Knowing Your Customers: The Art of Real-Time Personalization

Buyer Persona
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Seventy-four percent of consumers feel increasingly frustrated when the content of a website they are visiting does not address their needs. The idea of a one-size-fits-all approach to website design and marketing has begun to come crashing down.

Consumers now live in an age where they expect companies to provide them with the information they seek and they expect it quickly. Jason Tabeling recently wrote about how the power of personalization is changing how people perform searches and the results that are displayed to them. For websites to remain relevant, they must be able to leverage this technology as well. Real-time personalization gives organizations the power to create that individualized experience for customers. This experience will be rooted in answering consumer questions and moving them through the sales funnel. This will improve the user experience and the site’s reputation.

The Real-Time Personalization Benefits for Search

As Google focuses increasingly on the quality of the content produced, it looks to see how customers interact with the website. We have found that “dwell time,” or the time that people spend on a website, might be one of the most overlooked ranking factors. Dwell time ideally looks not only at the amount time spent on a website, but also factors in bounce rates and click-through rates. It wants to understand how people are interacting with the site’s content and whether or not they find the information helpful.

Real-time personalization boosts customer engagement, as the content provides them with a more individualized experience. The site anticipates the content needs and preferences of the customer based upon their past actions on the site and uses this to adapt to the user. This will help to improve the user experience, and therefore boost engagement with the site and conversion. Relevance and engagement will positively impact the site’s search ranking.

6 Steps to Creating the Real-Time Personalization Experience

If you are interested in improving the user experience – and your rankings – by creating the real-time personalization experience, you will need to follow these steps.

  1. Identify in-depth buyer personas
  2. Develop content that would appeal to each buyer persona
  3. Use a big data processing program to understand who the visitor is and what they want
  4. Build a site that responds to broad categories the visitor falls into (such as location or the channel they arrived from)
  5. Use machine learning to customize to the individual
  6. Customization beyond the website

Here is how to make it a reality.

Building Personas

Building personas requires companies to have an intimate understanding of who exactly their customers are. It is worth noting that for many organizations, there is a difference between who the business believes to be their customers to be and to whom they actually end up selling.

Uncovering buyer personas requires organizations to take a close look at their current customers and compile research on their intended market. You should speak directly with your customers to learn about what motivated them to purchase and why they chose your company.

You can also use surveys, studies, and other types of analytical information to understand who the customers are and what they seek. According to ITSMA, 85 percent of B2B marketers do not believe that they are using personas effectively, yet this step is critical to successfully engaging customers with real-time personalization.

  • Create personas based upon genuine research – do not rely on assumptions, they are often inaccurate
  • Make the personas feel like a real person – give them a name and even a photo
  • Understand the persona’s pain points – knowing what motivates buyers is key to creating the user experience that will help them the most
  • Focus on the people behind the persona and not the company they work for – even B2B professionals do not sell to a company, you are selling to a person

Developing Content for the Personas

Once you have your personas in hand, you can then begin to develop content and site features that will appeal most to a particular experience. Consider factors such as:

  • The types of products to be emphasized
  • The information and content: text, images, design, call to action

Your content should focus on providing information and products that the personas will find most helpful. A stay-at-home mom will generally have different priorities when buying cleaning supplies than a woman who runs a small restaurant. You should have content developed for each buyer persona for each stage of their buyer’s journey – when they first become aware of their problem, as they research solutions, and as they decide with whom they will do business. The content should guide them through the sales funnel.


Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge.

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