You’ve had your eye on that pair of cutting-edge hiking boots for weeks. You check the brand’s website repeatedly. You dream about the thrill of receiving them in the mail and trying them on for the first time. Only thing is, they’re just a hair outside your price range.

Then, while checking your email, a banner ad featuring your coveted shoes pops up offering a slightly lower price point than you’ve seen before. Sold! Victory is yours as you gloat over your personal thriftiness and anticipate all the mountains you’ll nimbly scale.

You’re not the only one celebrating. The seller nudged you to convert and potentially made a loyal repeat customer. They understood the importance of targeting and utilized the rich data they’ve gleaned from your online activity. Furthermore, they embraced a visitor-focused approach to marketing that gets results.

Why Personalize?

With the tremendous amount of data available to us about our visitors, it’s crucial that we extract the most relevant information. This enables us to tailor our content to speak to individuals’ most pertinent needs. By putting individuals at the center of our marketing strategies, we can boost loyalty to our brand while also expanding our visitor base.

A recent study by Econsultancy found that more than 90 percent of marketers believe personalization is “critical to current and future success.” The study also reveals that personalized Web experiences are yielding an increase in sales of 19 percent on average. The numbers don’t lie; in an age of information inundation, we can’t afford to lose potential customers to competitors who have mastered personalization.

It’s obvious we need to understand and implement content personalization strategies in our marketing campaigns, but how? I’ve compiled three pillars of personalization in an effort to better explain how this concept works.

Pillar 1: Identifying and Measuring the Right Data

With the glut of data available to us about our visitor’s online activity, it is imperative that we filter through the information and find what makes them tick. By measuring how visitors navigate our website, we can hypothesize how to best personalize the individual’s entire online experience. Behavioral analytics is a key tool in collecting and analyzing such information as keyword searches, clicks, and navigation patterns. By knowing what motivates our visitor on a personal level, we’ll position ourselves for more qualified leads and higher conversion rates.

Pillar 2: Implementing Real-Time Personalization

Remember when you snagged those top-of-the-line boots? What was it that caused you to click the “buy” button? The data on you revealed that you were more interested in a bargain than instant gratification (perusing sale sections, taking time between initial interest and purchasing, etc.) The shoe company knew this about you and was able to reach you the instant they became available at a lower price. Likewise, we need to take advantage of real-time opportunities in tailoring the online experience for our visitors.

Can we include a customized up-sell to a customer toward the end of their checkout? Are we able to offer incentives, such as free support, shipping, or future rewards? By proficiently reading the data, we can see what individual visitors value before we make our pitch. And by accommodating their preferences in real time, we’ll be far more likely to achieve an in-the-moment connection that visitors won’t soon forget .

Pillar 3: Creating Brand Loyalty Via Loyalty to Individuality AND Community

Mike Weir describes the success of LinkedIn’s personalized Web content campaign: “Participating in the conversation is a really rich part of the LinkedIn experience,” Mike explains. “Owning an active, authoritative group for your target audience can pay off in even bigger ways. Your clients and prospective clients appreciate the value you provide to them, especially when you don’t do a hard sell.”

LinkedIn allows users to create their own app, customizing their online experience. This tactic has allowed LinkedIn to navigate the tricky territory of establishing both community and individuality in online interactions. By personalizing user’s content and connecting them to other like-minded individuals, customers derive valuable benefits.

Enhanced Means Better

 There are many other components of digital personalization I could name. These three pillars were specifically chosen as elements of enhanced personalization. That means going beyond the generic targeting visitors have come to expect to deliver relevant, attention-grabbing content—those rare online moments that feel custom-made for you. It starts with strong data, progresses with real-time optimization, and is solidified by tapping into your customers’ sense of identity.

Personalization Benefits Us All

Think of it this way: Visitors can now go virtual shoe shopping with friends who understand their needs, values, and aesthetic preferences. They’ve established a personal connection to the brand, and the brand has established a community based on shared love for the company. After all, who doesn’t want a friend’s opinion when shopping?

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