May 26, 2022

Simplifying Website Personalization in 5 Minutes: Audience Segmentation

Alex Angstrom

Lead Strategist

This quick take illustrates how understanding audience segmentation now can save you magnitudes of effort later, including examples. 

In the past decade, website personalization has simultaneously been a shiny object and felt like a black box. It has also become an everyday topic of conversation with our clients and brands. What remains tricky about successfully personalizing web experiences, however, is that such efforts require not just a complex tech implementation, but also a sound conceptual logic to ground them.


So, what are the most common conceptual elements that teams overlook in personalization efforts? We’ve seen (and heard) a lot about what our clients are wading through as they assess their digital CX and determine where to focus their dollars and efforts for the best ROI. If you or your team has plans for personalization, we have a few ideas about how to effectively navigate common barriers and gain traction. 


The first area we’re going to cover is segmentation. 


Let’s step back for a moment and take a look at the full picture. 

At the broadest level, there are three primary phases at work in a personalization engine: 


  1. Identify the user (implicit or explicit)
  2. Categorize them into a segment
  3. Serve custom content tailored to that segment


Common Categorization Challenges


A common roadblock that our clients experience is segmenting audiences into practical categories for the purpose of personalization. For instance, it’s tempting to try to personalize a site for an entire marketing persona, like “Value Driven Moms” or “Career Seekers,” but personalization actually works best when it responds to one, precise facet that an engine can identify about a user’s behaviors, interests, or preferences. Therefore, ‘segments’ should revolve around discrete categories such as the user’s customer status, the industry they work in, or a specific problem they are looking to solve. Doing so will make it easier to set goals, identify users correctly, and focus efforts when implementing campaigns. 


Here’s a more complete example of how strategic segmentation helps the overall process:



A pet supply wholesaler that sells to retailers via a bulk ecommerce website may have broad personas for marketing purposes, but when it comes to website personalization users can be splintered into several segments and categorized based on specific attributes depending on what is relevant to tailoring the site’s content and offerings:



Scenario 1

If attracting local orders is valuable for the business, then product page content for in-state users can be personalized to promote free shipping and local pick-up options. 

(These users can be identified and segmented based on their IP address or CRM data.) 


Scenario 2

If retention of small retail customers is valuable, then a customer dashboard page could be personalized to feature a quick link to free POS collateral that these users can put in stores. (These users can be identified and segmented based on CRM data.)



The Takeaway

As you can see, any marketer can solve challenges like these with a sound approach. Just remember, personalization is more about specific interests and preferences in a digital environment. It’s more effective and less risky to optimize a single aspect of the experience than to go for everything. 


Start with careful, thoughtful planning — such as filling out your own table like the one above — to simplify your choices and give your team a common framework to look at and use to prioritize tactics. Try to identify a segment(s) with untapped business value that you believe you can unlock with a personalized web experience. If you can do that, then the rest — creating custom content and setting up the back-end rules to serve it to those segments — will be much smoother. 


Want to talk more about your team’s goals for personalizing your web experience? 

We’re all ears, and pretty nerdy about it. Get In Touch.