Website Personalization: Three Easy Ways to Get Started

By , Senior Digital Strategist, Hanson Dodge

The personalization gap

It will change the way we engage with customers in the digital space. It will dramatically increase engagement and drive onsite conversion to unprecedented heights. It will make our clothes brighter, our teeth whiter and bring balance back to The Force. And depending on who you talk to, it’s either the future, or it’s already here.

The well-documented power of personalization to influence customer satisfaction and ROI have led Content Management Systems and eCommerce platforms to provide an ever-growing suite of personalization features.

The trouble is, few organizations have actually implemented personalization on their websites. And that includes companies that have made significant investments in new platforms to acquire personalization capabilities.  

Are you and your organization in this category? If so, getting started on your journey to a personalized web experience may be easier than you think.


Start easy

The dream of a perfect, sophisticated personalization strategy is tempting. So tempting, in fact, that companies may hold off getting started because they believe doing so requires a full-blown, thoroughly-documented strategy based on weeks or months of audience research. But you can still make a big impact if you’re just getting started—the trick is to think small. Start by answering three basic questions.

Who? This is your target audience, however you choose to define it. You can focus on the recipients of a particular marketing campaign, a certain audience segment as defined by your personas, or an existing customer who hasn’t made a purchase in the past 3 months.

How? What do we want the site to do for this audience to improve their experience and create more organizational value? Usually this involves using personalization to show them different, new and more relevant content based on what we know about them.

Why? This is the outcome you’re looking to produce. In essence, it’s stating your hypothesis for the impact of your effort. Your outcome should be compatible with what you know about this audience AND the organizational goals you’ve defined for them.


Three quick and easy personalization ideas

The following are three ways you can put personalization to use immediately. Of course, you’ll need a CMS platform that supports personalization. Offerings from Sitecore, Episerver, Kentico, Adobe Experience Manager and Acquia (as well as many others) have the necessary features, though the implementation requirements will vary.



This simple idea can give you an immediate boost in website engagement. If your homepage or landing page receives traffic from an active campaign, use personalization to give the audience more relevant page content.



This is another approach that’s easy to implement and can pay dividends quickly. When your site has succeeded in getting a user to convert on the goal for a “de facto” CTA, provide additional value to the user and the organization by showing these users a new call-to-action: one that can provide additional value to the user and the organization.

As digital marketers, we’re often so concerned with achieving the initial conversion that we sometimes lose sight of the many potential engagement opportunities beyond that point. Making your CTA selection intelligent not only adds value to your site, it shows the customer you really know them.



Use your personalization engine to bump up usability by helping your users move more easily through your site. By using knowledge about their past interactions with your menus and selections, you can optimize the site to make it easier and more efficient for your users to navigate.

We put tremendous effort into designing, negotiating and testing the perfect UX and IA for a website. That doesn’t mean it should be static. What is easy to forget is that every user, every customer, is an individual with their own unique needs and interests. Using personalization we can make smart tweaks to that navigation to make your website experience easier and more satisfying for each of your customers. 

A final word on testing and analytics

Feeling inspired to get started with one of the easy personalization tactics above? Great! It’s also important to consider how you will read and report on the results—hopefully to help expand investment in personalization in the future. Good and plentiful data will be critical to validating the ROI of your personalization strategy. Make sure you test your analytics and reporting before launching your test. And, the more traffic is addressed by your personalization approach the better—you’ll achieve statistically valid results more quickly by targeting high traffic areas of your site.

Now get that toe in the water! And if your organization would benefit from the help of an expert in personalization, let's chat!


Ethan Koehler, Senior Digital Strategist, Hanson Dodge

Ethan brings more than 15 years of eCommerce and technology expertise to Hanson Dodge. He engages with Hanson Dodge's clients to define, develop and implement comprehensive digital commerce strategies. He is driven to understand clients’ needs, analyze market opportunities and build solutions that maximize the business impact of a brand’s online presence. Ethan’s experience includes leading a wide variety of large B2C and B2B implementations—both within digital agencies and through his eight years at Gaiam where he served as Director of eCommerce.

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