Customers today expect more personalized experiences from the brands they interact with. Fail to meet those expectations, and your customers will flock to brands that do. 

So how can you deliver better user experiences? How can you increase engagement and drive more sales?

The answer is with content personalization — a strategy that enables you to deliver tailored content to your audience.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at content personalization and why it’s important. We’ll also show examples and provide a complete breakdown of how you can get started.

What Is Content Personalization?

Content personalization is the practice of delivering relevant content to individual users based on their interests and preferences.

Using content personalization to improve customer experiences

When done right, content personalization can help differentiate your company and increase customer loyalty. 60% of consumers are more likely to become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience.

That’s not all.

Over a third of customers say they’ll return to brands that offer personalized experiences, even if there are cheaper options available. If you’re not already leveraging personalization, then you’re leaving sales on the table.

How Does Content Personalization Work?

Personalization has become more widespread thanks to sophisticated algorithms. When you log in to your Amazon or Netflix accounts, you’ll see recommendations based on your purchase history or viewing habits.

Netflix even personalizes the artwork it uses to recommend content. Someone who has seen movies featuring Uma Thurman may see artwork for the movie Pulp Fiction that features her. In contrast, subscribers who enjoy John Travolta movies may see artwork featuring Travolta.

How Netflix personalizes its artwork

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It’s a subtle yet effective tactic that Netflix employs to get you interested in its content. If you’re a fan of a particular actor, you’ll likely be interested in viewing their other movies.

So how does content personalization work?

To start, content personalization requires data. You can’t offer a personalized experience if you don’t know anything about your users.

Content personalization typically requires the following types of data:

  • Demographic data: Demographic data includes data like age, gender, education, income, marital status, etc. By knowing basic details about your customers, you can show different types of promotional offers.
  • Contextual data: Contextual data is background information that provides more context about a user. This can mean things like devices, browsers, geographic locations, and even social media interactions.
  • Behavioral data: Behavioral data refers to how your users interact with your brand. Examples include usage behavior, pages visited, and products purchased. Amazon, for example, looks at behavioral data to make product recommendations.

Having this data about your users allows you to deliver a more personalized experience. For example, if a user has browsed certain product categories, you can make those categories more prominent on their homepage.

Why Is Content Personalization Important?

If you’re thinking that personalizing the user experience is a lot of work, you’re right. But it can prove especially valuable for your company.

Here’s why.

Helps you meet (and exceed) customer expectations

When you’re shopping on your favorite brand’s website, do you appreciate it when you receive personalized recommendations? How about when you receive newsletters that are curated based on your interests?

Chances are you do. That’s because it shows that those brands are taking extra steps to cater to your needs. They’re not just showing the same thing to everyone.

71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized experiences. What’s more, 76% get frustrated when those expectations aren’t met.

71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized experiences

Whether you run an eCommerce store or a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business, content personalization can help you meet those expectations.

Delivers better customer experiences

Consumers have more choices than ever. 

However, this isn’t always a good thing as it can lead to “choice overload” — when consumers presented with too many options have a hard time deciding. With content personalization, you can help customers narrow down their options based on their interests. 

By helping customers find what they’re looking for, you’re delivering better experiences — a benefit that 64% of marketing professionals cite as a leading benefit of using personalization.

Top benefits from personalization according to marketing professionals

Satisfied customers are more likely to return and recommend their friends. That kind of word-of-mouth marketing can help expand your customer base.

Encourages repeat purchases and generates a higher return

Investing in a personalization strategy can help you boost conversion rates. As an example, just consider Amazon’s recommendation engine, which recommends products based on your history.

When you view order details for products you’ve already purchased, Amazon will also show you a list of recommendations based on what other customers have purchased.

Amazon product recommendations

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Amazon recommends different accessories for a Kindle I purchased, including a screen protector and a case to encourage a second purchase (I did end up getting a case).

The example above goes to show that delivering relevant and personalized experiences can help you drive repeat purchases and generate more sales. 

But just how much? 

Companies that leverage a personalization strategy across the entire customer lifecycle achieve an ROI of 300% or more.

4 Inspiring Content Personalization Examples

Content personalization goes beyond using your customers’ names to welcome them back or changing the currency based on location. These are certainly important, but don’t stop there.

Here are examples of what companies are doing to personalize the user experience.

Amazon: Product recommendations

When you visit Amazon, you’ll get a homepage that’s completely personalized based on things like the products you’ve purchased and the items you’ve browsed.

Here’s an example of books that Amazon recommends based on my reading history:

Amazon homepage with personalized recommendations(Image Source)

Of course, Amazon doesn’t only display product recommendations on the homepage. You’ll see on-site recommendations throughout the site. 

If you operate an online store, implementing product recommendations is one of the easiest ways to get started with content personalization. 

New York Times: Dynamic news feed

Streaming services like Netflix and HBO rely heavily on personalization to recommend shows and movies based on individual viewing preferences. 

Even the New York Times now has a “For You” section that offers personalized content recommendations based on previously read articles.

New York Times personalized feed(Image Source)

So, how can you leverage this? One way is to segment your audience and recommend content based on their interests.

Airbnb: Retargeting ads

Content personalization can also apply to your marketing efforts. For example, social media platforms like Facebook enable you to reach potential customers who have interacted with your site through retargeting.

As an example, if you’re an Airbnb customer and you recently searched for cities without making a booking, you might see a remarketing ad like the following on Facebook.

Airbnb retargeting ad(Image Source)

The ad does a good job of helping users complete their booking. It’s also highly relevant as it contains a photo of a listing and the city that was searched. 

Grammarly: User insights

One creative use of content personalization comes from Grammarly, an online writing assistant that helps you write better content.

Each week, Grammarly sends a weekly writing update to each of its users. But it doesn’t just send a generic newsletter to everyone. It includes user insights like words written, mistakes made, and the number of unique words used.

Grammarly weekly email(Image Source)

It also shows the number of additional mistakes that the tool found. Users can click through to learn what those mistakes are and improve their writing.

These are just some examples of how companies are leveraging content personalization to boost engagement, increase customer loyalty, and generate more sales.

5 Steps to Getting Started With Content Personalization

We’ve covered what content personalization is and how it can benefit your bottom line. We’ve also looked at different ways that companies are using this strategy to increase engagement.

Now let’s look at how you can implement a content personalization strategy.

1. Collect customer data

To deliver personalized experiences, you need to collect the right data. Generally, you’ll collect first-party data, which is data that you collect directly from your audience.

Collecting customer data

Some ways to collect this type of data include:

  • Website or mobile app analytics: Checking your website or mobile app analytics can tell you a lot about the visitors who are interacting with your brand.
  • Surveys and polls: You can also send out surveys to your customers. If they like your products, most will be happy to answer a few questions.
  • Email lists: When users sign up for a newsletter, ask what kind of topics they’re interested in. You can also ask current subscribers to update their preferences.

Another way to collect customer data is at the point of registration. When users first create an account on your website, ask what their interests or main goals are. 

Here’s an example of how Alo Moves personalizes class recommendations.Alo Moves survey

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By learning what visitors are interested in, Alo Moves can recommend the right classes. 

2. Segment your audience

With the data you’ve collected, the next step is to bring it into a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, where you can create segments or groups of people with similar attributes.

Examples of segments you can create include:

  • Demographic segments like age, gender, and job title
  • Behavioral segments like status, pages visited, and products purchased
  • Geographic segments like location, climate, and cultural preferences

You can also create segments for each stage of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, and decision. 

Three stages of the buyer's journey(Image Source)

With an effective content map, you can deliver personalized content to your visitors as they move through the buyer’s journey.

3. Create relevant content for different segments

The next step is to create content for each of the segments you’ve created. Examples of different content types that you can personalize include:

  • Blog posts for certain demographics (e.g., younger and older audiences)
  • Buying guides for different roles (e.g., executives and managers)
  • Emails based on on-site behaviors (e.g., pages visited)
  • Videos for specific interests (e.g., technology, health, etc.)

Are you interested in getting high-quality, custom content for your business? Then check out HOTH Blogger, and we’ll take it from there.

4. Implement a content personalization solution

With the content you create for specific segments, you can have it automatically served to your users with a website personalization tool. The possibilities are practically endless here. 

For example, if users are browsing similar products in the same category, you could send an email with a buying guide to help them with their choice. Likewise, you can create dynamic landing pages for different types of visitors.

Consider using a website personalization tool like Personyze. With behavioral targeting and the data in your CRM, you can show personalized product recommendations, send targeted emails, and even create dynamic landing pages.

As an example, here’s a landing page that’s personalized for a user interested in electronics and camping gear (left) and a user interested in yoga and kitchen supplies (right).

Personalized homepage based on a user's interests

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Users can see products that are relevant to their interests.

HubSpot’s content management system (CMS) is another tool that lets you personalize with “smart content” — modules that show different versions of your content to your audience.

These modules can display content based on:

  • Ad source
  • Country
  • Device type
  • Referral source
  • List membership
  • Lifecycle stage

What’s more, you can test different versions of your content. This helps you determine which offers resonate with your target audience.

5. Measure content personalization success

You wouldn’t launch an SEO campaign or invest in paid advertising without also tracking, measuring, and optimizing your results. Content personalization is no exception.

Monitoring the results you’re getting with your personalization efforts will help you determine whether users are engaging with your content and deriving value. 

Here are some metrics that you should track:

  • Visitor frequency
  • Average session duration
  • Number of pages visited
  • Segment performance
  • Conversion rates

Consider running A/B tests within the same segments to see how different elements like page titles and promotional offers impact engagement and conversions. Then continue to run new tests based on the insights you gather.

Get Personalized Content Created For Your Brand

As consumers have grown accustomed to the personalized experiences offered by companies like Amazon and Netflix, personalization is no longer “nice to have.” Brands must make personalization part of their marketing strategy, or they risk losing customers.

If you need help scaling your content creation efforts, be sure to check out our HOTH Blogger service. You can also schedule a free HOTH consultation with one of our marketing experts to discuss your needs.