How to Deliver Personalized Content to Unknown Users

Tracy Pogue, Director of Project Management

Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen has stated that “a great customer experience is what sets organizations apart as market leaders…we need automated ways to personalize content and streamline content velocity.”

As customers ourselves, we want brands to anticipate our needs and deliver helpful suggestions. Think Amazon or Nordstrom serving you recommendations based on prior purchase history. Think real estate sites such as Redfin or Trulia recommending homes based on previous search behavior.

There are countless examples of brands creating tailored experiences for their audiences, but there is one underlying point that most B2B websites simply cannot compete with: authenticated views of their customer. Without knowing a customer’s basic contact information, many organizations assume that content personalization is out of reach. Yet, the expectation persists for our customers: provide the right products, information, or resources for my specific experience.

If you’re like me and have spent a lot of time sitting through personalization demos, you’ve probably noticed that most of these are geared toward eCommerce sites and primarily B2C brands. However, by applying the right tactics and marketing technologies, B2B and B2C brands alike can offer personalized experiences not just to their authenticated customers, but anonymous visitors as well.

Here are the top five ways to personalize content to anonymous visitors:

1. Implicit Behavior

Leverage cookies to learn what pages or products your customers and prospects have been clicking on. Once you understand the content your customers have previously viewed, build rules in your personalization tool, such as Adobe Target, to deliver related content based on these implicit behavior points. While this requires repeat visitation on the part of the user, this is one of the strongest and most effective ways to not only personalize content, but drive conversions.

2. DSP Integration

During Adobe Summit, Narayen commented, “the experience business needs a central nervous system.” As marketers, your best investment is in technology platforms that aggregate and analyze data to break down unnecessary silos. Adobe’s Audience Manager integrates with several of today’s DSPs, meaning when a user click on your ad, data is aggregated back to Audience Manager which generates an authenticated ID that is attributed to that specific visitor. Using that ID, you can begin to tailor content based on which ads the visitor has engaged with in the past without them ever having to fill out a form or disclose personal information.

3. Email

There are two ways to “know” who your visitors are by leveraging email. By using email attributes (query strings appended to links in your email) via your analytics platform, you can build rules to serve content based on email clicks.

Alternatively, by using tools like Adobe Audience Manager, you can personalize content based on an email open alone. Though only available in browser-based email clients, using a capture ID (1 x 1 pixel) you can apply an authentication ID based on email open, which is then passed to Audience Manager.

While both these tactics are viable options, they are often better used in tandem. While the goal is to deliver email content that customers will immediately want to interact with, it’s important to still obtain at least some information through email open rates to optimize future content strategies.

4. Match Provider

Third-party match providers can help identify users and correlate them to your offline data when users don’t authenticate. Using cookies and devices, no authentication is needed to pass PII (personally identifiable information) from your marketing automation system back to your data management platform.

5. Fill in the PII Gaps

If a site log-in/authentication mechanism doesn’t make sense for your web property, consider the various, alternate ways to obtain user information such as lead forms or interactive content. Using a combination of cookies and obtained user PII, start to build segments based on the data and key learnings.

Even if you’re not Amazon or Nordstrom, content personalization is a possibility for any brand. The key is to select the right technology that builds a holistic view of your customer across all channels by aggregating data via a central nervous system, as Narayen suggested. In the end, just because a site visitor may be anonymous shouldn’t deter brands from delivering a highly personal content experience.


About the author: Tracy Pogue

Tracy is R2i's Director of Project Management and believes communication and organization are a project’s two best friends. When she’s not launching websites and putting together massive to-do lists, Tracy enjoys being a foodie, reminiscing about her wedding (which she would do all over again if she could), Instagraming pics of her dogs, Tarzan and Parker James, and trying to convince her husband to start a farm filled with Goldendoodles and Labradoodles. 

Sign Up for Insights