Website personalization — what it is and why it matters

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With more and more retail transactions shifting from brick-and-mortar stores to ecommerce websites, there’s a risk that the personal touches in the customer experience could get lost.

Modern consumers still want a personalized shopping experience, even if they are only interacting with a brand online. They want to be presented with products, services, and deals that are relevant and specific to them.

Ecommerce businesses, as well as virtually any other organization that interacts with customers in the digital marketplace, can optimize their customers’ experiences by presenting them with personalized websites. The practice of tailoring the online browsing experience to align with the interests of individual customers is known as website personalization.

Website personalization has a huge impact on how users experience your business. Greater personalization extends site visit time, increases recommendation accuracy, and ultimately boosts conversion rates. Perhaps you’ve been exploring ways to provide a unique experience to your site visitors, or maybe you’re still on the fence as to whether website personalization is the answer for your brand. Either way, if you’re looking to understand website personalization better, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article you’ll learn everything you need to know, including:

What is website personalization?

Benefits of website personalization

Challenges of website personalization

How to personalize your website

Website personalization examples

How to get started with website personalization

Before we get into the benefits, challenges, strategies, and examples — not to mention the tools for successful website personalization — let’s first define the term.

What is website personalization?

Website personalization refers to the process of providing each site visitor with a unique, customized experience rather than giving everyone a generic, one-size-fits-all interaction with your brand.

By leveraging website personalization, you can cultivate positive feelings toward your brand — increasing the likelihood of converting visitors into customers and boosting sales. You can also tailor many site elements to align with the interests of individual visitors, including written content, images, banners, recommendations, and pop-ups.

Web personalization is most effective when you customize each of these elements and serve up curated content to your site’s visitors. It ultimately provides a better user experience and increased conversion rates.

To create a personalized website you need to collect audience data, which will enable you to segment your audience into subgroups. Then you can target each type of prospective customer with content that will draw them deeper into the sales funnel.

Website personalization has become more challenging in recent years due to the push to eliminate the use of third-party data, often known as cookies. There are ways around this hurdle of web personalization, fortunately, which we will touch upon later.

For now, let’s shift our focus to the benefits that you can tap into with website personalization.

The benefits of website personalization

Presenting visitors with personalized websites offers many advantages to your business. These are just some of the benefits of website personalization.

More accurate product recommendations

Product recommendations are one of the many elements you can customize through website personalization techniques. Recommending additional products to customers that are in the process of making a purchase is a time-tested strategy.

Keep in mind you should present shoppers with products or services that are relevant to them. Otherwise, you may inadvertently be adding friction to the purchasing process and causing your efforts to go to waste.

For instance, let’s say your organization sells home goods, drinkware, and related items. One of your leads is finally ready to make a purchase, having added two coffee mugs to their cart. Recommending unrelated bedroom decor will probably not spur them to purchase additional items.

On the other hand, highlighting other coffee-related products, such as sugar storage containers, stirrers, or travel mugs, may very well encourage them to add these extra items to their cart. At a minimum, these recommendations will broaden their awareness about complementary products and may lead to more future purchases.

Website personalization refers to the process of providing each site visitor with a unique, customized experience rather than giving everyone a generic, one-size-fits-all interaction with your brand.

Customized landing pages

Getting a prospective customer to click on your Google Ad, open a marketing email, or select your brand from a list of organic search results is a huge win. Once you’ve routed them to your landing page, you have a great opportunity to nurture this lead or potentially drive a conversion.

At this point it’s critical your new prospect is presented with relevant content when that landing page loads, which brings us to another major benefit of website personalization. By leveraging consumer data, you can customize landing pages to highlight the products or services that will be of interest to a particular viewer.

For instance, let’s say your business provides a full suite of HVAC services, including furnace and AC maintenance. If a user inquires about AC maintenance in preparation for the summer only to be directed to a landing page that highlights furnace maintenance, they may lose interest, leave your site, and move on to the next search result. Conversely, presenting them with a landing page that highlights the benefits of your AC maintenance services will nurture that lead and potentially help you make a sale.

Increased site visit time

Like most organizations, your company probably invests significant time and resources into its digital content. While this content undeniably plays a valuable role in your digital marketing strategy, you have to keep visitors on your site long enough to fully view and digest it. Otherwise, most of your digital content efforts are going to waste.

Website personalization provides a highly effective means of making sure users truly take in your content. When site visitors are targeted with relevant and timely pop-ups, banner ads, and buttons, they are more apt to stick around. The longer you can keep them on your site, the better your chances are of making a sale.

If you want to further optimize site visit times, ensure that your website delivers an optimized user experience (UX). When website personalization is combined with a seamless UX, the results are hard to ignore.

Targeted CTAs increase conversion

Calls to action (CTAs) are one of the most integral components of on-site content. An effective CTA tells the reader precisely what steps you want them to take while providing them with clear directions on how to do it. It’s crucial to present a CTA that aligns with the type of content on the site and the user’s interest level.

If you present a new lead with a firm CTA prompting them to make a purchase, your direction may not be well received. On the other hand, if you present someone a CTA and link encouraging them to read additional blog content when they’re already near the bottom of the funnel, you might lose out on an opportunity to make another sale.

Fortunately, CTAs are one of the many elements that you can customize using website personalization. You can present customers with targeted CTAs that will increase the likelihood of converting and gently nurture visitors that may be in the early stages of the sales funnel. And you can use A/B testing to evaluate which CTAs are working best with which visitors.

Higher engagement with customers

Keeping customers and prospects engaged can be one of the most daunting aspects of digital marketing. At the click of a button, consumers that become disinterested in your site can easily bounce away from it and return to the search engine results page (SERP) to select a competitor. Although the digital space makes it easy to connect with customers, it simultaneously makes it difficult to maintain those connections.

Presenting customers with personalized websites is one of the most effective methods for achieving higher levels of engagement. More importantly, web personalization can help you maintain those increased levels of engagement long enough to nurture leads and drive conversions.

Website personalization paves the way for better engagement in two ways. First, website personalization enables you to nurture leads more effectively by using their own browsing data to curate the marketing experience. Second, the consumer data used during personalization efforts can empower your marketing team to create more accurate customer personas, which in turn will enhance the efficacy of future marketing content.

By leveraging website personalization, you can cultivate positive feelings toward your brand — increasing the likelihood of converting visitors into customers and boosting sales.

The challenges of website personalization

Website personalization is a highly effective strategy for engaging with prospective customers, increasing sales, and boosting revenue. However, as with any marketing strategy, you must overcome several challenges in order to use this tactic effectively.

There are three primary challenges you will encounter when striving to present consumers with personalized websites.

1. Consumer privacy initiatives are eradicating third-party cookies

In recent years, big tech companies and governments around the world have been working to protect the privacy of consumers. As part of these efforts, entities like Google and Apple have moved to ban the collection and use of third-party data. “Cookies,” as they’re called, are bits of consumer data that include information about browsing history, purchasing habits, and more.

Third-party cookies are named as such because the data comes from third-party entities. In other words, third-party data is information that’s not collected directly from customers by your business. It is, instead, acquired from a completely separate organization.


While the impending third-party cookie ban represents a major roadblock to website personalization, it does not spell the end for this strategy entirely. The aforementioned efforts are only geared toward eliminating third-party cookies, meaning you can circumvent this hurdle by implementing first-party data solutions. When consumers initially arrive on your website page, you can provide them a choice to opt in or out of data collection. Through this method you can use cookies to collect their data directly, bypassing third-party organizations.

2. Disparate platforms make integrating data difficult

Far too many organizations still rely on a cobbled-together framework of platforms that don’t share data amongst themselves easily.

If your company is also using antiquated or ineffective technologies, you’ll likely find it difficult to integrate data into your website personalization campaigns. In turn, this will limit your ability to present site visitors with relevant, customized content.


Fortunately, the solution to this particular challenge is relatively straightforward. Transition away from your aging technology suite by adopting a modern customer data platform (CDP) to unify all of your consumer data. Top solutions offer real-time CDP access so that you can manage customer data with unparalleled precision and take specific actions at just the right moment.

3. Personalizing websites at scale requires the right tech

Personalizing websites at scale is a tech-dependent endeavor. While transitioning from aging technologies to a modern CDP represents a step in the right direction, you’ll also want to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies to effectively scale your personalization efforts.


Adobe Target represents the premier web personalization and UX optimization tool for businesses in a diverse range of industries and is the ideal solution for website personalization scalability challenges. With a product like Adobe Target, you can automate core personalization-related processes, optimize the user experience by engaging in A/B testing, and streamline the entire web customization process.

How to personalize your website

Successfully personalizing your website to align with customer interests requires the right tools, of course. But innovative technologies — while important — are only part of the equation. In addition to investing in the right technologies, you must also take steps to address several critical factors.


Audience segmentation is the process of dividing your customer base into specific groups, and it’s essential to the success of your website personalization efforts.

The number of audience segments that you create will depend largely on how diverse your lineup of services or products is. When creating audience segments, you can use any number of factors to differentiate between prospective customers. Some attributes that you can use include age, gender, income, profession, education level, and marital status.

Create audience segments to divide your customer base by age, gender, income, profession, education level, and marital status.

After you’ve segmented your audience, the next step is to create buyer personas. Each persona should highlight the key concerns, pain points, and interests of that particular audience group. This will enable you to create more effective marketing materials so that you can better target prospective customers.


Location data will have a huge influence on the type of language you use and the offers you present to site visitors. For example, you can use location data to target customers with content that specifically mentions their home state or city of residence.

Alternatively, you can use location data to curate ads that align with conditions in a given area or region. For instance, you could present swimwear ads to an individual in Florida.

Technology and device type

When discussing web personalization, it’s all too easy to become focused on customizing ads and site content to align with an individual’s interests or browsing history. While this type of customization is the core function of website personalization, it isn’t the only one.

In addition to tailoring content based on a user’s interests, you must also personalize the site for mobile devices. Content should be formatted differently for mobile devices versus desktop or laptop computers. Overlooking the importance of mobile optimization will drastically impact the reach and efficacy of your web personalization efforts.

Behavior and time spent

When providing personalized ads and content, it’s vital that you take a user’s time spent and behaviors on your site into account. A customer who spends 10 minutes reading an in-depth article would be a good candidate to prompt with a CTA to “Try a demo.” Alternatively, a customer that quickly clicks through the different features of the product would be a good candidate to prompt with a CTA like “Watch an overview video.”

Remember, the longer a customer spends on your site, the more likely they are to make a purchase, book a demo, or take some other sort of positive action. Meanwhile, users who have just arrived on your site may still be in the early stages of their buyer journey. If you target them with a CTA that’s too aggressive, you risk driving them away instead of drawing them deeper into the funnel.

Website personalization examples

Every facet of your website is ripe for personalization. You can customize banners, buttons, and text to align with a viewer’s interests. You can also curate product suggestions, notifications, and pop-ups to optimize the UX. Navigation and search results pages are also website components that can be personalized.

Let’s say that an existing customer primarily purchases athletic wear from your retail website. When they log back into their account, you can prioritize your latest athletic wear on their result pages. You could double down by targeting them with pop-ups that highlight current specials or discount opportunities on sports and fitness apparel.

Five website personalization examples

There are countless examples of organizations that leverage website personalization with great success. You’ve likely visited some, if not all, of these brand websites yourself. Some of the best examples of website personalization in action include the following:

Amazon is an example of an organization that leverages website personalization with great success.

1. Amazon

The ecommerce giant masterfully uses website personalization to maximize its sales revenue and encourage users to buy more. But Amazon does much more than simply retarget customers. The retailer customizes landing pages based on current shopping trends and past purchasing history, and its algorithm suggests products that may be of interest to users based on their cumulative purchasing practices.

Amazon’s website personalization software is particularly effective at presenting audiences with customized ads. The company only uses these ads to encourage users to make purchases on the spot and also to set the stage for future transactions by allowing consumers to add items to their cart or create custom lists. Cumulatively, these features make Amazon’s web personalization campaign one of the most effective in the marketplace.

2. Spotify

Website personalization is a critical strategy for businesses in all industries, including the music streaming space. Spotify’s intuitive platform captures user listening data to create curated playlists and highlight new music from a user’s favorite artists or even draw their attention toward recently released tracks in the same genre.

Spotify’s core website personalization feature is its implementation of Daily Mix Playlists. Every day, the platform’s algorithm automatically comprises several of these playlists for users, which are typically genre-specific and include songs an individual has recently listened to, as well as related tracks. The feature ensures that users can always find music that appeals to them, no matter what sort of mood they are in.

Netflix is an example of an organization that leverages website personalization with great success.

3. Netflix

Moving from music to TV and movies, the Netflix platform remains the premier streaming option for millions of users around the globe despite strengthening competition. Netflix is constantly reworking its website personalization capabilities to improve its user experience.

The more customers use the platform, the better its algorithm becomes at personalizing their experience. Long-time Netflix subscribers enjoy custom suggestions based on their recent history, with the platform automatically highlighting content that aligns with users’ viewing trends and habits.

4. Target

Target is unique from the previous examples, as the retailer offers both online and brick-and-mortar purchasing opportunities. Target’s website leverages website personalization strategies to provide users with custom digital experiences based on past online and in-store purchases. The retailer gathers in-store purchase data via its various ordering services and membership program.

By offering a combination of physical and digital shopping options, Target’s winning strategy can help guide your own web personalization efforts — though you’ll need to deploy a leading website personalization platform in order to do so successfully.

5. Facebook

Facebook’s masterfully written algorithms offer a superior level of website personalization to users. The platform has been optimized for mobile users and actively analyzes data to enhance its UX, constantly seeking feedback so it can further refine the user experience. It asks users if they would like to see more or less of certain ads so that the algorithm can target them with relevant content.

Facebook’s website personalization capabilities not only benefit the platform itself, but they can be an asset to your business too. By engaging in Facebook advertising, you can target your ideal audiences across multiple channels and push valuable traffic to your website. Then you can use website personalization tactics to drive conversions and boost sales.

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