Real-time Personalization 101: What It Is and When to Use It

Real-time PersonalizationReal-time personalization. You’ve heard of it … vaguely. And now that many marketing automation platforms like Marketo are offering this feature, maybe you’re ready to dive in. But if you’re still trying to figure out exactly what it is and why it matters, you aren’t alone.

Before you can decide if real-time personalization is right for you, you need to know exactly what it is, what it does and what it’s used for.

What Is Real-time Personalization?


Simply put, real-time personalization is a way to automatically deliver tailored content to different groups of visitors to your site. For example, you might set up your site to recognize visitors from a particular industry and adjust images, text and content accordingly.

If you’re using buyer personas, you probably already tailor your email content and other marketing communications to address what you know about each persona. And it makes sense to take that approach with your website, too. According to Demand Gen Report, 70% of buyers consider websites the most influential channel when making a purchase decision.

But when up to 98% of most website visitors are anonymous, how do you provide a tailored experience to someone you know nothing about?

That’s where the real-time personalization features of marketing automation software can help.

Real-time personalization gathers information from anonymous visitors’ IP addresses and can use that information to categorize visitors based on business demographics. From there, you can serve the most relevant content to those categorized visitors when they land on your website.

What Does It Look Like?


Let’s take a furniture company as an example. Their target market includes purchasers for both hotels and office complexes. With real-time personalization, the furniture company can determine which anonymous visitors are hotels that need bedframes and which are offices that need desk chairs — and highlight the right products for each site visitor.

Real-time personalization can be a big asset for your sales pipeline. Offering website visitors personalized recommendations has been shown to increase conversion frequency by 353%. But it might not be the right tactic for everybody. Is it right for you?

When Should I Use It?


  1. Account-based Marketing. If you’re targeting a specific set of accounts, real-time personalization can be a gold mine. You can use IP addresses to determine whether anonymous visitors belong to your target accounts. Then, tailor your site to speak directly to their needs and preferences, increasing your odds of conversion.
  2. Local or Regional Content. If some of your content is more relevant in certain locations — for example, events, trade shows or regional services — then real-time personalization can help you identify anonymous visitors within your region and promote location-specific content.
  3. Content Based on Industry or Company Type. Remember that furniture company? That’s a great example of how real-time personalization can help target verticals. It ensures that buyers from different industries only see content that matters to them, instead of wasting time on irrelevant offers.

If any of these scenarios apply to you, real-time personalization can make content marketing across different segments possible without a massive increase in time, effort or resources — giving your website the edge it needs to earn more business.

What Next?


Real-time personalization can sound like a high-tech challenge, but don’t be intimidated. There are plenty of tools that can make implementation simple and painless. And even after you’ve chosen the right technology provider, you don’t have to go it alone.

We’ve helped our clients use real-time personalization to enhance their websites and boost their sales and marketing efforts — and we’re ready to do the same for you. Want to get started? Get in touch, and let’s talk next steps.


About Tim Cook

Tim has more than 25 years of B2B marketing experience. He leads The Mx Group’s Client Services and Demand Generation departments. Previously, Tim held senior marketing positions at the global outsourcing firm Convergys, and served clients at McCann-Erickson and Resource Marketing. Tim completed his B.A. in English literature from Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. He completed certificate programs in integrated marketing communications and change management at the Chicago Graduate School of Business.

  1. Roberta O'keith says:

    Great information Tim! Would this also work for the small business person with targeted consumer groups? I would be interested to hear your recommendations on tools as well.

    1. Tim Cook Tim Cook says:

      Hi Roberta,

      Great to hear from you and hope you are doing well! To answer your question, Marketo’s RTP-reverse-IP lookup features are most accurate at identifying information at the company level, not the individual level. That said, there are other features within Marketo (and other MA platforms) that do allow you to deliver a customized web experience to individuals (or really, groups of individuals) in your database. For example, you could deliver RTP on your site for all people that work at this size of company, or within this industry. Provided that these people get to your web site from an email you send from your MA platform — or — that they are a known contact in your MA database and they submit a form while they are visiting the site. I’d be happy to go a bit deeper with you if you are interested!

Leave a Comment
Let us know what you think. You never know, it may spark a conversation.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *