Personalization has long been a fundamental component of any successful digital marketing strategy. A personalized web experience helps businesses respond to the increasing demands of digital consumers while also enabling higher conversion rates and better marketing results.

For consumers, a personalized experience means the ability to easily access content that is relevant and applicable to them based on multiple factors, including demographics, their stage of the buyer’s journey, or past activity on your website.

Despite its unquestionable importance, 74% of marketers struggle to successfully scale their personalization efforts.

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Smart content is a highly effective feature available for Marketing Hub Professional and Enterprise customers to change their website content based on specific viewer characteristics. We understand that personalization can be an overwhelming undertaking, so our recommendation is to start small and build upon your strategy as you become more confident and are able to assess your results over time.

Keep these five considerations in mind every time you’re thinking of creating smart content for your business to take your personalization efforts to the next level:

1. Determine who you're creating smart content for.

The first thing you’ll need to consider when creating smart content is your audience. Defining who your smart content will be targeted to will help you identify the segmentation criteria and smart rules that will help you adapt your website content to your visitors. To ensure the effectiveness of your smart content for your intended audience, a good place to start is to understand the six different smart rules that can be applied:

HubSpot Smart Rule

Depending on whether you’re targeting anonymous visitors or known contacts, some rules will make more sense than others. For anonymous visitors, the available rules will be based on data HubSpot can collect with visitors' IP addresses before they convert on your site, including country, device type, referral source, and preferred language. For known contacts, on the other hand, you will be able to leverage the information you've already collected through the contact list membership and contact lifecycle stage rules.

For example, if you’re planning on creating smart content for anonymous visitors from Canada, the country rule will be your most logical choice. If you’re targeting your MQLs from a specific region in Canada, though, you'll want to segment your database first by building a list and use the contact list membership rule instead.

2. Determine where you want to add smart content.

Once you’ve determined your audience, your next step should be to decide on the elements of your website that will be personalized. HubSpot customers who are hosting their website on HubSpot will be able to add personalization to calls-to-action; forms; and rich text modules on website pages, landing pages, and emails.

We recommend that customers only add personalization to one or two elements per page. Adding personalization to a website page means adding extra layers of complexity, so keeping it easy to manage and measure will help you effectively analyze how your smart content is performing and assist in making more informed decisions.

Let’s imagine that you're promoting a high-value content offer that's targeted toward your leads and MQLs. You could create a smart CTA like the one below to use on specific pages and marketing emails:

HubSpot Smart CTA

In addition to personalizing this CTA, you could add personalization to other assets in this conversion path. For example, you could create a smart form to insert on your landing page and offer additional resources to these contacts on your thank-you page based on demographic information, like their industry or job title.

3. Determine what should be your default content.

For every piece of smart content you create, there will be a default version. This will be the version that will be displayed to visitors who don’t fit your smart rules.

Let’s imagine that you want to create content for visitors from Canada to announce your business expansion in the country. This will not only help you attract new customers, but also give your new locations visibility in order to grow your talent pool there. In this case, you would create a smart variation based on the country rule. And you could easily switch between your smart and default versions in order to make edits to the copy on each:

HubSpot Default Rich Text

Because your default version will be used for every visitor who doesn’t meet your smart rules, we suggest that you keep your default content as broad and generic as possible. This way, you can ensure the generic version is appealing to everyone and no visitors are seeing content that might not be relevant or useful to them.

4. Determine the value of your smart content.

Smart content is a highly effective feature to nurture your contacts throughout the buyer’s journey by offering them the information and resources that are most relevant to them. It also helps businesses tailor the experience for each unique visitor to build a relationship based on trust. Having clearly defined buyer personas for your business and understanding what their buyer’s journey looks like are key steps for building successful personalization strategies that progress contacts into the next stage of their journey.

When you’re thinking of adding personalization to any element of your website, always take a minute to ask yourself what value it will be adding to your visitors. Most of the time, that value should be translated into an enhanced user experience, whether by optimizing the navigation experience for mobile users, tailoring content to specific countries, or offering valuable new resources to returning contacts to keep growing your relationship with them. If you can’t clearly determine the value of your smart content, it might be a good idea to take some time to strategize and determine the desired effect that you’d like for your smart content to have.

Remember that not every single one of your webpages will be suitable for personalization, so sometimes it will make sense to offer the same general information to all of your visitors without leveraging personalization.

5. Determine how you’ll measure performance.

As you implement smart content on your website, you should be reviewing its performance periodically by analyzing different data points depending on the type of smart content at hand. A useful metric to keep in mind when personalizing rich text modules on website pages will be page views, form submissions will make the most sense for personalized forms, and the number of clicks and click-through rates will make sense for personalized CTAs.

To set realistic target metrics that align with your overall strategy, you should analyze your historical performance data and use those metrics to calculate your goals or compare your smart content against them to make sure there are no dramatic deviations. If you notice that your smart content is underperforming compared to your generic content, it might be a good idea to rethink your personalization strategy to implement edits that could boost your performance.

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Originally published Aug 23, 2019 9:00:00 AM, updated October 10 2019