What is onsite personalization and how to get started I Insider

Chris Baldwin

May 31, 2022

What is onsite personalization and how to get started I Insider Featured Image
Chris Baldwin

May 31, 2022

The State of Website Personalization

Although it might be intimidating initially, quality website personalization is worth the journey to enhance essential eCommerce metrics like conversion, average purchase value, lead generation, and time-on-site. With onsite personalization, brands can have confidence that their content will be valued and appreciated by customers.

With 71% of customers expecting a personalized  online shopping experience and 76% of consumers get frustrated when they don’t find it, onsite personalization can unlock solutions that your business craves.

Personalization—why it matters

McKinsey found that companies that excel at personalization generate 40 percent more revenue from those activities than average players. Across US industries, shifting to top-quartile performance in personalization would generate over $1 trillion in value. These powerful McKinsey estimates are based on the direct revenue lift that customer intimacy provides. Outperforming campaign strategies are fluent in the impact of personalization and scale this factor to the fullest potential to increase customer lifetime values.

  • A new default engagement standard: Given the pandemic’s effects on escalating online customer behavior, customers now no longer hope for greater customer intimacy but demand it. Notably, “71 percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. And 76 percent get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.”
  • That “special” factor that delights: Customer intimacy is about being invested in each customer relationship on a personal level, rather than having them simply complete transactions. This transforms an everyday buying experience into a memorable one for every shopper. Overwhelmingly, 72% of consumers expect online businesses to know them by name and reflect a capable appreciation for their shopping interests.
  • Thoughtful touchpoints that wow: A simple post-purchase check-in, sharing a how-to video about the product or requesting a review of the purchased item, can go a long way to positively impact brand loyalty through engaging, and often disregarded, touchpoints.
  • Unlocking consumer loyalty: Convincingly, 76% of consumers indicated that personalized messages to facilitate brand consideration generated attachment to a brand,  while 78% of customers said this customer intimacy increased their likelihood of repurchasing.
  • Building outperformance momentum: Gaining customer intimacy traction engenders a sense of your brand’s values. These values impact on each consumer,  permeating their journeys and defining overall brand-to-customer relationships. Research indicates that Effectively, “for digitally native companies that forge a data-backed, direct-to-consumer model, personalization isn’t just how they market, it’s how they operate.” A competitive advantage can be had with even micro-enhancements in customer intimacy that can help scale the brand with maturity.
  • Customer intimacy inroads as long-game growth drivers: Smart businesses seek out personalization opportunities to scale in order to enhance what’s already working. Because they know that it’s their brand’s primary growth driver, companies activate personalization across channels and touchpoints to create their brand’s overarching feel and finish. In effect, data enablement and capability building accrue as brand-critical assets from this mission strategy.

McKinsey research survey about the importance of personalization

What is personalization?

Whether you ask this question to a CMO, marketing manager, or CRO, each will respond differently. The best answer to this inquiry comes from a consumer’s perspective as an end user. Because customers want to be seen for their distinct individuality, and search out websites that notice and attend to their idiosyncratic needs and interests, personalization is a game-changer in as much as it defines the game.

More essentially, customers want brands and websites that feel as familiar as home for them. They want to feel like the experience was built for them, and they want to see empathy from brands throughout their journey. Consumers expect brands to understand these expectations and have the ability to adapt to their evolving needs and desires.

Side-by-side physical pet store experiences showing segmentation and the value of personalization

What is the difference between onsite and website personalization?

Let’s take the pet store as a metaphor: because dogs and cats reign supreme there, if you are shopping for your fish, you have to go through aisles and aisles of irrelevant products to find that corner of the store. If this were a generic online experience, it’s frustrating because it signals that your brand doesn’t understand me as an individual shopper, given all the extra clicks. It’s not simply sufficient to cater to your buyers in today’s online world; you have to intuit your visitors’ needs through personalization.

Personalization is a solution to this pet store dilemma because it enables you to stitch together anonymous data into a complete optic that defines your entire visitor world. In this way, you can provide customized experiences tailor-made to their interests that in turn make your brand shine from first visit. This helps to convert site visitors into first-time buyers more quickly.

To extend the pet shop analogy, if you have a puppy, you might also want recommendations and content that is responsive to, and evolves with, your pup’s development. As such, the biggest factor that brands get wrong about personalization is that the focus should be on the relationship, not the actual sale. Essentially, if you get the relationship right, the sales follow organically.

In short, to do personalization well, businesses are well advised to strike the right balance between service, brand perception, and consumer experience and are dissuaded from being KPI-driven as an ultimate sales driver.

What’s an example of personalization?

Pet store personalization for a new visitor vs. an anonymous returning visitor interested in puppy products

As you can see in the example above, the new visitor experience is generic, whereas the anonymous visitor who is interested in puppy products gets a more streamlined and relevant website experience personalized to their interests. Over time, as they engage more with the site, add products to their carts, and buy, their personalized experience will match their interests even more.

The biggest barriers to personalization

The goal of any business is to serve customers whose needs can be satisfied. An excessive conversion and KPI-driven focus hurts marketers’ personalization long-game strategy. To be effective, marketers must approach their customer intimacy orientation holistically and collaboratively that can create valuable and memorable customer experiences across each journey. By identifying, recognizing, and understanding each visitor, the marketer can both have a focus on maximizing KPI’s and customer satisfaction. There is a clear maturity model which each business can follow to balance their personalisation effort with  quick wins that convert personalization champions from those who were previously on the fence.

  • Today, marketers primarily focus personalization around onsite product recommendations and email personalization
  • Two types of personalization: Onsite & Offsite/through channels

What is onsite personalization?

Because there are various forms of personalization, here are a few useful tips to focus on to get your onsite personalization game started:

  • See customers for who they are: let individuals know you see their distinct preferences and needs; understanding each of their specific interests is essential to a successful personalization campaign.
  • Delight and surprise: provide positive experiences that ensure each customer feels special and recognized, like they’re right at home.
  • Improve key KPIs: polish the customer experience until it shines with an unmistakable finish. Let the customer feel you are speaking to them and not at them.
  • Show you know: reveal your savvy! Show your customer intimacy with them on a personal level through your offers and communications.
  • Attract first-timers: Personalization plays an essential role in bringing first-time customers into the fold by heightening their conversion effects.

Current state of personalized customer experiences

The next horizon of customer service will be built on individual customer profiles, enabling companies to quickly resolve issues and even prevent them from occurring. The future of customer service is already here.

In order to keep pace with this future-forward “white-glove service” internal organization structures need to seamlessly support personalized customer journeys. Because many KPIs bleed into both the job roles of marketing and ecommerce management, marketers would be well advised to have greater training in the UX experience to grasp the full scope of campaign performance. This would include PDPs and page conversions, that typically fall under the ecommerce rubric, to succeed in the long game, despite their strict categorization under the traditional ecommerce umbrella.

Effectively, “there are two primary components to building a highly sophisticated and cutting-edge customer service function: understanding and anticipating customer needs, and implementing enablers to facilitate the development of comprehensive individual profiles of customers.” With respect to the second criterion of implementing organizational enablers, the following interventions are recommended:

  • Implementing seamless data and proactive analytics: Much of data analytics are conflicting, piecemeal, and incomplete between management systems. Clean customer data needs to be integrous and robust across the ecosystem.
  • Mapping and invoking needed intervention agents: Change agents, across business functionalities, must work together to collectively facilitate these newer systems. Mckinsey’s study states “the goal is to go beyond compliance and engender true commitment to the customer experience and the organization’s ability to provide white-glove service to all. . . . Customers increasingly expect every service organization to work tirelessly in the background, preventing issues before they arise; knowing when, where, and how to get in touch; and proactively reaching out where necessary. . . . Organizations that get it right will continue to set the pace for peers across industries.”

That makes a lot of sense because some KPIs are more ecommerce oriented and some are pure marketing. CX typically would fall under ecommerce, not marketing. With digital business KPIs are bleeding into both job roles, too. So it’s requiring you to have a marketer understand UX, and understand search, right?

Organizationally, they need to expand to and have more training, because if you’re a marketer, you would be concerned about campaign performance, but now you’re also expected to think about PDPs and page conversions and things that would typically fall under the umbrella of any commerce manager. I think that’s a nice takeaway, too.

What are some of the skills needed; we need to invest in marketers’ personal development and growth, so they can be more effective and win in the long game.

Where to start?

What is significant to bolster this effort is understanding your customer in order to apply segmentation through first-party data. Specifically, appreciating the most important customer journeys and any pain points on these journeys is key. Be able to define their essential pain points and infuse that into your key metrics. …Adhere to clear metrics that enable you to optimize your capacities. For some quick wins, be sure to apply industry best practices and learnings.

  • Understand your customer and apply segmentation through first-party data
  • Understand your most important customer journeys and the pain points on these journeys
  • Identify key pain points in key metrics
  • Define your strategy and priorities in 1 + 2 + 3
  • Build campaigns on 4 (but avoid deep segmentation initially)
  • Measure and optimize (cycle)
  • Tips
  • For quick wins: apply industry best-cases/learnings
  • Start small. Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress.


The impact of personalization on the top-line revenue of any business is significant. Both McKinsey and BCG recognizing that organizations who personalize generate 40% more revenue than their industry peers. There is a clear shift in consumer behavior and expectation. Those marketers who focus on the short term KPI’s and those who identify, recognize and understand the consumers behavior. Every organization is on their own path in personalization maturity. This helps organizations to balance top line revenue with investing in personalization programs. With a mature and recognized by Gartner, Forrester and G2 as an industry leading personalisation platform, Insider makes the personalisation growth possible for any organization. With the pre-built, customizable, done-for-you onsite personalization platform, you can go from start to scale with agility. As a performance driver, personalization matters because it gets each consumer to your desired location quickest, and with the fewest unwelcome detours. Data-backed facts aside, it’s that intuitive online capability and touch that customers can feel. This perceived  proximity, or customer intimacy, creates a truer connection that your customers will come back for time and again.

If you’d like to know more about how Insider’s personalization software can help your business, get in touch.

Chris is an award-winning marketing leader with more than 12 years experience in the marketing and customer experience space. As VP of Marketing, Brand and Communications, Chris is responsible for Insider's brand strategy, and overseeing the global marketing team. Fun fact: Chris recently attended a clay-making workshop to make his own coffee cup…let's just say that he shouldn't give up the day job just yet.