4 Ideas for Starting Small with Website Personalization

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Ideas and Strategies for Real-Time Personalization
4 Ideas for Starting Small with Website Personalization

May 2, 2017 by

A few weeks ago I attended the Conversion Conference in Las Vegas. The Evergage team and I got the chance to meet a lot of great marketers looking for innovative ways to improve their conversion rates. We shared with them that personalization is a proven tactic for increasing website conversions (not to mention improving the overall customer experience).

But in speaking with these experienced marketers about how to leverage machine-learning algorithms to dynamically personalize their full website experience to the individual level, some of them got a little anxious. “I’m not sure we’re there yet” was a common refrain from marketers from both large and small teams. I am willing to bet that these marketers were voicing a concern that many others share. If your website is currently static — meaning it provides largely the same experience for every person — then a true one-to-one experience can sound incredibly overwhelming.

But I’ll tell you what I told the marketers I met at the conference: your visitors are growing to expect personalized experiences. Even if the rest of your industry isn’t on the cutting edge of digital marketing, the level of personalization your customers are experiencing in other industries will eventually inform their expectations for your industry (if it hasn’t already!). So while you may not feel ready to dive into machine learning-driven site experiences, dipping your toe in the water of personalization today may not be a bad idea.

But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Here are four easy personalization ideas that can help you get started in a steady, controlled way. They can help you demonstrate some quick wins and show you what personalization is all about.

1. Homepage Hero Experiences

Homepage hero experiences are often a go-to tactic for marketers looking to get started with personalization because they can quickly impact clickthrough rates and dramatically improve the relevance of a homepage. And of course, it helps you address a key challenge all marketers face —  what to feature in such an important piece of site real estate.

For example, mountain resort Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows (SVAM) uses personalization to display relevant homepage experiences to visitors from a few target cities, key segments (such as families) and high-value season pass holders. So while visitors from LA may see this on the homepage:

easy personalization ideas

Visitors in SVAM’s “family” segment will see this:

With this homepage campaign, SVAM saw a 38% increase in conversion rate and a 41% lift in revenue per user in its “family” segment.

To get started, think about key segments or personas you have on your site that you would like to speak to differently when they land on your homepage. A B2B site may want to provide a different experience for different industries as part of an ABM approach, while a B2C retail site may want to promote relevant offers to visitors who have primarily shopped a specific category.

After you have your idea, it’s just a matter of setting up your segments, designing a few different homepage heroes, and creating rules to show a different experience to each segment.

2. Exit Intent or Other Timed Messages

Another easy way to help you gain some quick wins is to create messages that are timed based on behavior. For example, rather than displaying an email capture pop-up the second a visitor lands on your site, you could target the message to display once a visitor has spent a certain amount of time or completed a specific activity instead. You could even play around with message types. For example, sometimes you may want a distracting pop-up, while other times you may want a more subtle inline message (for more information on the types of personalization messages and experiences, read this blog post).

Another example of a timed message we see regularly is the exit intent message. For example, Rue La La identifies when a shopper leaves an item behind in his or her shopping cart and is about to exit the site. At that moment, the visitor is shown a message that displays the item left in the cart and can include an incentive to complete the transaction. This tactic is used for returning visitors as well to help them easily recover their carts, and has led to an increase in revenue per customer.

Exit messages apply to B2B sites as well. We use them on our own blog to display a message when a visitor’s mouse moves quickly toward the URL, indicating that the person is about the leave. In the message, we show the person a relevant eBook based on the category of blog content they’ve spent the most time reading. 

To get started, you just need to design your message and establish the rules for when it should be displayed. Consider the timing you think your message will be most relevant to the visitor. Is it after they have shown a certain level of engagement? Can that level of engagement be defined in terms of time spent or a certain action taken? You will definitely want to test this message to ensure your hypothesis is correct.

3. Progressive CTAs

CTA buttons are a key component of most websites. You’ve probably tested your CTAs extensively to find the right words, color and size. But have you considered what happens if a visitor who has already taken the action sees the same CTA again? He likely won’t need to take the action again, so you may have wasted the opportunity to engage him with something else.

Instead of leveraging static CTAs, you can dynamically modify them based on what each visitor has already done. For example, on evergage.com we have an inline section of our homepage that encourages visitors to watch an introductory video (personalized to the use case they’ve spent the most time interacting with on our site, such as Demand Generation/ABM in the example below).

easy personalization ideas

If a visitor has already viewed that video, we recommend that he watch our customer testimonial video instead, since we don’t want to miss the opportunity to show him something he hasn’t already seen.

easy personalization ideas

Once he watches that video, we suggest that he watch a quick demo of our product in that same spot on the page.

easy personalization ideas

After he views the demo video, we suggest that he request a demo with a salesperson. And if he takes that step too, we suggest that he get inspired with our resource library.

This sequence provides visitors with progressively relevant information about Evergage and allows us to show a CTA for an action they haven’t already taken.

Think about your CTAs across your site. Are there any places you may want to show other content if the visitor has already taken the action? Or are there any spots where you’d like to remove the CTA completely once the action is taken? Showing only relevant CTAs is a quick and easy way to make your site more personalized to each visitor.

4. History Tab

There is a lot of information available on the internet, so there is a lot of competition out there for your visitors’ attention. If it is hard for your visitors to find what they’re looking for on your site, they could lose interest and move on. One way to help them find something relevant is to provide a tab on the side of the page to allow them to quickly find their viewing history on your site. You can provide a “recently viewed” or “history” tab to provide visitors with easy access to the products or content with which they were most engaged or had previously purchased/downloaded. Shoeline.com has a tab like this on its site, and it has seen a conversion rate of 18% from visitors that interact with it, which is a remarkable 7x higher than the average conversion rate on the site.

shopper intent

Shoeline has found that helping visitors quickly find the products they liked best facilitates the shopping process. We also have a tab like this on evergage.com to help our B2B visitors find pieces of content they have viewed or downloaded. If you offer products or content on your site, a tab like this might be something to consider.  

Final Thoughts

These four campaign ideas are just a place to start. I’m sure that once you get started thinking about these ideas, you can think of hundreds of ways to apply personalization to your site. My point is that you don’t need to immediately jump into one-to-one personalization driven by machine-learning algorithms if that seems overwhelming. The key is to find a personalization partner that will scale with you so you can start small. It also helps if you find a partner who is willing to work with you to ensure your success from the beginning. You’re not in this alone!

To learn more about how Evergage can help you get started with personalization, request a demo today.

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