Intro to the 5 Main Types of Personalization Messages and Experiences

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Ideas and Strategies for Real-Time Personalization
Intro to the 5 Main Types of Personalization Messages and Experiences

December 6, 2016 by

Dynamic messages and experiences are at the core of any personalization program. They provide the content people see on your website, in your app, or within your emails. They can be used to educate and inform visitors, guide them through a series of steps, present dynamic content and recommendations, entice shoppers with special offers, or completely change someone’s experience.

If you’re just getting started with personalization, it’s helpful to understand what options are available to you to guide your strategy from the beginning. And if you’ve already gotten started, you may be able to benefit from a quick refresher.

In this post, I’ll provide an overview of the five main types of messages and experiences you can use for your personalized experiences, and give some examples of each type. Let’s dive right in!

Inline Content

First, inline content allows you to dynamically add full sections of content to a page. This type of personalization is one of the most seamless and least obvious, as it allows you to place content within the page itself rather than on top of the page. In most cases, visitors will not know that any personalization is occurring.

For example, an e-commerce site can insert inline content directly onto its cart page to encourage shoppers to buy more to qualify for free shipping. Those visitors that already qualify for free shipping could be shown something else in that same space, or that space could be blank without impacting the look of the site.  

types of personalization messages

For a B2B company focused on demand generation, the site could include an invite shown to select visitors for an upcoming webinar on its webinar recordings page, inserted at the top of the page. Essentially, inline content provides a seamless way to display information to visitors within the context and construct of the page.

In-Page Edits

While inline content adds completely new sections to a page, in-page edits allow you to modify or remove existing content for specific segments or individuals. This allows you to make subtle yet impactful changes to your website to appeal to different visitors on your site. Along with inline content, in-page edits are one of the most seamless personalization methods.

In the example below, this site has created different experiences for its key segments on its homepage. If a visitor in its “family” segment visits the site, he will see an image, copy, and CTA that are targeted to that segment.

message_type_2

Meanwhile, if a season pass holder visits the site, she will see a different image, copy, and CTA that help her get the most out of her season pass.

types of personalization messages

There are many different ways to leverage in-page edits creatively. For example, an e-commerce site can swap out the images on category pages to display each individual’s favorite brands. Or a technology site can modify its homepage hero to show content that is relevant to a visitor’s industry. You could even change a site or app’s navigation for different groups of visitors.

When it comes to creating seamlessly personalized experiences on your website or app, both inline content and in-page edits are critical techniques. The other three approaches, described below, are more interruptive in nature, but still play key roles in an effective personalization program.

Infobars

Infobars are designed to capture a visitor’s attention by appearing at the top or bottom of a page. They persist as “sticky” messages that remain on the top or bottom of the user’s screen when scrolling but they can be designed to be easily closed or dismissed.

Infobars are ideal for reminders, such as upcoming sales or free shipping for retailers. Many of our B2B clients use infobars to alert visitors of upcoming events in their area (see an example in the image below), webinars that may be relevant to them, or new eBooks or whitepapers.

types of personalization messages

Infobars can be tailored to each individual’s attributes or behaviors. For example, you can show an infobar promoting an upcoming event only to visitors within a specific industry, or to visitors that have shown interest in a specific product in the past.

Of course, it’s important to test each infobar to determine its effectiveness. You could even A/B test the same message as an infobar and as another message type to see which works best!

Callouts

Generally small and less conspicuous, callouts draw attention to a particular area or feature within a page. We often see these used within web apps to point out new features of a product or take users through a tour, but they can be used anytime you want to call attention to an element of a page. In the example below, the site is using a callout to ask for reviews of a specific product.

types of personalization messages

There are several ways to tailor a callout to make it a little more sophisticated. For instance, you can ensure that only first-time visitors or those who have never engaged with a specific feature see the callout. You can time the callout so that it only appears when a visitor’s mouse is near the intended area of the page or when the visitor is idle for several seconds. You could also time the callout to display only when a visitor hovers over the specific feature being called out and include a link inside the callout to a page with more information. There are many ways to incorporate callouts into the experience in a way that provides value to the visitor.

And as with all messages and experiences, testing is critical. In the review example above, that message could easily be a pop-up message that asks for reviews, but a callout was chosen instead. Test out different designs, message types, and copy to find the most effective option for your site or app.  

Pop-ups

I would guess that anyone that has used the internet at least once or twice understands what a pop-up is. These messages “pop up” on a person’s screen while they are on your website or using your app. Pop-ups tend to be very effective at catching someone’s attention, but they can also be intrusive to the overall site experience. For this reason they should be used sparingly and strategically.

Two popular uses for pop-ups are to generate leads and drive conversions. Marketers often use them to capture email addresses from visitors or to remind visitors to convert before leaving (such as in the image below).

types of personalization messages

There are a few strategies that you can use to help make your pop-ups more relevant and less intrusive:

  • Timing: Time a pop-up to display only when a user shows certain behaviors such as mouse scrolling, intent to exit, landing on a page, clicking a specific link, or hovering over a specific part of the page. Make sure the content of the message is relevant to the action taken or the individual person.
  • Personalized content: Tailor the content of the message to each individual’s preferences or behaviors. For example, your exit message (one that displays when a visitor is about to the leave the site) could show products that the visitor was most engaged with during her session. This serves to remind her of products she was interested in, hopefully leading her to re-engage.
  • Contextual targeting: Target your pop-ups to visitors based on their referral source, location, or other attribute. When the message has the same frame of reference as the content they’ve already been consuming, it is more compelling and engaging.
  • Lightbox effect: If the information you’re looking to convey with a pop-up is particularly important, a lightbox effect (also called a “modal”) – which grays out the rest of the page – is a good way to focus the visitor’s attention on your message and desired action.

As you plan new pop-ups, make sure to evaluate your existing experience to ensure that you don’t have too many pop-ups running at once. And always test your pop-ups to determine if they’re effective. Consider trying different copy, images, CTAs, or message types if you don’t see the impact you expected.

Wrap Up

To execute a successful personalization program, you need a foundational understanding of personalization message and experience types. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Inline content: Completely new sections added within a page, enabling a seamless experience so visitors generally don’t know any personalization is taking place.
  • In-page edits: Changes, removals or swapping out of existing page content. As with inline content, in-line edits are well suited for seamless and subtle personalized experiences.
  • Infobars: Persistent messages that appear at the top or bottom of a page, often used for reminders.
  • Callouts: Messages that highlight a specific area or feature of a site or app. They are often used to point out new features or provide more information about a section of a page.
  • Pop-ups: Messages that appear on top of the content on a user’s screen, which can be very effective at catching attention but may be perceived as intrusive.

All five of these are easy to build and implement with the right solution. Remember that each type has its unique strengths and ideal use cases. It’s always important to test your theories of what will work best for your own site visitors or app users. To learn more about how Evergage can help you get started with personalization, request a demo today.

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