The Academy
Lesson 2
Lesson 2
The principles

The north star principle of personalization


After years of studying personalization, a fundamental truth has been discovered among all successful personalization campaigns: they were obsessed with the customer experience. Will your experience aim to delight your visitor or create a more helpful experience using personalization? Watch to see case studies of both.


Hey, welcome back. My name is Austin Distel and in this lesson I'm going to share the north star principle that should guide every personalization campaign. You're ready? Let's do it. Que the intro.

As the Director of Personalization here at Proof, I've run a lot of experiments over the years. Some were great success and others were great learning lessons, but there's a consistency I found between all campaigns that were successful. This north star principle is be customer obsessed. If your approach to building an experience is solely to help your company, you've already lost.

Instead, go to the whiteboard and think, "How can I make this experience more delightful and helpful for my customer?" Then you're on track for success. It is your role to know the customer better than anyone else. Know their dreams, their fears, even their favorite drink.

Actually true story. When our customer, Jonathan Dane, CEO of KlientBoost came here to visit us in Austin to record a testimonial, we had remembered from one of his videos that he drinks a ridiculous amount of Sanpellegrino. So to delight him, we actually ran down the street to go and find some. We had to go to three stores and to say the least, Jonathan was blown away when we had a bottle of Sanpellegrino on ice waiting for him in the studio. That's the kind of delightful experience we're going for.

And in fact, a good example of this is KlientBoost homepage. Using Proof experiences integrated with Clearbit data, KlientBoost was able to personalize their whole homepage to the visitors' company. So when I visit, for example, you can see that KlientBoost loves Proof. That customer logos are all relatable SaaS companies and the testimonials are SaaS company too.

Now at the very bottom, the call to action brings us all together for the big shebang. In Jonathan's case study, he said that there were over 50 people that reached out personally saying how impressed they were with the homepage and get this, his proposals increased by 11%.

Not only did it lead to the 11% increase in conversion rate for our proposals, but the amount of people saying that they were so impressed in the chat or in the email or on our phone calls, we basically kept taking screenshots and sending it to the Proof team for them to see it as well and we probably had 50 or so people giving us props for what we were doing.

So knowing your customer also means knowing each step in their journey with your brand. After studying enough interactions, you'll begin to see some consistent themes. However, I want to debunk a common misconception of the customer journey. It's not linear. They don't always go A, B, C. Sometimes they want to go down the fast lane and your website needs to be able to adapt to where they are.

For example, recently I was working on personalization campaign for the FinTech company ProfitWell, where we personalized their blog. Their customer journey is a pretty common one. Basically a company searches on Google a question like, "How do I calculate churn?" ProfitWell knows that this question is a common one for their customer, so they wrote a helpful blog post that ranks well on the topic. After reading that, the visitor is likely to download a churn book, which then goes into the topic on more detail. Once reading this book, they're likely to request a demo of their software. So from a high level, their journey is blog post, helpful piece of content, requests a demo.

But what happens if they've already downloaded the book before? That's where personalization kicks in. We replaced their dumb call to action, which one showed the same book to every visitor no matter if they were strangers or customers with a smart block that knew their life cycle stage and adapted to the topic on hand.

If the person has all ready downloaded a piece of content, then the call to action was smart enough to switch to request a demo. They would take it one step further. We know that ProfitWell is written on a variety of topics. In the past, they had to have the same call to action for all of their blog posts.

So using Proof experiences, we personalized the content upgrade based on the topic of the blog post. What this did was make the customer journey way more relevant and helpful.

So what was the result? ProfitWell increased their leads on their blog by 162%. If you would like to read more about these two case studies, they're linked below in the resources.

When planning your personalization experiment, are you aiming to delight and awe your customer like when we call it their company name, or are you intending to help them by giving them more relevant information at the right time? I believe the best experiences do both. So here are a few examples of personalization with the intention to delight visitors.

You could welcome them with good morning, good afternoon or good evening based on the time of day.

You can personalize the background of a website with a photo of their city. Kind of like how's login has a picture of the iconic food truck here in Austin.

Or you could use the visitor's homepage as the example in your product mockup. Kind of like how we do for our pulse product. That's some ways to delight visitors.

It's also important to help them accomplish their goals quickly. Here are some examples designed to help the visitor progress to their goals.

Show relatable case studies based on their company size and industry.

You can also pre-fill forms or hide those forms when you all ready know the information.

Or you can notify current customers about a fancy new feature where they can click to chat with the account rep they all ready know.

These examples showcase that personalization can serve many goals in the company, and it's your job to align the company goals with your customer goals. The problem is data isn't perfect. That's why you always want to keep your CRM up to date and use third party tools like Clearbit to enrich visitor data, but also know that most of your visitors will still be anonymous.

For example, in email marketing when you're trying to use their first name, but you don't have it in your CRM, it replaces it with 'there'. So it still makes sense. In that KlientBoost base example, if we didn't know who their company was, we just hit the heart and the logo. So my cautionary advice for how you should create default states is just make it how you would expect a unpersonalized site to be all ready.

So to recap, be generalized with your default states. And when you do personalize, you should aim to either delight your visitors with an incredibly unique experience that makes them feel special and build that amazement around your brand. And secondly, help people make progress towards their goals faster by giving them the most relevant information and removing the most amount of friction. And remember your north star principle, be customer obsessed.

In the next video, you'll learn about the four categories of data and the most common audiences that come out of each of these categories. I'll see you there.


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