Remarketing On Your Own Site

Content Personalisation for Return Visitors

As we ramp up remarketing campaigns at Loves Data, we have started looking at how we can use this method to more effectively engage with visitors returning to our website. While it is certainly worthwhile reaching out to previous visitors on the web as they browse through other sites, what are we doing to convert those who have already returned to our site?

This type of on-site remarketing or content personalisation should be familiar. Amazon recommendations are the most well-known example. While almost none of us can expect to build a personalisation system as powerful as the Amazon recommendations engine, it is not that hard to start delivering some form of personalised content to return visitors.



Unfortunately we can't use our Google Analytics Remarketing segments on our own site. So, we have to implement a tracking system that creates similar segments and makes them available to us so we can deliver custom offers and personalised content.

There are a few personalisation tools out there, but for the sake of this post, we're going to use a much simpler example.

A Simple Case: Organic Grocery Boxes

Say we have a site for a weekly organic grocery delivery service. They sell boxes of groceries that include fruit and vegetable, eggs, dairy, fish, and red meat. There are a lot of different diets in our office — perhaps not the most accurate consumer sample, but that is what we are running with. We have vegans, vegetarians of varying types and motivations, run-of-the-mill omnivores, and some people who sit somewhere in between, so we are all going to be treated quite differently.

When a visitor comes to this site and looks at the fruit and veg only box, then looks at the box with fruit, veg, dairy and eggs, we can fairly safely assume that they do not eat, or are not interested in fish and red meat. So it makes sense that when they come back to our site, we prioritise our offerings appropriately.

If they see the box that they want straight away, or better still, see a time-limited special on the box that they want, they are much more likely to click through and make their way into our conversion funnel.

Getting Started

For a relatively small site like this (or even for much larger sites) it is not difficult to categorise most of our content by URL, and create a cookie that stores how many pages they have visited in each category. This is all the information that we need to start with simple content personalisation.

To get started with measuring what our visitors are interested in, we would need to implement a simple tracking script that does something like this:



In the case above, if a visitor has previously come to our site, and visited two veggie box pages, and one veggie + dairy box page and no pages with boxes that include meat, then we know some crucial information about that user. Our weighting cookie would have a score of 2 for the veggie category, and one for the veggie and dairy category.

We don't know where they live, we don't know their age or gender, but we know that they are most interested in veggie boxes. When they return to our site, it makes sense to show a targeted offer for veggie boxes, and of course it would also make sense to give little prominence to the boxes that include products that they have not shown any interest in — fish, eggs and meat.

We could make the decision about what content to show either on the server side (using PHP, ASP, Ruby, or whatever server-side language your site uses) or on the client side (using JavaScript). Unlike the Google Analytics remarketing segments, these are accessible in our code, so we can use them to customise our website in real time.

We can take action using something like this:



Translating these concepts into actual JavaScript or server-side code shouldn't be too hard for your developers. You want to track this custom content into Google Analytics using custom variables and/or events, so that you can gauge the performance of your personalisation campaign.

Of course, if you actually want to develop and implement a more detailed content personalisation strategy, we would love to speak to you!

Measuring the Results

Like any online marketing project, it is important to measure the improvement (or lack thereof) that the project has generated. To do this, we would need to be tracking clicks on the custom content as an event (or virtual pageview) in Google Analytics.

If our customisation was successful, we'd expect to see an increased conversion rate for return visitors (and particularly for direct traffic and branded search), and that these conversions include a large number of visitors who have clicked on our custom content.