Yes, you need a web personalization strategy — here’s how to build it

We don’t need to tell you that your customers are unique. It’s likely that your database already contains many segments with personalized marketing for each one. Yet when it comes to their websites, most marketers are still delivering the same experience to every visitor every time, regardless of what that visitor needs.

This repetitive web experience is damaging critical key performance indicators (KPIs) like return on investment, conversion, engagement, and average order value. These days, only the most targeted, relevant communications earn a shopper’s attention, so if your website doesn’t immediately address their needs, they’ll look to your competitors instead.

The proof is in the numbers. According to a DemandGen report, when visiting the website of a potential solution provider, 65% of buyers look for easy access to relevant content that speaks directly to their company. And a further 55% of buyers look for websites that speak directly to and demonstrate expertise on the needs of their industry.

In short, it’s past time to personalize your website.

65% of buyers look for easy access to relevant content that speaks directly to their company.

55% of buyers look for websites that demonstrate expertise on the needs of their industry.

Don’t sleep on the potential of web personalization

Think about web personalization as a fast track to achieving your marketing goals. By transitioning from a “see what sticks” approach to a personalized approach that scales, your customers will get what they need faster and have a better time doing so.

This actionable how-to will guide you through the first steps of writing an effective web personalization strategy that scales seamlessly with your current marketing initiatives. Let’s get started.

The right message at the right time to the right customer

Whether a customer is on their first visit to your website or their 100th, a web personalization tool helps you send the right message at the right time to the right customer. This boosts the likelihood they’ll convert, ensures your marketing dollars are spent efficiently, and helps you fine-tune your messages, content, and offers over time.

If you’re already using personalization in your marketing, then you probably also have your audiences segmented, your customer journeys mapped out, and unique messages that meet them at each stage. This means you’re well on your way to delivering personalized experiences on your website. And if you’re not there yet, don’t worry. It’s easy to get started with the steps in this guide.

Take a look at the graph below to see how web personalization will help meet your customer’s expectations — and your marketing goals — at the five most common stages of a customer journey.

A personalized solution for your personalized goals

While every business's marketing goals are unique, the most common goals across the journey stages are brand preference, lead generation, customer acquisition, customer retention, and loyalty. Most likely, one or more of these goals are a part of your strategy, and web personalization is a crucial piece to achieving your particular KPIs within each of these goals.

First things first — define your goals

Now that we’ve talked about how web personalization can help you achieve your goals at each stage of the online customer journey, let’s dive in to understand where web personalization can address your unique business challenges. Consider “The four W’s of personalization.” These will help you and your team uncover ideas on how personalization can benefit your organization.

The four W’s of personalization

Turn your strategy into action with web personalization.

By this point, you should have identified your goals and started to think about where and how you might want to personalize your website for each of your unique customers. Now you can start to think about the types of web personalization that will help you achieve those goals.

Below are the six main types of web personalization available to you in tools like Marketo Engage.

The six main types of web personalization:

  1. Geolocation. One of the most straightforward options is to target visitors based on their current location. For example, in January, you could show off summer clothing to an Australian customer and winter clothing to a Canadian customer.
  2. Behavior. Actively adapt your website based on a visitor's behavioral profile. This includes data about the pages they visit, the actions they take, their referral source, search terms, and an even more robust profile for visitors already in your database.
  3. Contact data. Connect your marketing automation platform so you can listen and respond across multiple channels to customers you already have relationships with. For example, if a customer has opened a specific email, that can change what they see on your website.
  4. Verticals. Move visitors more quickly through the sales cycle by addressing their specific needs. For example, you can target visitors based on their industry vertical, like healthcare or financial services, and then personalize your website’s featured products or use cases.
  5. Account-based marketing (ABM). Get really granular by showing a specific message, offer, asset, or call to action to a predefined list of accounts and individuals. This can be groups of existing customers, key strategic accounts, or any other designation you choose.
  6. Predictive. The perfect solution for busy marketers, this “hands-free” solution uses machine-learning algorithms that predict which content or offer is the best for a visitor and when to display it.

Build your own personalization combination

There are benefits to each of the strategies above, and not all may apply to you and your business. But remember, many marketers don’t use just one type of personalization tool to tailor experiences to their audience, and consumer-facing brands may use different personalization tools than a B2B company.

Let’s look at some examples to figure out which combination is right for you.

Say you’re a B2B business that wants to promote events and market to specific industries, like healthcare and higher education. A combination of geolocation and vertical targeting would deliver the best personalization for your business.

Overall, we’ve found the B2B use case combinations with the highest conversion rates are:

Remember, many marketers don’t use just one type of personalization to tailor experiences to their audience.

On the other hand, say you’re a B2C business that wants to personalize shipping details based on a customer’s location while also recommending products based on that customer’s previous shopping interests. By combining geolocation and demographic targeting, you could get exactly the personalization you need.

Based on our observations, the combinations that show the highest conversion rates for B2C businesses are:

Identify — and achieve — your marketing goals

If you still need help identifying your brand’s web personalization goals, answer the questions below. This exercise can help you understand exactly what you want to achieve through personalizing your website and will give you suggestions on how to make it happen. You can also find a printable worksheet on page 32 of The definitive guide to web personalization.

  1. What are your marketing organization’s key objectives? For example, customer retention, top-of-funnel acquisition, accelerated nurturing, or focusing on targeted accounts.
  2. Who is your audience? List their specific locations, industries, behaviors, and whether they are anonymous visitors or existing customers.
  3. How do you currently segment audiences and target them across other marketing channels?
  4. What will you personalize? List the assets you will use and the existing content you have that fits the audience.
  5. List three potential calls to action.
  6. List three potential content offers (eBooks, case studies, reviews).
  7. Where can you personalize? You may personalize on your website, via retargeting advertisements, or in other untapped areas.

Congratulations. You’ve now completed the first steps to defining a web personalization strategy that will help you deliver more personalized experiences for your customers — and reach your marketing goals faster than ever before.

Take the next step

Learn more about integrating your new web personalization strategy across channels and get tips to test, learn, and optimize by reading the full report. Download The definitive guide to web personalization for everything you need to know to build and nurture deeper connections with your customers.