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May 14, 2024

Web personalization, a key factor in site conversion

Notifications, recommended products, personalized offers...

Since companies started collecting our personal data, we've all become accustomed to receiving these kinds of messages when we visit a site. It's true that this kind of personalized content offers many advantages. It creates an emotional connection with Internet users, facilitates their browsing and, above all, is designed to meet their expectations. Quite a marketing feat! But are these practices really effective? And do they run the risk of tiring internet users? We'll look at how website personalization techniques are a powerful tool, provided they're used wisely.

What is website personalization?

It's the process of creating a unique experience for each visitor to a website. Once identified (or logged in), visitors are offered dynamically optimized content based on their preferences, behavior and browsing history. In this way, the messages and offers put forward always correspond to the buyer's needs. And this, throughout their entire journey. Website personalization can therefore be summed up as: delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time.

Why is it important to personalize the user journey on a website?

Personalizing a site's user journey has a number of advantages. First of all, it makes the user's journey smoother. A new visitor is not addressed in the same way as a loyal customer. Hence the importance of being able to distinguish them by identifying them. Secondly, offering your customers a personalized experience helps limit pain points. For example, we all appreciate not having to enter our bank details every time we do a drive-through on our usual supermarket website.

Personalizing the web experience makes browsing much more pleasant for the user. And a good shopping experience for the visitor brings many benefits. Both for the user and for the brand. These include an increase in :

  • time spent on the site ;
  • engagement rate ;
  • conversion rate ;
  • average basket value.

These indicators also have a positive effect on brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

🎯 To build a personalized web journey, you need to know your visitors well. This knowledge includes listening. Find out how in our webinar "How to listen to your users for successful projects"!

How do you create a personal and memorable user experience on your website?

Generating personalized content on your website is a powerful marketing lever. But what techniques do you need to implement effective web personalization?

Analytics, the data-gathering tools of choice for businesses

To offer a personalized experience to web users, companies collect and analyze data from visitors to their websites. This includes :

  • demographic information: gender, age, profession, location...
  • browsing behavior: which site did the visitor come from? Which page did they arrive at? How long did they stay on the site? Which pages did they visit? How long did they stay on each page? Did they connect using a computer or cell phone? etc.
  • purchase history: which visitor bought which product on which date?

All this data is then stored, analyzed and used by brands. These tools are highly effective. But they can't measure everything.

The power of UX research: capturing real user behavior

Having a global cartography of an internet user's path is a good start. It provides the beginnings of answers to the questions "who" and "what". However, when it comes to "how" and "why", this model has its limitations.

Let's take an example. Google Analytics tells you that a page's bounce rate is too high. This is unfortunate. Do you know why? You may have an idea, but you can't be sure. On the other hand, you notice that visitors with a high session duration are mostly consulting another page. Congratulations! Can you explain it? What exactly do your visitors like about this web page? If you don't know the answer, it's a shame, because you're missing out on the opportunity to iterate this good practice.
But... are you sure this web page is a good model to follow? OK, it's the one on which web users stay on the most. But maybe it's still widely ferpectible? It may be that people are attracted by the products. Not by the quality of the UX. They just stay on the page to compare them. Here again, it would be a shame to miss this information, because by optimizing your content, you can considerably increase your conversion rate.

As you can see, knowing your visitors' behaviors is essential. But if you can't explain them, they're worthless. You can make assumptions, but you'll never know for sure. To interpret them, you need to be able to observe users' reactions in situ. And that's what UX research is all about.

User research, the key to successful web personalization

The first reason why UX research is so important is that it improves our customer knowledge of your customers. Who are your users and personas? What are their habits? What are their needs and expectations? User research enables you to answer these absolutely essential questions, so you can implement relevant personalization actions on your website. This customer knowledge is useful not only for improving your site's UX, but also for defining and optimizing your product or service offering.

Secondly, website personalization isn't something that's set in stone. Your catalog changes, the needs of your prospects and customers evolve... So you need to be able to "feel" these market evolutions right from the start. To do this, you need to adopt a continuous improvement approach. UX research is your best ally in this task. By regularly testing your website, you can ensure that you are always responding precisely to your target audience's needs.

Quelles sont les bonnes pratiques pour personnaliser la navigation de vos visiteurs ?

La personnalisation d’un site internet améliore grandement ses résultats commerciaux. Cependant, présents en trop grand nombre, les messages et notifications personnalisés ont un effet négatif sur les internautes. Il s’agit donc d’opter pour les bonnes actions dans une juste proportion.

1. Inspire trust

According to Salonen and Karjaluoto's study, extensive personalization of online advertising increases the sense of intrusiveness and undermines business performance. You therefore need to offer your visitors a personalized browsing experience, while respecting their privacy. But striking this balance can be tricky. That's why some companies solicit their customers directly. One example is Google News, which asks users to choose the type of news they want to see.

2. Provide exclusive offers to your customers

According to this same study, customer satisfaction is directly linked to loyalty. The more loyal they are to a brand, the more they appreciate its personalization initiatives. So think about offering personalized gifts to your customers! This practice will naturally lead them to interact with your brand. And by increasing the rate of engagement, you also improve attachment to your company. This virtuous circle leads to greater customer loyalty.
Nike makes excellent use of this ultra-personalization card by playing on different channels. For example, when a member comes into a store, he or she is invited to scan a QR code to enjoy a unique shopping experience. Thanks to the loyalty program, the brand offers expert recommendations based on size, sports preferences and location. Customers can also reserve shoes online to try on in-store at a later date. The items are placed in a locker bearing the customer's name. Once in the store, visitors can unlock it with their phone.


3. Take cultural factors into consideration

Adapt your offer to the calendar. For example, offer products related to Ramadan or Lunar New Year when it's time. Some internet users also prefer to consume web content adapted to their culture. This is particularly true of the Hispanic community in the United States. Finally, adapt the design of your websites to the country of destination.


4. Adapt your marketing to user behavior

Looking to increase your engagement rate? Make personalized recommendations to your visitors based on their history. For example, if they've been looking at black shoes, offer them more models of this type. However, be careful not to lose visitors by offering too many options.

Similarly, if you want to offer your visitor new recommendations, don't do it on every visit. Do it every 5 connections, for example. This way, you'll avoid overwhelming the visitor with information that he or she won't be able to process.

Finally, not all customers are receptive to recommendations. Some are even resistant to them. If you notice that one of them has never clicked on a personalized recommendation, don't do it. And avoid this kind of practice with this type of visitor, as you risk losing them.

Website personalization is a tool that every good marketer should have in their toolbox to improve their site's results. Increased engagement and conversion rates, higher average shopping basket... The benefits are manifold. However, these methods should be used sparingly, as users are only in favor of them to a certain extent. Brands therefore need to strike a balance between the rigor of algorithms and the nuance of human buyers. While artificial intelligence should eventually gain ground in large-scale web personalization, it will always remain conditional on customer knowledge. And to date, there's only one way to obtain reliable data on users: UX research. Firstly, because it's the product of a scientific method. Secondly, because it reveals real user behavior in its entirety, beyond behavior on your site. 

If you want to improve the personalization of your website without offending your users, get in touch with our team! We'll find the right messages to deliver to your target audience, in the right dosage and at the right moment in their journey.


Ho, S. Y., & Bodoff, D. (2014). The effects of Web personalization on user attitude and behavior. MIS quarterly, 38(2), 497-A10.

Personalization that leads to customer loyalty: examples to learn from. (n.d.). White Label Loyalty.

Salonen, V., & Karjaluoto, H. (2016). Web personalization: the state of the art and future avenues for research and practice. Telematics and Informatics, 33(4), 1088-1104.

Schade, A. (2018, June 16). 6 tips for successful personalization. Nielsen Norman Group.

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Thibault Geenen

Thibault Geenen

Thibault is fascinated by the power of UX, especially user research and nowadays the UX for Good principles. As an entrepreneur, he's a huge fan of liberated company principles, where teammates give the best through creativity without constraints. A science-fiction lover, he remains the only human being believing that Andy Weir's 'The Martian' is a how-to guide for entrepreneurs.

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