Real-time personalization is a theme that is continually surfacing in the demand creation community. If you’re considering real-time personalization on your Web site, keep the following points in mind.

I inherited many enviable qualities from my mother, but much to her dismay, expertise in the kitchen was not one of them. That’s OK, because I’m fortunate to live within walking distance of several excellent bars and restaurants, and I cross the street often in search of an evening meal.

There is one establishment in particular where I am consistently welcomed with warm inquiries about my family and weekend plans. My wait times are reduced. I don’t need to look at the menu. I’m introduced to new staff. I’m considered a regular.

Personlized Web Experience

I divulge this about myself to make a point. Bars and restaurants reward their regulars with a customized experience, and digital Web properties should be no different. With the technology and resources available to marketers today, a Web experience that adapts to a repeat visitor’s changing information needs is more than a nice-to-have – it’s an expectation.

Real-time personalization is a theme that is surfacing over and over again in the demand creation community. Real-time personalization renders a custom Web experience to a visitor based on his or her demographic or firmagraphic attributes, behavior, or both. Elements that can be personalized include offers, calls to action, visuals and text. The objective is to create a more relevant Web experience for the visitor, focusing on his or her unique initiatives, challenges and stage in the buying process. This relevance leads to increased engagement – and higher engagement can increase the velocity of lead qualification.

If you’re considering real-time personalization on your Web site, keep the following points in mind:

  • A relevant visit is a stickier visit. The more relevant a Web experience, the more likely a user is to stay on the site and return to it later. The more users browse, the more behavioral data is collected. This data helps in a couple of ways. First, it adds depth to marketing touch analysis by showing content consumption patterns in the early, educational phases of the buying process. Second, it can form a roadmap for personalization scenarios if consistencies surface in how content is consumed in successful deals.
  • Start simple. In the novel Switch, authors Chip and Dan Heath introduce a concept known as decision paralysis, where having too many choices results in the inability to make a decision. To avoid decision paralysis with the many options that real-time personalization can afford, start simple. Pick one or two behaviors or pieces of data that merit a customized experience. Test the effectiveness of the personalization, and expand on the successes.
  • Identify transitional behaviors.  With advanced, adaptive lead nurturing, it’s important to identify and measure transitional behaviors that indicate an individual is progressing in the buying process. An example of a transitional behavior could be submitting a self-assessment or signing up for a trial subscription. Use real-time personalization to acknowledge a transitional behavior, and continue the online dialogue by replacing calls to action for educational material with content that focuses on solution differentiators or vendor selection.
  • Map content and tactics. To leverage the power of real-time personalization, you need to create and maintain a content inventory. This inventory should categorize content and tactics, at a minimum, by buyer persona and buying stage. This will help you plan personalized content delivery and calls to action based on the changing information needs of each persona as they progress through the buying process. Additionally, a well-maintained content inventory can pay dividends in other areas of demand creation where tactics within program families work together to achieve different goals within a campaign framework.

Your Web property is an always-on information repository designed to engage prospects and customers by addressing information needs. Think of the gratitude you feel when your repeat patronage at a local watering hole is rewarded with a personalized experience. Your buyers and prospects will feel the same gratitude and delight when a generic Web experience is replaced with one that adapts to meet the individuality of their intent.