For decades, we marketers have been trying to predict which content to serve up to our target audiences — and with good reason! Giving your prospects and customers exactly what they need when they need it gives you a serious advantage over your competitors, instills consumer trust, and helps build customer relationships prior to any direct sales engagement. Unfortunately, delivering highly relevant and personalized content can be really hard to do consistently. (If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be writing a blog on the topic.) Thankfully, it’s getting easier… but more on that in a minute.
Before the digital age, getting good content in front of the right audience was more of a guessing game that was usually influenced by market research and the occasional snail mail survey to give us a few clues about what our prospects might be interested in. Then, as the internet became a staple in our lives, we were able to manually collect some meaningful user behavior data. But analyzing it required serious man hours and expertise — and even then, we couldn’t ever be sure it was 100% accurate. Adding to that challenge, we couldn’t be certain these insights were helping us deliver the right content to the right customer at the right time.
Now it seems we’re entering a new digital era — one that is defined by the user experience and their interests. Suddenly, developing and distributing relevant content is more important than ever. Thankfully, this transitional period presents a great opportunity to deliver more personalized content to more interested consumers and also create some breathing room between you and your competitors.
The idea of creating more personal websites tailored for distinct user groups isn’t a new concept, but it’s only recently become a reality for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Most of us refer to this [not-so] new phenomenon as website personalization, but no matter what you call it, it’s revolutionizing the way we understand and use the internet. Today, even single-employee startups with a super basic website are just a CMS plug-in away from delivering sophisticated website personalization to all their site visitors.
What Is Website Personalization?
There are several different types of website personalization, which means there are also several different definitions. But in a broad sense, website personalization is exactly what it sounds like: creating intuitive web experiences tailored for each individual user.
You know how Netflix has a knack for serving up your favorite movies? Or how about the way Spotify always plays the perfect song? This is website personalization in action, but it can also be used in retail, advertising, and topical content marketing. For example, Amazon is the gold standard of B2C personalization, serving up spot-on product recommendations on nearly every page you visit. And remarketing ads on Google and other search engines have been around for nearly a decade now, delivering relevant advertisements based on your previous online interactions and preferences.
In fact, users are becoming so familiar with personalization that according to a 2016 Infosys study, 74% of customers are frustrated when their website content isn’t personalized to their unique needs and interests (1). Further, more than 90% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that deliver tailored recommendations — including both product and content recommendations. But aside from the fact that delivering personalized experiences meets evolving customer expectations, what are some of the direct benefits to you and your company?
What Are the Benefits of Website Personalization?
We all know that creating compelling content that is informative and encourages engagement can be extremely difficult. And when we up the stakes to try to make that content more personalized for our target audiences, it’s not only challenging, but it can also eat up a lot of valuable resources. It’s hard to be all things to all people, but using software to personalize the user experience is a great way to increase efficiency, web traffic, time spent on your site, and conversions and marketing qualified leads (MQLs) while also conserving resources.
The level of personalization on a website can vary greatly depending on several factors (company size, website sophistication, industry — just to name a few), and certain aspects of website personalization work better with certain sites depending on the function of those sites. For example, are you running an e-commerce site? A marketing agency? Maybe you’re the webmaster or content manager for a local news outlet? Each would likely enable different types of personalization — and each of those could have significant upside if implemented properly and with a sound strategy.
For our purposes, we’re going to focus on how personalizing content can benefit small, medium, and enterprise-level B2B organizations.
Deliver More Relevant Content Recommendations
Delivering content recommendations to users based on their demographics, behaviors, and interests is a practice that has been around for a while now, but traditionally, these content recommendations haven’t always been relevant or intuitive, which can actually have the unintended consequence of decreasing the user experience.
With new personalization technologies, however, you can leverage pertinent data to serve up fresh content that closely matches user intent and guides them through a wholly unique customer journey. This will help increase the amount of pages a user views, as well as the time they spend on these pages, ultimately increasing the number of conversions on your site and the amount of ROI directly attributable to these visits.
The insights you gather will not only help you provide more targeted content recommendations on your website, but can also enable your team to focus their efforts where they matter most. As you begin to understand which content produces results, you can revisit your organization’s content strategy and create more pieces similar to those that are performing well.
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Create Better Opportunities to Nurture Prospects and Customers
By personalizing the user experience and collecting accurate, useful data along the way, you can segment your target audiences more meaningfully and then continue messaging prime prospects at multiple digital touchpoints throughout the sales cycle. Most notably, you can deliver automated email programs to customers based on their browsing history on your site, which is a great way to continue delivering highly relevant content. You can even gate some or all of these content pieces to collect even more information that will help your marketing and sales teams hone in on prospects and close the deal.
For example, if a prospect completes a form on your site to download an eBook on corporate retirement savings plans for employees, you can place them in a drip campaign to provide more information on the topic— such as a pre-recorded webinar, success story examples, infographics, or even a recent podcast your team recorded on the subject.
Generate Qualified Leads to Eliminate the Guesswork for Sales
Personalized content leads to more and better user interaction, which helps you gather tons of great data and continue nurturing these leads with creative and effective marketing strategies. Obviously, this is great news for your marketing team, but it also has a significant effect on your sales reps. Not only does website personalization lead to a faster sales cycle, it also helps narrow your sales team’s focus to interested consumers with a greater chance of buying.
By delivering content that easily guides potential consumers through the buyer journey, you’re able to gather more data to help your sales team reach out to the right people at the right time and focus on the right message. For instance, you can gate relevant and valuable content with intuitive forms that use progressive profiling to gather valuable data like the user’s industry, company size, and position within the organization. By integrating a marketing automation platform with your CRM, you can seamlessly pass this information to your sales team so they can have more productive conversations with prospects and existing customers.
Personalize the User Experience with Adaptive Web from Act-On!
Organizations need to create more personalized experiences for their website visitors, but most of the tools on the market today are highly expensive and not especially accurate or effective. However, Act-On’s Adaptive Web solution is designed to make personalized content recommendations simple, easy, and attainable for every marketer and organization.
With Adaptive Web, marketers can leverage machine learning to deliver behavior-triggered content recommendations that better target and engage each website visitor as they navigate through the customer’s website. This engagement leads to more conversions and thus, more data collected, which you can then leverage as part of an omni-channel marketing experience for all of your target audience segments.
To learn more about how Adaptive Web can increase conversions, reduce manual effort, and help inform your company’s content strategy, please download the eBook below or reach out to us directly to talk to a website personalization expert!