Here’s How to Make Your Website As Personalized as Your Email

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Posted: February 20, 2014 | Targeting and Personalization

Your customers are multi-channel and multi-device users, cruising from your website to your mobile app to their email inbox. And they expect your marketing messages to cruise right along with them. But while email marketing professionals have gotten really good at connecting with their audiences one-to-one, the next frontier involves real-time personalized content on the web and on mobile devices. Put simply, your website should be just as personalized and targeted as your emails.

The technology exists to customize experiences, messages, and calls-to-actions, regardless of what content management system (CMS) you use. Once you’ve decided to make your website as personalized as your email, you’ll have to determine how you will segment and target visitors. Here are some common ways you can try—what works for your business?

Visitor Information

As website owners, we’ve long had access to data about where our visitors come from. For example, you can tell whether a visitor came from Facebook, an organic search, or an email link. Today, we can react to that data in real time, and serve up customized content accordingly. Similarly, we can customize our websites based on whether someone is a first-time or repeat visitor. For example, you might show a first-time visitor your “How to Get Started” screen; a repeat visitor might be presented with more in-depth information.

Content Recommendation

You can also use the specific content visitors engage with to guide them to the next appropriate experience. For example, say that a travel company has a blog with well-tagged content that spans many topics. Visitor A clicks on the category “iceberg cruises” periodically, so it makes sense to show him your Alaskan cruise offers on the home page. Visitor B, on the other hand, searches for flights to Oahu. When she opens the company’s mobile app, Hawaiian ticket offers are what she sees.  With today’s big data personalization solutions, creating these kinds of real-time content recommendations is easy.

Location

Analyzing a visitor’s IP address can give you his or her physical location, and you can personalize the experience based on that. For example, Marketo uses location to personalize the currency we use to display our prices and to customize the information we ask for on forms. As another example, a clothing retailer might offer board-shorts to a visitor in San Diego, a sweatshirt to one in San Francisco, and a winter coat to a visitor from the frigid East Coast. Going further, they can dynamically present pictures of jackets and umbrellas if it happens to be raining in the visitor’s location.

Account or Industry

If a visitor is surfing from work, you can use their IP address to look up their company, which allows you to match your visitor to an industry. Understanding which industry an individual works in can determine the images you use, the products you highlight, and the type of case studies you offer.  As the simplest example, visitors from the healthcare world could be shown images of doctors and medical labs; those from financial services might be shown large buildings and currency.

You can also use this technology to engage with specific target accounts. Create customized marketing content for a company you’re targeting, and then deliver that specific content to anyone visiting your site or mobile app via that company’s IP address.

Persona

Many companies have created detailed persona descriptions, and know what messages and content resonate with each persona. You are already customizing your nurture tracks to be relevant to each persona, so why wouldn’t you do the same for your website?  By integrating your website personalization technology with your marketing automation tool, you can match each visitor to the correct persona, and then target those visitors with the most relevant message, value proposition, or case study.

1:1 Messaging

Here’s where we get to targeting nirvana: one-to-one, absolutely unique individual personalization. You customize each visitor’s experience according to exactly who he or she is—not as a company employee, industry, or persona, but based on his or her exact preferences, history, and relationship with your company.

For some companies, this could mean giving a visitor who only made it halfway through the check-out process an opportunity to finish that transaction, or upping the ante with a better offer. For companies with longer sales cycles, you might share educational thought leadership with early stage prospects; visitors who are actively engaged in a sales cycle could be shown messages about why your company is a safe choice. More broadly, use your website to reinforce the last email seen by a prospect, creating a truly coordinated experience—regardless of whether you send the message to the customer, or the customer comes to you.

Today’s Marketer Must Be a Master of the Customer Experience

At the end of the day, personalization is the key to creating a relevant, targeted experience across all your marketing channels. You can easily make your website and mobile content just as targeted and personalized as your email campaigns—it just takes the right tools.

Want to learn more? Marketo’s Real-Time Personalization solution makes real-time web and mobile personalization a whole lot easier than it sounds. Watch our video, 1:1 Personalization with Marketing Automation, to find out how you can reach even anonymous prospects with a personalized experience, based on industry, location, and on-site behavior.

Related Resources

Jon (@jonmiller) leads Marketo's product marketing, strategy, and content marketing initiatives. He is the author of multiple Definitive Guides including Marketing Automation, Engaging Email Marketing, and Marketing Metrics & Analytics. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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Your emails are targeted, but is your website? Serve up unique web & mobile content with #personalization. @jonmiller

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