Digital channels are the best way to expand your customer base and reach new audiences in an instant. And we know that personalized marketing messages increase conversions via digital. But how do you personalize marketing content online for a prospect you know nothing about?

On average, 98 percent of visitors to a website are anonymous. These visitors don’t share contact information, and marketers don’t know anything about their demographics, preferences or interests.

That means 98 percent of your potential customer base is a mystery. What’s more, a brand’s website audience constantly changes as new campaigns are introduced, making it even more difficult for marketers to know exactly who is visiting a site at any time.

For marketers, anonymized site visitors make it infinitely harder to engage potential leads in a meaningful way and expand a customer base. Uncovering information about these audiences and anonymous leads, which can help marketers craft personalized marketing messages, is the holy grail.

Digital Breadcrumbs

To find that holy grail, marketers need to observe each visitor’s site journey, then use these observations to build user profiles. For example, a marketer can build user profiles for both anonymous and authorized site visitors by tracking each visitor’s website interactions and combining this data with search history.

Focus on building progressive profiles, learning more and more about a prospect each time they interact with the website. Combine these insights and get smarter about creating relevant marketing messages. There are great automated tools out there that can find and combine data from different places to help marketers create richer, smarter user profiles. Invest -- it's worth it.

Anonymous visitors don’t leave their email addresses, sign up for product trials, or buy from your website. Maybe it’s because there isn't a clear call to action for them to do so. Capture these visitors by giving them loads of opportunities to become customers, or even just loyal fans.

There’s a fine line between bombarding prospects and providing opportunities, however, so don’t ask for too much information up front or you will immediately turn off the prospect. Keep the required form fields in any signup page to a minimum, and ask for more data over time. Ease them into the process.

A/B Testing

Once you’re able to determine who your audience is by ramping up sign up efforts, or using a tool to build user profiles, you can start testing out content personalization. Content must continuously evolve to provide relevant value for individual users. To find out what works best for certain target audiences, marketers should constantly test how visitors respond to specific content.

Be agile and try new things to hook site visitors and grow your loyal audience. Many A/B tests fail because the offers being tested are too similar. To really drive significant results, marketers shouldn't be afraid to try big new ideas versus smaller iterations. The best way to A/B test effectively is with an automated tool that provides real time data on visitor behavior and feedback. 

But Wait, Isn't That Creepy?

Whenever marketers talk about targeting and personalization, it inevitably leads to the question of privacy. It’s a heated debate, and legislation in certain countries even requires that consumers explicitly opt in to tracking when they browse the web in order to protect privacy. Still, research finds that consumers are often willing to trade data for more relevant marketing messages and digital experiences.

In reality, you get what you give on the web -- those who are willing to opt into personalization will be rewarded with far more relevant experiences online. Imagine a world where a website can serve you exactly what you want to see at any given time. Educating consumers about the true benefits of personalization is the next big step for marketers.

For marketers to stay ahead of the game, they need deep analytical insight into anonymized customer segments, and the ability to adjust and personalize content accordingly. Focus on getting smart about data, and providing the right opportunities to turn anonymous leads into loyal customers.