Given that personalization has become a dominant mantra among marketers these days, there’s no surprise about the number of solutions available that can significantly personalize a customer’s website experience.
These types of services are able to personalize a site to instantly change images, text, colors and more, based on the visitor. It does this by amassing an ever-growing data profile on each of your customers and visitors. Essentially, once the service has this detailed data profile, it’s simply a matter of matching the content alternatives with the demographics and habits of the person visiting your site.
“Website personalization is extremely important and advantageous in the marketing and sales space—especially nowadays,” says Lawrence Giles at Kensington, Pennsylvania-based supplier Polyconcept North America. “Why would we not want every experience to feel as though it was tailor-made just for us?”
Dale Denham, MAS+, senior vice president and chief information officer at Lewiston, Maine-based distributor Geiger, agrees—as long as companies get web personalization just right. “As with any technology, the execution is what matters,” Denham says. “Changing the content of what you show a customer is the most powerful way to personalize a site. Whether you base it on what industry they represent or what products they have purchased in the past, communicating that you know and understand that visitor or customer is a very powerful tool to increase conversions as well as loyalty.”
Lisa Parker, MAS, southeast sales manager at supplier American Ad Bag in Woodstock, Illinois, says, “By collecting user data from list segments, surveys or studies, you can create a more effective way to promote upsells and cross-sales, display and recommend new products and encourage repeat purchases.”
Of course, not everyone is sold. Marsha Londe, CEO at Atlanta, Georgia, industry business services company, Tango Partners, prefers the “easy-does-it” approach over personalization. “The Tango website is simple and specific with ‘who we are,’ ‘what we do’ and how the visitor might benefit,” Londe says. “If Tango doesn’t capture the details of each visitor, that’s okay. Perhaps it’s the difference between sites that ‘sell’ and those that ‘consult.’ Having found us once, our potential clients will source us again when they need us.
“The point is,” she continues, “how many gadgets and gimmicks does a website need to engage the visitor? While some bells and whistles can create interest and focus, too much or too many ‘novelties’ can become annoying.” Granted, but the current widespread interest in personalization does continue to turn marketers’ heads across a wide spectrum of industries.
In fact, the recognition of the power of personalization in selling is so pervasive that 96 percent of organizations surveyed said they consider it to be an important part of their everyday marketing strategy, according to a report released by Dynamic Yield, a personalization services provider. In practice, adding personalization essentially transforms your promotional products website into a great salesperson who is available with solutions 24/7.
Like every great salesperson, a website with personalization remembers every detail of every encounter that a customer or potential customer has had with the company. It knows what products they’ve purchased and which products they’ve passed on. It knows if the visitor is an impulse buyer or a tough customer who takes a long time to study features and options at multiple sites before making a purchase or business decision. It also keeps track of every piece of information the customer has shared about themselves with your company, whether that’s via the website itself, email opens-and-clicks, phone conversations with company representatives, face-to-face encounters that have been chronicled, the ads the visitor clicks on or even the company links they bookmark in their browsers. Plus, web personalization constantly tracks the tiniest bit of data associated with customers and that can come in handy for the company.
Through web personalization, a company knows the customer’s country, time zone, the kind of computer they are using, what time they usually open emails and even the screen resolution of their device. In fact, Adobe Target, a leading provider of website personalization services, tracks 33 categories of data associated with each customer it keeps tabs on for its clients. That includes profile data that companies buy from third parties or data that other companies have captured.
Armed with this continually updated data stream, a top web personalization service can really charm a customer, if used creatively. A promotional products website powered by personalization, for example, can greet every visiting customer by first name, wish them a happy birthday and suggest a new product offering in their favorite color. Plus, it can dynamically restructure the company’s homepage on the fly, switching to images and text it thinks the customer prefers and serving up personalized product suggestions.
A personalized website also has the ability to make any page of your website do the same back flips to impress. For example, a personalized website can also unveil special offers explicitly reserved for your V.I.P. customers the same way a Las Vegas casino comps a room for high rollers. Plus, the best services also enable a business to zoom in and out on personalization. Sometimes, you may want to personalize a website for an individual visitor. Other times, you may want to personalize it based on a general customer profile.
The best web personalization services also enable marketers to update the way a website individualizes a customer visit in terms of the images shown, promotions offered and coupons sent, without being forced to go to your company’s IT services department to make such updates.
And the most comprehensive web personalization services also enable promotional products businesses to reach out to a customer beyond the website. Such beyond-the-site offers include personalized coupons via email, emailed enticements that turn an abandoned shopping cart into a purchase and ad offers that pop-up on other websites that your customers visit.
As you’ve probably guessed, many website personalization services are also infused with artificial intelligence (AI), which enables the service to learn, over time, what strategies are working best with each customer. AI-driven web personalization also enables marketers to set a personalization goal for each customer’s visit and then let the AI figure out the best way to implement that goal. “The best AI machines literally let you tell them your strategy,” says Raj Balasundaram, senior vice president, artificial intelligence at Emarsys, a website personalization services provider.
“For example, setting a sliding scale to indicate how aggressively you want to discount an item for a particular campaign, and then letting it do the rest,” he says. “Self-learning systems—which most AI-branded tools should also be— have to learn on their own, creating, reacting to and defining rules that aren’t explicitly told to them by humans. On top of all that, these processes will all occur within a matter of milliseconds.”
Lisa Kalscheur, chief marketing officer at Monetate, another website personalization services provider, says, “Combined with AI-driven insights and recommendations, personalization can have a significant impact across a customer journey.”
Moreover, bringing personalization onboard your website can often involve minimal changes. A number of website personalization services, for example, only require you to embed a few snippets of code in your webpages so that its software can track what’s happening on your website and then make personalization changes accordingly.
Web Personalization Resources
When shopping for web personalization, a good first step is to check out Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Personalization Engines 2019 at www.evergage.com/resources/ebooks/gartner-magic-quadrant-for-personalization-engines. It’s an in-depth report on personalization from a highly respected consulting firm, which identifies eight website personalization services providers considered to be market leaders:
- Adobe Target (www.adobe.com/marketing/target)
- Certona (www.certona.com)
- Dynamic Yield (www.dynamicyield.com)
- Emarsys (www.emarsys.com)
- Evergage (www.evergage.com)
- Monetate (https://monetate.com)
- Qubit (www.qubit.com)
- RichRelevance (www.richrelevance.com)
Also, this guide is extremely handy: Picking a Personalization Vendor With Confidence: 56 questions you need to ask before making a decision (www.dynamicyield.com/guides). This guide offers an in-depth view on what to look for in personalization and how to get the most from the personalization provider you select. You can also take a look at how other companies are implementing personalization by using the Inspiration Library at www.dynamicyield.com/personalization-examples. This series features 81 case studies of website personalization, done right.
These helpful reports can aid in your search for the ultimate personalization services provider:
The Gartner Critical Capabilities Report for Personalization Engines
This study evaluates how personalization tools can enhance marketing, ecommerce and overall customer experience.
The Forrester Wave: Experience Optimization
Platforms, Q2, 2018
Forrester offers a 24-point evaluation in this study of how eight top personalization services stack up.
Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. firstname.lastname@example.org