Real-Time Personalization 101: What It Is and When To Use It

Posted on April 4, 2017 · Posted in Marketing

April 4, 2017

by Tim Cook

Real-time personalization. You’ve heard of it … vaguely. And now that many marketing automation platforms like Marketo are offering this feature, maybe you’re ready to dive in. But if you’re still trying to figure out exactly what it is and why it matters, you aren’t alone.

Before you can decide if real-time personalization is right for you, you need to know exactly what it is, what it does and what it’s used for.

What Is Real-time Personalization?

Simply put, real-time personalization is a way to automatically deliver tailored content to different groups of visitors to your site. For example, you might set up your site to recognize visitors from a particular industry and adjust images, text and content accordingly.

If you’re using buyer personas, you probably already tailor your email content and other marketing communications to address what you know about each persona. And it makes sense to take that approach with your website, too. According to Demand Gen Report, 70% of buyers consider websites the most influential channel when making a purchase decision.

But when up to 98% of most website visitors are anonymous, how do you provide a tailored experience to someone you know nothing about?

That’s where the real-time personalization features of marketing automation software can help.

Real-time personalization gathers information from anonymous visitors’ IP addresses and can use that information to categorize visitors based on business demographics. From there, you can serve the most relevant content to those categorized visitors when they land on your website.

What Does It Look Like?

Let’s take a furniture company as an example. Their target market includes purchasers for both hotels and office complexes. With real-time personalization, the furniture company can determine which anonymous visitors are hotels that need bedframes and which are offices that need desk chairs — and highlight the right products for each site visitor.

Real-time personalization can be a big asset for your sales pipeline. Offering website visitors personalized recommendations has been shown to increase conversion frequency by 353%. But it might not be the right tactic for everybody. Is it right for you?

When Should I Use It?

  1. Account-based Marketing. If you’re targeting a specific set of accounts, real-time personalization can be a gold mine. You can use IP addresses to determine whether anonymous visitors belong to your target accounts. Then, tailor your site to speak directly to their needs and preferences, increasing your odds of conversion.
  2. Local or Regional Content. If some of your content is more relevant in certain locations — for example, events, trade shows or regional services — then real-time personalization can help you identify anonymous visitors within your region and promote location-specific content.
  3. Content Based on Industry or Company Type. Remember that furniture company? That’s a great example of how real-time personalization can help target verticals. It ensures that buyers from different industries only see content that matters to them, instead of wasting time on irrelevant offers.

If any of these scenarios apply to you, real-time personalization can make content marketing across different segments possible without a massive increase in time, effort or resources — giving your website the edge it needs to earn more business.

What Next?

Real-time personalization can sound like a high-tech challenge, but don’t be intimidated. There are plenty of tools that can make implementation simple and painless. And even after you’ve chosen the right technology provider, you don’t have to go it alone.

This post first appeared on The MX Group blog.

Photo credit: Flickr user Alexey Kljatov

About Tim Cook

Tim CookTim has 15 years of experience in B2B marketing and communications, working on both the client side and the agency side of the industry. His agency work includes leading successful integrated marketing programs for clients such as HP, VeriFone, Sun Microsystems, Intel, SAP and Charles Schwab. Prior to joining The Mx Group in 2008, Tim held senior-level positions in corporate and product marketing during his eight-year tenure at Convergys Corporation — one of the world’s largest outsourcing firms. Tim holds a B.A. in English literature from Stonehill College, and he has completed certificate programs in change management, media relations and integrated marketing communications at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.