December 12, 2022

Setting Goals and Objectives for Website Personalization

Alex Angstrom

Associate Director, Strategy

Though it’s often thought of as a component in a marketing campaign or website design, personalization  can make a real impact when focused on a single goal. Read on to learn from our lead strategist Alex Angstrom on how to develop a successful personalization strategy with guardrails and purpose.

When it comes to “smaller” undertakings such as personalization, we as an agency have noticed that the building blocks (goals and objectives) can be easily overlooked in the planning process. 

Perhaps the biggest reason for this oversight is that slowing down to articulate goals can feel like a cumbersome exercise that slows down or over-complicates the process of getting right into exciting, tactical personalization ideas.

However, taking time now to identify clear goals and objectives will actually save teams lots of runway later in the personalization process! If you are evaluating or about to start a personalization effort at your company, it is imperative to back up, zoom out, and ground your team in a few key areas to better prioritize your time and minimize the effort needed to get traction going forward. 

Below, we’ll outline common and specific challenges we’ve seen teams encounter in our work, provide examples to bring them to life, and then provide recommendations to help navigate and overcome those hurdles.

Common Challenges

“Connecting the Dots”

  • The first difficulty is to translate business goals into concrete project objectives. (For instance, how will personalizing a homepage to a B2B user’s industry help drive lead generation?) 
  • It’s hard to see the connection between a very specific tactic and a much larger business initiative, but in the next section you will see just how quickly this practice can bridge the gap from problem to solution and inspire more grounded, effective personalization ideas. 

Common questions you will face at this point may include: 

  • How do we know what to focus on first? 
  • When should we use personalization to achieve this objective, and when should we employ another tactic (landing page, A/B test, etc.)?

“We Could Do It, But Should We?”

  • Let’s assume you have set your personalization goals and objectives. Great, you can start connecting those objectives to personalization ideas! Chances are, one idea will lead to another, and another. But at a certain point, you may start to spin your wheels looking at all the possibilities. And you wouldn’t be alone in this – prioritization is an extremely common hurdle. The challenge here will be to identify which ideas will be the most effective and realistic to implement.

Common questions you will face at this point may include:

  • What’s our ROI going to be if we invest in personalization? 
  • How can I get funding approved for this personalization engine?

Real Scenarios We’ve Encountered 

Before we outline the general approaches we recommend to solve these challenges, it might help to see a few examples of how the “Goal > Objective > Idea” thought process works. Below are a few examples that we have sampled from real client scenarios we’ve seen in different industries. 


Our Recommendations 

In general, there are a few overarching pearls of wisdom to keep in mind that will help you master this personalization process as you approach your own business goals and website scenarios.

Connecting the dots from goals, to objectives, to tactics, will help you stay focused later on in the process - this means that at a certain point, you must filter your ideas and prioritize by saying “no” to certain ideas at the goal or objective level. Better yet, picking one objective to address at a time, you can save lots of time generating ideas for every possible scenario, by identifying a single audience and content area to personalize for a single objective.

While personalization can’t singlehandedly accomplish a business goal, give your team permission to imagine how it could make a difference - go beyond anything that just feels like it would be “nice” to personalize for users. Don’t try to move mountains, but do try to focus on the goals and ideas that could most realistically impact your top line. 

Think of a personalization tactic like a marketing campaign - one goal, action, or audience at a time – and any one tactic is not meant to last forever. This mindset will allow you to measure, learn, attribute success, tweak, and add to your personalization engine over time. Be patient and “crawl” before you “walk.”

Finally, it will help your team to have thought-starter categories in front of them as they brainstorm:

The Takeaway 

Keep in mind this spirit of getting started with personalization in an accessible way: the key to a smart approach is being deliberate with what you are trying to accomplish, realistic in how you can accomplish those goals, and focused on starting with 1-2 ideas that are most promising and feasible for your business to execute. Start from there, and you will save yourself time and energy for the rest of the personalization process. 


If you’d love to hear more about our approach to personalization, or want some help building your own personalization engine, we’d love to chat. 


Scenario 1 - Consulting Firm

Scenario 2 - Healthcare 

Scenario 3 - Wholesale 

Business Goal Generate awareness of biopharma industry expertise Increase remote care utilization among members Drive more online sales from retailers
‘Campaign’ Objective Surface promotional content re: biopharma case studies or success stories to relevant users Serve a CTA to qualified site users to start with a telehealth consultation for acute symptoms or issues Serve lower-funnel content to repeat site visitors to encourage repeat site engagement.
Personalization Thought Starter IF user visits biopharma detail page more than once across all sessions,
THEN on future site homepage views, swap out evergreen header content for featured biopharma content
IF user interacts with a physical office location page on site,
THEN on future detail page views, swap out evergreen alert banner at the top of the page with a “Did You Know?” telehealth promo
IF a user is a repeat site visitor,
THEN swap out anthemic hero messaging on the homepage for an interactive calculator tool that users can use to aid order sizing in the future.