Planning for Personalization in 2018: Starting With What’s Possible

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Ideas and Strategies for Real-Time Personalization
Planning for Personalization in 2018: Starting With What’s Possible

March 1, 2018 by

As we get further into this year, personalization is probably something you’re thinking about. You might be looking to get started with personalization for the first time, or more likely, you’ve done some personalization in the past but now you’re looking to get serious about implementing a real personalization strategy. With so many different places to start, personalization can seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be.

We always recommend that before you even start thinking about your strategy, you should do your research to discover what’s actually possible to achieve with personalization today — because personalization has come a long way in the last several years. If you start planning your personalization strategy or brainstorming how you could use personalization before you know what you can achieve with available technology, you could be missing opportunities. Instead, gather some ideas of what you could do before planning your own strategy.

To get you started, I’ll share some ideas that Karl Wirth (Evergage co-founder and CEO) and Andy Zimmerman (Evergage CMO) recently shared in their annual webinar “Planning for Personalization in 2018 and Beyond.” The webinar shares many more use cases than I’ll cover here, and it provides some great tips on getting started with personalization. They also cover how to strategize, identify, prioritize, set up, test and iterate on campaigns. So make sure to watch the full webinar replay for all the details.

Personalize Homepage Content Based on Any Criteria

After all the investments you’ve made to drive traffic to your site, the last thing you want is for the majority of visitors to bounce before they’ve spent any time on it. Yet this is the situation many marketers face. Most bouncing visitors are telling you that they don’t find your site relevant to their needs. Personalization can enable your site to better engage each visitor.

For example, you can personalize the homepage hero image of your site to help visitors immediately understand how your company meets their individual needs. In the example below, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows personalized its homepage to key traveler personas (families in this example) and locations.

The applications of homepage personalization are not limited to the travel industry. B2B sites will often personalize by industry. Retail sites can create different experiences based on a visitor’s favorite category of products. Financial services sites can present promotions to prospects and customers based on the products they have or don’t yet have. The opportunities are endless.

Recommend Categories — Not Just Products or Content

Everyone is familiar with product and content recommendations these days. But products and content aren’t the only items that can be recommended to visitors. Sometimes a visitor doesn’t know exactly what product she’s looking for — opting to browse categories instead. In the example below, one site recommends categories to each visitor based on all that is known about her. It shows her the categories she shops most often, categories she has shown a lot of interest in during the current session, categories that are complementary to her favorite categories, etc.

planning for personalization

The same concept applies to content as well. A visitor might not be swayed by a specific blog article or eBook if it’s recommended to her, but she may be looking to browse a specific category.

Save Visitors Time By Helping Them Find What They’ve Already Found

As your visitors are researching your products, they may need to spend some time comparing between several items on your site or across other sites. If they can’t quickly find a product they were interested in once they return, they can easily become frustrated.

Any site can display a shopping companion to help visitors find products they liked so they can quickly return to them, as in the Shoeline example below. The trick is to sort the products by engagement – rather than recent views – so that even if a visitor has looked at many different items he can easily find the ones he was most interested in.

shopper intent

And once again, this technique can be used for content as well. Read this blog post for detail on how we leverage it at Evergage.

Upsell At the Opportune Time With the Right Message

Upsells are another big opportunity for personalization. Your customers are already working with you; they don’t want to be bothered with constant sales pitches. But they could be interested if those messages are timed appropriately (when they’re already interested) and/or when they explain the specific value to that person.

For example, the insurance site below explains the value of combining home and auto policies to customers that already have an auto policy and have indicated interest in a home insurance policy. With this approach, the message is valuable to the person and less likely to be viewed as a sales pitch.

personalization examples for financial services

Upsells aren’t just confined to financial services, of course. SaaS companies can time their upsell messages appropriately within their applications, retail sites can encourage upsells and cross-sells with relevant recommendations and shipping incentives, etc.

Onboard New Customers

My final example to share with you in this post is around customer success. Marketers across industries recognize that the onboarding phase for new customers is critical to get right. If a customer doesn’t appreciate the value of the solution from the start, she may never truly start using it. This can be particularly difficult to achieve if the new user has never spoken to a salesperson or account manager (as is often the case for SaaS solutions sold online, subscription-based content services, online banking, members-only retail sites, and more).

The good news is that the onboarding process can be tailored to the new user. If in the research phase she indicated an interest in a particular topic or use case, an onboarding tour can show her the most relevant features or areas for her. Emails containing relevant content or products for her can also be delivered. In the example below, Mindflash delivers a video to new users to help them get oriented within the application.

planning for personalization

Planning for Personalization in 2018

Before you get started with personalization, you want to know what can actually be achieved. This blog post has covered just a few examples of personalization across industries. Watch the webinar replay for a lot more examples plus insights and guidance from personalization experts on how to get started.

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