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Back to Basics: Personalization only adds value if you do it right

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Everyone knows that in our digital economy, data is more valuable than oil. But it’s what you actually do with data that makes it so valuable. Personalizing your user’s experience can do wonders for your conversion rate: the Boston Consulting Group has estimated that personalized experiences could show brands a revenue increase between 6% and 10%.

If you do it ineffectively, though, you’re at risk of wasting money. That’s where Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) comes in. CRO experts are all about finding out the best ways for you to optimize the user experience to boost conversions, and personalization is a great place to start. So, here’s my Personalization 101 to help you get going.

Segmenting and targeting audiences

First things first: don’t skip the basics. Know your audience and know yourself. If your company doesn’t have the budget, a rich set of data, or the technical capability for large-scale changes, that’s fine! A little personalization can go a long way.

Imagine you own a business selling pet supplies nationwide, and you’re running an online flash sale on dog beds. By segmenting your audience by what type of animal they have, and then targeting only dog owners with your sale ads and your sale landing page, you’re already making small steps to providing a relevant experience to your customers.

One British retailer does this by encouraging new customers to link their social accounts. This way, the company can, with consent, use information such as location and gender to segment their audiences and provide them with personalized offers and sales.

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Ultimately, you want to make your site and your products as accessible and attractive to each potential customer as possible. As Steve Krug said: “As a user, I should never have to devote a millisecond of thought to whether things are clickable – or not.”

Be relevant in your user’s journey

Knowing that a user abandoned their cart is really helpful information. Why did they abandon it? Was the product too expensive? Did they run out of time on their lunch break? Did they see something else they preferred? Personalize the experience for them. If the products in their basket have a high value, you could send them an email with a 10% off code or suggest similar, more affordable options at the top of the page next time they visit. It’s personalized, but it’s not intrusive. It’s giving the user something that will actually benefit them.

It’s worth bearing in mind that people are often not buying for themselves: not all people buying baby products are parents themselves. Relevance means still being able to reach them without targeting them like expecting parents.

Don’t overdo it – and don’t be creepy

As with most things, personalization is best done in moderation. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. Data should be used wisely. Transparency and user consent really do matter. We’ve seen the trouble the tech giants have been in with opaque consent flows and some outright omissions. Users want to know how their data is being used.

Remember Target making the headlines for alerting a teenage girl’s parents to the fact she was pregnant by using her shopping behaviors to send her personalized coupons by mail?  Even Amazon, with its amazing resources and data, doesn’t get it quite right. They might show you the “buy it again” option for products you’re likely to need to stock up on but are equally likely to suggest repurchasing products no one is going to buy repeatedly in a short amount of time.

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Consumers have become used to super-relevant ads and expect highly personalized experiences. In order to keep providing this within a world of less data and more regulation, we need to be smarter about what users want and how we can best deliver it to them. Invest your time and money into asking users what would be beneficial to them (e.g., in a quick survey or form when they arrive on your site). People know what they want, and they’re not afraid to tell you.

Do it right

Personalization done well can make consumers feel like you are engaging directly with them, making them more likely to convert. But remember that personalization isn’t the be-all and end-all. While it can be tremendously valuable, there’s no point in getting caught up in the buzzwords. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Don’t just copy what others are doing; figure out what’s best for your own clients or customers. Start small and build up in complexity, test everything, and always, always keep your end-user at the forefront of your mind.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Laura Robinson is head of conversion rate optimization at Brainlabs. Having conducted hundreds of experiments across several industries from e-commerce to finance, she is passionate about facilitating the increase in online sales for clients.

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12 Tools and Resources for Software Developers in Insurance

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12 Tools and Resources for Software Developers in Insurance


If a developer designs a system for Big Data analysis or creates programs for processing and analyzing application data for mobile gadgets, in any case he cannot do without analytics tools and services. Big Data is understood as the basis of the business of insurance companies that depend on information, that is, probabilities, statistical data, customer information, and so on.

Today, for programmers whose responsibilities include insurance software development, many useful tools have been created that are suitable for their needs and corresponding to their skills.

TOP-12 tools for programmers of insurance companies

Every developer who works on coding for insurance products will need the following 12 “helpers”:

  1. BitDeli. It is a startup that has been operating since November 2021. With its help, programmers are able to analyze various data using a variety of metrics through Python scripts. An important plus of it is that the scripts can be of different levels of complexity, which will depend on the needs of the developers. They can even be self-taught. Suitable for analytics. The solution is easy to use.
  2. Continuity. It is a platform that was created with the aim of pulling businesses to the same level as the companies of its creators – Yahoo and Facebook. The guys created a data structure to implement a new level of abstraction over complex connections in HBase and Hadoop. The main advantage of the platform is the facilitation of Big Data development processes for programs that are designed to work with external and internal audiences.
  3. Flurry. This application is in the “store” format, which is intended for the creation of mobile programs, as well as for the analysis of their data. This allows the application to be improved.
  4. Google Prediction API. Suitable for developers who have the necessary knowledge to work with the Prediction API. This interface will provide a wide range of diagrams and topics, and will also allow the application to give correct answers.
  5. Infochimps. We are talking about a platform, despite the fact that the brand today is trying to become a company and become even more successful. As for the platform for the programmer, he gets the Wukong framework, which has a key task – to interact with Hadoop and its data, while using Ruby scripts.
  6. Keen IO. In 2012, this tool was recognized as the best and most effective in its category, and it is used in analytics by mobile application developers. Its plus lies in its ease of use. You need to apply just one line, which is inserted into the source code to be able to track all the necessary information from the programs.
  7. Kontagent. A tool for processing huge amounts of information.
  8. Mortar Data. It is a cloud service that has managed to replace MapReduce with a combination of Python and Pig. It differs in simplicity and clarity in operation.
  9. Placed Analytics. A tool that provides programmers with ready-made products. With its help, it is possible to obtain complete information about the use of the application by customers: where, when and how long it lasted. The data is especially useful for app owners and advertisers.
  10. Precog. It is an interactive environment for developing insurance analytics products based on Quirrel, an open query language.
  11. Spring for Apache Hadoop. A tool that greatly simplifies the creation of programs that use Hadoop, and also provides integration with other Spring applications.
  12. StatsMix. It is a tool with which developers can collect and analyze data received from programs using only the languages they have learned.
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Take a look at the Fireart site for more interesting and useful information. The main thing to remember is that analytics not only assesses the quality of traffic, looks for ways to increase conversion and reduces the cost of attracting customers, but also determines the most effective advertising channels, compiles portraits of visitors and their behavior patterns on sites, identifies site shortcomings up to technical errors.



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From Creation to Stellar ROI

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From Creation to Stellar ROI


Reaching the right customers with your Google Ads campaigns is critical to increase conversions. While it’s possible that scattershot advertisements could catch the interest of Internet users, it’s far more likely that this general ad approach will result in a disconnect between dollars spent and sales made.

To help ensure your ads are reaching the people in the right place, it’s worth leveraging a function in the Google Display Network (GDN) known as affinity audiences. Using these audiences helps pinpoint customer segments that may be more likely to purchase your products, in turn driving more effective and efficient ad spend.

But what exactly is an affinity audience? How do they work, how can you create your own — and what can you expect once you dial in the ideal customer segment? Let’s find out.

What are Affinity Audiences?

Affinity audiences are used by the Google Display Network to deliver your ads to relevant locations online. Given that Google’s network reaches more than 90 percent of Internet users worldwide, it’s well worth the time and effort to understand and apply these audiences at scale.

But what is an affinity audience?

Let’s break the term down into its component parts. Audience is easy — it’s the group of people that will see your ad. Affinity, meanwhile, is defined as “a feeling of closeness and understanding that someone has for another person because of their similar qualities, ideas, or interests.” The result? An affinity audience is a group of potential customers that share similar interests or qualities (similar to a buyer persona).

Using affinity audiences allows your brand to better align ad campaigns to buyers who are interested in what you have to sell. For example, if you’re in the coffee-making business but also have a focus on reducing plastic waste, your affinity audience might contain both people who love coffee and those who love the environment. Groups with both of these qualities are far more likely to buy your product than either group individually.

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Affinity Targeting

Affinity targeting, meanwhile, is the process of identifying the ideal affinities that align with your product or service. Consider the coffee example above. While targeting buyers who love coffee helps improve your brand placement, it also puts you in direct competition with a host of other brands all producing similar products. Additional affinity modifiers that narrow your focus — such as sustainable growth processes, fair labor practices, or environmental priorities — can help set your brand apart.

Do note that it is possible to get too specific with your audience targeting. For example, if your coffee brand targets audiences that prefer beans from a specific region that are collected, packed, and shipped in a specific way, you may end up with a handful of very loyal customers but almost no broader appeal. As a result, targeting needs to narrow the focus without preventing you from reaching the greater public.

What are Custom Audiences?

GDN and the Google Ads platform contain a host of pre-built Google affinity audiences — also called segments — that you can use to focus your marketing and advertisements. These include everything from pet lovers to do-it-yourselfers, TV comedy fans and users with an interest in news and politics.

prebuilt affinity audiences in google ads

But they can’t cover everything. You may have a product or service that doesn’t dovetail with existing segments — here, custom affinity audiences can help.

Understanding Custom Affinity Audiences

Custom affinity audiences are those you create yourself in your Google Ads platform to align with the interests of your target customer base. While Google will suggest different potential segment tags depending on what you input, it’s worth taking the time to do some market research before diving into the custom affinity process. This lets you pinpoint the audience preferences that align best with your brand.

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You can create custom affinity audiences related to four criteria: Interests, URLs, places, or applications. In general, places and applications are the least useful of the bunch. Here’s why. In our coffee example above, there aren’t a lot of coffee-related applications that would set your audience apart. And while geography has some impact on buying behavior, it’s usually not enough to justify an entire segment.

Interests and URLs, meanwhile, can help you dig down and identify potential affinity options that may be shared by your target market at large.

How to Create Affinity Audiences

Ready to create your own affinity audience? Follow these steps:

  1. Log into your Google Ads account.
  2. Select “Tools and Settings”, then “Audience manager.”
  3. Select “Custom Segments.”
  4. Enter segment name and interests.
  5. Save your new segment.

Let’s tackle each step in more detail.

1. Log Into Your Google Ads Account

how to use custom affinity audiences: log in to google ads

First, log into your Google Ads account. Here, you can see any active campaigns along with the associated affinity audiences.

2. Select “Tools and Settings”, then “Audience Manager”

how to use custom affinity audiences: access audience manager

Next, head to “tools and settings” in the upper-right-hand corner and then find “Audience manager” in the drop-down menu.

3. Select “Custom Segments”

how to use custom affinity audiences: custom segments

Now you’ll see a list of any data segments you’re currently using to target prospective buyers. To create an audience or segment, click on “Custom Segments” and then the blue “+” icon.

4. Enter Segment Name and Interests

how to use custom affinity audiences: segment name

Now, give your segment a name and add a few potential interests. For example, if you enter “coffee”, Google will return interests or purchase intention ideas such as “coffees to make with an espresso machine”, “how to make coffee with coffee beans” and “coffee makers that make different coffees.”

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5. Save Your New Segment

Finally, save your new segment with use for ad campaigns. You can create as many segments as you like until you’ve covered all relevant market bases.

The Impact of Effective Affinity Audiences

Ideally, affinity audiences lead to a definitive result: Increased ROI.

Here’s why: When your ads are shown to audiences that are interested in what you’re selling, they’re more likely to click through and purchase your products. As a result, the money you spend on advertising is directly offset by the conversions driven by these ads, in turn creating positive ROI. More generic campaigns, meanwhile, may still increase overall sales but not enough to balance out the spend required to reach larger audiences.

The right audience makes all the difference. Targeted, customized affinity audiences help you reach the people that want to buy your products, in turn boosting conversions and making your overall ad spend more cost-effective. Custom affinity audiences further narrow your market targeting, increasing the likelihood of revenue and reducing the gap between what you spend on ads and what you get in return.

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The HubSpot Blog’s 2022 Social Media Marketing Report: Data from 310 Marketers

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The HubSpot Blog's 2022 Social Media Marketing Report: Data from 310 Marketers


In our recent Marketing Trends survey, we learned that social media is the most effective channel marketers leverage, as well as the channel they use most.

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