In today’s article we’ll talk about website personalization, and with the contribution of one of our readers, we’ll see how to use it to improve conversions of your website(s) or get some new ideas to apply to the site(s) of your clients. Let’s begin!
Website personalization is the process by which a web page delivers custom content to users at the right time and place.
Ecommerce websites provide some great examples of this. Take, for instance, a site like Walmart that asks visitors if it can access their location. Upon allowing the website to do so, shoppers encounter location-related notes throughout the customer journey.
Links to the closest store’s page or phone number. Options to buy online and pick up in store. Shipping rates based on location. And so on.
But is website personalization smart marketing or a majorly creepy turnoff for visitors? This guide will delve into what the research says and provide a step-by-step overview on using website personalization to effectively boost conversions.
Website Personalization: What the Research Says
According to McKinsey’s research on personalization, “Targeted communications that are relevant and useful can create lasting customer loyalty and drive revenue growth of 10 to 30 percent.”
Now, if you’re wondering if you can skip this altogether (maybe because you’re nervous about costs or time invested in it), consider this fact: Accenture says that 33% of consumers have abandoned a business because the visitor experience lacked personalization.
However, if you use website personalization in a way that truly provides an upgraded and valuable on-site experience for visitors, there are some awesome benefits awaiting you. In Segment’s 2017 Personalization Report, the company found that:
- 49% of consumers bought something they hadn’t intended to because of a personalized suggestion they received.
- 40% purchased something more expensive because of a premium, personalized service.
- Customers kept 85% of impulse purchases that stemmed from personalized recommendations.
As you can see, there’s a huge opportunity to sell more if you can deliver a personalized experience your users will benefit from.
How to Use Website Personalization to Boost Conversions
Did you know there is an entire industry dedicated to website personalization?
Optimizely is one such example of a company with a laser-trained focus on website personalization. Monetate and Dynamic Yield are two other leaders in this space.
What you’ll find is that many of the services provided – analytics, website personalization, A/B testing, and so on – are all things developers and marketers can handle on their own.
I don’t mean to imply that you’ll never get to a point where you should invest in those services, but, for now, let’s focus on how to DIY this, since most content management systems readily make personalization possible. And with website personalization in such high demand by audiences right now, it would be silly not to integrate this into your workflow ASAP.
Want to learn how? Here is what you need to do:
Step 1: Study the Data Closely
To start, make sure Google Analytics is installed on your website. This will give you a very good sense for who your audience is and what they’re doing when they’re on your site.
Because you want to add relevant and valuable personalization to the site, you should be looking at high-level metrics like demographics, interests, geography, and acquisition to start.
You can then dig deeper and look at engagement-related metrics like number of visits, user flow during those visits, time on site, and bounce rate.
There are other tools you can use to collect data on user behavior, like heat maps and customer surveys.
Your goal is to correlate certain behaviors (as evidenced by the data) with the various mindsets your users have throughout their journey. In so doing, you’ll be able to more effectively deliver personalized content at the right place and time.
Step 2: Segment Your Audience
There are a number of ways to divvy up your audience. To start, look at high-level categories like:
- New versus returning visitors
- Frequency of visits for returning visitors
- Pages visited
- Marketing campaigns and other referral sources
- Logged-in versus logged-out users
- Customer profiles and preferences – this is especially important as 48% of consumers expect special treatment for their loyalty (and they need an account on your site to do this)
- Search history
- Shopping history
Once you have a grasp of the various audience segments and how each interacts with your content differently, you can start to plan out which parts of the user journey should be personalized.
Step 3: Choose the Website Personalization Type
With a firm plan for reaching your various audience segments with tailor-made content and messaging, you need to decide how to deliver it.
Generally, you can add website personalization to the following elements:
- Web page and post content (including images)
- eCommerce product page details
- Contact forms
- Widgets and sidebars
You have even more options for how you personalize these elements:
- 1. Use their name, location, and other personal information you’ve gathered from logged-in users to greet them and introduce highly valuable offers.
- 2. Customize the home page or blog roll with content tailor-made (both copy and images) for that user.
- 3. Display content, deals, or contact forms that are specific to the referral source that led them to the site.
- 4. Show related content recommendations based on the user’s reading habits.
- 5. Display related product suggestions based on recently viewed or purchased items.
- 6. Provide helpful reminders while shopping that nudge users to purchase or renew something they’ll need soon.
- 7. Offer special discounts at times of the day and week when you know your visitors to be in a shopping frame of mind.
- 8. Show more urgent incentives as visitors reach the final leg of the journey and just need that extra push to buy.
- 9. Use location-specific information to create a narrower and more relevant journey.
- 10. Show certain contact form fields based on conditional logic.
- 11. Allow only logged-in users to access certain landing pages.
- 12. Run ads related to recent searches.
- 13. Allow users to switch seamlessly from device to device, and have your website remember who they are and what point they were at everywhere they go.
Every website will differ in its approach, but these ideas should give you a good starting point as you build out your own website personalization efforts.
Step 4: Program Your Website Personalization Rules
There are a number of tools you can use to implement and automate website personalization rules.
Premium services like Dynamic Yield are just one way. Google offers a free A/B testing and personalization solution of its own called Google Optimize.
And, of course, website builder solutions like Duda offer users the ability to build personalization rules right from within your website admin tools.
This is especially useful for agencies that need to differentiate from competitors, because it gives you the ability to manage personalization deployments for all clients from one simple dashboard.
The platform or engine you choose is up to you, but the ways in which you configure these rules may vary a bit from platform to platform.
You already know which parts of the site can be targeted with personalization. Now, you need to determine the various triggers that will launch the personalized experience for your user segments. Consider the following:
- Visitor Type: As you gather data on return visitors and those who log in through accounts, you can decide – based on previous behavior – what personalization is most beneficial for them.
- Location: This is especially important for websites with a local brick-and-mortar presence.
- Timing: Personalized content can appear at any point in the journey. Do you want it to be there the second they log in or show it after they’ve scrolled or clicked through enough of the site?
- Device Type: With more visits, on average, coming from mobile visitors, it makes sense that websites would deliver tailor-made experiences for users on different devices.
- Referral Sources: By using trackable campaign URLs to promote your site around the web, you can deliver personalizations that respond directly to those users’ pains and interests.
Obviously, you need to collect data on your users to use most of these triggers and personalizations. So, before you do anything else, make sure you have an awesome website that inspires them to stick around for awhile and, eventually, register or buy something.
As this 2017 survey from Epsilon shows, the payoff of website personalization is worth it:
“[T]he appeal for personalization is high, with 80% of respondents indicating they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences.”
Just remember to:
- Use your data to better understand your audience.
- Segment your audience using that data.
- Decide the best delivery system for your website personalization.
- Implement using a set of automated personalization rules.
And, of course, remember not to overdo it. Website personalization needs to create meaningful connections with your audience, so focus on ways in which you can make the on-site experience better for them.
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