Catch me if you can - - a free guide to personalization

Published on January 12, 2017 by Berlinda Nadarajan

I could be your dream customer. I want to buy something from you and spend the money. But you make it so incredibly difficult. Here’s how you can personalize better with simple steps to hit me with the right content in the right place at the right time. Check out this guide on how to create personalized web experiences.


Build my persona and scale relevant content

Create personas i.e. fictional characters who represent the audiences you want to target. Think about granularity, about how you can find the golden mean between going too big or starting too small and scattered. It’s like moving along a funnel.

You start by thinking of me as an individual with differentiating characteristics: age, gender, interests, preferred language. I don’t like giving away too much data about myself, but at the very least, you can figure out my geolocation, date of visit and if I’m a new or returning visitor. Geolocation is a good one to start with. Experiment with a few personas, then enlarge the segment. If they respond well to personalized content, you can later divide large segments into smaller ones with even more targeted personalization for better results.

You don’t have to produce more content. Create content in small, reusable pieces (rather than large chunks) that you play around with to meet personalized needs. Tag this content to make it easy to find and reuse. I like to think that I’m different from the others, but you can use the same content to make groups of similar people feel like they’re one in a million.


Map my customer journey, but keep it simple

Customer journeys are, understandably, less than linear. I might have searched on a tablet before landing on your site. I then visit your brick-and-mortar store to get a feel for your products. I would later go back to my desktop to purchase and pay. Try to understand the context, why I do certain things when, and how I behave across different channels, so that you can catch me at those touchpoints.

But before you try tracing a rather complex journey, why not start with just making my linear journey from shopping cart to payment much easier? I know exactly what I want. Give me information that is clear, straightforward and useful. Don’t bombard me with extras and upsells. Just make sure your e-commerce system is in sync. The worst thing is when I fill in my credit card details, wait those couple of seconds, then get the message “payment failed”. Make it work for me and I’ll be a happy customer.


Stop pushing me towards more tools

You probably have existing systems for CRM, marketing automation, CMS, accounting, but these shouldn’t define the way you reach me. If you’re saying to me: you have to register in this forum first, to access our online magazine, but then also register in our user database (so that we capture your contact details) -- sorry, you’ve lost me. You’re putting the technology and your process before my needs.


Don’t get too personal and scare the hell out of me

I know that you track my online movements to build a better picture and I’m willing to share some personal data and preferences. But only if it’s necessary and if I think you’re giving me something of value. If I get a personally addressed e-mail saying, “You stayed at our hotel in the Redwood room this time last year. How about a return visit?”, I might feel like you’re stalking me.

However, if you send e-news about special weekend packages with landscape pictures that I’ve often clicked on, or a story featuring the new pool, I might be curious enough to check out the offers. Find a chord that strikes my soul. I’d feel like you know me and would be more inclined to do business with you.

In short, personalization doesn’t have to be super-advanced and complicated. Take a back-to-basics approach. Your IT vendors have wowed you with demos on slick tools and intelligent systems that are way ahead of what your customers are able to comfortably use. But guess what, you can actually do more with less. Just start personalizing with basic demographics and take it from there.

See our step-by-step guide on how to create personalized web experiences. It shows you how to create personas and segments, how to scale, package and vary content, and how to build relevant digital journeys that your personas can enjoy taking. Catch them with engaging personalized content - you can.


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About the author Berlinda Nadarajan

Berlinda Nadarajan is Senior Marketing Content Writer at Magnolia. She enjoys researching and writing about diverse subjects, and creating content for Magnolia's digital business articles, case studies and white papers. When she's not finding the best words to put in the best order, Berlinda goes hiking, jogging, line dancing or choral singing.

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