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May 18, 2016
Marketing  |  8 min read

How to Use Customization in Small Business

by Chaya David

Customization is essential for a business. Knowing whom your customers are, what they need, and how and when to engage with them is pivotal to succeeding and growing your business.

Ask any person who has ever worked in the face-to-face service industry—take an ice-cream parlor for example. The shop owner knows the second Becky walks in the door if she will need to try three flavors or if she knows exactly what she wants; he can predict if Becky is in a hurry or if she’ll enjoy learning about the different toppings and cone options. He may even recognize Becky and if he’s smart, he’d know what flavor she preferred based on what she’s chosen in the past.

The same logic should be applied to your digital storefront as well—for online engagement and conversion optimization, customization works.

When someone comes to your website, they want to feel as if they’ve come to your storefront and you’re greeting them in person. The messages, offers, content, and promotions should be hyper relevant to them.

Years ago, personalizing the website experience and customizing communication with prospects, leads, and yes, customers was not a given expectation—it was a pleasant surprise.

Today, personalization is the norm. It’s expected and the tools and services to help you accomplish this are as numerous as the day is long.

But don’t get overwhelmed or worried. There are a lot of simple, actionable ways to personalize and customize online interactions for both customer acquisition and customer retention.

Personalize acquisition

Landing page alternatives

Creating and managing several landing pages takes time and resources you don’t always have. Additionally, you’ve probably already invested in content and SEO for your blog or knowledge bases. Instead of sending visitors to the landing pages, try creating branded popups that target visitors on specific pages of your website according to traffic source.

For example, you can create a popup to appear for traffic coming from Facebook that encourages people to like to share your content. Or, you can target a popup to appear for visitors coming from the latest guest blog post you were featured in by using referral links.

Use targeted popups instead of landing pages. In this way you can keep your Google Analytics clean, quickly edit, and deploy different versions and messaging to recognize and reflect the traffic source, and differentiate between high and low performing segments based on that traffic source.

Utilize page view history

Ever been to a website and found a really interesting article that makes you want to read more like it? Then, suddenly you’re prompted to sign up for updates and an e-book that have absolutely nothing to do with what you just read. That’s frustrating.

You should use in page forms or popups to target your visitors with content that’s relevant to them—relevancy as determined by, among other things, the pages they have visited or the page they are on right now.

A visitor’s behavior can reveal a lot about what they are interested in; providing value to these visitors can be easy if you have tools that help you engage and convert utilizing basic information like their page view history. 

Let visitor behavior drive engagement

In addition to the pages a visitor has viewed or the page they are reading, there are other criteria which you can use to further personalize their experience on your website. 

Is it their first time to website? Your tone and engagement should be different than the approach you take when engaging a fifth or sixth time visitor to your site. Acknowledging their level of interest and familiarity with the content offers or opt-in language you use can make someone feel as if their experience has been specially tailored.

Mouse tracking can also provide invaluable information about a visitor’s needs on a site. Are they in a hurry, are they scanning quickly or reading slowly. Do they seem lost? Are they jumping from page to page looking for something? Using this information can help you present tailored offers at the right time—for example, before they go to leave your site or ‘x’ the window.

These are just a few ways to personalize the customer acquisition phase of your online engagement. Now you’ve got to extend this approach down the line into the customer education and retention phase. And there are plenty of ways to customize this experience as well.

Customize retention

Let’s all be honest. Many of us sign up for newsletter and RSS feeds all the time. But after our initial romance with the content creator, brand, or blog, we begin to see these little hellos from our inbox as more annoying than helpful. One big reason is that the content itself no longer speaks to us. 

Use newsletters for more than fluff

Creating and sending out personalized weekly or monthly content is about more than just adding a name. Personalizing engagement for existing customers can mean sending emails that fit their persona—their customer type. Who they are, what’s their title and type of company they work for, how were initially referred, what type of package they selected are all key bits of information that can help indicate which content they will find interesting and useful.

Hyper-targeted content can gain you someone’s trust and loyalty. In fact, leads that are nurtured with personalized content produce a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities

Product usage feedback is gold

Another oft overlooked but key element in customizing you engagement and communication with existing customers or clients, is their product usage. Duh!

If you run a SaaS based product/service, you should be looking at the last time a client has logged in and surely the last action they’ve taken on their account.

This activity cannot only indicate possible churn (yikes!), but will tell you exactly the type of educational tips and tools you should be sending them. How convenient would it be if you received an email with a tutorial video showing you how to use that awesome new feature you discovered today, but haven’t gotten around to figuring out.

This type of engagement doesn’t have to be a tedious, one by one type of process. You can prepare in advance three to five emails with short video clips already embedded and load them up so that when you receive an alert of a client’s usage, you can shoot them an email quickly and easily. Better yet, you can automate this and save even more time.

If your company sells services or things you can hold in your hand (remember when that was a thing?) then you can send out regular surveys (very short, focused, and incentivized) that tell you loads about your product and your client base.

The same follow-up logic and processes can be applied according to the answers someone submits.

The takeaway

Customization and personalization should not be something you dread as a major project or some tedious task you need to accomplish. 

Connecting with your clients and customers in a more relevant, focused, and intimate way helps you provide them with more value, retain them as customers for longer, and provides a channel for feedback and improvement at all levels of your front facing operations.

If you’re not already employing some or all of the above tactics, you should definitely consider doing so. It’s not the future of business—it’s now.

One last point for all you SMB owners out there: You’re uniquely positioned to achieve great success with this type of customer engagement. Your client’s probably know you or your account managers or sales people by name. You may have even started as a one-man solopreneur or a family business. These tactics can help you maintain the friendly familiarity you have probably already cultivated and the service oriented approach you may already be known for. Consider it an extension of all you’re already doing in this regard.

Chaya David is the head of customer success and conversion specialist at 40Nuggets. David is a native Atlantan, with a penchant for craft beer and bittersweet chocolate. After graduating from the University of Oregon (go Ducks!) she worked in communications, public relations, and most recently customer success and education. She enjoys learning about the tech start-up scene, political theory, and waxes poetic about anything related to King Arthur. Follow her on twitter @ChayaDavid .



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