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Imagine going into a store to buy shoes and having the clerk not talk with you — he doesn’t ask you what kind of shoes you want to get and doesn’t even measure your feet to know what size you take. That’d lead to a lot of time wasted and probably many ill-fitting shoes tried on. How could someone consider doing business that way?

Oddly enough, this situation is happening on the Internet every day. Many sites aren’t bothering to initiate a conversation with their visitors — they aren’t finding out what these potential customers like or need, and certainly aren’t taking the time to anticipate the the visitor’s habits as a way to better serve them (and make their business more lucrative).

The good news is, web personalization is a tool that’s being utilized by more and more companies—and not just gigantic firms either. As reflected in the recent VentureBeat report, “Web personalization: How big (and small) companies are increasing conversion and boosting retention,” the technology is being adopted by a growing number of small (10-99 employees) and micro-businesses (1-9 employees) to help focus their customer conversations.

But where should companies focus their attention in the web-personalization sphere? Amber Whiteman, vice president at digital-marketing agency Metia, offers a few pillars that she feels are important to ensure a good user experience for your customers.

“User interface is really important, but in addition to that,” Whiteman states, “I think work needs to be done to ensure that anyone who’s marketing to any kind of audience, regardless of what channel it is, really understands who their audience is. Spending some time to create personas of who your audience is and what they embody is really important. Creating customer journeys — also quite a buzzy industry term at the moment, but that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant — it’s really great mapping those back to the personas.”

These personas can carry with them a lot of different information—such as age, marital status, number of children, city/state location, likes/dislikes, etc. — but it’s key data that should help sites to better tailor delivered content that fits the person’s wants and needs. Whiteman emphasizes the need for “living, breathing documents” that aren’t stale or outdated.

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“It should be demographic information about that person — things that they find important to themselves in making decisions and, in this instance, business decisions that’ll help them be more effective and productive,” Whiteman says.

We’ve all heard about cases — and likely been victims — of bad personalization, much of which Whiteman blames on too much reliance on algorithms, such as when a social network serves up ads for products that the consumer has researched, but also recently purchased. As another prime example, she points to the now-infamous incident where a major retailer started delivering content relating to pregnancy and baby products to a particular home, which essentially “outed” a girl in the family who hadn’t yet told her family she was pregnant.

That kind of marketing takes a well-intentioned business strategy and turns it into an unintended, yet egregious violation. Offer web personalization, Whiteman advises, but do so with more attention on the customer journey, which just requires a bit more work and consideration behind the scenes. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available for any business to do just that.

Join Whiteman and other experts for an hour-long webinar that will give you a clear picture of what’s at the bleeding edge of web personalization today and how your company can benefit from good planning. You won’t want to miss out on all of the helpful information this webinar will provide!

What you’ll learn:

  • Learn key fail points in website personalization that are common mistakes for surprisingly large companies
  • Discover the best way to personalize website content — it’s not what you’d think.
  • Hear the best tips from industry insiders on strategic website personalization


Andrew Jones, analyst, VentureBeat
Amber Whiteman, VP Client Service, Metia
Jeriad Zoghby, Managing Director, Global Personalization, Accenture


Wendy Schuchart, Analyst, VentureBeat

This webinar is sponsored by Autopilot. All VB research was conducted entirely independently.