7 foolproof steps to build a personalization strategy that pays off

UPDATED: April 17, 2019

“Personalization is too difficult!” This is certainly something you have heard many times. But is it really that complicated? In truth, it all depends on what you already have and what you want to do.

It’s no surprise that everybody talks about personalization… according to McKinsey, personalized content can deliver a return on investment 5 to 8 times higher than any other marketing spend. The reality is that we are seeing strong growth in consumer demands for a personalized experience. This experience will have to be increasingly adapted to the changing needs of consumers.

That’s why personalizing the offer according to different criteria becomes essential. If you leave this element aside, be aware that the competitor who offers personalized service is just one click away. Consumers no longer feel guilty about going elsewhere if they do not receive the desired 1 to 1 service.

A personalization strategy will be treated differently for each company because several criteria come into play in the implementation of the strategy. On the other hand, the fundamental steps for developing the personalization strategy in your company remain the same for everyone. See, in 7 steps, how you can increase your performance with personalization.


Step 1 – Set your goal

Undertaking a project always starts with identifying its goal. What do you want to improve?

  • the click rate
  • sales
  • the number of visitors on your website
  • pages viewed
  • Etc.

Once you have defined your goal, determine what you consider to be a success and the indicators that will help you track your performance throughout your campaign. So what is the percentage you are aiming at? For example, if your best campaign got a click rate of 23%, you could use this rate as a basis to validate the success of your actions. If you don’t reach your goal, change your strategy.

This step will help you determine the success of your strategy and what is to be optimized. You will also be able to more easily identify your customization opportunities for the future.


Step 2 – Identify your target audience

Before considering the possibility of tailoring each content for each contact, it is better to start by knowing who you are talking to. To do this, simply segment your audience into groups. This way, you’ll be certain to create offers that trigger the most interest for each segment. And the more your customer knowledge is great, the more your segmentation can be deep and complete.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to define a single precise behavior that perfectly matches each visitor because each visitor has a unique purchasing behavior. The idea is to group segments with similar behavior. The number of segments can be infinite, you decide.

Your segmentation criteria can also be very simple such as age, gender, job, etc. Here are a few basic segments to consider:

Segment A Segment B Condition
Client Prospect Has made a purchase
Student Worker Age
New subscriber Old subscriber Date contact was added
Man Woman Gender
You can also segment your list by typical behavior of visitors:
  • The segment “In search mode” will be characterized by the visit of several pages but of short duration.
  • The “Good Customer” segment will be characterized by frequent purchases and many visits to your website.
  • The “Discount Hunter” segment will be characterized by a strong commitment when you make promotional offers.
  • And so on…
On the other hand, they are all segments based on already known data. Now, with automation, you can create segments with data that is not known. Then, you can take the opportunity to offer these segments new experiences while generating more income. It’s the beauty of automation!

Step 3 –Segment Analysis

Of course, a good personalization strategy must be well targeted. Otherwise, it will simply be ineffective. That’s why a good analysis of each segment is necessary then.

Identify your most important segments to which you will send relevant content to the associated contacts.

An error that many marketers make is to start from the message or offer and then ask which segment to send it to. Rather, you must proceed the other way, that is to say, choose your segments and adapt the content that will be sent according to its typical behaviors and interests. Indeed, a message can only match its audience if it is defined beforehand.

Then, prioritize each segment bacause a contact may be found in several segments at a time. In this case, receiving too many custom messages can have the opposite effect. Prioritizing your segments is a good way to limit the number of personalized messages your contacts will receive.

And don’t forget – personalization pays off only if used well. So do not invest hours to create a message that won’t be profitable, or for a segment that targets only 100 contacts, unless, of course, these are your VIP clients.


Step 4 –Adapt messages

This is where you will determine what messages will be used to achieve your goals as identified in Step 1. Think about the content that will most help you achieve your goals and write them later.

For example, if one of your objectives was to encourage purchase, you could make product recommendations based on previous purchases. If the contact has not yet purchased, you could recommend products based on their interests.

If another of your goals was to generate new leads, you could offer free content to download depending on the function that the visitor occupies in his business, for example.

In short, there are many options, just find what works best for you.


Step 5 –Choose the channel and appropriate display tools

Now that you’ve determined your target and your custom message, you need to determine where to display it. Whether in an email, a banner, a pop-up or a section of your website, choose the most appropriate place to deliver your message.

If your goal is to display a specific offer or message, inserting it into a page on your website makes the experience smoother. If, on the other hand, your goal is to engage or re-engage, opt for a pop-up or other means of posting over a page of your website. Then, if your goal is to retarget an offer or message, choose the email instead.

Of course, successful customization should not be noticed. Be careful though that it is not too discreet, you have to find a happy medium. It must be brought naturally and follow the flow of the customer journey.


Step 6 –Determine the elements of the WHEN?

Several elements related to time remain to be determined. The first thing to know is: when will your personalized message be displayed? The time of appearance may depend on several criteria, but the most common is in relation to the customer journey. In this case, it is necessary to determine in advance the order of appearance according to the different stages that your visitor will have to go through.

Also, think about the time of appearance of your message. For example, if you do a pop-up on one of your blog posts to offer free content for new visitors, you may want to wait a certain amount of time before showing your offer. This period can also be flexible according to criteria of engagement.

Then determine how long the customization campaign will last. Will it be used permanently or just for the duration of the campaign?

Then, how often will you display the custom item? If it is, for example, an offer to subscribe to your newsletter, it would be relevant not to show the same offer again and again to someone who has already subscribed.

It is also possible to control the display intensity of your message. For example, you may decide to customize your pop-up for the first 100 visitors to your site who will receive a different offer from others.


Step 7 –Implement, analyze, test and segment again!

You have managed to pass all these steps, now you just have to put everything in place. Think about automating your personalized content to simplify their management and have more time to analyze the results.

Analyze your performance based on the key indicators identified in step 1.

You improved your results and wonder how to go a little further?

Very simply…test with other segments.

Identify your best results and analyze them. What are the topics getting more attention? Who are your readers? What interests them? What links make them click?

Move away from your habits and experiment with new communication possibilities.

Like any personalization project, you are only limited by the information you have. Start small, collect more information and gradually improve your results. Most importantly, do not stop once you have reached your goal, but try to improve your results each time.



To summarize, a good personalization strategy is based on the following pillars:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • How?
  • When?

The key to success in customization is above all to have a data-driven approach. So, have excellent customer knowledge and the development of a clear strategy, which will be continuously optimized through key performance indicators.

Using automation to do real time customization is also a great idea to optimize your own time.

Le reste n’est qu’une question d’originalité et de qualité de contenu…


What then?

You have completed your basic personalization efforts, have increased your results, but now, you want more? Here are a few ideas to make you think further:

  • Dynamic content
  • Sending frequency
  • Automated scenario following a purchase (up-sell, cross-sell)
  • Real-time notion
  • Predictive content