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 today. 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.

“Personalization is a chance to differentiate at a human scale, to use behavior as the most important clue about what people want and, more important, what they need,” said bestselling author and marketing icon Seth Godin.

Customers actually prefer a personalized experience, in which they receive offers that are tailored to their needs and interests, over a generalized shopping experience. According to recent Epsilon Research, 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience.

“Done right, personalization enhances customers’ lives and increases engagement and loyalty by delivering messages that are tuned to and even anticipate what customers really want,” according to McKinsey findings. “These benefits to the customer translate into benefits for the company as well. Personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent, lift revenues by 5 to 15 percent, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10 to 30 percent.”

Why Personalization Matters

The demand for people’s attention is growing exponentially; people are receiving more incoming messages now than ever before, and distractions everywhere can quickly take a customer away from your message and onto the next. Because of that, the cost of capturing and keeping their 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.”

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.
Ontraport Founder and CEO Landon Ray

People have subconsciously trained themselves to filter out the information that’s not 100% relevant to them in that particular moment. For example, someone may repeatedly glaze right over an ad for a car until one day he or she is ready to buy a car and finally notices the ad.

“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 birthday, storing and leveraging data so you can remember your customers’ preferences also shows them that you care. This type of genuine outreach is increasingly important as face-to-face sales and customer service is replaced by online experiences.

In fact, you can view online personalization as similar to the in-person shopping experience in many ways. Let’s say someone goes to a clothing store and brings several black shirts, all in size medium, to the dressing room to try on. The sales agent may notice and reasonably comprehend that you’re interested in black shirts in size medium on this particular shopping trip. A good sales agent would bring you more black shirts in size medium that you might like. 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 can reasonably assume 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 your piano 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. According to a 2017 article by McKinsey, “The challenge is to personalize in a way that doesn’t cross lines and delivers genuine value and relevance … Customers see value as a function of how relevant and timely a message is in relation to how much it costs, meaning how much personal information has to be shared and how much personal effort it takes to get it.”

While customers want to receive targeted messages and generally understand that online businesses are tracking their activity, find the balance between maintaining their privacy with providing them 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 their nature are singularly focused and segmented for each specific audience, personalizing them takes it a step further by speaking to each visitor. If someone’s a repeat customer, you’ll welcome them back and promote another product they might be interested in based on their last purchase. If someone’s visited your page before but never purchased, you might give them the final push to buy with a special discount off their first purchase. 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,” said conversion expert Jeremy Smith 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 all based on the information you either have about your customers already in your contact database, or information you can presume about your customers based on information about their behaviors that you gather through tracking. 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 and 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 new “conditional blocks” feature enables you to show certain content to certain visitors based on conditions you set when you build the page. That allows for things like showing a repeat customer an offer for an upsell while showing a first-time visitor a discount for a first-time purchase — 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 of 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 usecases 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 purchases.

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. You can set the block for the package of three to only show to those who have already purchased at least one single pack.

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. 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 could 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 such 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 the value of them.

You can promote your referral bonus program only to 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.”

Offer based on 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 well-known 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 to local meetup or promote location-specific promotion

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 who reside in Chicago will see the block promoting your upcoming meetup in Chicago.

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.