There are two marketing truths universally acknowledged:
Marketers want to create great marketing that gets their customers to feel great by engaging with their company. That’s the key to website personalization: implementing smart adaptations that help visitors find the solution to their problems—serving both customer’s needs and the company’s bottom line.
But how do you start personalizing your website? How do you offer relevant messaging and offers at different parts in your visitor’s journey, and test which variables are the most effective at delivering your intended results?
Well, you plan for it as you begin executing.
You probably already know that website personalization is one of the most valuable trends in marketing. McKinsey analysts estimated that personalization stands to create $1.7-3 trillion in new value for companies. Creating a personalization strategy with the following elements will help you prepare for launch, so you can realize value more quickly.
Here are five things you need to know before you get started with website personalization:
Before you do anything else, you have to consider what kind of results you and your executive team are looking for.
If you don’t know what you’re trying to do better, you’ll never know if you did better. So you have to set benchmarks, create the plan, test, and see if your hypotheses were correct. The whole point of personalization, apart from catering to your customers, is to improve, iterate, and learn. Working backwards from business goals ensures you’ll make your team valuable and your boss happy.
When you know better, do better, as they say.
Here are some KPIs our biggest B2B clients focus on:
And here’s what ecommerce teams tend to work toward:
These are just examples, however, and you should pick the right KPIs for your business.
After you decide on your goals, you need to understand what motivates your customers the most. Learn what values resonate with them most and align best with their needs. Understand how they currently interact with your website.
To start, get access to any form of customer interaction and data in your company: these could be customer calls, emails, reviews, demographic data, website analytics, surveys, feedback loops, or interviews. These interactions and resources will help you dive into their motivations, objections, pains, and desires.
Here are some questions that could help you better understand your customers:
These insights will help you identify opportunities for improvement, and help you focus as you start personalizing your website.
Next, you need to identify the resources available to you internally, and help them understand that personalization is an ongoing, iterative process that changes as your customers and business plans change.
All companies have different approaches to marketing, so the key stakeholders should be on board with your website personalization plan. It’s valuable to have executive alignment and support for making continuous learning a core component of marketing and growth strategy.
Once executives are on board, give some early insight to your broader marketing org, often including team members working on content, creative, and product marketing. They’re often the ones that will be developing and implementing creative ideas, so it’s important they understand your goals, processes, and the impact of your desired personalization plan results. Other teams, like sales and customer service, may also be affected by and have ideas for personalization and should be made aware of the plan and the opportunities personalization can bring to their departments.
Getting expectations aligned will make your life as a marketer a lot easier. With organizational support behind you, you have a mine of knowledge and support.
Here are the team members that may help you drive successful web personalization projects:
Once you have your creative and executive teams on board, it’s time to circle back to those KPIs.
Why? Because your business goals and key performance indicators should guide your entire creative approach. If you’re thinking of brainstorming clouds, “increasing quality leads” (for B2B) or “Increasing cart conversions” (for ecommerce) would be in the very center, with your team’s ideas shooting out like lightning bolts.
It’s not just about testing “headline A” versus “headline B” for no good reason: you need to do it strategically by creating a hypothesis.
Let’s use the first example above: increasing quality leads. You might believe, for example, that leads aren’t high-quality because:
With those assumptions, you could start building out tests to confirm or refute your hypotheses by creating variations of:
The list goes on and on. After you’ve identified your most valuable tests tied to your KPIs, it’s time to decide how you’re going to run the actual testing.
This is the biggie. You have three options for personalizing your site:
Rules-based personalization and A/B testing seem simple and quick, but complexity compounds as new rules are added on top of old rules, and tests take too long to reach clear answers for each experiment.
Personalization rules are often based on:
The mix and match of creating those rules, and the upkeep of those rules, usually become burdensome for the marketer, which is why we recommend predictive personalization.
With predictive personalization, you maintain creative control over copy, design elements, and video. The difference with predictive personalization? Machine learning determines the personalizations to be shown, using all of these same data types listed above and more. However, predictive personalization personalizes for each unique visitor, making it feel like you’ve automatically created a rule for each visitor. Additionally, as conditions and behaviors change, predictive personalization automatically adapts to find the personalization variations that will work best in the moment for the then-current audience. By simultaneously testing many ideas at once, predictive personalization learns at 25x the speed of traditional A/B testing. This approach manages the complexity for you, and delivers results at unparallelled speed.
Regardless of the approach you take, the most important thing to remember about personalization is that it shouldn’t be a one-and-done project, but rather a process that iterates every day and week over time. Your customers will change, your business plans will change, your industry will shift, and best practices will adapt accordingly: so should your team’s website personalization.