Website Personalization: Your Guide to Getting Started

With all the global marketing trends taking place in the past two decades, it’s safe to say: if you’re not personalizing your content, you’re missing out.

It stands to reason that not all of your customers will respond the same way to the same content. Depending on their gender, age, and interests, different audience groups will need different types of content. These different types of content can range anywhere from a slightly different tone and images to completely different product offerings.

You can personalize the content on almost all communication channels you’re using but, in this article, we’ll focus on how you can tailor the content on your website to your visitors.

We’ll start with the basics of personalization – what it is, what its benefits are, and what you can personalize for. Then we’ll go into some inspiring examples and practical advice on how you can personalize the content on your website.

So, let’s get started with the basics!

What is website personalization and why does it matter?

Web personalization is a name we use to describe the different techniques businesses use to individualize a website to suit each visitor’s interests, needs, and purchase habits. For example, if done properly, a personalized fashion eCommerce won’t look the same for a 20-year old man and a 55-year old woman.

Web personalization can have different goals. You may be looking just to impress your visitors and speak to them on a more personal level. Some elaborate webshops, on the other hand, could be trying to achieve a more specific goal like reducing bounce rates or getting more purchases by offering personalized product recommendations.

Whatever the goal, the logic is always the same: collect user data and leverage it to provide your visitors with personalized experiences.

So, user data is at the core of personalization. The more traffic your website gets, the more data you’ll have to analyze and use to make decisions.

Website personalization benefits

Why should businesses even start personalizing websites?

Here are some reasons why customizing your website content can have profound effects on your business.

  • More returning customers. When you tailor your content to your customers’ needs and habits, you increase the chances of them coming back to your offer. As mentioned in the documentary “The Social Dilemma”, one of the main reasons why we keep coming back to services like Instagram and Netflix is to see what’s new. But we’re not seeing just any content – we’re seeing personalized content tailored to us. So it’s not just “what’s new”, it’s “what’s new for me”.
  • Increased conversions. It stands to reason that, when you offer someone personalized product recommendations, they’ll be more likely to buy those products. The same goes for personalized CTAs – research found that they can perform up to 202% better than regular ones.
  • Better ROI. Better performing marketing campaigns usually mean better ROI. When you have better conversion rates and lower bounce rates, that typically means you’re spending less money to achieve strong results. Research shows that companies that use advanced personalization techniques have an impressive return on investment: around $20 for every $1 spent!
  • More loyal customers. Personalizing your website and the offer is one of the best ways to build significant relationships with customers. Giving them what they need shows that you care about their experience and you’re dedicated to putting their interests first.

What can you personalize for?

When thinking about personalization, you first need to ask yourself what kind of user data you can even personalize for. Generally, you can collect three main types of data: demographic, behavioral, and contextual.

Demographic data

Demographic data is the type of data that relates to a person: their name, age, gender, email, and other similar information. People’s demographic data can tell you a lot about their general interests.

For example, you can be almost certain that middle-aged men aren’t visiting your eCommerce bookstore to purchase the latest teenage vampire fiction novel. On the other hand, that might be exactly what a 14-year old girl is looking for. This is, of course, a simplified example of how you can leverage demographic data to customize your offer.

You can get demographic data from tools like Google Analytics, SimilarWeb, social media insights, etc.

Behavioral data

Behavioral data refers to the actions your visitors perform while browsing through your website.

By analyzing this data, you can separate your visitors into important groups. For example, you can have separate audience groups containing your return and first-time buyers. You can differentiate between those users who displayed purchase intent (put products in the cart) and those who didn’t.

Perhaps most importantly, you can see what kind of content people have been interacting with. You can see what they click, which pages they visit, and, overall, what they want to see.

Some analytics tools can provide you with elaborate heatmaps that tell you exactly how your visitors are interacting with your content.

Contextual data

Unlike our previous two types of data, contextual data doesn’t have to be related to the visitor (although it can be). We use this term to describe all data that can give some context to our website sessions.

So, whether a visitor is coming from mobile or desktop is a good example of contextual data. Which browser are they using? Which operating system?

On the other hand, contextual data can be outside of the users’ control. What time of day is it? What day of the week or which month? What’s the weather like?

Some of these data points might feel insignificant but take fashion eCommerce as an example – they have seasonal product offerings that always take into account context. The same goes for Netflix: come December, you’ll start seeing a lot of Christmas movie recommendations.

Now, let’s take this a step further and imagine a fashion eCommerce that offers clothes based on the weather outside, or imagine if Netflix recommended you more horror movies at night and more family comedies on a Sunday afternoon.

When you know how to use data, the possibilities are endless!

Great web personalization examples

Now let’s go through some websites that use data sources to deliver tailored experiences. As you’ll notice, each of these businesses approached site personalization differently, but they’ve all chosen the model that works best for their website.

For example, Amazon is one of the most popular personalization websites that people first think of when we talk about tailored content.

This approach works for Amazon because it’s filled with all kinds of products, from gaming consoles and books to DIY tools. With so many product categories available, personalized recommendations are a great way to provide a unique experience to each visitor. Even back in 1998, Bezos recognized the importance of personalization. He claimed that if Amazon was to have 4.5 million customers, the goal wouldn’t be to have one online store but 4.5 million stores.

That’s an example of a personalization website that uses behavioral data to provide great experiences.

Shop Direct used a different type of data – contextual – to give their users customized content.

This website uses the current weather to suggest products that could match the current needs of its customers. They adapt the content to the context.

Another example from Gusto shows us how easy it can be to personalize your content to a certain extent and make a more significant connection with the visitors. By merely saying “welcome back” to returning visitors, you’re showing that you’re aware of the user’s previous interactions with your brand.

As you might have noticed, some of the examples above use name personalization as an additional method to create a more customized experience and connect to the audience on a deeper level.

Custom home pages and personalization based on the first names of your customers can be great ways to engage your audience and surprise them with original content.

Getting started with web personalization

Let’s say you’re convinced by the prospect of personalization. How do you go about starting this process?

1. Use tools

Data extraction, analytics, and automation tools can all be extremely useful if you want to get serious about website personalization.

You can use website analytics tools to get to know your users and their habits. We already mentioned Google Analytics, Hotjar, and other tools that provide you with valuable insights into your visitors’ behavior. If you want to personalize your offer, you can’t even start without implementing a website analytics tool to track visitor interactions.

Furthermore, when you want to start personalizing content unless you have substantial coding knowledge, you’ll need a personalization tool to help you make your plans a reality.

If you’re interested in personalizing your CTAs and images, you may want to try out Hyperise. We make it easy with an intuitive interface and hyper-personalization techniques that will speak to your audience.

Start your free trial now – it’s quick and easy!

Segment your audience

If you want to customize your offer (not just your content), you need to start segmenting your audience.

That way, you can provide each segment with different content, based on what you expect their interests to be. You can segment the audience by any of the criteria we already mentioned – demographics (name, age, gender, level of income, etc.) or behavior (purchase intent, the content they’re interested in, the sources they came from, and so on).

Decide which KPIs to track

The last thing you need to do before you start personalizing your website is taking a close look at your KPIs. Choose the KPIs that best reflect the success of your efforts and keep tracking them to see whether your personalization techniques are working.

We recommend considering your bounce rates, conversion rates, retention rates, and average time on site as some of the most important metrics to track. 

What kind of content can you personalize?

We’ve gone through several examples and practical applications of website personalization but we haven’t even scratched the surface.

The opportunities for personalization are endless – here are some things you can customize on your website to provide each customer with a tailored experience.

Offer. The most complex way to customize your website is to adjust your offer for each visitor. This requires good audience segmentation techniques and a strong understanding of your users and their habits.

Images. You can customize images to grab users’ attention by including their name, job title, or other data to grab their attention. For example, you can personalize the hero image on your homepage to surprise your visitors as soon as they first arrive at your website.

CTAs. As we already mentioned, personalized CTAs have much better clickthrough rates than generic ones. You can use tools like Hyperise to customize your CTAs and get more conversions.

Chat. Live chats are getting more popular as a way to contact customer support during the purchase process and get information quickly. Chatbots can be especially useful, and personalizing them is a good idea to make the experience more genuine.

Pop-ups. They may get a bad rap but pop-up ads have solid clickthrough rates, higher than many other types of ads. To get even better clickthrough rates, you might want to use customer data to personalize your pop-ups.

Website personalization: the conclusion

Personalization is a big trend in marketing right now and it isn’t showing signs of stopping.

By extension, website personalization is growing in popularity, with small and big brands alike going to great lengths to analyze user data and leverage it for website customization. It’s not enough to follow UI design trends anymore – you need to predict your users’ needs and deliver them the best website offer. 

Start your personalization journey by finding ways to collect user data and research the best tools that can help you execute this strategy.

If you’re looking for a tool that can provide you with some hyper-personalization features, check out Hyperise. It allows you to customize images, CTAs, and much more to give your visitors unique experiences.

Sign up for a free trial!