Real-time Personalization 101: What Is It and How to Do It
Real-time personalization is what your users have come to expect from their customer experience. Everyone has their own goals and challenges, and they want their product experience to be tailored to what they need.
Real-time personalization helps you meet customer expectations while increasing product growth across the entire user journey.
In this article, we cover:
- What real-time personalization is and why it’s beneficial for SaaS.
- The seven-step process to implement real-time personalization.
- Real-life examples of personalization to inspire you.
Let’s get started.
- Real-time personalization involves using customer data to show relevant content at the moment.
- Real-time personalization is beneficial because it gives a better customer experience, drives more engagement, builds customer trust and loyalty, and increases lifetime value.
- To implement real-time personalization in your SaaS, start by collecting customer data from multiple sources using surveys and customer analytics tools.
- Then, create customer segments based on shared characteristics – whether it be jobs to be done, stage in the user journey, NPS score, location, etc.
- Now it’s time to map the customer journey, including all the touchpoints. Determine the next-best steps for each stage in the journey.
- Set event-based triggers that result in the next action.
- There are some great examples of real-time personalization in the SaaS industry. Here are some:
- Launch interactive walkthroughs during onboarding, where each new step is triggered only after the customer has engaged with the previous one.
- Celebrate product milestones with celebration modals.
- Collect customer feedback with in-app surveys, then personalize the customer experience from that point.
- Send an automated email to detractors (those who scored 0-6) to learn more about their issues.
- As for promoters, ask them to leave a review and once they do, trigger a personalized modal to thank and reward them.
- Use data to personalize the knowledge base content for users. You can show and hide learning modules based on user attributes to make user navigation easy and frictionless.
What is real-time personalization?
Real-time personalization is the mechanism of instantly delivering tailored content to the user in response to their interactions with your product.
To put it another way, real-time personalization is about empathically understanding each user, where they are in their journey, and delivering a unique experience that adds value.
Benefits of real-time personalization
With real-time personalization, your audience will receive the exact content that’s designed to engage them, based on data you’ve gathered regarding their demographics, behaviors, and other characteristics.
Here are just some of the benefits of delivering contextual product experiences in real-time:
- increased customer engagement
- a better customer experience and perception of the brand
- high-levels of customer trust and loyalty
- boosted revenue
Steps to implement real-time personalization in your SaaS
Implementing real-time personalization in your SaaS is easy with this seven-step process:
Collect customer data from multiple sources
The core of real-time personalization is data. This means collecting, analyzing, and effectively using information regarding demographics, interests, and behaviors that will help you create experiences that resonate with your target audience.
Here are some methods of collecting data throughout the user journey:
Gather direct feedback with in-app surveys
Understand customer goals, preferences, and motivations with in-app surveys.
Surveying customers will give you direct insights into their specific interests and goals so you can design experiences that resonate with them.
For example, here’s a welcome survey that’s triggered during onboarding to ask users what they want to achieve with the product.
There are a few types of surveys you can use to gather feedback – customer effort score (CES) surveys, customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys, and net promoter score (NPS) surveys. They’re all effective for gathering the right data about your users to help with real-time personalization.
Collect and analyze behavioral data
On top of surveying customers to gather direct feedback, analyze their behavioral data for additional insights.
Monitor in-app customer behavior using a customer analytics tool, looking at their completed actions, interacted features, visited pages, and more.
You can tag UI elements and monitor how different user groups engage with them. Do certain user segments interact with a feature more or less?
Another way you can collect user behavior data is to monitor how users go through their predefined user funnel and all the navigation the user performs in the app.
With a product analytics platform like Userpilot, you can track page activity to detect the unique and total number of views by users and companies over time.
Create customer segments
For effective real-time personalization, group customers with similarities together.
While every user has their own needs, it’s nearly impossible to give a personalized experience on an individual level. It would cost too much and take too much time. Customer segments help overcome this obstacle since you can deliver personalized content at scale.
Based on the collected data from the previous steps, you can create segment customers on jobs to be done (JBTD), stage in the user journey, NPS score, company, location, and more.
Map the customer journey and list all the touchpoints
All companies personalize some of their interactions – if you want to have a competitive advantage, aim to personalize all of your interactions.
To start, use a tool to map all the interactions in the customer journey, from the moment a customer becomes aware of your brand to the moment they stop interacting with you.
Decide on each next-best action in the moment of engagement
For each touchpoint you listed, decide what needs to happen after it. Figure out the ideal path a customer should take to reach the next point of conversion – whether that’s signing up for a free trial, upgrading to a paid account, reaching the point of activation, or bringing in new referrals.
Once you’ve defined the path you want customers to take and their next-best actions from point to point and use real-time personalization to get them there.
Set event-based triggers
Set triggers that happen after relevant interactions – when a user completes step 1, it triggers step 2, which then triggers step 3, and so on.
A trigger could be, for example, a click on a particular button or a visit to a specific page.
The goal is to keep the process flowing without too much customer effort. They’ll be more likely to achieve their version of success and get value from your product.
Examples of real-time personalization in SaaS
Here are ten examples of real-time personalization in SaaS to inspire you:
Collecting feedback and closing the loop
But do you know that you can make the whole process much more pleasant and seamless by automating the process and personalizing each touchpoint along the way in real-time?
Here, have a look at how we do this at Userpilot by using the 7-step process we just talked about.
Then, based on the score, a customized follow-up question is triggered to understand each individual’s reason behind their rating.
Following the survey, the Userpilot team sends an automated email to detractors (those who scored 0- 6 in the NPS survey). This email is intended to validate their feedback and express a willingness to learn more about their issues and support them.
On the other hand, customers who scored 9-10 in the NPS surveys (they’re called promoters) are asked to review the product on G2. This is done with the help of an in-app modal that gets automatically triggered once users submit the survey.
To close the loop, Userpilot thanks those who click “Review on G2” and rewards them with a small gift.
Sending personalized emails in response to customer actions
Emailing is one of the most effective ways to reach customers and works especially well in addition to other channels.
With modern marketing analytics tools in place, marketers can plan and execute omnichannel campaigns and target customers with highly relevant emails when it makes most sense.
For example, when a customer sign-ups for a product, it’s a great time to send a personalized onboarding email to help them get started.
Launching an interactive feature walkthrough for first-time users
Each new tip is only triggered after the customer has in some way interacted with the previous one, as opposed to generic product tours that push the whole experience onto the user.
Hiding and showing knowledge base modules based on user attributes
Self-service portals with everything on display can be overwhelming. Instead, show only the resources that are relevant – that could be based on the page the user is on, the stage they’re at in the journey, or their product usage.
To do this, you need to leverage real-time analytics to keep your customer profiles updated so that you can hide and show the relevant knowledge base modules.
Showing location-specific content
Personalize the user interface in real-time based on location. By displaying local or regional content, you make the customer experience more relevant for each user.
With localization, you can auto-translate your product messaging or display pricing in different currencies for certain locations.
Using software like Userpilot, you can auto-translate in-app guides automatically to make the experience more engaging for the target audience.
In this example, a tooltip is automatically translated to German in Userpilot:
Celebrating success after a customer hits a milestone
Real-time personalization can also be used to celebrate product milestones. Once a customer hits a milestone, a celebration modal is immediately triggered to congratulate them.
In this example from Calendly, they push out a celebration modal after a new user reaches the activation point and schedules an event. It’s a rewarding and motivating element that improves customer experience.
Coming up with customized offers
When a trial customer doesn’t upgrade by the end of the trial and hits the “cancel” button, Postfity offers a discount to retain them.
This is another excellent way where real-time personalization can help you earn higher revenues by making personalized offers.
It’s a low-effort way to retain customers you may have otherwise lost.
Encouraging an upsell when customers need it
That being said, manually keeping track of customer behavior and reaching out 1-on-1 is time-consuming and difficult.
Instead, you can set up event-based triggers and display modals encouraging customers to upgrade at the right moment.
For example, when the customer reached their product usage limit, Loom triggers an in-app modal encouraging them to upgrade.
Communicating with customers in real-time via a live chat
Live chats are the perfect place to leverage real-time personalization. If you connect your live chat team with always-updated customer data, they can offer real-time solutions.
Customers communicate with a business across many channels, so make sure the data is synced everywhere – whether they’re sending messages on social media channels, in the live chat, or by email.
Offering personalized alternatives to dissatisfied customers
When the customer hits the cancel or downgrade button, Asana first tries to understand the reason behind the customer’s action.
Then, based on their response, they offer a personalized alternative.
For example, if the customer mentions price is the problem, Asana takes the customer to another page instantly and offers to change to another, less-costly plan.
Real-time personalization is a crucial key to unlocking more revenue, happier customers, and more sustainable growth. It’s what customers expect from their product experiences in 2023.
Want to get started with real-time personalization? Get a Userpilot Demo and see how you can build personalized in-app product experiences.