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Personalising your Website – it’s worth it, here’s how to get started

Personalisation is a relatively easy way to improve the performance of your website, email campaigns, and mobile applications. In this article, we cover off the different types of personalisation, the value it delivers, how to get started, and an example from a recent project that we delivered.

Website personalisation defined

In short, website personalisation is about displaying content that is relevant to an individual or segment of customers. An easy way to understand personalisation is by considering how websites like Amazon.com work. For example, if you’re looking for a new notebook for work, you visit Amazon.com, do a search for notebooks, and end up spending a bit of time researching the Moleskine notebook range. Based on the interest you have shown in Moleskine notebooks, the Amazon website does a number things…

When you’re on a page showing the details for a specific notebook, you’ll see a message at the top of the page that lets you know if you’ve brought this notebook previously. We call this systemic personalisation; that is, changing content based on information we know about you (this sometimes comes from another system such as your CRM system).

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When you return to the home page, you’ll see a section near the top of the page that shows a range of notebooks related to the notebooks you’ve just been looking at. Amazon calls this section, ‘related to items you’ve viewed’. We call this rules-based personalisation; that is, changing content based on actions that trigger one or more predefined rules – in this case, the rule would be something like…if a website visitor views more than 3 notebooks, and then visits the homepage, show the five most highest ranked notebooks in the stationary category.

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Further down the homepage, you will also see a section that Amazon calls, ‘new for you’. In this section, you will see a range of products that Amazon believes that you will be interested in based on everything that you have looked at. So in this case, Amazon may display Artline Fineliner pens, the 10 karat Cross Classic Century pens, and the range of Palomino Blackwing pencils (okay I’m sort of into stationary). We call this implicit personalisation; that is, our best guess at what you will like based on your browsing patterns.

What’s the big deal?

By delivering relevant personalised content, organisations are able to improve their lead generation; increase average basket size, conversation rates, and revenue; and increase customer engagement, advocacy, and retention. Is this too good to be true? Here are some numbers and research to back this up…

In a campaign BMW was running with US customers, they used personalised messages in a bid to increase their conversion rate. The campaign was very successful. BMW improved their conversion rate by 30% and increased revenue by $500,000.

In a study of more than 93,000 calls-to-action, and hundreds of millions of views over a 12-month period, HubSpot found that personalised calls-to-action had a 42% higher conversion rate than calls-to-action that were the same for all visitors.

Research by Accenture shows that 73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experiences more relevant.

In a study of 1,000 consumers and 50 retailers, Infosys found that 86% of consumers say personalisation plays an important role in their purchasing decisions.

How to get started with personalisation

You can get your first piece of personalisation up and running as follows:

  1. The first place to start with personalisation (and any change to your website) is your website objectives. This will help you identify the pages and page components to focus on first. As a side note, if you are comfortable with user journeys I recommend using these as an input to short-listing and assessing the pages and page components to personalise. The analytics for your site is also a good input; for example, you may be interested in a specific conversion funnel and your analytics will show you drop out points in the conversion process that you could consider as an opportunity for personalisation.

  2. Next you will need to consider your target audience and their different content needs for each of the pages you have identified. These could be for example, the images you use, the message presented in the body of the page, and or text used in a call to action.

  3. At this point, you will have identified a set of potential pages / page components for personalisation, who you want to personalise for, and the alternate content options for the target audience(s). Time to prioritise. Pick the pages and content that you believe will have the most impact. Also take into consideration who will create and maintain this additional content, and how you will measure the performance of the personalised content. I recommend starting with one or two pages or page components for personalisation as a starter.

  4. Work out how you will identify your target audience to be able to display the personalised content. For example, you may want to display personalised content for customers from a specific country or city, for logged in customers at a specific step in the purchasing process, or for people that have looked at a specific service offering more than three times.

  5. You are now ready to create the content and apply the personalisation settings. I won’t get into the specifics of setting this up as it depends on the content management system or third-party tool that you are using. If you are using a content management system like Sitecore, I can assure you that this is pretty straight forward – your content team or your partner can get this set up for you. See what Trustpower’s CIO, Simon Clarke, has to say about this for their new website that we built for them. 

A personalisation example using Sitecore

One of our agribusiness customers wanted to improve the experience of their customers on their website. We used personalisation in Sitecore to achieve this. Here’s how:

First we checked in on the objective – improving the onsite customer experience, and we agreed to measure this through decreased interaction cost (less steps to complete a defined set of tasks), increased number of pages viewed per visit, and increased return visits.

From an experience perspective we identified the home page, crop landing pages, and pest landing pages as potential pages to personalise.

We then selected a customer segment to focus on in the first instance – arable farmers. This helped us define the types of content that we would personalise for each page; for example, on the home page we would swap out the hero image for an image more relevant to arable farmers.

As the site does not have a logged in area, the easiest way for us to identify the farmer type was to track the pages website visitors were viewing and calculate the likelihood that you’re an arable farmer.

Here is what the personalisation looks like:

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In the personalised page, we have used a relevant hero / banner image, added the relevant crop into the crop product search panel, and swapped the top left tile from a beet tile to an arable product tile. There are more opportunities for personalisation here and on other pages. The plan is to measure the effectiveness of this personalisation and then consider options for enhancing the personalisation for arable farmers and then extending this to the other customer segments.

Over to you now

Personalisation is meant to be easy to start, and provide you with options to scale or add complexity as required. If you’re struggling with any part of this, we are happy to talk through your scenario with you so that you can reap the benefits of personalisation. You can reach us here.