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Creating Meaningful Experiences with Data-Driven Personalization

By Mason Furr

August 31, 2023

Data-Driven Personalization

Collectors are a special breed of consumers who know exactly what they want and will go to great lengths to find it. 

Whether they are on a quest for a rare fountain pen, an antique cuckoo clock, or a long-forgotten toy, they are always in search mode. 

These enthusiasts represent the epitome of why personalization matters in the digital realm; they’re not just looking for any experience—they’re seeking a curated journey that aligns with their unique interests.

Why Valuable Personally Relevant Experiences Matter 

In an era of increased awareness around data privacy, today’s consumers have a wary eye toward intrusive personalization. However, when personalization is done right, these same consumers still crave experiences that feel tailored and relevant to their individual needs. 

According to recent data, 80% of business leaders report an increase in consumer spending by an average of 38% when the experience is personalized. However, only 51% of consumers trust brands to keep their personal data secure and use it responsibly.

Personally relevant data is the backbone of relevant communication with your customers. However, it is getting increasingly difficult to collect, store and leverage quality data due to increasing privacy regulations and restrictions on data usage. Over a quarter of consumers have noticed less targeted personalization in the past year, largely due to these changes.

“If you do not have the right information to remember where you left off last conversation, then your conversation is not going to be interesting to them and worse, may frustrate or annoy them.”

Neil Hoyne, Chief Strategist at Google

A lot of data collected on customers is simply not important enough to use in a meaningful way. As marketing expert Neil Hoyne states, good data is all about being able to pick up a conversation with your prospects and customers. If you do not have the right information to remember where you left off in your last conversation, then your next conversation is not going to be interesting or relevant to them — and may even frustrate or annoy them.

The goal of personalization is to use data about individual customers to deliver valuable, personally relevant experiences (VPREs) — creating an experience that not only feels tailored specifically for their needs and interests but actually is. When executed effectively, VPREs can drive engagement, satisfaction, conversion rates and long-term loyalty.

Crafting VPREs That Resonate

Crafting VPREs That Resonate

Bringing together both creativity and performance is key to creating valuable, personally relevant experiences. While data provides the foundation to ensure ideas are grounded, intuition still plays a role in taking calculated risks and being agile when designing for customers. Realistically, not every experience can be entirely data-informed from the start. Testing is therefore critical to validate both intuitive ideas and data-backed concepts.

Typically, great experiences are both valuable and personally relevant to the audience. We make a distinction between valuable, personally relevant experiences (VPREs) and personalization more broadly. 

Personalization encapsulates anything tailored to the individual but does not necessarily provide value. For example, displaying someone’s profile photo in a popup whenever they visit a webpage is personalized, but not valuable. VPREs that offer both relevance and value are the experiences that truly resonate with an audience.

In summary, marrying creativity and performance helps drive the development of VPREs. While data lends confidence, intuition enables calculated risks and agility. Rigorous testing ultimately validates the success of both intuitive and data-backed experiences. When personalized experiences also provide value, they become memorable and impactful.

Some examples of valuable, personally relevant experiences include:

  • Email campaigns with dynamic content blocks tailored to the recipient’s interests and behaviors,
  • Product recommendations based on an individual’s purchase history and browsing behavior,
  • Personalized website experiences where the content surfaces or highlights information relevant to that particular user,
  • Customized push notifications that are contextualized with information unique to the user,
  • Shopping experiences like Amazon where past purchases shape recommendations throughout the site,
  • Adaptive learning platforms like Duolingo where lesson sequencing and review is personalized based on an individual’s demonstrated strengths and weaknesses,
  • Streaming services like Netflix that recommend specific shows and movies based on an individual’s viewing history and preferences,
  • Social media feeds that are personalized based on relevance to the user using data like pages followed or liked, clicks and browsing behavior.
Personalization Approaches

Personalization Approaches: Segmentation vs. Dynamic User Experiences

Curating your communication for individual consumers on digital touchpoints is becoming increasingly important. Segmentation aims to create personalized one-to-many experiences but can often fall short as segments are defined with a high degree of subjectivity. Once segments are chosen, aligned on and invested in, it becomes very difficult organizationally to walk back that time and monetary investment.

Programmatically leveraging individual data points allows for greater scalability of truly dynamic user experiences. The benefit is that these experiences are tailored to the individual, giving them a higher likelihood of being personally relevant. When you can access these data points programmatically, you can also test dynamic experiences at scale using conversion rate optimization tools like VWO that are well suited to extract the value of CRO.

The Challenges of Creating Dynamic User Experiences

Leveraging data for personalized marketing may sound straightforward, but the reality is far more complex. Creating consistent, integrated experiences across customer touchpoints involves surmounting several key challenges.

Data Fragmentation

Just like taking notes during a conversation and then storing them for later reference, where and how you store that information is critically important. If the data is fragmented across different systems, it becomes difficult to leverage those individual data points to create cohesive, personalized experiences.

Customer data can be fragmented across your CRM, their anonymous interactions with ads, various emails, and more. Being able to leverage these specific attributes within experiments enables the programmatic scalability of personalized experiences in a way that broad segment categorization cannot.

Typical Solution Problems

Using a Customer Data Platform (CDP) like Segment allows you to call one endpoint to get user attributes across digital touchpoints. This works best when you have user registration on your website/app.

You could also store attributes in user profiles on your website. However, user registration is difficult to build yourself and likely will not have the same robust capabilities a CDP provides across digital touchpoints.

Overall problems:

  • Not every business can afford an enterprise CDP solution or has the technical expertise to manage it.
  • Not every website lends itself easily to requiring user registration or accounts.
  • Sometimes you want to test personalized experiences before fully investing in a CDP or similar solution.
Tactical Examples of Dynamic User Experiences

Tactical Examples of Dynamic User Experiences

When leveraging data for personalized marketing, it’s critical to keep the user experience at the forefront. As we explore tactical examples of dynamic personalization, keep these ground rules in mind. Focus on enhancing the experience rather than collecting extraneous data. With that user-centric mindset, let’s examine two concrete tactics for personalized marketing.

Tactical Example 1: First-Party Cookie Tracking

This method does not rely on user registration and instead uses a first-party cookie to collect data attributes for individual anonymous users.

For example, you could track what service pages a user browses on your site and store them in a cookie. Then in VWO, you could test showing the user links to those browsed services to help them explore related content.

The cookie tracks an array of specified pages. As the user browses, it adds any pages from the list to the cookie value. If they revisit a page, it deletes the existing entry and adds it to the end so you know what they browsed most recently.

How to Implement:

  1. Copy provided code template
  2. Create a new Google Tag Manager tag and paste code into a custom HTML tag
  3. Modify the tracked_pages array variable to your own page paths
  4. Set trigger to “All Pages”
  5. QA and publish

Google Tag Manager code (be sure to modify the array “tracked_pages” to reflect your own pages): 

function setCookie(cname, cvalue, exdays) {
    var d = new Date();
    d.setTime(d.getTime() + (exdays*24*60*60*1000));
    var expires = “expires=”+ d.toUTCString();
    document.cookie = cname + “=” + JSON.stringify(cvalue) + “;” + expires + “;path=/”;

function getCookie(cname) {
    var name = cname + “=”;
    var decodedCookie = decodeURIComponent(document.cookie);
    var ca = decodedCookie.split(‘;’);
    for(var i = 0; i <ca.length; i++) {
        var c = ca[i];
        while (c.charAt(0) == ‘ ‘) {
            c = c.substring(1);
        if (c.indexOf(name) == 0) {
            return JSON.parse(c.substring(name.length, c.length));
    return null;
var current_location = window.location.pathname;
var cookie_name = ‘services_browsed’;
// Change this array of page paths to include your own pages you want tracked
var tracked_pages = [
if(tracked_pages.includes(current_location)) {
    var services_browsed = getCookie(cookie_name);
    if(!services_browsed) {
        services_browsed = [];
    var found_service_index = services_browsed.indexOf(current_location);
    if(found_service_index != -1) {
        services_browsed.splice(found_service_index, 1);
    setCookie(cookie_name, services_browsed, 400);

Use this JavaScript for a tool like VWO:

function getCookie(cname) {
    var name = cname + “=”;
    var decodedCookie = decodeURIComponent(document.cookie);
    var ca = decodedCookie.split(‘;’);
    for(var i = 0; i <ca.length; i++) {
        var c = ca[i];
        while (c.charAt(0) == ‘ ‘) {
            c = c.substring(1);
        if (c.indexOf(name) == 0) {
            return JSON.parse(c.substring(name.length, c.length));

    return null;
var lastService = getCookie(‘services_browsed’).slice(-1)[0];
// you can select whatever parent element you would like to insert this underneath
var parentEl = document.querySelector(‘.home .hero-defaults–introduction.section–hero__01–inner–introduction’);
var dynamicExp = document.createElement(‘div’);
var serviceTitleMatch = ”;
if(lastService == ‘/digital-marketing-services/brand-strategy-and-brand-services/’){
  serviceTitleMatch = ‘Brand Strategy and Brand Services’;
} else if (lastService == ‘/digital-marketing-services/search-engine-optimization/’){
  serviceTitleMatch = ‘SEO’;
} else if (lastService == ‘/digital-marketing-services/paid-media-marketing/’){
  serviceTitleMatch = ‘Paid Media Marketing’;
} else if (lastService == ‘/digital-marketing-services/web-design/’){
  serviceTitleMatch = ‘Web Design’;
} else if (lastService == ‘/digital-marketing-services/web-development/’){
  serviceTitleMatch = ‘Web Development’;
} else if (lastService == ‘/digital-marketing-services/creative/’){
  serviceTitleMatch = ‘Creative Services’;
} else if (lastService == ‘/digital-marketing-services/content-marketing/’){
  serviceTitleMatch = ‘Content Marketing’;
} else if (lastService == ‘/digital-marketing-services/conversion-rate-optimization/’){
  serviceTitleMatch = ‘Conversion Rate Optimization’;
} else if (lastService == ‘/marketing-analytics-services/’){
  serviceTitleMatch = ‘Marketing Analytics’;

dynamicExp.innerHTML = ‘<a href=”‘+lastService+'”>Continue exploring ‘+serviceTitleMatch+'</a>’;

This method allows you to test personalized experiences using behavioral data like pages browsed, without needing user registration. The same principles could be applied to other behaviors like form completions, cart abandonment, etc.

Tactical Example 2: Leveraging CRM Data

This method uses the Hubspot API to pull user data attributes and make them available in VWO using JavaScript.

For example, you can use Hubspot’s hubspotutk identifier to make an API call and return data like a user’s first name for personalization. Just be aware of your API limits and minimize calls.

How to Implement:

  1. Create a Hubspot private app and save API token
  2. Send provided PHP code to your developer to add to your site
  3. In VWO, use the JavaScript snippet to retrieve your data points
  4. Build personalized variations using the dynamic data
hubspot private app
vwo javascript


  • Hubspot as a CRM contains a wealth of information and acts as a repository for user information. This makes those data attributes available for use so you can test different dynamic user experiences leveraging this data.
  • You can get a lot of data from the API and you can make it more specific by just calling to get the value from one particular data point that you need.

PHP code for developers to add to your site (remember you can modify it to return custom values outside of just first name, last name, etc.):

Use this JavaScript for a tool like VWO (remember to modify it to use the hubspot_user attributes how you want)

if(document.body.classList.contains(‘page-id-22170’) && (( !== undefined && !== undefined))) {
    document.querySelector(‘.hero-text-content__text-column h2 strong’).innerHTML = ‘Welcome back, ‘ + + ‘. Experience tailor-made Nevada adventures.’;

Valuable Personally-Relevant Experiences and User Trust

Understand the delicate balance between personalization and user trust. Emphasize transparency about data usage to build long-lasting relationships.

Ask yourself whether the data you are using genuinely helps the individual exposed to that experience. Don’t be afraid to survey users on what they find valuable vs creepy.

Building user trust is critical. Provide easy opt-outs so users feel in control of their data. For example, you could link to a dedicated opt-out page or integrate with a Consent Management Platform to honor cookie consent.

Focus on enhancing the experience rather than collecting extraneous data. With a user-centric mindset, personalized experiences based on relevant user data can delight customers when done transparently and ethically.

Test building user trust as rigorously as you would personalized experiences. 

Building user trust is critical. Provide easy opt-outs so users feel in control of their data. For example, you could:

  • Link to a dedicated opt-out page
  • Integrate with a Consent Management Platform to honor cookie consent
  • Provide in-page opt-outs that disable personalization

The key is focusing on the person behind the data. Test different applications of what you know about them to create meaningful, valuable personalized experiences.

Valuable Personally Relevant Experiences

Valuable Personally Relevant Experiences Done Right

Mastering data-driven personalization is an art form, one that when executed correctly, can transform customer experiences into personalized journeys. 

Just as collectors yearn for unique, tailored experiences when hunting for rare treasures, consumers at large seek that level of customization in their digital interactions. To learn how we responsibly and ethically leverage data to craft personalized messaging, content, and product recommendations that resonate, contact our team of experts today.

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