Who, What, and Where Can You Personalize? Real-Time Personalization is Simpler Than You’d Think

Targeting and Personalization


If you’re in marketing, you’ve probably heard a lot about personalization lately. Given the rising expectations of customers, the difficulty of marketing to anonymous prospects, and the need to create campaigns that are heard above the noise, real-time personalization tools have a lot of appeal. But many marketers think personalization will be too complicated to implement, or will be too time-consuming to maintain.

Before I explain why personalization is easier to implement and run than you think, let’s take a moment to define it. Personalization is a combination of two things: 1) identifying a person’s relevant attributes (intent, potential, behavior, profile and/or firmographics), and 2) customizing his or her online experience by presenting only the most relevant content, calls-to-action (CTAs) and/or visuals.

So how can this help you, as a marketer? Whether you’re a B2B marketer or a consumer marketer, you’ll create more meaningful interactions with prospects (even anonymous ones) by serving them the right content at the right time. You’ll also educate and nurture top-of-funnel prospects, driving them further into the sales cycle. Finally, by leveraging content that you already have and using it to create a personalized experience for your prospects, you’ll optimize your budget and lower your cost-per-lead.

If getting started with real-time personalization seems complicated, relax. You’ll start by simply defining your three W’s — the Who, What, and Where.

Who Do I Personalize For?

The “Who” in personalization is your target audience, which is defined by a combination of attributes. If you’re a B2B marketer, you’ll focus more on firmographics (company name, vertical, size, and revenue) and digital behavior. If you’re a consumer marketer, you’ll personalize your content based on the customer journey, geo-location (you can personalize right down to the zip code), product interest, price sensitivity, and buying history.

who personalizationDon’t worry if you can’t identify every type of audience that visits your site. Focus instead on a few important “Who’s” — for instance, CTOs of software companies or CEOs of healthcare companies. Once you’ve determined a few “Who’s” — the ones that really matter — you’re ready for the next step.

Your “Who” can also include your audience’s stage in the sales journey. Take the four main stages of the Customer Decision Journey (CDJ): Awareness, Interest, Evaluation and Commitment, and define your segment by the stage your audience is in. Don’t go overboard with fine-tuning. For example, your “Who” might be “hot prospects” — anyone in your audience who is in the Evaluation stage of the sales journey.

What Should I Personalize?

Now that you know who you are targeting, it’s time to decide what content to personalize. If you’re worried about creating enough personalized content for your real-time campaigns, stop worrying — you can personalize the content you already have. Real-time personalization can leverage existing content, personalizing your calls-to-action, user experience, images, and product offers. In my experience, most companies have more than enough content to get started.

what personalizationContent can include case studies, blog posts, ebooks, videos, calls-to-actions, images, and more. It’s a question of which piece fits which target audience, or which phase of the Customer Decision Journey they’re in. Even if you don’t have a piece of content created specifically for a certain target audience, you can develop multiple calls-to-actions for a single piece of content, designed to attract various specific audiences. For example, the CEO of a software company might see a particular CTA at the bottom of your homepage, while the CEO of a healthcare company might see a different CTA at the bottom of the same homepage. You can even combine content, CTAs, and images together for a more personalized user experience. (That’s what we did with Panaya, a software vendor that provides ERP testing and upgrade automation — more on that later in this post.)

You’ll want to engage prospects with content differently, depending on the type of prospects you are marketing to. For B2B prospects, for instance, you’ll want to deliver content relevant to the lead’s particular vertical, organization, or location. If you’re marketing to consumers, on the other hand, you’ll want to offer personalized web experiences based on product offers, location, or price sensitivity. Either way, your prospects receive the most relevant content possible. Again, you do not have to personalize all of your content at once. Take a few pieces of existing content and personalize them to target high-yield prospects.

If you’re using our content recommendation engine, you’ll know exactly which content is the most relevant for each of your target segments. Using predictive analytics and machine-learning, the hands-free engine automatically maps, discovers, and serves content on your website to the prospects who respond to it best. You’ll deliver the right content to the right prospect at the right time — automatically.

Where Do I Personalize?

After you’ve determined who and what to personalize, you have several options of where to reach prospects with a personalized approach. We recommend starting with website and email channels.

where personalization
Your website is the most important channel for real-time personalization, because these prospects are engaged, attentive, and interested in learning more about your solution. Unfortunately for marketers, over 98% of first-time visitors to your website are anonymous. Real-time personalization allows you to engage those anonymous first-time visitors to your website by identifying their company, industry, location, and digital behavior.

Putting it All Together

To give you an idea of how the Who, What, and Where combines, here’s a real life example of personalization in action. When software vendor Panaya implemented real-time personalization, their original “Who” was the SAP market. Their “What,” as you can see from the screenshot below, was a combination of CTAs, videos, and logos on their homepage — the homepage was the “Where.”

panaya real-time personalization

Next, Panaya decided that it wanted to expand its market, targeting organizations that used Oracle’s ERP. Their new “Who” was the Oracle market. They ran a real-time personalization campaign that changed the messaging, CTAs, and logos (aka the “What”) on its homepage (the “Where”).

Here is what Panaya’s homepage looked like when a prospect from an organization using Oracle came to the website. Notice the messaging, videos, and logos — all are personalized to target Oracle users.

panaya real-time personalization 2

The result? Panaya saw an increase in content consumption of 113%, simply by defining the three W’s, and letting real-time personalization do the heavy lifting.

Curious about using real-time personalization in your marketing? Listen to our webinar: Real-Time Personalization: How to Optimize Your Website and Boost Conversions.