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Website Personalization Will Be Your Best Marketing Tool In 2017

  • By Brad Poirier
  • 01 Dec, 2016

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website personalization software 2017
As the 2016 year comes to a close many of us are dining out. Wether it's because family is in town or you're out shopping or you just want to take advantage of those 1/2 price late-night shakes at Sonic. Let's say you're out to dinner though, it's Wednesday aroudn 6 P.M. You and your friends sit down, the waitress greets you and hands a menu and printed specials page. The menu is the lunch  menu and the specials print out is for last  weekend's specials. How rude!

This scenario doesn't present itself in real life, or at least it shouldn't. It gives you an idea of how silly it is though, for a website to display untimely information or the wrong information to a user at any given time. This applies to more than just restaurants, it's across any vertical really. Home services, Auto, Medical, so many categories can benefit from website personalization. It doesn't take rocket science to accomplish this, it just takes the right software and the right creativity.

So what is website personalization?

It's website magic, that's what it is. No really, it is. Magic is really just a bunch of tricks and slight of hands. Website personalization is software that dynamically changes the content of your website based on a predefined set of triggers, or rules. Let's use our bad larry restaurant. The better restaurant on Wednesday at 6 PM would show: a) the dinner menu when you are greeted and b) specials that are for Wednesday only. This is what website personalization does. It changes the content of your website based on triggers such as time of day, day of the week, how many times a person has visited your site, if they have spent a certain of amount of time on it, etc. The triggers can also be set based on geography or a specific URL they were coming from, like a Google AdWords campaign .

What can website personalization do for my business?

The competitive edge. That's what. The majority of business owners won't adopt website personalization, so the smart ones like you that do embrace it will have a leg up on your competition. Let's say you are an oil company that offers 24 hour service, for example. Instead of someone arriving at your website at 2 A.M. In the morning with no heat and fumbling around your website looking to see if you even offer 24 hour services, let's try something different.

Try this: Let's set up a rule that basically says this: TRIGGER: If someone visits my website between 5 P.M. And 7 A.M. (When the office is closed), do this ACTION: Change the homepage to say: "We offer 24-hour oil delivery. Call our 24-hour emergency line now: 800-555-1212 . You'll be cozy and warm again in no time!"

Now, let's say that person visited your site first before the other oil companies they Googled, because well, you have great search engine optimization or they found you from a well written Google AdWords campaign . It's likely you will be the person they call because you are making a very good assumption that they're looking for an emergency oil company and you're telling them you are an emergency provider immediately on your homepage.

Restaurants and Oil companies receive immediate sales and revenue though. What about categories that have a longer buying cycle, for instance a kitchen and bathroom design company. That buying cycle is much longer than just dinner options. It might take 3-6 months from the initial point of contact until they make the final decision. There's a good chance your potential customer has visited your website at least a couple of times. Your static based website though, is showing them the same content every time. They're getting bored!

Try this: On their second visit to your website, display a "Welcome Back" message. Place a contact form right next to that message inviting them to ask any questions they have on their return visit. Or on their second visit and IF they are from a certain town, display a gallery of photos of a recently completed project from the town they are currently in. It reassures them that you a) do great work and b) offer services in their town.

Their are lots of ways to use website personalization, you just have to jump in and try it out. Where can you get This type of software? A select few website CMS's have this built in. Our CMS happens to be one of them. We have a built in personalization tool that allows you to quickly set up your rule and action to follow. We think ours is the best, obviously! If you're not yet using our CMS, I feel bad for you. There are other options though. Companies like HubSpot and AddThis offer their own version of website personalization.

Want to see website personalization in action? Schedule your own personalized demo (no pun intended).
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By Brad Poirier 15 Aug, 2017
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Just like website design ranges from no use of images to the overuse of them, same is true with icons today. More than ever, some webpages are being cluttered with icons, that often add no context to the page or just add nothing to the user experience.

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By Brad Poirier 13 Jul, 2017
What’s more important to you: A shiny trophy for being number one on Google or a boat load of new clients coming your way.

Yes, we have said before that the number one position on Google gets 33% of the traffic for that keyword, but what do you see coming up as number one now-a-days?

Local Directories come up first. Do a quick Google search for anything local business related, for instance "restaurants near me". I did this search, and not one result on the first page was from a local business website. ALL of the first 10 results were local review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and OpenTable.

Now to be fair, there were three local results that appeared first, in what we call the Google Snack Pack. Before the website results, Google displays three locations from Google Maps, which is also very important. For websites though, it was all local directories.
By Brad Poirier 18 May, 2017
There's pros and cons to this type of Facebook post. The pro, well, you're making an attempt to create business. The cons? How do you set an expiration date on that? Even if you indicate one in the post, there could be that customer that just says "oh, I didn't see that". Further, how do you keep track of it? Are you going to write down on a sheet of paper every time someone comes in and says "Hey, I saw this post on Facebook". Also, not everyone wants to mention that. People want to present coupons and get a deal, they don't want to announce that they're getting a deal.

There is a much better way to accomplish what you are trying to do. You may have seen it, used it, tried it, but here's how to get the most out of the post type called "Offer". Watch the video below to see an example or read below.
By Brad Poirier 10 May, 2017

Chances are the website you’re using for your business is using Wordpress. Why? Because right now,  Wordpress powers 26% of the web   ...worldwide. That’s an overwhelming market share. In the past, my experience using Wordpress has been for some personal blogs, never as a commercial website. For the past few years working as a web designer, I have been using a version of  Zurb’s Foundation Framework   to develop websites. I’ve stayed away from Wordpress for many reasons, which I’ll explain below.

I figured though: If Wordpress powers 26% of the web, it can’t be all that bad though right? Wrong. Sure, Wordpress has it’s advantages, namely in the blogging area. It still is the go-to platform of choice for blogging. Here’s the thing though: Wordpress was never meant to be a website builder. It just evolved that way. What started off as an independent project grew into the global name it is today. The entire platform though, is supported mainly by community members. Try calling a Wordpress support number. Nope. Doesn’t exist.

To really put Wordpress to the test though, I had to actually go through and build a full site, not just a blog page. Well certainly, I wasn’t going to waste my time at work building a client’s website on Wordpress. I decided to build one for myself. I have a photography hobby, and so I chose to build a photography portfolio. 15 hours later, I have an OK performing website with 3 pages setup plus some gallery pages. I am a professional designer and it took me 15 hours to get it somewhat polished.

I logged my experience every step of the way, and so here’s all of my pain points and some of the positives that came out of this experience. Overall I can tell you, though, it’s about as horrible as I expected it to be. I am more certain now than ever, that I never want to develop websites using Wordpress. I can see why large Wordpress sites are expensive to develop. Development costs are almost entirely billed by time. The longer it takes your web developer to get from blank to finished, the more it will cost you. (FYI, my development time and costs are substantially lower than industry averages)

By Brad Poirier 07 Mar, 2017
Did you know that the average consumer checks your website at least two times from two different devices before they journey into your location? Over 60% of searches start  from a smartphone device , but there is still a great amount of desktop and tablet traffic coming in. Why is that? Some of that desktop traffic is the original, organic traffic yes. However, a lot of it is a returning customer. Perhaps you're a kitchen remodeler , someone searches for "kitchen remodeling" and they find your website from their smartphone. They're not ready to buy yet though. So they bookmark or they email their significant other the web address. When they get home, they venture to their desktop or start using their tablet to continue the research.

Most (amateur) web designers only pay attention to the desktop view. Sad face: many web designers still build websites that are desktop only, they're not building responsive websites that are mobile-optimized. The worst part is they're often designing this on a 20" or larger monitor. Of course it's easy to design a great site when you have 20" of a digital canvas to work with. The real Picasso comes out when you can take that same great experience and display that on a 4" screen, AND to optimize it for as slow as a 3G connection. There's a big difference between your site being mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized. Mobile-friendly usually just means making sure the content is formatted to scroll up and down and no content stretches beyond the width of the smartphone screen. Mobile-optimized is taking the same content from your desktop and optimizing it for a mobile experience. This is important now more than ever, as Google has started to ONLY SEO Index your mobile site and not your desktop site.

So that's the why I design websites using four screens. You might interested in knowing what are the screens I design with, and how I use each one of them to turn your website from blah to Yahhh! I only build websites that are responsive. I check how the content looks and how the content interacts along the way. Below are the screens that I use to check this with and more importantly, the order in which I do this.

Screen #1 - Smartphone
You might be shocked to think that the first screen I check my work on is a mobile device. If you were a bakery and 60% of your revenue came from donuts, would you start your morning by prepping the cookies and pastries? You start with your money maker! Well, since over 60% of all Google searches start from a mobile device, why would you start with the device that people aren't using as much? I'll tell you why, it's because you're working with an amateur designer. Or perhaps you're working with a legacy designer who won't budge. When I design in a mobile-first environment, I can truly focus on that experience and maximizing it's potential. We focus on getting the most important information right away. For most businesses this means placing a "TAP-TO-CALL" style button at the top of the page. Nothing is more frustrating than having to remember the number in your head and quickly double-tap-your-home-button to get to the phone dialer and attempt to get every number in there correctly. If location visits are important we also make sure there are easy-to-find buttons for loading your bulit-in GPS navigation.

What do you think the next screen is going to be?

Screen #2 - Tablet
Did you guess that correctly? It's only natural to work my way up the screen size. Now that I've mastered the experience for mobile, I can open up canvas a little here and work on the tablet view. Tablets today range from about 7"-10" and yes there are those two outliers that are around 13" , but they're still a tablet, at least according to the internet browser being used. A growing trend for the tablet view is using what we call the "hamburger" menu. That's the 3-line menu button you might see in the upper right or left hand corner of the screen. We layout the navigation in both the hamburger format and the traditional horizontal navigation. It all depends on the business and the goal of your website. That's why we custom design all of our sites starting with a 1-on-1 consultation . Since a tablet is still inherently a mobile device where the user interacts using only a touchscreen, we still are focusing on easy, tappable buttons. Consumers are used to tapping on items with their tablets, we make it super easy for that to happen. Gone are the days of only making links available from within the text. Consumers need clear call-to-action buttons to guide them along their buying journey.

Screens #3 & #4 - Laptop & Large Monitor
Technically I'm designing and coding everything on my large monitor, but the testing is being done on multiple screens. However, when I start to design for the desktop, I'm using my laptop which dual outputs to a 21" cinema display. This allows me to have the freedom of design but to see how it will interact on a 13" monitor (which is about the average monitor size for a small laptop). The most important content is "above the fold". So if it's not designed right, some of the content that looks good on 21" would normally get cut off on a smaller screen. We make sure that doesn't happen. The desktop design is where it does get a lot more fun, and more roomy. It's like trying to pack a bunch of moving boxes into a cargo van when you've been using your 1988 Corolla earlier that day. Ahh, you can breathe a little. However, use this space carefully. Remember, with great space comes great responsibility. I've seen many web designers who came from a graphic design background. It is honestly a natural progression, but it's an entirely different approach. Use a white space or negative space is critical here. So if you're used to working with that graphic designer who loves using tons of colors and turning text into metal like beveled art and everything else that came with cheap Photoshop work from 10 years ago, they're in the wrong arena. You have about 5 seconds to capture someone's attention before they'll decide to leave the website. Now, a lot of that comes from excellent copywriting and headline writing , but bad design choices will confuse the consumer and cause them to leave and go to the next result in line.

So there you have it. The method to my madness. Some people look at website design and say why not , I look at website design and say why ? Rule of thumb: Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. I'm on the web all day long. I can easily spot a badly performing website, in terms of conversion. Today, you're website is all about conversion . Your business can't afford to run a wiki-pedia website. It needs to be a lean, mean, lead-generating machine. This applies to all business websites.

What are some examples of good and bad website design that you have seen?
By Brad Poirier 20 Feb, 2017
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