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Turns out website personalization is a lot like dating.

  • Turns out website personalization is a lot like dating.

With some dates, you’ll fall in love instantly. Often, it will be sort of okay but rather boring. The same goes for personalization.

Just think about it: With some dates, you’ll fall in love instantly. Often, it will be sort of okay but rather boring (still better than the all consuming fear of being alone for the rest of your life though). And let’s not forget about the weirdos who will make you wish you hadn’t agreed to this in the first place...

friends date

Website personalization falls into the same three categories. Done right, it can be subtle, delightful, and make you fall in love with whatever the site has to offer. Often, it will be executed poorly, so you will just ignore it and move on. And sometimes it’s going to be freakin’ annoying (I’m talking to you, dear eCommerce shop, that follows me around with a dress I already bought 2 weeks ago).

In theory, personalization is a pretty straightforward concept: “It’s about showing the right content, at the right time, to the right customer.” But what does that even mean? It’s like saying “Dating is about being at the right place, at the right time, to meet the right person.”

No wonder so many marketers get it wrong…

Luckily, the cliché recommendations dating experts came up with, also apply to website personalization.

Make a great first impression

Your visitor’s attention span is short. They judge unforgivingly. If their first impression of your website sucks, they will bounce without even considering your product or service. So, before you start thinking about personalization, make sure to get the basics right and create an appealing website experience.

Now, there‘s plenty of literature about how to create a user-friendly website, so we’re not going to go into details here. It’s just important to understand that you have to get the fundamentals right, before you can build up on them using personalization.

Know your audience

Your visitors are a diverse group of people. To apply personalization techniques, split them into different audience segments. In general, there are three ways to do this:

  • Contextual segmentation: What device and browser is the visitor using? What is the referral source? Is it a new or a returning visitor, etc.?
  • Demographic segmentation: What is the geo-location of the visitor? What industry does she work in? How old is she, etc.?
  • Behavioral segmentation: What behavior is the visitor demonstrating on the site? What has the visitor done on your website during previous visits? For example, if a user has visited your website three times and checked out the pricing page, they’re showing purchase intent. How can personalization help them with taking the next step?

Be smart and charming

Personalization is all about meeting your users needs and expectations. In fact, if you do your job right, your visitors won’t even notice that the website they’re looking at has been personalized for them.

Final thoughts: Test and experiment!

It’s a good time to start personalizing your website. Studies show that most marketers are still very much in the discovery phase when it comes to personalization, so get a head start at your competition.

We hope these recommendations helps you understand how personalization is all about understand your visitors' needs. At the end of the day, you need to analyze the data and know your customers inside out in order to provide them with the best possible experience.

The changes you make could be focused on call-to-actions or involve different types of content, structure, and design. In personalization, the possibilities are endless; use your creativity! Let each decision be guided by these two questions:

  • Does this improve conversions?
  • Does this help my customer achieve his/her goal?

If your answer to both questions is a “YES!” then you are on the right track, keep going. At the end, it all comes down to better targeting, relevant content and higher value for your users.