What is Personalization?

September 1st, 2023

Imagine a realtor who only shows one house she prefers to all of her clients. Or a grocery store that only sells the same bag of groceries to every customer. Providing the same thing to every person even though their needs are different is pretty inconsiderate, right? 

This idea is being more frequently applied to digital platforms, and for good reason. When an organization’s platform offers all of their visitors the same experience, regardless of their unique needs or interests, it can leave them feeling ignored, unfulfilled, and most devastatingly, more apt to never interact with the organization again. 

So, how can you ensure your consumers feel acknowledged and satisfied? We’ll give it to you straight: creating and implementing personalization in your digital experience.

If your platform has a personalization strategy, it will dramatically increase the level of engagement, conversion, and retention of your customers. This is no easy feat. But with insight from our digital experts, who have seasoned experience in choosing the best-suited stack of digital tools in the context of your org, we’ll enhance your platform so that you can offer a personalized experience for every visitor who interacts with it. We’ve seen platforms like these - that put the visitor first - be a catalyst for ongoing success.

What is Personalization?

According to our partners at Sitecore, “it’s a way for brands to contextualize the messages, offers, and experiences they deliver, according to each visitor’s unique profile.”

We’ll note here that personalization is different from customization, though the two definitions sound similar. Personalization requires no effort on behalf of the site visitor whereas customization involves the site visitor manually modifying the experience themselves. For example, if you’re on a shoe store website, you can customize the search results by clicking the option to view shoes from “least expensive” to “most expensive.”

With personalization, instead of having all visitors view the same thing on a website, the organization has the power to intentionally cater what a visitor sees on their platform. By refining digital experiences based on the user’s priorities and interests, unwanted distractions are reduced and users are more effectively guided towards a desired action.

Why does it matter?

Consumers’ relationships with businesses are no longer transactional. Recent consumer behavior shows that they’re favoring brands they feel listen to them and pay attention to their specific needs. This is where organizations can really hone in on personalization, offering custom experiences based on a visitor’s unique profile, to create a more enjoyable relationship with their consumers that keeps them coming back.

In fact, according to Instapage, 87% of consumers surveyed say that personally relevant branded content positively influences how they feel about a brand. A lot of good can come from getting personal with your platform users.

It's good for business

With the consumer’s new-found favoritism towards brands that “get them,” savvy marketing practices should capitalize on this by implementing contextual marketing to create and foster personal relationships with them. This in turn boosts conversion rates and strengthens your brand reputation - building customer loyalty and aiding success.

It's good for the consumer

Just as a good business would put the consumer first when interacting face to face, the same should be true when interacting via a digital platform. This results in a smarter digital experience which provides a better customer experience.

It’s now an expectation for the majority of customers to receive personalized experiences when they visit a website. In fact, “64% of customers expect tailored engagement based on past interactions,” according to a study from Salesforce.

This is where data comes in.

Data: The bedrock of personalization

Every single one of your visitors come from a different experience and have varying interests, not to mention each are different stages of the sales funnel. How are you supposed to accommodate them all? It's vital for your platform to listen, track, and act on data about your users to provide a more tailored experience, leaving them feeling acknowledged and understood.

As a user interacts more and more with a company’s web platform, app, or any other service, back-end technology can record and update known and assumed attributes about the user profile over time.

Realistically, it’s near impractical and impossible (because of typical budget and time constraints) to provide a personalized experience for every single visitor to your platform. A smart practice to out-maneuver this is implementing target segmentation.

What are target segments?

Target segmentation is the process by which target audiences are divided into groups based on common interests or activity. Target segmentation makes it more feasible to manage personalization because it's much easier to track attributes of an entire group rather than individuals. This, again, is backed by how well a platform can track data. 

Target segmentation allows marketers and digital platforms to show specific content to different kinds of users based on a variety of criteria, contexts, and conditions. This includes but is not limited to: a visitor’s current click path, details, and past website downloads, their physical location, and even the type of device that they’re using.

What a personalization strategy looks like

We know that the benefits of personalization are clear, but the path to get there can be overwhelming. Where to even begin?

There are multiple times throughout the customer journey where personalization can be implemented to guide the user to the next desired action.

Marketo, a marketing software company, suggests looking at each stage of the customer journey or marketing funnel, and seeing ways in which you can implement personalization within each stage:

  • Acquisition - how you capture leads
    • Personalization could look like: targeted messaging and content on landing pages
  • Conversion - how you convert leads into customers 
    • Personalization could look like: including an abandoned basket reminder or tailored retargeting campaigns
  • Growth - how to foster your relationship with this new customer
    • Personalization could look like: recommending products, upsells, and cross-sells
  • Retention - how you hold onto the new customer and keep them coming back
    • Personalization could look like: special offers on birthdays and loyalty perks

But this isn’t an exhaustive list. There are seemingly endless ways to incorporate personalization into your web platform that best suits your visitors. Odds are, you know them best.

Which experiences can be personalized?

  • Homepages
  • Websites
  • Advertisements
  • Emails
  • Mobile apps
  • Online chats

Take this personally

Personalization is not just an add-on or a handy feature, but a cornerstone of modern marketing. By drawing meaningful conclusions from data tracked, your organization has the potential to treat every visitor like the site was curated specifically for them, converting leads into loyal customers and achieving sustainable success.