The Marketer's Guide to Website Personalization

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Chapter 1

What is personalization?
Justin Boyson
"The Human Wiki"

What is personalization, and why does it matter?

A quick scenario

Picture the following scenario — you’re hired as the first marketer at a software company that makes a live chat solution for websites. The company has great organic traction to date, but you’re the first hire tasked explicitly with growth.

You’re charged with building out a full digital marketing program (email marketing flows, a company blog, SEO, paid ads, landing pages, product marketing) — in short, it’s no small task. Even with time and resources at your disposal, your primary concern will be getting the pieces into place and building a marketing program that delivers on the KPIs you were hired to hit.

But at some point, you’ll face a decision: Should you build one experience or create unique personalized experiences for every visitor?

At first glance, the answer seems obvious: build unique experiences. It’s more valuable for every visitor, creates higher conversion rates, and increases LTV across the board. But when you dig a little deeper into what it takes to truly create personalized experiences for visitors — it’s not as clear cut of a decision.

There are considerations around feasibility, time, and resources that make the decision more nuanced than it might have seemed at first-glance. While the idea of sending the same email campaigns to all your customers or treating all of your website visitors the same way seems antiquated and unwanted — it might seem like your only option.

And until quite recently, it was.

If you wanted to personalize your website for the unique qualities of visitors, you had limited options at your disposal. You either could launch a one-size-fits all experience or spend hours upon hours building for every use case a customer could face. And even if you were perfect on all that, there still was imperfect data and processes that limited your implementation.

Luckily, the market is undergoing a paradigm change. In this chapter, we’ll explore the basics of personalization, as well as the forces that are making marketing personalization a whole lot easier for B2B marketers in 2019.

Personalization defined

Before going deep into how to personalize your site for each visitor, it is first important to develop a clear understanding of the concept of personalization, and why it matters for a marketer today.

To clarify, when we refer to personalization in this guide, we’ll be referring to web personalization. It’s important to note — there’s also a whole host of other types of personalizations you can deploy: email personalization, mobile personalization, ad personalization, product recommendations, or landing page personalization.

And while these are similar methods, they vary in execution. The definition of personalization is usually linked to the medium it’s applied on.

Our personalization platform, Experiences, is capable of personalizations across these mediums, and therefore is an omnichannel personalization platform (capable of deploying across multiple platforms).

Each of these categories of personalization could be the sole subject of a guide — so we’re going to limit to primarily covering web personalization in this guide. We’ll touch on a few instances of how you’ll see personalization in other instances, but we think the biggest return happens in the browser. That’s where customers sign up for demos, view pricing pages, and ultimately convert through your funnel.      

So, what is web personalization?

Web personalization: The concept of building a customized web experience for each visitor. Rather than displaying a one-page fits all page, a personalized website displays a unique experience based on a visitor’s known characteristics.

To better elucidate the concept, let’s take a look at a real-life example of web personalization. Below are two pages our visitors can potential see on the Proof homepage. The first version is our baseline — the page that we display to a visitor that we haven’t collected any personal information on yet — and the second version is a personalized variant of the same exact page.

What is personalization? This is an unpersonalized version of Proof's site.
The unpersonalized version of the Proof homepage.

The personalized version (the site below) is displayed to visitors that we know are either in e-commerce or have displayed some interest in that industry. Somewhere in their buying cycle, we’ve identified their industry from an IP address, browsing behavior, an email submission, or 3rd party data.

Personalization defined, a personalized experience for e-commerce
A personalized variant of the Proof homepage for E-commerce visitors.

Using that data, we adjust the personalized page's headline to directly call out this E-commerce cohort with the headline: “The most powerful social proof platform for E-commerce brands.”

It also includes a sub headline that directly mentions keystone brands in the E-commerce space — such as Harry’s and Speedo.

Why do we do this? Because it directly speaks to the unique visitor. And our personalization experiments have worked — and have they worked well!

We’ve seen a 51% increase in demo registrations and a 31% increase in new trials by carefully catering the messaging on-site for each visitor.

That’s huge for our brand. One of our recent personalization experiments is responsible for a $5800 increase in our MRR (that’s nearly $70k/year in revenue if those customers don’t churn). We’re not talking small number here, and we’re excited to walk you through personalization examples we have implemented in the next few chapters.

Personalize your site with Experiences →

Experiences lets your personalize your site without coding!

Learn how to personalize your site with Experiences →

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The Marketer's Guide to Website Personalization