Website personalization tools are becoming an essential part of the eCommerce marketer’s technology stack. Here we take a look at 10 best website personalization tools on the market and 6 factors to look for when choosing yours.
Website personalization has been a hot topic in marketing for a few years now, and the interest shows no signs of waning anytime soon. Our 2019 research shows that website personalization is the second most important strategy digital marketers report focusing on, and falls just behind marketing automation. What’s more, 90% of leading marketers say personalization significantly contributes to business profitability.
But it’s not just marketers who care about website personalization. Data shows that at least 61% of consumers expect brands to provide a personalized experience based on their preferences. Another 74% feel frustrated when website content isn’t personalized.
From website content to visuals, to UX, customers are looking for digital experiences tailored to their needs and favor personalization over a one-size-fits-all approach.
So, website personalization seems to have a buy-in from both marketers and consumers – so it should be a no-brainer for companies to jump on the trend, right? Unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated than that…
Implementing an effective website personalization strategy means you have to:
- Recognize the different types of buyer personas;
- Build market segments based on demographics, psychographics, geo-location or behavior;
- Create a fool-proof conversion funnel;
- Think of all the possible customer touchpoints and scenarios;
- Bring them together into a thorough online customer journey map;
- Last but not least, you have to choose the right website personalization tool.
If you’re choosing a website personalization tool for the first time or looking to upgrade your existing stack, this blog will cover what you need to know.
What is website personalization
Before we delve into the must-have features of a website personalization tool, it’s helpful to define exactly what we mean by personalization.
When a lot of us think of personalization, the first thing that pops to mind is the anecdotal “Hi, [first name]” that we see so often in marketing emails. Truth is, even huge brands like Amazon fail at personalization sometimes.
With so many different definitions evolving over time as technology has advanced, it’s really hard to pin down. But we’d like to try:
Website personalization is the process of delivering a tailored experience for website visitors based on their demographic, psychographic, geographic, or behavioral segment and point in a customer journey. Website personalization is powered by a wide stack of software tools that enable businesses to gather customer data, segment, target, automate, and more
Personalization software is a tool that allows websites to customize their website based on a individual customers characteristics and behaviors. Creating a more unique customer experience.
There are many ways you can personalize your website including content, product recommendations, special offers & more.
Your CMS may allow you to implement personalization but most of the time you will need software or tools that can be integrated into your website.
It’s by far not a new concept. In fact, back in 1998, Jeff Bezos told The Washington Post: “If we have 4.5m customers, we shouldn’t have one store. We should have 4.5m stores.” And whereas opening 4.5 million unique retail stores is no small feat, having a website that dynamically adjusts to your visitors’ needs is a lot more doable than you think.
Let’s take a look at how to evaluate website personalization tools, before jumping into more on the factors to consider when choosing yours.
How to Choose the Right Website Personalization Tool
Personalization has come a long way since the classic Amazon personalized product recommendations, and website personalization tools come in many flavors – which is why it can be so difficult to select the right one for your site!
Content management systems (CMSs), customer relationship management systems (CRM tools), and marketing automation tools are all starting to offer some simple forms of personalization, adding further complexity.
In a nutshell, a good website personalization tool will allow you to optimize multiple parts of the onsite experience, applying the concept of personalization to the entire customer journey, rather than just one or two touchpoints. Here we’ll focus on website personalization software designed specifically for the job.
6 factors to consider when choosing a website personalization tool
1. Your business goals
This step will help you determine the specific requirements to look for when choosing a website personalization tool. As mentioned, there’s a vast variety of personalization software out there – knowing what you’re seeking to accomplish will cut your research time in half. Not to mention it will help you save money and minimize the risk of not getting it right.
The most common personalization goals are:
- Increase engagement;
- Increase conversions;
- Reduce cart abandonment;
- Improve ROI;
- Enable product discovery, cross-selling and upselling;
- Increase Average Order Value (AOV);
- Increase retention;
- Generate repeat purchases.
Note that while they’re listed separately, most of them correlate to one another. For example, by reducing cart abandonment you will, by proxy, increase conversions; by enabling personalized product recommendations you will increase AOV, and so on.
With your specifications in hand, you’re ready to start searching the marketplace. There are a couple of good ways to see what your options are:
- Use a tag-monitoring plug-in such as BuiltWith to visit sites similar to yours and see which tools they’re using already;
- Talk to your stack: ask your existing technology partners which website personalization tools they integrate with and/or would recommend;
- Visit third-party review platforms, such as G2Crowd and Capterra, to check out which tools have the best scores.
2. Your resources
Website personalization tools can be both self-service, fully-managed, or a combination of both. Knowing what your internal resources are will help you determine which category you should go after.
Marketers cite lack of internal knowledge and expertise as one of the biggest challenges in implementing a successful personalization program. Any technology investment is only as good as the use you’re able to make of it, so having the right people in place is really the key to a successful implementation. You have a few options here…
1. Managing personalization in-house
Having someone internally who will take on the responsibility of driving your website optimization and personalization roadmap is the ideal, but finding this person can be a challenge both from skills and budget perspective. In fact, 61% of companies report that resources for personalization are limited or not available due to lack of time or budget.
Really consider whether your team has the insight, the expertise AND the capacity to run a personalization project! If it’s going to be a challenge then consider the following option.
2. A managed website personalization solution
A partial, or fully-managed service can help fill the skills and capacity gaps often seen with personalization. Additionally, this option opens up the possibility of gaining insights and best practices from across the vendors’ client-base.
Ensure you’re clear on how much support you think you’ll need – it’s a good idea to ask your vendor for examples of how they service other clients of your size, with similar goals, if you’re unsure, or take a look at case studies showcasing how they’ve worked with other clients, and what they’ve achieved.
This option is probably one of the safest if you’re unsure you’ll be able to manage a personalization project fully internally, as both you and your vendor will be invested in ensuring you get the best value from the technology.
3. Working with an external agency
The third option, and somewhat of a ‘middle ground’ when it comes to the level of expertise it brings to the table, is to work with an agency. Traditionally, agencies have been more focused on conversion rate optimization than personalization, so you probably won’t find the level of knowledge you’d get with a vendor services team.
They often have established relationships with preferred providers – so this may also narrow the field, and is of course an additional cost to factor in. As the agency model becomes increasingly complex across marketing as a whole, how to select the right agency partner for personalization could fill another blog post entirely!
Whatever option you go with, being honest about your capacity to deliver on the implementation of whatever website personalization tools you choose is an important factor to consider from the outset.
3. Your access to data
Aside from resources, one of the biggest obstacles to personalization is obtaining data. Just take a look at this chart form eMarketer:
Nearly two-thirds of marketers in 2019 rate data-driven personalization as difficult to achieve, more so than any other marketing tactic. But does it have to be so difficult?
Many marketers are hung up on ‘1-to-1’ personalization, but with the vast quantity of data available, achieving this can seem like finding a needle in a haystack. The important thing to consider is being able to access the right data that you need to achieve the desired result.
This is where you need to evaluate a few things:
- How accessible is your data – is it siloed across the business or all in one place?
- What’s the quality of the data like?
- Can you use it for the purposes of personalization?
Bringing together data that is siloed across your business and may not be of the best quality, or even legally usable may not actually be the best option if you’re looking to get a personalization project up and running quickly.
For website personalization, luckily you have other options! You’re able to take advantage of a rich data source (your website) so ensure that the tool you choose has the ability to segment, target, and trigger your campaigns based on visitor behavior. Which brings us nicely on to the next thing to look out for… features and integrations.
4. Required features and integrations
As we discussed earlier in this blog, personalization means a lot of different things to different people. This is where you need to go back to your goals again and think about the functionality you will need to achieve them.
Here are a few features you might want to consider adding to your checklist when it comes to selecting a website personalization tool:
- Can it help me gather more data? The ability to capture website visitor data is crucial to your business growth. Ask yourself if getting more proprietary data is important to you and what format should that come in?
- Can it help me segment data? Once you upload a vast pool of data, can it help you create customer segments based on demographic, psychographic, geographic, and behavioral information?
- Can it help me target those segments? This one’s super important as without flexible targeting and triggering options you won’t be able to achieve that true level of website personalization that you’re striving for.
- Can it recognize behavior patterns in real-time? Knowing what a specific visitor does on your website right now can help you utilize more dynamic formats, such as social proof, dynamic promotions, etc. to achieve the next level of personalization.
- Can I remarket website abandoners? Remarketing functionality will enable you to engage with visitors in real-time and serve offers that are highly relevant to them.
All of these features also raise the question of integrations i.e. how does the tool fit and share data with your existing marketing stack, such as:
- Your Email Service Provider (ESP);
- Your CRM;
- Your CMS;
- Your customer reviews platform;
- Your payment provider, and more!
5. Importance of ROI and time-to-value (TtV)
There has been a lot written on the business case for personalization: “Personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50%, lift revenues by 5-15%, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10-30%.” But what about when it comes to proving value for your business?
One of the biggest challenges in demonstrating the success of a personalization project is not only showing a positive return on investment but showing this impact in a timely fashion. When speaking with website personalization tools ensure you’re asking how long it takes to get up and running from a technical perspective, but also how long it will take to start seeing value.
This is where working directly with your website personalization tool, rather than an agency or in-house can have huge benefits. The best website personalization tools will come with a tried and tested methodology and should be able to provide you a roadmap for success.
For example, at Yieldify we are lucky to have data from over 200,000 visitor journeys, and so our services team can apply insights from this data to our new clients, helping ensure they prioritize the right campaigns (we’re so confident in this that we guarantee you’ll have your first journey live within 14 days!). Having a partner that can offer a solid plan for success will save your time and money in the long-run, typically we see an 80% reduction in time clients are spending developing and running personalization tests.
6. Customer journey-driven approach
Finally, we couldn’t finish without mentioning the customer. We said it before (in this blog post, even) and we’ll say it again: a good website personalization tool takes the entire customer journey into consideration vs. focusing on a single touchpoint.
At Yieldify, we explain this through the concept of customer journey optimization (CJO) that encompasses all stages – from awareness to consideration to purchase and retention. What this ends up looking is a continuous end-to-end loop of website personalization campaigns vs. a one-off interaction.
10 best website personalization tools on the market
Self-service website personalization software tools
1. Google Optimize
Google Optimize is a split testing and website personalization suite from Google. Available as free (Optimize) or paid enterprise product (Optimize 360), it plugs into your website and enables you to run experiments, segment your visitors, deploy personalized experiences, and more. It plugs into your website and syncs with the rest of Google Marketing Platform.
For example, you run some A/B, multivariate or redirect tests on your website and determine the winning variant. From there, Optimize 360 enables you to deploy the “champion” permanently or target a specific audience. By integrating with Google Ads, you’re also able to personalize pages to get higher Quality Scores.
The main benefits of Google Optimize is that (part of it) is free, it’s easy to deploy, and requires minimum tech-savvy enabling your marketing department to run experiments in website personalization without heavy involvement from the tech support team.
Proof (also known as Useproof) is a self-service website personalization tool that offers two types of products: Experiences and Pulse. The former is centered around landing pages that creates a visual editor overlay of your website, thanks to which you can personalize text, images, CTAs and more without having to change your code. Pulse is focused on displaying social proof messages.
Proof offers audience segmentation based on customer journey stage, industry, company size, and more. At this moment, it does not seem to offer any remarketing functionality or product recommendation functionality.
Sleeknote is a website personalization tool that focuses on eCommerce and retail sectors. With friendly pricing, vast variety of pre-made templates and formats, it seems to be a self-sufficient marketer’s dream. In other words, if you’re entirely comfortable setting up experiments and reporting on their findings, this may be a good tool to start with.
Sleeknote allows users to create personalized experiences for desktop and mobile, enables product recommendations, and offers audience targeting and triggering functionality.
Personyze claims to offer the full suite of tools for deploying website personalization and product recommendations throughout the customer journey, i.e. from website landing pages to email drip campaigns.
What stands out is Personyze’s targeting functionality, which claims to target based on more than 70 user attributes, such as real-time behavior, geo-location, weather, social data, internal search, form input, and more. If you’re really keen on trying out creative targeting combinations, this tool could be the answer.
Managed website personalization solutions
Yieldify is a customer journey optimization platform that offers website personalization as part of its suite. As a managed solution, Yieldify provides the best of both worlds – software and service – giving you full access to your campaigns enriched by our team’s design expertise, analytics data, industry best practices, benchmark reports, and more.
Next to powerful visitor segmentation and website personalization, Yieldify also offers email remarketing functionality, which extends its capability to hit every client goal on the list: from increasing engagement to capturing leads, reactivating lost purchases, increasing AOV and retention, driving loyalty, and more.
A no-code solution that’s so easy to deploy and connect to the rest of your marketing stack, Yieldify was built to empower marketing teams to harness their creative and strategic powers vs. focusing on the nitty-gritty of campaign implementation. With an exceptional time-to-market, Yieldify promises new clients to launch their first campaign within 14 days.
VWO is another website personalization tool that blends software and services together. It offers a set of different products from A/B, multivariate, and split URL testing to web push notifications, session recordings, heatmaps, and so on. Due to the variety of products, you can purchase bundles depending on your needs. Its services side offers data analysis, implementation, and management of campaigns.
3. Fresh Relevance
Fresh Relevance is a personalization platform focusing in eCommerce. The platform includes all the typical website personalization solutions, from product recommendations to visitor segmentation and remarketing. What’s interesting is that Fresh Relevance also extends to social media, allowing users to integrate real-time feeds with user-generated content into emails and on their websites.
Besides the platform, Fresh Relevance also offers strategic services that will take care of personalization strategy mapping, customer segmentation, technical integrations, reporting, and more.
Website personalization agencies
WebFX is a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in everything from SEO services for websites and marketplaces to PPC advertising, content marketing, analytics, and more. Part of its offering includes UX and website design, which is where website personalization comes in.
Depending on the plan you choose, you can get behavioral, firmographic or real-time personalization with custom designed content blocks, reporting, and more. If you’re looking to revamp your website, these guys may be able to help you with it all the while keeping personalization as a priority.
FROM positions itself as a digital transformation agency in that it offers a “uniquely collaborative approach to innovation.” The agency offers a variety of services, starting with mapping customer journeys and optimizing customer touchpoints. What’s interesting is that it goes beyond website personalization in terms of design and copy, but seems to offer full product development services as well, such as apps and games.
3. ZAG Interactive
ZAG Interactive is a responsive website design and web development company based in Massachusetts, US. Their services roster involves everything from analytics and strategy creation to the actual implementation of personalized web experiences. The agency also offers remarketing services as part of its pack. ZAG works with various industries with most of their case studies coming from banking and credit unions.
We’ve explored what website personalization is, where to start when choosing a website personalization tool, as well as 10 solutions currently dominating the market. By no means is that an exhaustive list – every business, be it B2C or B2B, has different priorities, and thus, will need different functionality. So keep looking for one that matches your needs!
In the meantime, if you want to learn more about how we do website personalization at Yieldify, feel free to book a demo call with us – without any pressure, we’ll talk you through our serviced solution, explain our CJO methodology, and give you some pointers on where you could start your journey with website personalization.