There’s no doubt.
No questioning or debate necessary.
Every marketer is trying to personalize. It’s seen as THE trend by most.
And yet, results vary.
Some still struggle. Slapping on trite $FNAME or $COMPANY wherever possible.
Then there’s others setting the bar. Setting the tone.
The difference is nuanced. You can’t always see it in front of you when you click on an ad or visit a landing page.
But you can feel it. It’s there. And it’s undeniable.
Some of the most sophisticated marketing today segment customer bases; delivering real-time personalization to each individual – without them even realizing it.
Here’s five examples of what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and you can do it, too.
1. Content vs. Web Personalization
Type in http://Amazon.com and what do you see?
It’s not generic. Or static. But a list of recommended products. And a list of suggestions based on past searches or purchases.
The ‘Recommended Product’ thing is popular on eCommerce sites because, well, it works.
ConversionXL highlighted this with two brilliant studies.
The first was from At Home in The Country, who’s addition of personalized product recommendations (say that ten times fast) resulted in a 12.5% increase in conversions with a correlating 13% increase in revenue.
Unsurprisingly, conversions are the #1 indicator for effective personalization (according to Evergage’s 2015 survey).
Personalization provides visitors with a better experience. Helps them find stuff faster, easier. And it results in better conversions for companies.
So adoption (and resource allocation) into personalization-techniques is only trending up and to the right.
Best of all, you don’t need in-house devs and a custom setup on Magento (thank god) for this stuff, either. Off-the-shelf eCommerce business tools like BigCommerce come shipped with advanced features like displaying recent product views, shopping cart abandonment saver (more on that later), and even Amazon-esque one-click purchasing.
But the same thing is happening across industries, too.
Take B2B SaaS for instance. Optimizely personalizes their homepage for 25 audiences (based on demographics and behavior).
And the results: “113% increase in visits to our solutions page and 117% increase in clicks on secondary CTAs.”
But here’s the thing.
Yes. These examples all contain personalization. However, that personalization is mostly content-based. Similar to Netflix when you login.
Personalization doesn’t end just there.
Here’s why that’s important.
2. The Death of the Homepage
Let’s try a quick experiment.
Login to Google Analytics.
Go to Behavior. Then Site Content. Then sort by popularity.
Take any date range. Start with the past 30 days. But go back to the last six months or longer, too.
And what do you see in positions 1-5?
Chances are, only one of those is the homepage. The others? More likely blog content or landing pages from a year+ ago.
In other words, the Page We All Obsess Over isn’t even the most popular visitors. Why is that? Because the traditional, static homepage has been dying a slow, awkward, painful death. For years.
Instead, organic search consistently generates new page views to old content pages. Social “floods” recent pages with referral traffic from all those sites the kids are using.
People are bypassing the homepage initially. Only to eventually make their way back afterward. The emphasis for traffic and lead gen then, should go towards the landing page, not the homepage.
Years ago, HubSpot surveyed over 7,000 businesses and compiled the findings in a benchmark report. The “no duh” finding was that the number of leads increased as the number of landing pages did.
So. How? New pages based on product lines. Industries or verticals you target. And even OTHER products or services that complement yours. That’s what Peter from Databox is doing to hack the landing page hack:
“Every time we launch an integration with another software product, we launch a new landing page. As an example, we’ve generated 100s of new signups from our HubSpot Marketing Connector landing page. Tomorrow, we’ll be launching a directory of report templates for our most popular connectors. Each of those templates will be hosted on a landing page too.”
But don’t forget about use cases, either. For example, Kinsta provides managed WordPress hosting. (To this very blog you’re reading no less.)
So they have one product. One service.
Yet they have different landing pages for WooCommerce Hosting:
And another for Enterprise WordPress Hosting:
Same product. Different use cases. Different potential customers. Means different landing pages.
Funnel segmentation can help you keep it all straight. Creating multiple variations of the same page many times in order to align each with a single traffic channel (or individual campaign).
But how to keep it all straight? So glad you asked!
URL parameters can be added directly to Facebook ads when you create a new campaign inside AdEspresso.
Terminus is an excellent, affordable option if you’re organizing a campaign across multiple channels (in addition to just Facebook) and you want to be able to compare their performance against each other.
This level of OCD-granularity has the added bonus of increasing your odds at better audience targeting. (Which we’ll dive into in the next section.)
Better audience targeting = higher ad relevance = lower costs per click & conversion.
That’s important. (And why we’ve beat it to death.)
Because segmentation is the key to unlocking this web personalization stuff.
Slapping a “Hey $FNAME” on an email before it goes out the door ain’t personalization.
Instead, it’s the detailed database-driven stuff Brennan Dunn is applying.
First, leads are segmented based on actionable information like the type of business they’re in, the size of their organization, and the potential value to his company.
✅ Where actionable = you can do cool marketing stuff based on it.
❌ And not useless demographic information that just sits in your database gathering dust and moth balls.
That’s an important distinction. Because Brennan then takes it another step further to identify what each of these individuals are specifically interested in.
Perfect. Now we’re ready to start targeting behavior.
See, you can ask people for this kind of information. But in most cases, you’re not gonna get it. People don’t always know what they want. They just know it when they see it.
So if you can’t uncover their intent explicitly (by them telling you outright in a form, etc.), you’ll have to get it implicitly (by watching their behavior).
How? You set a trap.
For example, let’s do a simple re-engagement exercise.
Take all of those people who’ve downloaded your latest ebook. But done nothing else. They’re stuck. Up there are the top of the funnel. Which does you no good.
First, create a new segment of people for these people using whichever email automation tool you prefer.
- TOFU = eBook download.
- 35 days = To create a ‘buffer’ after the initial 30-day sequence they saw
- BOFU = A free trial sign up, purchase, quote request, etc.
- MOFU = Webinar opt-in, audit, etc.
Now take a few blog posts. Or a single, in-depth one with a few anchors. Ideally, you want to present people with different, opposing choices.
Here’s an example I’ve used previously that has different Bitly links to said anchors that all point to different topics (like ‘SEO’ vs. ‘Conversion’ vs. ‘Email’, etc.)
Now hit send. Wait. And watch.
People will tell you what they’re interested in. If you’re looking for it. You can now tag their contact record or add them to a different smartlist based on those different topics (or use cases, or verticals, you get the idea).
And now you can start sending them better-targeted information, to better-targeted pages, with better targeted Facebook ads.
Create a brand new custom audience for this segment using AdEspresso’s Data Sync. And now every time someone clicks on the “SEO” topic in that re-engagement email, they’ll get added to a smartlist in HubSpot and then sent over to this new corresponding “TOFU Re-Engagement SEO” audience in Facebook.
Now you know what ads to send them. They’ll be more appealing. Increasing your odds of getting clicked.
Which means you’ll be able to drive more people down into the depths of your funnel. (Where the money’s made.)
4. User Flow Optimization
Go to Google.
And look for a product. Say, “mens chukka boots”.
If, like me, you’re attracted to shiny things first, you’ll notice the Special Offer extension on one of those. Plus, that means a discount might be in store. Let’s click and find out.
Unsurprisingly we go directly to an individual product page for the boots we just clicked on. Makes sense.
Bonus points: You’ll notice that Macy’s does a good job ‘matching’ our intent by highlighting the aforementioned Special Offers when we arrive.
Priming is a concept that says we’re more likely to take action once we’ve already been exposed to something similar. It’s the backbone of Cialdini’s latest, Pre-Suasion.
Macy’s here does an excellent job of continuing the purchase momentum. Their messages match. And they use a few little incentives along the way to continue making you click ahead.
What happens when messages don’t match, though? When there’s an incongruence of what they looked for, what they click on, and what they now see?
You already know the answer. Bounces. Cart abandonments. Hesitation and distraction.
That’s why optimizing user or behavior flows throughout your site become critical. These paths already exist (to one degree or another).
Like when someone finds a landing page from organic search and hits your site for the very first time. Or whether they’re already brand-aware and go to your site directly to buy. Or goes to a product page after clicking on an ad (like we just did with Macy’s).
User flow optimization starts with splitting your inbound site traffic and siphoning them off into landing pages.
Intentionally, though. Strategically. Based on who they are and what they’re looking for (see: Segmentation).
Which brings us back to the funnel. The various stages used to split and siphon and segment appropriately. Extending to the ads that follow them across Facebook from day-to-day.
✅ Awareness: The interesting, hilarious, insightful content that piques their attention.
✅ Lead Generation: The drool-worthy incentives and offers to entrance & entice a click or an email.
✅ Conversions: The quote request or low priced product that performs Alchemy; turning strangers and half-interested leads to loyal customers.
The trick isn’t one or the other. It’s ALL of them. Together. Working cohesively. Passing off people from one to the other. So that when they see a proper retargeting ad, they’re already brand-aware. And they’re primed to give you their info.
Each interaction from there is its own path. Its own flow. A bunch of little steps and events (or ‘micro-conversions’). Leading someone from page to page to page until they convert (on those ‘macro conversions’ identified in your tools).
That lead and nurture and get people to stick around for the long haul.
5. Activation is the New Acquisition
Live chat used to suck.
It sat there. Unattended. Manned by robots. Or those who barely could type the same language.
Then something happened. I don’t know what. But products like Drift (among others) started popping up. And now live chat served… a purpose?!
Sujan recounts some early success using live chat to drive conversions in his recent post on concierge onboarding.
Then Content Marketer (now Mailshake) bugged users (in a good way). And bugged them. And bugged them again. Until they needed something.
His persistence netted a 30% lift in conversions – from a 3% to a 4.5% conversion rate.
Now conversion rates are everything. In fact, you can go overboard and drive a bunch of crap.
But that’s not this.
Targeted notifications, prompting specific questions based on user status or page view, actually help! Annoying tactics are only annoying if they’re annoying (generic, irrelevant, unhelpful).
However, when you can determine if this specific individual has viewed on page and not the other, or downloaded one offer and not the other, you can actually personalize their experience.
Hmmm…. That looks familiar. That IF/THEN sequence. Where have we seen this before? Oh yeah. That’s right. Here:
Which, with the help of a beautifully simple tool, looks a little something like:
A custom audience. Tailored to those who started your Free Trial but then… for whatever reason… stopped. Even device and retention targeting based on your 14 or 30-day window.
Now you can do things. Fun things. Interesting things. Effective things.
You can send videos. People like videos.
SlideShark added some tutorial videos to their onboarding (both before and after conversion), with some help from Evergage. And they tracked up 150% increase in free trial signups. In addition to $1.1 million in sales.
Getting people in is important. Because: math.
The Harvard Business School reported on ‘loyalty economics’ decades ago. The chief finding: “increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.”
A decade later. Same study. Same peeps. (Albeit, a Touch of Gray.)
Online companies need to spend 20-40% more to acquire customers. And yet most (if not all) are unprofitable within the first year.
So yeah. Getting them is important. But not half as much as keeping them around.
Pull out all the stops then. Convertibles or overlays or pop-ups or whatever.
Corresponding email messages fired at exactly the right time.
And of course, perfectly tailored Facebook ads that reiterate the same message. Driving people along each ‘micro-conversion’ until you get what you want at the end of the day.
Content personalization is great. It’s a start.
Recommending products. Reminding people of past visits. All those things are helpful.
But that’s not it. Not enough.
Personalization extends to an entire experience. From beginning to end. Helping people find the right page. Based on past behavior. And predicting what they need next.
It’s not easy. But it doesn’t have to be hard, either.
Just be aware of what’s happening. When everything feels so… right. And reverse-engineer.