into your target audience, it’s time to come up with a hypothesis for your personalization efforts. For example, if you personalize your primary CTA, you expect to increase conversions by 5%. This is a critical element of website personalization as it removes assumptions or bias from your efforts and instead focuses on strategy and data. Whether your campaign results confirm or refute your hypothesis, you can use that data to inform your future personalization ideas.
4. Brainstorm Personalization Ideas to Test
Next, you’re ready to brainstorm a list of personalization ideas and put your hypothesis to the test.
For example, if you’re a B2B marketer, you may identify content engagement as a key driver of MQLs and therefore want to optimize for eBook downloads on your website. In this case, you’ll want to come up with personalization ideas that will drive more visitors to download eBooks. This could mean personalizing the eBook’s CTA message & location on the page, or pre-populating fields in a form based on info you already have for the visitor.
This is just one example of a personalization idea; we’ll share more later on in this post.
5. Choose the Right Personalization Approach
Once you’ve come up with some personalization ideas, the single best way to optimize them is to constantly test them and iterate. That said, you need to select a personalization approach that can help you do so. Here are two common approaches to consider:
- Rules-based personalization is an approach where you create “if this, then that” statements for different segments of your audience. With a rules-based approach, there are often three main components: defining the audience the rules apply to, creating the experience the specific audience will see on your site, and determining which page(s) the rules will apply to.
- Predictive personalization lets you take a step forward beyond this “rules” structure. With predictive personalization, you’re using machine learning to predict which is the best page experience to show each visitor (with your conversion goal in mind) and thus automatically show the right combination of personalization ideas to each individual on each page. Unlike rules-based personalization, you don’t have to manually set up rules with this approach. The machine is constantly learning what resonates with each individual website visitor – even as their behavior changes over time – and adjusts itself to present the right personalized experience accordingly.
Whichever approach you choose, make sure that it’s addressing the reasons why you set out to implement a website personalization strategy in the first place: providing a great customer experience, increasing engagement on your site, and always optimizing for conversions.
6. Fuel Your Personalization with 3 Types of Data
Now that you’ve chosen the right personalization approach for you, it’s time to put your ideas into action and start collecting data to continue learning more about your website visitors. There are 3 types of data you’ll want to collect to fuel your personalization efforts: contextual data, behavioral data, and demographic/firmographic data.
- Contextual data tells you about your site visitor: where they are, what time of day or day of the week they’re coming to your site, what kind of device they’re on, and even the source of how they got to your site.
- Behavioral data analyzes a customer’s overall behavior on your site. What do they spend the most time browsing? Which products do they buy? This data helps you understand the visitor’s interests and which segment of your customer base they’re in.
- Demographic/firmographic data tells you more about the visitor or the visitor’s company. E-commerce marketers will likely benefit more from demographic data, which tells you things like the visitor’s age, gender, and income level. B2B marketers will find firmographic data helpful, which tells you about the visitor’s company, their industry, the company’s size or revenue, and more.
7. Adjust Accordingly
Once you’ve implemented website personalization through your chosen approach, you’re off to the races. However, it’s important to conduct research and then refine your strategy and ideas on an ongoing basis, no matter which personalization approach you’ve selected. Your visitors’ wants and needs will change over time, which means your personalization efforts need to as well in order to resonate with your visitors and drive your KPIs.
Website Personalization Ideas
We’ve already touched on some ideas throughout this post, but now let’s take a deep dive into personalization ideas that you can put to the test on your website.
B2B Personalization Ideas
- Offer content based on job title and level. Change the content and messages you present to your visitor based on their job title and level (e.g. engineer, marketer, executive, practitioner, etc.).
- Personalize your CTAs. Offer introductory material to new visitors or upsell returning customers with products related to their interests.
- Personalize your home page based on industry. Efforts like this tell your customers that you understand their industry’s specific use cases and metrics they care about.
E-commerce Personalization Ideas
- Showcase products other customers love. You can do this by suggesting trending items in search bars or using a site-wide banner to recommend products that customers with similar interests have bought.
- Remember their shopping habits. Do this by showing them previously viewed products or keeping unpurchased items in their cart for return visits.
- Use location to personalize. Offering shipping cost and time estimates, displaying the correct currency, and even suggesting products based on local weather are all personalization touches you can add by using your customer’s location.
For even more inspiration, check out these 71 additional ideas.
Start Your Website Personalization Today
Website personalization is a key marketing strategy that can drive more conversions and revenue for your business. Even more crucial to your success, though, is selecting the right personalization approach and solution for your website.
With Intellimize, you can proactively personalize your website with machine learning. Intellimize automatically learns what converts to deliver the best, most personalized experience to each individual website visitor to facilitate their conversion. B2B companies like Sumo Logic and e-commerce brands like Dermalogica have realized better, faster results using Intellimize, and with less work, too.
If you’re ready to improve the customer experience and increase your conversion rate, request your Intellimize demo today.