Web personalisation is about delivering targeted content and adaptive web experiences based on what you know about each visitor. For ambitious web marketers looking for the next leap in returns, this is a massive opportunity.

Of course, it’s not without risks. Get it wrong, and you’ll confuse visitors, waste resources and depress conversions. But get it right and you’ll surprise and delight your web visitors while driving your website to new levels of effectiveness.

Personalisation can be taken from any or all of the following sources of

Users’ profiles and
 everything they’ve told you about themselves (if you already know them).

Customers’ history with
they’ve done on your site, in your community, in response to your emails, etc.

How they found
the search terms or PPC ads that delivered them, or a
tagged URL that they clicked on.

Their immediate
what they’re doing in the current session (clickstreams, site searches, etc).

The context: including time of day, day of the
week, geography and your own strategic agenda (targeted offers, surveys…).

The dynamic
 real-time factors like the weather and commodity pricing. When the rain falls,
you can show ads for umbrellas or raincoats, and when the snow lands, skis and

Your own personalisation efforts can use as much or as
little of this kind of insight as you need to drive the content you choose to
present in each session.

The point is not to make every session perfectly targeted
from day one, just to improve the relevance of each session so the visit is
more compelling. As the project proves itself, you can grow your ambition and

I have previously blogged on this topic, but have since then
expanded on thetopic and have established five principles to consider if you want
to get started and succeed with personalisation.

with clear goals and objectives

The best goals are quantifiable, so write them
down! Things like demonstrating a clear return on investment (ROI) of 50% within
six months, increasing monthly new lead supply by 30% for nurturing campaigns,
boost quarterly campaign quality index (conversions / visits) by 40% and the
classic measure of personalisation impact in Customer Satisfaction Index.Do
people feel the “personal” touch is providing a better service?

Assemble the right team!

The web
editors will have day-to-day control of the content and should also contribute
to the personalisation strategy and execution, your development team will have
to know what’s going on at every stage.

Consider community owners or your
social media team: if you run a forum or social feature, the people who run
the community are valuable assets.

Product management will have a view on how
to personalise the product pages. Sales may want to personalise the key stages
of the web funnel and customer may want to personalise the experience for VIP
customers. Involvement from the right people is a key factor in your success.


Early web
personalisation efforts stalled because they forced people to use a
disconnected series of software platforms, including analytics, CRM, data
warehousing, digital asset management, web recommendations engines and content
management systems. Use as few software systems as you can.

Make the workflow simple and move

Here’s what your workflow needs to do:

  • Think about your segments.
  • Identify opportunities to
  • Create a rule.
  • Test it.
  • Go live.
  • Analyse the results.
  • Tweak.
  • Repeat.

Personalisation workflow

All this needs to take place in days instead of weeks, so
you need to get your people, processes and technology in sync.


Personalisation projects often die because they try to do too much too soon.
Pick one or two of your low-hanging fruit and make them work before moving on
to trickier stuff.

  • Returning customers should always be
    treated like returning customers. Even the smallest acknowledgement that you
    know who they are goes a long way.
  • Geography can be a simple start to
    targeting. One hotel chain improved bookings by serving up different offers to
    visitors from different countries.
  • For B2B marketers, starting with
    vertical industry targeting is a no-brainer. If you don’t yet know the
    visitor’s market, you can use an IP-lookup plug-in to find out, in real time.

The guiding principles are speed and iteration. If you
consider these five steps, then you have a plan that you can execute against. In coming
posts, I will look further into the some principles to consider in the actual
execution phase.