Website personalization

May 1, 2018

Web personalization can be a trigger word for some marketers that can surface a general sense of unease and uncertainty. Why is this a trigger? Because most folks think a detailed mapping of personas, segments, communication channels and user journeys is required to activate personalized, contextual communications for any audience.


So the bad news first, you do need the above to launch a mature, multi-channel personalization strategy.  The good news is that should be a long-term goal and in the short-term, there are simple gateway personalization approaches you can enact to gain quick wins while you formulate the broader strategy.


In my experience, the best way to approach personalization is to ask a simple question: “If I know [X] about a visitor, would I change my message or offer to them?” If the answer is yes, than we have an opportunity to test a personalization rule in a high traffic area of your website or where you are experiencing high bounce rates.


Let us look at gateway examples where [X] will be returning visitor and location.


Returning Visitor

Knowing how many interactions a user has with you brand is easy to track and can be very valuable in contextualizing your messages. A perfect real world example return interactions is my favorite lunchtime sandwich spot.


The first time I went in, the owner welcomed me as a new face and explained the menu structure. Now that I am a regular, he welcomes me by name and asks me if I want my regular order (best turkey club in Boston!). The acknowledgement that I am returning customer builds our relationship and speeds up my interactions.


The same scenario can be replicated in a website interaction. If a user is identified as a returning visitor, you can:

·       Present welcome back messaging,

·       Replace brand overview and value proposition statements with more granular calls to action knowing that the user has already engaged with that content, and

·       Surface call-to-action follows on social media or sign up for email updates.



Using a user’s location to contextualize your message is also a great way to begin your personalization strategy.

Keeping with the sandwich shop analogy, let us assume my favorite lunchtime spot is a national chain. Due to my busy schedule, I like to order online and pick up in store. Since they have hundreds of locations across the country, searching for the store near me could be time consuming. To expedite my interaction, the shop’s website uses my location from a GEO IP look-up to surface the locations that are nearest to me.


Most personalization platforms support a wide range of GEO IP rules that can be as broad as country or as granular as postal code, allowing location to be used to personalize the following:

·       Surface relevant events in their area

·       Change visuals and messaging to align to cities and demonstrate a local presence

·       Highlight stores or office locations that are most convenient


You can build on the gateway approach by adding more variables to your simple question once you get comfortable. If you know X, Y and Z about a user, you have additional insight into how to tailor your messages to them based on more granular insight into their user journey.

By building up your personalization equity with simple scenarios, you can start to gain confidence in deploying contextual communications as you build up detailed strategies in parallel.

Brendon Buckley is senior digital strategist focusing on digital enablement and cross channel personalization at Genuine. Have a question? Reach him at