Real-time personalization is becoming an increasingly common method for marketers looking to form a stronger customer base. If you aren’t already utilizing it, you should be.

Here’s why: Presenting your audience with personalization in real time can give you the push you need to connect with customers, differentiate from competitors, and boost your bottom line.

However, the process of building out a personalization strategy that enables customized experiences in real time can come with a few hurdles. In our 2nd Annual Personalization Development Study, we found that the top three personalization obstacles faced by marketers were data quality, understanding buyer behavior in context, and building a sustainable data architecture.

That being said, such challenges can be overcome with adequate foresight and planning. Let’s get started with the basics of what real-time content personalization is and how you can apply it to your own strategy to get the results you need.

What is Real-Time Personalization?

Real-time personalization is a technique used to dynamically deliver customized content to individual visitors. When any given customer visits a webpage, real-time personalization can make sure they are viewing content that’s relevant and suited to their needs.

So, how is this done? Real-time personalization uses visitors’ IP addresses to collect and store key details about their browsing and buying behavior. Using this behavioral data in combination with other sources, such as third party data or CRM data that may include information such as demographics or past purchases, you can create a profile of each user. By categorizing users based on the demographic groups within your target audience, you can deliver tailored content as each visitor interacts with your brand

True real-time personalization can’t be done without a sophisticated algorithm behind it. That algorithm, or personalization platform, leverages artificial intelligence (AI) technology to analyze many thousands of data points in order to deliver a unique and real-time user experience.

Real-Time Personalization Applications

By now, it is widely acknowledged that personalization in general yields positive results. In fact, 79 percent of organizations that report exceeding their revenue goals have a documented personalization strategy in place. An even greater number, 83 percent, say that they have a dedicated budget for their personalization efforts.

The method of providing personalization in real time, however, is a subset of personalization approaches that is singularly effective in delivering results.. This is because real-time personalization not only allows you to connect with customers by tailoring content for each individual, but also by delivering each piece of content at the ideal time.  To better illustrate how and why this works,, let’s take a closer look at three applications for real-time personalization.

1. Geotargeting

Say you have an upcoming event or sale and you’d like to reach local prospects where the information is most relevant. When you pair geotargeting with real-time personalization, you can tailor content in ways that customers may have never experienced before.

If a customer has just flown into a new city, send them a welcome email offering a discount to your nearest brick and mortar store. Or, if you see a customer is headed toward your event through their mobile geolocation, bring it to their attention with a push notification. Content that can be sent as a customer arrives in a particular location will ensure they know that you’re thinking of them now and one step into the future.

H4: Example: To drive sales and create relevancy, an outdoor clothing retailer could use geotargeting and current weather data to deliver a compelling customer experience. If the five-day forecast in New York City has several rainy days, New Yorkers arrive on a homepage geared toward waterproof rain gear.

2. Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral targeting uses the information collected about an individual’s browsing behavior to produce a more personalized user experience. Real-time personalization can be used with behavioral targeting to present customers with the things they were already going to look for.

Behavioral targeting can identify if customers are spending more time looking for product reviews or descriptions, abandoning their shopping carts, or spending long periods in between visits. Real-time personalization is the tool that will get the right information in front of them. It is all about thinking ahead of what the customer is searching for: you can use the behavioral histories of individual visitors or similar users—relying on an algorithm to do the analysis—to present solutions to their questions and problems before they experience any friction.

Example: Behavioral targeting can help you hone in on users to create a more intuitive customer experience. One way to do this is to target when a customer adds an item to their cart without converting. By targeting this behavior, you’ll eventually be able to pinpoint what it is about that product and about that customer that caused the item to be abandoned.

A way to counter this situation is to create an alert banner or lightbox that asks a customer if they’re sure they want to abandon their cart. Based on the data you have, you can target demographics who are more likely to abandon their carts or users who are shopping for that particular item. By personalizing this message in real time, you have a better shot at pulling the customer back in and making a sale.

3. Product Recommendations

Product recommendations are a helpful asset to the overall ecommerce experience. One of the drawbacks to product recommendations, however, is that sometimes they can go a bit stale. Customers may take notice if recommendations aren’t updated frequently enough.

This is where real-time personalization comes in. Recommendations are made based on known data and the previous behavior of the individual. When these recommendations are being made in real time, you don’t have to worry about whether or not the customer has already seen them before. This can be done by leveraging omnichannel insights, which will allow you to deliver product recommendations across multiple channels.

Real-time personalization gives you the opportunity to show customers that you have a) thought of their needs and provided them with recommendations they’d find useful and b) are actively updating your site for an engaging experience.

Example: When men’s specialty clothing retailer Destination XL needed help laying out their product recommendations, they turned to customer data to make those changes. Though they hypothesized that their customers would prefer seeing products four across, it turned out that customers preferred three across.

This change, made with the help of data brought in through Monetate’s solutions, has helped Destination XL understand their customer better and display their products more efficiently.

The Bottom Line

Real-time personalization is here to stay. Integrating this technique into your current personalization strategy will help bring you the results you’ve been looking for, whether that’s increased sales, an improved customer experience, or enticing new and repeat customers.  

If you would like to learn more about Monetate or how to get started with our Monetate Intelligent Personalization Engine, contact us today.