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Effective Strategies for Personalizing Web Content

Personalized web content, which raises conversion and boosts retention, time on site, and page views, is key for maintaining a competitive advantage. A November 2021 McKinsey study found that personalization drives better business performance and meets customer expectations: 

  • Nearly three-fourths (71%) of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions
  • Within that group, 76% of consumers get frustrated when they don’t get a personalized experience. 

McKinsey also notes that customers’ expectations for personalized content experienced a boost during the pandemic. The survey revealed that there’s a payoff for the retailers who can capitalize on this: the retailers who do personalize content are able to generate as much as 40% more in revenue than counterparts that do not.

For those behind this curve, McKinsey says, “Leaders need to focus on the skills needed to support personalization at scale (e.g.,: digital and e-commerce acumen, advanced analytics, product management, or performance marketing). This approach allows companies to anticipate the expertise and tools they need as their personalization program advances.”

As enticing as their benefits are, web-personalization programs are very resource intensive, requiring developers to build alternate experiences and marketers to create the matching content. All too often, such collaboration results in a creative bottleneck.

Even though tools for optimizing and personalizing web content abound—e.g., Adobe Target, Ensighten, Maxymiser, and Optimizely, all of which offer WYSIWYG [What You See Is What You Get] editors—the creative bottleneck stubbornly remains due to insufficient manpower. Reality is, implementing effective web personalization requires infinite labor, time, and resources from the creative team.

For many companies, it’s a Catch-22. The more successful their optimization programs, the harder and more resource intensive it is to scale and maintain them. That’s especially true as personalization requirements become increasingly granular, calling for more and more catering to the individual visitor.

So, how can your company personalize its web content at scale without having to hire an army of creative professionals? Here are four suggestions:

Personalized socks.

As a powerful way in which to back into a personalized site and raise ROI with limited resources, A/B testing offers you the advantage of being able to collect data on related strategies ahead of time. However, be aware that, since you cannot back into certain personalization strategies, you stand to miss out on many possibilities.

With most A/B testing tools, you can add segments to experiments of user experiences to gain an insight into how different audiences respond to each experience. Helpfully, tools like Maxymiser automatically locate and present the relevant segments to you. For other tools to work, you must add the segments in advance, which could involve guesswork. 

Many tests are run with the default experience only, which makes sense for UX changes. For content personalization, however, since you cannot predict which experience might garner responses from the various traffic segments, add four or more experiences instead of only two. You then stand a better chance of finding something relevant to your core segments.

The more you know about your visitors, the more opportunities you have for personalization. That fact might sound obvious but, from my experience, is often overlooked. Therefore, in addition to the typical temporal, behavioral, and browser-level attributes you are looking at, see what other data that pertains to your visitors is available, including information that might be in the domain of other internal teams.  

For instance, you can probably track down your visitors’ gender, purchase history, campaign engagement, and other data from your CRM. Data management platforms (DMPs)—such as Oracle Bluekai and Adobe Audience Manager, and even tag-management tools like Ensighten and Tealium—can help you onboard and make use of that data for A/B testing of segmentation and targeting.

Above all, switch from manual operations to a programmatic ones to manage and deliver content with automated tools like Cloudinary. While on Cloudinary, you can efficiently and effectively transform content to fit new requirements by resizing, cropping, overlaying text and other images, adding borders, etc. For example, by simply adding parameters to an image URL, you can build a new, customized image on the fly without involving designers.

Automation and dynamism eliminate the creative bottleneck, enabling you to smoothly implement personalization at scale. Persisting with a manual mode limits you not only in the tests you can run, but also in those that you can fully scale after identifying the winners.

As a first step, take a broader approach for optimization and personalization of web content by advocating closer collaboration among IT, design, and marketing. By working in tandem with potent tools for testing and for dynamically creating content through automation, you can deliver content tailored for a wide variety of visitors, growing sales and ROI as well as strengthening customer relationships long term.

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