5 Steps to Create a Data-Driven Marketing Strategy for Personalization

Personalization tools, like Acquia Personalization, bring marketing teams up close and personal with customers’ consumer journeys, allowing for personalized campaigns tailored to meet your target customers’ needs, increase customer satisfaction, and in turn increase your business’s lead generation. By leveraging data collected via modules easily integrated with your company’s content management system (CMS), these tools help marketers easily convert data into carefully tuned messaging, enabling them to tell stories that go above and beyond customer perspectives and offer solutions customers otherwise wouldn’t have known existed. 

But how exactly do you put the data your digital tools have collected to use? There are a lot of approaches to implementing effective personalized marketing strategies, but to boil it down to the absolute essentials, below you’ll find 5 steps detailing how to start your first personalized marketing campaign. 

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1. Identify timeframes and goals for your data driven marketing strategy

Nothing gets done without carefully planned deadlines, so the first step is to define how long your personalized campaign will run and identify a specific goal the campaign needs to reach in order to be successful. 

For example, these might look something like this: 

Timeframe: Q3 (July 1st to Sep 30th) 2023

Goal: Increase traffic to website by 3x, or 3%

2. Segmentation and identifying personas


Next, you’ll want to identify the segment and persona types your messaging will be crafted around. Segmentation is the process of organizing and making sense of the customer data your digital systems and tools have collected so far, which in turn will help guide you in the direction of your ideal customer type(s). Data to consider when performing segmentation might include demographics, psychographics, geographics, buyer behavior, and firmographics (i.e., types of organizations and how they are affiliated with each other). The list goes on. 

Broken down, your segments might look something like this:


  • Professional Role
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income


  • Personality
  • Social Status
  • Lifestyle
  • Opinion


  • Spending
  • Purchasing
  • Browsing
  • Product/Service Loyalty & Feedback


  • Geolocation
  • Culture
  • Language
  • Product Habits vs. Location


  • Industry Type
  • Organization Size
  • Sales & Revenue
  • Ownership


While often confused with segmentation itself, identifying personas is like populating your segments with specific personalities. These personas, sometimes referred to as segment profiles, are based on individual differences in need, attitude, behavior, and journey type. Personas work to deliver a level of emotional insight you’ll project on your segments as you campaign. 

This in mind, your persona types may vary in level of detail, but will probably look something like the following. 

Example 1 - Persona Cluster

  • Competitive
  • Spontaneous 
  • Humanistic 
  • Methodical 

Example 2 - Persona Cluster

  • Open/creative
  • Skeptical 
  • Naive 
  • Experienced 

Once you’ve successfully segmented specific profiles and identified your personas, you’ll be able to effectively work toward setting up exactly the type of personalization you want to execute. 

3. Identify the type of personalization

For brevity’s sake, let’s consider these three types of personalization: Targeting, A/B Testing, or Content Recommendation.


This type of personalization relies on collecting and analyzing data about a specific customer, folding hand in hand with your determined segments. For example, you might structure a piece of or an entire page of content specifically tailored to a customer base whom you’ve seen return time and time again looking at a product that supplements a previous buy, in which case you’d use your data to tell an enticing story about why that second, unbought product ties well with the first. 

A/B testing 

This type of personalization involves creating two different versions of the same message and testing them against each other to determine these two things: 1. Which message performs better and 2. What segments/personas are receptive to which messages. Based on these results, your company can then apply the better-performing message and create more messages based on it. Of the three types of personalization listed here, A/B Testing in particular can be used to improve marketing initiatives of all types, including email campaigns, website copy, and social media posts.

Content recommendation

By leveraging data collected on a specific segment—such as certain content or product advertisements a customer has interacted with over a given amount of time—your marketing team can then recommend content that better serves their needs, effectively keeping your company top of mind. For example, you might use data about a customer's viewing history to build a list of recommended articles, blogs, e-books, or webinars, which in turn helps your content creators (writers, graphic designers, etc.) create content that better serves your business. 

4. Creating personalized content for your target audience

Here, you’ll want to put the above steps to work by crafting your message (informed by data, directed at according segments/personas) and dictating the customer journey from the moment they interact with said message. To do this, answering the following questions might be of some use. 

Where does your personalized message live? 

Taking into consideration the personalization types listed above, your personalized message might live in one or multiple types of content, including: A homepage banner, a downloadable e-book, a blog, an ad, a product block, an article block, or related content (content recommendation). 

What is your personalized message?

For example, if your California-based business has a targeted segment visiting your site from Germany, you’ll want to ensure your banner content (or wherever you’ve chosen to put your personalized message) communicates a relevant context. Change your California-influenced banner image to something your German segment will relate to, such as an image of Munich, and this will affirm for them that they are in the right place. 

Another example, in a case where you’re targeting new vs. returning visitors, you’ll want to write a message that resonates with both segments and their corresponding personas. For new visitors, perhaps a message that communicates exactly the value you can provide if they choose your company’s product or service. For returning, perhaps a message that demonstrates the value of products/services that supplement their previous purchase and effectively upsells them. 

Depending on your personalized content’s location (banner, e-book, blog, etc.), your message will include both text and visuals to tell the appropriate story.

What are you trying to get your potential new customer to do? 

What are you trying to get your target to think/do after reading your message? If your personalized message is located in your website’s home banner, you might want to give them the option of exploring the topic (i.e., what your personalized message is pointing to) in a detail page that provides additional information or provokes an alternative action, such as funneling them to a conversion page. 

Next steps . . .

Once your potential new customer has taken the above action, what’s next? Are they moved to yet another page? Are they moved into a new segment? Does their persona change? How many actions are necessary to get them where they need to go?

5. Assessing your results and making optimizations

Once you’ve executed your personalization campaign, you’ll want to circle back to the beginning of this article and reassess. 

Restate your goal: I.e. 5% increase in web traffic. 

Measure your campaign’s success: What are you using to measure whether your campaign is effective? Click-through rate (CTR)? Page views? Time on site? Bounce rate reduction? Form fills? Conversion rate? Find a metric that helps you indicate success, and apply it.  

Note your baseline: What is the current result of the selected success measure prior to running your campaign? 

Monitor and collect campaign result: Record after campaign is launched and success can be measured. Periodically check campaign progress and measure it against the projected efficacy of your messaging. 

Personalization: Delivered by developers

All of this in mind, it’s important to remember one thing: Personalization is almost always delivered by developers. While personalization is the latest buzzword in digital marketing circles, the actual execution of a personalized strategy is something only developers are able to do, because who else is going to code your personalization needs into existence? If you want to personalize a website, you need someone who knows how to press the right buttons.

And, if you think about it, what developers do is almost all personalization. In order to code a competitive product that customers consider more valuable than the other guy’s, developers have to ensure that what they are creating is relevant and that its experience resonates with various targeted audiences.

So, whether developing in line with a marketing team’s campaign or working to create a product, developers tend to have to consider and implement the following in order to build something powerful:

Consider your system: Personalization has to happen somewhere, and it’s probably going to be on whatever suite of digital tools you use to develop/run your site. For example, what language does your system support? What integrations does it allow? What kinds of plugins are you able to connect? All of these affect personalization and will ultimately determine the value of the digital product the customer is interacting with, as well as the personalization strategy itself.

Access data: Like marketers, developers need access to customer data and analytics to help them understand what they’re developing. For the same reason that marketers often want to avoid data silos to ensure one picture of truth, inaccessible data can hinder a developer’s ability to build a quality, data-informed product.

Implement personalized content: Developers are ultimately responsible for creating the type of content customers want to see on a site/app. Sure, digital marketers might be responsible for ideating it, but they tend to rely heavily on developers for making the impossible possible. With a flexible CMS and quality personalization tools, a good developer is the master engineer behind making specifically designed digital marketing campaigns come true.

Help your company maintain a competitive edge

Implementing a personalized marketing strategycan be an invaluable way to engage with customers, build relationships, improve lead generation, increase conversions, and all in all help your company maintain a competitive edge. While these five steps are only a high-level outline of a fully comprehensive approach, they are designed to help get you started refining and optimizing your digital marketing efforts for maximum benefit. With the right tools and insights at their disposal, marketers can create powerful customized experiences that truly resonate with their customers.