In an increasingly competitive marketplace, the ability to deliver personalized content to each visitor or prospect can give your organization a much-needed edge when it comes to marketing. Understanding what personalization is, how it differs from customization and the role it can play in targeting and connecting with prospects allows you to take full advantage of this evolving and engaging form of marketing.

Website Personalization Versus Customization

The terms are sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably, but customization and personalization are two totally different approaches. While each method is designed to deliver tailored content, allowing each visitor to see different items and content on the same page, they take a distinctly different approach when doing so.

Customization: The user can make changes and customize the experience, changing up content, functions and the way the site performs. In a customized setup, users can move items around, browse the topics they are into or make the content more visually appealing. The user must make an active effort to change the features.

Personalization: The system itself makes tweaks and changes to deliver content or functionality based on user history or other information, from demographics to geography. The system automatically delivers a personalized, custom experience for each visitor, based on algorithms or pre-identified criterion. This process requires no effort on the user’s part.

Understanding the differences between customization and personalization can help you craft a compelling strategy that gets results and delivers a cohesive experience across all channels.

Why Personalization Matters

When you focus on personalization, you’re able to deliver more targeted and relevant content to each visitor or prospect — without requiring any extra effort on their part. You can set up your parameters however you’d like for your business and emphasize specific content, allow access to specific tools or enhance the user experience by showcasing previously visited items and content.

Using Personalization in Marketing
Have a retail site? You could use personalization to deliver specials or promotions on items the visitor has viewed before, or even additional content about ingredients, processes or other subjects of interest for that prospect.

A college or university could tailor the pages and content a visitor sees based on whether they live in or out of state and even take their previous visits and current affiliations into consideration. The majors that prospective student searched, the areas they are interested in and even their social media and mobile preferences allow you to craft a compelling experience across all channels.

Service-oriented businesses can use demographics, including location, age and life stage information to serve up the right kind of offers and information to those who visit. A retirement community might not be all that interested in your maternity classes and nursery decor —but would be thrilled to hear about your continuing education classes for seniors.

In any industry, personalization can improve the overall customer experience, increase revenues and even solidify brand loyalty, making it an essential part of any marketing strategy. Used correctly, personalization can benefit your business in a variety of ways, including:

  • Enhancing the customer experience: You’ll be able to serve up content, information and even offers your prospects are more likely to be interested in when you incorporate personalization into your marketing. Customers are more likely to feel that your brand “gets” and understands them when content is directly relevant to their needs and interests.
  • Increasing revenues: Identifying not only the preferred channel or platform for each consumer, but enabling automated follow-up on that platform can increase revenues and ROI. When you know a customer prefers to engage with you via mobile device, you can automatically deliver your best promos, offers and touchpoints via that method.
  • Boosting brand loyalty: When customers take the time to visit your site and provide their own data in exchange for a premium, white paper or other offer, they expect to be treated like individuals in return. By offering a personalized experience, you can be sure your prospects and visitors truly feel valued and at home when they interact with your brand on any channel.
  • Improving marketing consistency: Your customers can potentially interact with you in a variety of ways, from mobile device to social media or even email; they can even interact with your brand multiple times in the same day or session. All your touchpoints and efforts should be consistent — the customer who interacts with you online needs a similar experience when they visit you on mobile device. Personalization can make that happen.

Personalization Strategies that Work

Personalization matters, but what factors can be used to deliver the right content to the right prospect at the right time? You can personalize based on a variety of factors, from simple geography to user history and even predictive analysis.

  • Geography or Geolocation: One of the easiest ways to personalize is to provide content that is specific to your prospect’s actual physical location. You wouldn't want to promote a show, event or promo that is only good in one location to all your visitors; for those outside of the area, it would be irrelevant or even frustrating to read.
  • Behavioral Personalization: What does your prospect do when they visit your site or interact with your brand? Targeting the user experience based on the previous known behaviors of that prospect is a powerful way to create a personalized experience. Use the previous history of the prospect, from the number of times they’ve viewed a page to topics they’ve searched for and even the device they’ve visited on.
  • Contact Personalization: Every time a prospect interacts with your brand, they provide you with more information to work with; this data, from demographics to personal details, can be used to personalize their experience. The right personalization solution can fully integrate your CRM with your marketing efforts and use the customer or prospect history to craft a relevant and engaging experience for them every time they visit.
  • Predictive Analysis: Machine learning and algorithms can be used to deliver a personalized experience based on data and the performance of similar users. By comparing the prospect to others with similar setups, orders and backgrounds, an automated system can create a personalized experience that should appeal to that visitor.

Personalization Matters More than Ever in a Mobile-First World

As more users opt to access the web and to shop for everything from hair products to life insurance via smartphone or mobile device, delivering a cohesive experience is a must. Offering personalization across all channels ensures that your prospects are aware of your brand and can instantly feel at home, no matter where they visit you.

Recent research shows that that 48% of consumers start mobile research with a search engine. More research suggests that over 70 percent of Internet users now visit sites, cruise the web and access entertainment from a mobile device instead of from a laptop or desktop. Failing to incorporate mobile-first technology into your personalization strategy could lead to the majority of your visitors having a less than ideal experience. By incorporating all platforms into your strategy, you can be sure you are not missing out and that you are providing a truly cohesive experience for every visitor.

Deliver a Truly Personalized Experience with Acquia Lift

Personalization matters, but the solution you choose will have a big impact on how well your efforts resonate with visitors and prospects. By adopting a truly comprehensive personalization solution, you can be sure your efforts will be meaningful and that you are getting the best possible ROI on your marketing investment. Understanding why personalization works and is important is just the beginning; you need to be able to create an ideal solution for every prospect who visits. You don't have to do it alone; by working with a robust set of tools, you can be sure that every prospect gets the best possible experience with your brand.

With Acquia Lift, you can deliver the right content at the right time for your customer, no matter where they are on their journey or what devices they use to connect with your brand. These innovative Drupal-based tools allow you to serve up relevant content in real time, no matter how your prospect is connecting with you. By facilitating the exchange of customer history, demographics and data from your CRM to your marketing automation solutions, we can provide a comprehensive, omnichannel experience.

Contact us to learn how easy it is to put the power of personalization to work for you and to create a unified experience across all your channels. Once you set up a personalized marketing strategy, you’ll be sure that your prospects are getting the experience they expect and one that keeps them coming back for more.