If you were a Reddit user during the 2008 U.S. presidential election and clicked on an ad for candidate Barack Obama, you’d have seen a page with “Redditors for Obama” across the top. Similarly, if you’ve ever purchased anything on Amazon, you can expect to see images of recommended products front and center the next time you visit the site. And if you’re a member of Nordstrom’s loyalty program, you’re sure to see an ad for the exclusive members-only presale when you sign in to shop.

These are all common examples of personalization in the buying experience. Personalized marketing entails using data about customers’ actions — clicks on ads, emails and landing pages as well as purchase information and more — to create tailored experiences for each individual.

Customers actually prefer a personalized experience with offers that are tailored to their needs and interests over a generalized shopping experience. According to Formation.ai’s 2020 Brand Loyalty report, 81% of consumers are willing to exchange basic personal information for a more personalized experience.

So, investing in personalization is a smart choice — it has the potential to increase sales by 10% and yield an ROI that is five to eight times the initial marketing spend. Coupled with a mass media campaign, personalization can become a crucial part of your strategy.

Why Personalization Matters

Competition for people’s attention is rapidly growing; they are receiving more incoming messages now than ever before, and constant distractions can quickly steal your customers’ focus. As a result, the cost of capturing and keeping potential customer’s attention is getting higher and higher.

“Every ad you spend a dollar on that’s not exactly targeted to the person you’re targeting is a flushed dollar; every email you send that’s not getting a click is worse than useless because all you’re doing is training that person to ignore you in the future,” said Ontraport Founder and CEO Landon Ray. “You’ve got to be relevant. Message-to-market match is not a new concept, but it’s more important than ever — generic messaging is dead.”

People have subconsciously trained themselves to filter out information that’s not 100% relevant to them at that particular moment. For example, someone may repeatedly glaze over car advertisements until they are actually in need of a car.

“In order to compete today and into the future, you need to nail your messaging,” Landon said. “You have to provide exactly what each prospect is looking for at exactly the right time.”

This type of personalization also shows your customers that you’re listening and anticipating their needs. In the same way you show your friends and family that they matter to you by remembering their favorite foods and calling them on their birthdays, storing and leveraging data so you can remember your customers’ preferences shows them that you care. This type of genuine outreach is increasingly important as face-to-face sales and customer service are replaced by online experiences.

In fact, personalization is similar to in-person shopping in many ways. Let’s say a shopper enters a clothing store and tries on several black shirts, all in size medium. The sales agent may notice and reasonably assume that the shopper is interested in medium-sized black shirts on this particular shopping trip. A good sales agent would bring more black shirts in medium for the shopper to see. That’s delivering a relevant experience based on someone’s behavior.

Online, you can do the same thing by monitoring behavior such as page visits, link clicks, email opens and purchases. If people visit your page about your piano lessons, you might figure that they’re interested in learning to play the piano, and you can retarget them with ads about your piano lessons or show them a discount code for lessons the next time they come back to your page.

Note, it’s important to be careful not to over-personalize or misuse the data you have about customers. “Too much personalization can seem intrusive and even creepy, leaving customers feeling as if their privacy was violated,” a study from Microsoft reported. “For personalization to be impactful, it must have purpose and add value to your customers — and that requires understanding your own brand, its values and its purpose.”

While customers want to receive targeted messages and generally understand that online businesses are tracking their activity, it’s important to balance maintaining their privacy and providing them with personalized experiences.

Personalizing Your Landing Pages

You can and should personalize your messages across all of your marketing, but landing pages in particular offer unique opportunities for highly targeted interactions.

While landing pages by nature are singularly focused and segmented for specific audiences, personalizing them takes it a step further by speaking to each visitor. If page visitors are repeat customers, you’ll welcome them back and promote another product they might be interested in based on their last purchase. If leads visited your page before but have never purchased, you might give them the final push to buy with a special discount on their first order. If you know your page visitor is from Houston and you’ve got an upcoming event there, you can invite that visitor to the event.

“Personalized landing pages are about the individual customer — not the channel, not the segment, not the device, not even the customer’s point in the sales cycle,” conversion expert Jeremy Smith wrote on his blog Jeremy Said. “Sure, each of these has a part to play in the overall personalization approach, but none of them by themselves defines what personalization is.”

Personalization on landing pages is based either on information you already have from customers in your contact directory or information you can presume from tracking customer behaviors. That means the CRM system you use to store and capture contact data, the system you use for tracking and the system you use for landing pages need to be synced; having seamless, automated communication between these systems is what enables the dynamic landing page experiences.

If you’re an Ontraport user, you’ve got all this built in and can readily create these personalized landing pages. The “conditional blocks” feature enables you to show specific content to certain visitors based on conditions you set when you build the page. It creates opportunities such as offering an upsell to a repeat customer and providing a first-time purchase discount to a lead — all while keeping the rest of the page the same for both audiences.

“This is an unprecedented capability in our space,” Landon said. “Because of all the tools inside Ontraport, we have more customer data available than other systems and, at the same time, we also provide all the functions necessary for acting on that data to enact personalized marketing.”

There are dozens of ways you can create personalized experiences with your landing pages. Here are just six example use cases you could apply to your business.

Showcase Upsell and Cross-sell Products to Past Purchasers

Just as Amazon shows “recommendations” based on someone’s previous purchases, you can show products or services your customers might be interested in based on their past orders.

Say you sell locally grown coffee and you have a block on your landing page with an image of your coffee bag and its price. You might also sell the coffee in packs of three and want to offer that only to customers who’ve already bought a single pack. With Ontraport’s customizable selling functions, you can set the block for the package of three to only be visible to qualifying customers.

You’ll simply use the condition “has ordered certain amount of product” and set it equal to one. Based on tracking information stored in Ontraport, the system will recognize when a page visitor meets that criteria and automatically show the block selling the three-pack instead of the single pack.

You can do the same thing with any cross-sell, upsell or related offer you’d like.

Offer a Members-only Perk or Upgrade

When your members come to your page to access their login page, rather than showing them the same information you’d show to a nonmember, you can showcase specific information relevant to them.

For example, if you have an upcoming members-only sale or event, you can specifically promote it to those customers. Or, if you’ve added new content to the site or there’s a hot topic with a lot of engagement in your community forum, you can encourage members to check it out. Likewise, and perhaps one of the most common uses for those with membership products, you can showcase an offer for the next level of membership to your members based on which level they’re currently subscribed to.

In any of these cases, you’ll simply use the condition “contact is subscribed to product,” set the product or membership level you want the block to be shown to, and the rest will run from there.

Offer a First-time Purchase Discount

Sometimes, a customer just needs an extra discount to feel ready to make a purchase.

Say you have a customer who’s opted in for your email list but hasn’t quite purchased from you yet, or you have a customer who’s bought one of your products and has been visiting the page for another one of your products. You can promote 20% off the first purchase of that product and set it to only show to those particular visitors.

To do this, you’ll target customers who have never purchased your product but are already in your contact database. You’ll use the “has ordered certain amount of product” condition and set it equal to zero for a specific product.

Promote Referral Program to Long-time Customers

Your customers who’ve been using your products or services for a long time are much more likely to refer others to you than your newer customers who haven’t yet fully realized their value.

You can promote your referral bonus program to only longtime customers by creating a “Refer a Friend” program and using any of the following conditional settings to dictate which customers will see it:

  • Contact was subscribed to campaign before a certain date
  • Contact has been on a campaign for a certain amount of time
  • Contact was subscribed to sequence before or after a certain date
  • Contact has been on a sequence for a certain amount of time

Perhaps you’d like to only offer it to customers who’ve been with you since you started your business; in those cases, you’ll use the condition relating to a “certain date.” Or if you’d like to offer it to those who’ve been with you for one year or more, you’d use the condition related to a “certain amount of time.”

Include an Offer Specific to Where the Visitor Came From

Similar to the Barack Obama page for Redditors, you can highlight messages based on where your page visitors come from.

This is a great way to highlight your partners or referral companies. For example, if you sell essential oils and a popular wellness coach included a link to your products in his or her monthly email newsletter, you could include a message such as “Welcome, X readers! Here’s your $10 discount code.”

Likewise, you could welcome those coming from your Twitter or Instagram ad or even from your podcast or an external blog article.

You’d do this using UTM variables and using the “field is a value” and “last source” conditions to dictate which block is shown to which visitors.

Invite Customers to Local Meetups or Promote Location-specific Events

People tend to be drawn to anything mentioning their name; the same often applies to anything mentioning their hometown. If you host customer events or meetups in various locations, you can be sure to inform the customers in those locations about them on your landing pages.

You likely have your customers’ address information either based on their payment information from their purchase or if you have geolocation turned on in your Ontraport account. You can simply use the “field is a value” condition on your block and set the “city” field to the city of your event, such as “Chicago.” Customers who visit your page and reside in Chicago will see the block promoting your upcoming meetup in their city.

You can similarly use location data to offer location-specific information or promotions. For example, say you’re able to provide free shipping in California only; you can show a free shipping block only to customers who reside in California.

About Angela Fornelli
Angela Fornelli is a writer and editor with over a decade of experience covering the healthcare, aviation, and technology industries. A Chicago native, she currently serves as Ontraport's managing editor and has a Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Illinois.