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How to Engage Your Audiences with Personalized Website Content

by | May 24, 2024



Mayhaps you work in marketing for a university and are responsible for part of its web presence. If your school offers over 30 degree programs, how can you immediately speak to someone browsing the web who’s interested in a program you offer? Moreover, how can you meet the unique needs of every single one of your organization’s website visitors—or potential visitors? The answer is content personalization: the process of creating experiences tailored to people’s needs and desires by delivering the right message to them at the right time. When you implement web content personalization, you can increase conversions by moving people along more quickly in their customer journey—all without compromising page load times. 

In the case of a university, “conversions” might mean program applications, open house registrants, donations, or something else, and those audiences all need to encounter custom messages in order for them to quickly get what they want from your school’s site. For example, a program applicant from abroad might need to see, front-and-center, information relevant to international students, whereas a domestic applicant needs to see different information. Similarly, if you ran a state government site about elections, content personalization would allow you to leverage your visitors’ geolocation data to show them location-relevant information about polling sites, times, and other details, right on your homepage. You could show Southern California polling locations for visitors in Los Angeles, while displaying Northern California polling locations for visitors in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

What can content personalization do? 

The sky’s the limit with this technology. Let’s look at some of the different ways you can implement it to meet your organization’s goals. 

Personalize Your Value Proposition 

Let’s go back to our university example. If you were in charge of marketing, you’d want academic program information to get to students and hiring information to get to prospective staff and faculty. Content personalization on the web allows you to deliver the most relevant content to each of your user personas. If a user is researching medical schools, for example, and they land on your university’s homepage, content personalization technology can surface medical school-related content on that page. The same goes for a user researching public policy schools, engineering departments, or any other distinct university offering.

A wireframe of Eclipse University, showing content personalized to those researching medical schools.
Content personalization technology can surface a top story (shown here in pink) on your homepage related to your visitor’s interest.

Personalized content doesn’t have to surface on individual pages. Content personalization technology can also enable your university to, say, prioritize content on a news feed based on topics in which a user has demonstrated an interest, as in the example below.

A wireframe of the 'News' page of Eclipse University, highlighting posts specifically from the school of medicine.
Content personalization technology prioritizes news feed content based on topics in which a visitor has demonstrated interest.

Personalize CTAs

When you know your audience, you can offer them what they’re looking for. Content personalization technology helps you know your audience and surface conversion points relevant to their needs. To see how this works, let’s stay with the medical school example and assume that one of your goals as a marketer is to engage alumni who might donate or otherwise benefit the school. If users are alums who are already subscribed to your alumni newsletter, content personalization technology “knows” that and can ask the user to do something different but still beneficial to your marketing goals. 

A wireframe of a 'Subscribe' form to receive alumni association news.
Default call-to-action for visitors who are either new or for whom you don’t have a record of them subscribing.
A wireframe with a 'Subscribe' button to receive alumni association news, and a 'Find Alumni Events Near You' button..
Content personalization technology-enhanced version surfaces a version that “knows” the visitor is already subscribed to your newsletter.

Customize content based on geography

Let’s drill down into an example based on your site visitor’s location. Let’s say your visitor is a prospective student in a foreign country. Content personalization can enable you to display homepage variants for international visitors vs. domestic visitors, with imagery and headlines that speak to their geographic and cultural realities. 

A wireframe of the Eclipse University homepage, showing content personalized to international students.
Variable homepage content based on your visitors’ geography, such as another country.

Tailor suggested content to user interest

If you have anything to do with a site that markets something, you know that your content can and should surface in various forms and at different steps of a customer’s journey. And if you’re in charge of marketing for a university, you’d benefit from relevant content appearing for a user interested in medicine, engineering, sociology, or whatever else they’re interested in. 

A wireframe of a news article, highlighting similar categories and related articles.
Medical school-related content dynamically displays on a university site once content personalization technology identifies a user as interested in medicine.

Once a user has demonstrated interest in a topic, we can try and retain their attention with look-alike content with dynamic lists of related content. The ways in which that interest is understood are variable, with some newer technologies employing AI to achieve this. When you personalize content to your distinct audiences, you benefit them. And isn’t that why they seek you out in the first place?

How does content personalization work?

Currently, content personalization on the web is mostly handled through JavaScript substitution, which demands a lot of “thinking time” for machines to surface personalized content. That load time can mean the difference between a user instantly seeing information relevant to them and a user getting impatient and navigating elsewhere, thus missing your message.

Our preferred content personalization solution, co-developed with Pantheon, stores pre-rendered information in a content delivery network (CDN) which is closer to your end-users and can thus send information to them faster. This solution, called Edge Integrations, includes a software development kit (SDK) that allows you to customize your WordPress or Drupal website to configure personalized experiences for your visitors. It uses advanced technology to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time, ensuring that your website is always relevant, engaging, and quick-loading.

What's next?

Content personalization helps organizations improve their credibility, reach, and impact. Edge Integrations simplify the process of providing visitors with the information they desire, in a timely manner. This improves the efficiency of creating content and optimizes the impact of your organization.

If you have any questions about how this technology can help you achieve your goals, or if you're curious about how content personalization can benefit your organization, contact us now. Our team is already integrating this powerful technology for organizations like yours, and we’d love to help you next.

Kelly Jacobs

Kelly Jacobs

Web Developer

After nearly two decades writing code, Kelly found a home within our Drupal development team. That doesn’t mean he found a home in one place, as he loves living nomadically in the US and abroad. He’s a great full stack developer who enjoys a great full stack of pancakes, as long as they’re vegan.

Rob Loach

Rob Loach

Assoc. Director of Research & Innovation

When web projects get tough, the one and only Rob Loach just gets more emboldened. As a Assoc. Director of Research and Innovation with a keen interest in project management, he's an unstoppable double-threat who eviscerates all obstacles. Whether architecting complex web applications or leading a team scrum, Rob is always on the front-lines at Kalamuna.