This post comes courtesy of HubSpot. You can read more posts like it at the HubSpot blog.


Companies have been personalizing emails for years now, and with good reason.  According to Jupiter Research, relevant emails drive 18X more revenue than broadcast emails and leads who are nurtured with targeted content produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities (DemandGen). 

However, this level of personalization has by-and-large stayed within the realm of email, ending the moment an email recipient clicks through and lands on a lifeless, generic webpage. Part of this has been a technical limitation, but as more and more marketing software is consolidated into single integrated platforms, it’s time to start looking at a personalized approach to all marketing channels.

What you’ll need

Marketers can only move as fast as technology will allow.  Emails can be personalized because emails are fueled by a database of contacts. Uniting all of your core marketing channels into one platform that is fueled by a detailed and agile contact database opens up the possibility of spreading personalization beyond email to all the channels your leads and customers use.  Here are few core technological components that make personalization across channels possible.

  • A Centralized Database Your marketing database is the brain behind your dynamic content. It stores your contacts’ download and interaction history with your site.
  • Easily Editable Web Pages A dynamic site has to be one that is easily editable. If you have to go through another department or a contractor, updating your site will always be a bottleneck.
  • Smart Content Generator Smart content is content that is informed by data and a set of rules. A smart content generator will show or hide content (blocks of images and text) based on your marketing database.
  • An Integrated Email System: Dynamic content doesn’t have to be relegated to your website alone. If your email system is tied into your contacts database, you can also add dynamic content in email sends.

Tailoring website content

While data on the value of personalizing email campaigns abounds, there is notably less information on the virtues of tailoring website content.  To give us a foundation, we looked at the data for more than 93,000 calls to action across HubSpot user sites.  We compared the effectiveness of dynamic CTAs – those that are plugged into a contact database and change based on the characteristics of the person looking at them – to standard static CTAs.

The calls-to-action observed in the study collectively racked up hundreds of millions of views. After a 12 month period, we found that calls-to-action targeted to the user had a 42% higher viewed-to-submission rate than calls to action that were the same for all visitors.

Start with the customer experience you wish to create

So it seems that the trend of relevant content yielding better results holds true, at least in this website example. When considering adding smart content to your website, its best to start with the customer experience you wish to create.  What are the points of irrelevancy you wish to remove from the customer experience? What should personalized content better enable them to do?

A simple example of this is the difference between how a prospective customer and an existing one experience your website.  Once someone has become a customer, particularly on a B2B site, his or her interactions with your brand needs to change.

Instead of pushing them to talk to sales or wasting space asking them to request a demo, reposition your site to offer the kind of useful content and support that will keep customers engaged over the long run.  Use dynamic or “smart” content to create a site that treats prospective and existing customers differently.

Personalizing the point of conversion

There is little more irritating to a prospective customer than asking them to complete a form they’ve completed multiple times in the past. Reconversions are an important sign of interest and progression in the purchase decision.  Marketers should do whatever possible to reduce the barriers to completing them.  Personalization in the world of forms comes in a few different forms:

  • Remove Form Fields: If you already have a visitors email on file, why surface that form field again?  Smart forms or forms with “smart fields” check with your contact database prior to showing a field to a given visitor.  If the field has already been satiated in a prior visit, it will remove that field.
  • Pre-fill completed information: At times, rather than removing the field, you may prefer to have the field stay but pre-populate the previously submitted information. Doing so, keeps the lead from having to repeat themselves, but also opens up the door for the lead to correct any incorrect information.
  • Ask for Information at the right time: Often called progressive profiling, this form strategy and feature helps you keep forms short while growing information on reconverting leads over time.  Upon repeat visits progressive profiling replaces fields for which you already have answers with new fields, enabling you to grow a robust profile on a lead’s interests without requiring much up front.

Lower risk and lower maintenance than personalizing your website copy, personalizing the point of conversion can reduce friction and result in better quality data on your leads.

Add context to your social interactions 

The great thing about social media is that it enables one-to-one communication at scale.  The challenge is, despite being able to respond in a personal way, you don’t have much context for those interactions. It’s tough to know, for example, if the person whose question you’re answering on Twitter is a stranger, lead or customer.

As social media is threaded more closely into the core fabric of our marketing strategies, it’ll become more important to start to leverage and elevate contact data within our social media tools.  When a customer shares a question or a complaint publicly, you should be able to easily find and notify the relationship manager of that customer.  When someone very actively retweets your social content but has yet to convert on your website, you should be able to see that and drive them to the appropriate offer.

Doing all of this at scale will take the integration of social media tools and contact management software, but you can begin to reshape your strategies by taking the time integrating the practice of looking up a contact who asks a direct question of your company prior to responding.  Knowing where that contact is in their customer lifecycle and what previous experiences they’ve had with your company can make that single interaction more relevant and productive in the long-run.

In the next few years, we expect data to pile in about the benefits of created a marketing strategy that adapts around each individual lead and customer. Now, in the early days, we should take the foundations of what we’ve learned in email and begin to shape our strategies for personalization across the entire customer experience.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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