Finding your evergreen personalization zones
Learn how to identify core content zones on your website in order to scale testing efforts and personalize content for your audiences.
Now that you are familiar with primary audiences and product recommendations, it’s time to think strategically about how to test and optimize the content on your website.
The ultimate goal of personalization is to always show the most relevant information to each visitor, which will allow you to hook customers and move them towards achieving your key KPI. In order to do this scalably, we recommend determining 3-5 evergreen personalization zones on your website that should be used to continually test content.
Here, we’ll explain the value of these evergreen personalization zones, and we’ll cover what type of content should be placed in each zone.
Step one: define your evergreen zones
First, analyze your site and select 3-5 areas that should be continually tested. Common evergreen zones to choose from include:
- Homepage hero banner
- Homepage container (2-3 content pieces)
- PLP banner
- Global banner
- Mobile navigation pane banner
- Desktop navigation pane banner
- Landing page
You don’t necessarily need to pick from the list above, but remember that these zones should be high-profile areas of your site. Testing should happen in easily visible, highly-trafficked spots that can function like a “billboard” for your unique value propositions and resources. You’ll want to display the most relevant content to each audience group in these strategic places.
Why is it so important to establish 3-5 of these zones as your evergreen testing sites? One, it will help you minimize the chance of the site “breaking” while you are running tests. If your developers and other departments are in agreement that these areas should not be touched, then you remove the risk of a test malfunctioning. Two, it gives you more agility to run tests consistently, especially if you secure buy-in from executives to have regular access to these zones.
As a best practice, we recommend labelling each zone for consistency throughout the organization. This will also help you track content performance over time.
Step two: define your unique selling propositions
Next, it’s time to identify the value propositions of your brand that should be tested in these zones. If you don’t have these defined already, take some time to brainstorm all the reasons why a visitor would select your brand over a competitor.
Some common selling propositions include:
- Eco-friendly product
- High-quality craftsmanship
- Great rewards program
- Easy account management
- Free shipping
- Generous return policy
- Affordable payment plans
- The brand is a recognized expert in the field
Your initial list might be extensive, so it’s important to narrow down the selling propositions to 3-6. Remember, at this step you simply want to define a few critical points that you can immediately test for each audience group. As you gather data about which points perform the best, you can eliminate some selling propositions and add in others.
If you need help at this stage, consider using this template to build out a repository of your brand’s unique selling propositions to draw from over time.
Step three: select your zone and identify your selling propositions
Once you have your 3-6 unique selling propositions, select the first content zone for testing. For this zone, you’ll need to build out different content variations for each selling proposition.
For example, let’s say that the first content zone you select for testing is a banner on a product listing page (PLP), with the goal to help users feel more comfortable with your brand as they browse products. Ask yourself: what unique selling propositions would assist in this goal? Select your three best guesses to use for this initial test. We went ahead and selected three common unique selling propositions for our example:
- Option to pay over time
- Generous return policy
- High-quality products
Step four: bring your selling propositions to life by creating the content
Next, take your chosen unique selling propositions and create the content that will populate your variations. How will you sell each point to your consumer? For example, if your selling point is “the product is high quality,” it is rarely enough to simply state that it is high quality. How might you prove this? Can you describe the materials, showcase a customer review, or reference an award?
Helpful hint: in the early stages, don’t worry so much about the design and placement of your content zone (in this case, the PLP banner). It may be a good idea to stick with the same template and placement so you can focus on the actual messaging — this will give you accurate data about how the actual messages resonate with your consumers. Over time, after you’ve gathered information about the best way to articulate and sell your relevant messages, you can then invest in the design.
Step five: use best practices to build and launch your campaigns
Once you have your content zone and variations, it’s time to build and launch these campaigns. There are some best practices to keep in mind as you navigate this step which will make it easier to continue scaling your testing efforts.
Test with your primary audiences in mind. You’ll want to run each zone, and each variation, to all of your primary audience groups. This will make it easier for you to optimize quickly after you start to see winning data, and it will tell you if one audience segment prefers certain messaging over another.
Additionally, your testing period should run for a minimum of two weeks in order to see accurate results. As the test runs, you can analyze the “probability to best” of the variations. A best practice is to identify a winner when the “probability to be best” reaches 95%, but if you are experiencing lower traffic in the campaign, then it would be better to allow it to run for more time. In this scenario, an 80% “probability to be best” would be ideal to declare a winner.
Once you start to see what resonates with different audiences, you can then start allocating certain variations to certain segments — and continue experimenting with the exact phrasing and presentation to see what is most effective towards driving your key KPI.
Step six: audience analysis and insights
After two weeks, you will likely see a clear winning variation for each of your audience groups. At this point, you can discontinue the losing variations and continue running with the winner — but that step alone isn’t good enough.
It’s important to gather data and think about why that variation won for that audience. We recommend writing down a few notes for each winning variation. Make a hypothesis: why do you think it performed well, especially compared to the other variations? Keeping track of this over time will give you critical insights into what motivates your primary audience segments, which creates a strong foundation for additional testing and puts you on the path to truly understanding your consumer.
These learnings will be valuable across your organization. Knowing what resonates with your audience groups will help you optimize content on other channels, including paid ads, physical assets, and so much more.
Step seven: repeat and optimize
Your testing could end here, and it would already be better than your current site experience. But there is so much untapped potential that you can unlock with continuous testing. Test your winning variation against other iterations — phrasing, design, calls to action — to continue honing in on the best site experience. The insights you’ll unlock through this process will ensure that your visitors always encounter the best, most relevant content for them, which can lead to more revenue and engagement over time.
Finally, consider amplifying your winning messages by leveraging the same unique selling propositions in other evergreen content zones. Repetition across your site is critical for customer impact, as customers often need to see a message several times, in several places, before they will take action.
While testing can feel like an overwhelming concept, identifying your evergreen content zones, and staying thoughtful and organized about your approach, is really all that it takes to make a significant impact on your customer. Continue to leverage the insights you gain from testing to hone in on your messaging and reap the benefits of a more engaged and informed consumer.