Getting Started with Website Personalization: 3 Things You Need to Know

Amy Larsen has over 15 years of experience in enterprise marketing. Amy is the Director of Demand Generation at Siemens— where she acts as a change agent for driving campaign alignment around strategic markets.

On the B2B Growth Podcast, Amy talks about how her team understands content performance on their website. Amy’s team segments and serves content to their target audiences based on the industry. They are not only able to see who is engaging with their content, but also share results of their personalization efforts internally.


James Carbary: Welcome back to the B to B Growth Show. We are here today with Amy Larsen. She’s the Director of Demand Generation at Siemens. Amy, how you doing today?

Amy Larsen: Doing great, James. How are you?

James Carbary: I am wonderful. Amy, we’re going to be talking about personalization today, and really wanting to dive into the Siemens story and your experience with personalization at Siemens. Before we do that, just give our listeners a little bit of context. What are you and your team up to at Siemens? What is Siemens? What are you and your team doing over there?

Amy Larsen: That’s a very broad question. Siemens is a German-based company. We focus primarily on the industrial market — manufacturing, energy, healthcare, that kind of space. For us, our Demand Generation team, we provide Demand Generation support for all of our divisions here that are US-based.

James Carbary: Okay.

Amy Larsen: We are focusing on helping them to activate at scale Demand Generation programs across a multitude of divisions and business units, so a lot of internal customers being that broad and that many markets.

James Carbary: Got it, wonderful. All right, Amy. Now that our listeners have a little bit of context where you’re coming from, let’s start talking about when did this idea of personalization … Has this been something you guys have been doing for several years now? Go back to the beginning of the personalization journey and we’ll start there. Could you walk us through when the conversation started happening?

Amy Larsen: Sure. I think personalization came up for us around 2013, 2014. We were building a new team focused around Demand Generation, which was kind of a new concept for Siemens. We had a grouping of like-minded individuals across all of our organizations who were working on technology. How do we move our technology space forward? Bring our businesses forward to make use of more of the digital space. Serving manufacturers, we tend to be in a lagging market. The new shiny object isn’t always the key on how you reach them, but their buyers journey had definitely evolved to be more and more in the digital space. We have young engineers that are coming in that are part of the purchase decisions.

The biggest thing for us was to be able to take what was a very small group of people who were digitally focused and enable our businesses to operate at scale. All of these divisions, we just have a handful of people. How do we make it so that we can launch these types of programs without having large departments of people?

James Carbary: Got it.

Amy Larsen: The idea came in from one of our team members to start looking at using personalization as a way to not have to build large, complex programs but take programs that were existing and make them more personalized.

James Carbary: Okay.

Amy Larsen: We’ve certainly heard all the stats about conversation rates and we were trying to drive those up; so that was how we started in that path.

James Carbary: Got it, and then so someone brings up the idea, ‘Hey, we should start looking into this.’ What were some of the solutions you guys looked at? What were some of the things that stood out that ultimately made you guys end up deciding to go with the vendor that you chose?

Amy Larsen: That’s a really good question. For us, it was two-fold. One, being able to look for technology partners who could operate within the Siemens space, which isn’t always easy. Two, having some younger team members where we wanted to excite them with something that was new and technology-based.

We’ve been customers of SiriusDecisions for a while, so we turned to them for some help to evaluate a couple of vendors. We went through several scenarios. The biggest thing for us was something that could implement with our current analytics, web analytics program, our current marketing automation system, and that would allow us to integrate without any IT involvement. Going through IT with us can be challenging at times.

We had a couple of interviews and we landed on working with Bound. It was Get Smart Content at the time. They had the capabilities of being able to do that, but the other area that was very helpful for us was being a small team, we didn’t really have execution resources in-house. We weren’t going to have a lot of people that we could devote to it, and so our concern was we’re going to get this new tool and we won’t have the resources to be able to implement it.

They offered a consulting package where they helped us with actually executing the program. The one thing we told them when we decided to go on board was we really need a partner, somebody who can help us make sure that these things get done; because it may not happen if it’s relying on our own internal resources and workflows.

James Carbary: I would imagine there was probably a lot of collaboration, as far as developing the overarching strategy, what you guys … What results you guys wanted to drive with it. Then, Bound came along and really helped you guys execute on the strategy that you guys collaboratively came up with together. Is that how it worked?

Amy Larsen: It did. We learned a lot about ourselves going through this journey. I think every marketer experiences that when you get a new tool, and then you start trying to execute it. You start to identify … You thought you had a work flow, or a process, or a resource allocated to do this, but they have another job.

James Carbary: Yeah.

Amy Larsen: Budget is allocated elsewhere and so kind of going forward with that. They helped us with filling that resource piece, and then we had to look at our workflows internally; which there was a little bit of stumbling blocks on our end getting used to that. What Bound did was they really helped us to analyze some of the gaps we might have had in our strategy. By that, I mean looking at how are we defining our audience, and how are we defining our targeting? How are we defining our go-to-market strategy?

The one thing that came out of that was becoming very clear on what we defined as an audience, and how were we going to internally target that audience. Then, personalization is something that helps you activate that, along with everything else that’s in your plan.

James Carbary: Yeah.

Amy Larsen: It made it kind of a funnel to push everything through, and that was a big learning step for us. That’s been extremely valuable. We’ve used that ability to define audiences since then.

James Carbary: Are you able to share, Amy, and it’s totally okay if you’re not. Are you able to share what … how you guys thought about your audience before and then what that ended up shifting into as you guys started working with Bound?

Amy Larsen: Yeah, absolutely. The biggest thing for us was we would talk about our audiences being CFOs, engineers, … marketing or the manufacturing operations, plant managers, things like that. What we learned was that, that’s too broad to create personalization that’s effective and that actually highlighted that it caused us issues in other areas, … not just in our targeting on our website but when we’re writing content specifically.

We started to learn to look at what is the go-to-market strategy that’s common within Siemens. For us, it’s industry. You’re talking to somebody that’s in automotive. Well, a food and beverage engineer can have different needs and pain points than an automotive engineer. They may be looking at similar solutions, but they’re solving different problems.

It allowed us to look at taking our audiences and segmenting it by the market that they were in, the industry that they were in. Then, that’s how we started to bucket our personalization. Leaving it simple was very helpful, not going much beyond the industry because it allows you to make sure you’re producing and getting something out the door versus if you’re really going into finite persona segments and getting into something more complicated. Our other big learning was keep it simple.

James Carbary: I love it. I love it. Amy, so once … Bound came alongside you guys, they helped expose some parts of your process that needed to be worked on, gave you this new mindset around the importance of segmenting your audiences, probably a little bit more granularly than you were doing it before. I’d love to talk about some of the results that you guys have seen since then, since Bound came alongside. They helped you implement it. What has been the story since then?

Amy Larsen: Sure, absolutely. The one thing that came out of working with Bound and personalization was the idea of creating a goal. When we first started working with them, they would ask us, ‘What’s the goal of what you want this person to achieve on the website?’ We realized we didn’t have a really good answer for that. Talking about a very large website and a lot of businesses.

We started to look at making sure we were clearly defining the goal. When we have any type of event, or initiative, or campaign, what is it that we’re looking for them to achieve? We start off with that question now. We start looking at that definition. The more we have clearly defined the goals of what we want them to achieve, the more we’re seeing that the results are driving up for us.

We had a big automotive event, so we clearly defined a goal that registration was what we needed to accomplish. We set personalization to the task to help us do that. We were targeting specific companies that we wanted to be at the event and overall, the industry, making sure that they were showing up. We saw a tremendous lift in results from that one from the previous year. 75% of the registrations came from the website from viewing personalization.

We saw more than a 50% lift for the company that we were targeting to get to that event. It was something that was so simple and easy to execute, clearly defining we wanted an event. We wanted them to register with that; but just having that in mind and having Bound help us to put that package together and get it executed across all of our websites, getting that list that came in was tremendous.

The other thing it’s helped us to do is to understand when we do have an industry and a goal in mind, what’s really working with each of those? For example, aerospace and automotive, they tend to go to a certain section of our site, which is more in the general area, not the industry-specific area. Now we’re able to target them to areas that we designed specifically for them.

James Carbary: Got it.

Amy Larsen: Whereas manufacturing prospects, they tend to go straight into the industry site. Now we can look at making sure we’re getting them to the manufacturing solutions, those areas. Those types of analytics and the insights they’ve given us over our existing website visitors, that gives us the low hanging fruit of what goals to define.

James Carbary: Got it.

Amy Larsen: And then to help us to execute those. They’re not overwhelming, which is the hard part. In our area, things can feel so daunting; but these are pretty simple things to put in place.

James Carbary: Yeah. You already mentioned it. You said it was relatively simple question to ask, but I totally agree. It just can be so powerful. You just ask, ‘Okay, what do we want the person visiting this site to achieve?’ By asking this question, it allows you to then reverse engineer that result. Do you feel like by asking that question first, it is … Is it shaping I guess all elements of what the … Is it where you guys are putting the registration buttons? What the copy looks like for each different audience? What were some of the questions that you guys started asking yourself when you started asking that first question of what do we want the user on this page to achieve?

Amy Larsen: Yeah, absolutely. I mean it’s almost embarrassing to think about now when we look at our process and what we would go through for designing. It’s a pretty simple question: what do you want this person to do? It wasn’t where we started when we were doing our design process. The more that we’ve asked ourselves that question, the more it has lent itself into becoming more customer-centric, designing the experience from the perspective of the user, rather than from the perspective of the business.

That gets us to think about it in very simple terms, what is this person going to see? What do we want them to do? How do we want it to feel for them when they do that? Our message has become customer-centric. What is their question, their pain point, the problem they’re trying to solve? How do we get them to that information quickly and efficiently? How do we allow them to then self-serve getting that information? We have started to design all the elements that way, including where does the button go on an email that we send; versus where does the button go on the website that we send them to.

The other thing that’s great is it allows us to compensate for what can be an overwhelming navigation system. A company like Siemens in an enterprise environment, you’re talking about thousands of products that they might be going through. This allows us for whatever location they get into, to say, ‘Hey, we see that you’re in food in beverage. You might be interested in seeing this.’ Or, ‘You might be interested in this content,’ and getting them straight there rather than hoping that they find it in what is a massive Siemens website.

James Carbary: The other thing that you mentioned, Amy, that I want to go back to is you said that there was a particular segment of your audience that … One segment went directly to the part of the website that was specifically for them; but another segment of your audience was going to the more general landing pages that weren’t necessarily specific for them. If I’m understanding this right, you were able to … Was that something you didn’t know before, but after you guys started using Bound, you started to be able to tell. ‘Hey, people … are coming to us from these companies, and they’re landing on these more generic landing pages,’ and with that data, that you were then able to say, ‘Okay, so we’re going to start putting calls-to-action. If they come from a particular IP address to point them to resources that we know are relevant to them.

Amy Larsen: Yeah, absolutely. Again, it’s that low hanging fruit aspect. Data can be overwhelming, the mass amounts that’s there. If you’re trying to make sense of, ‘What is all this information and data that I’m seeing?’ There’s sometimes so many numbers you don’t know which one to look at.

This allows us to create some focus in the data. We know there are key markets where we’re trying to make growth. We focus on the data we’re seeing within that market. The great thing about Bound is that they’ve actually come to me proactively to say, ‘Here’s what we’re seeing with those markets that you’re saying is a key initiative for you.’ Then, providing some insight to say, ‘This is the content they’re already consuming,’ so we can ask ourselves, ‘Is that what we want them to do?’

James Carbary: Yeah.

Amy Larsen: Then, ways that we can then change that experience, if that’s not what we were looking for them to accomplish, to get them to the area that is the goal. I’m not having to solve all the world’s problems across all of our data sites or websites. I can start to look at it’s this audience that I need to focus on right now. Here’s what we’re already seeing that they’re going after. Then, creating a specific goal and changing what they might have been experiencing.

James Carbary: Love it.

Amy Larsen: We didn’t know that before. We knew what companies were coming. We have IT targeting, but knowing where those companies are going from there. There’s clickstream analysis, and it just makes my head hurt. It makes a better story for me to be able to rationalize and internalize just by looking at it quickly and by having them give that data quickly; rather than hoping that I find that in all of those numbers that I have in front of me.

James Carbary: That makes perfect sense. Amy, if there’s somebody listening to this and maybe they’re at the very beginning of their personalization journey, they’re starting to look to bring it into their organization. Is there any advice you would give to that person who’s on the front end of the journey with you having been on yours for the last few years now? What is that advice that you would give to that person?

Amy Larsen: That’s a good question. I guess it would be two fold. The first is to don’t underestimate asking yourself what resources do you have that will be allocated towards this; because remember, everybody already has a full time job. If you’re going to bring a tool in, you need to be prepared for someone to take up the work that’s going to go along with that. It’s not a lot, but the workflow question still has to be answered to make sure there’s a process in place that can utilize the tool.

I think we were probably slow going at adopting personalization for that reason, having to work out our internal efforts. Bound helped us to answer that question as we worked with them to get us on board and moving those through. Think about that internally to have that in place.

James Carbary: I love it.

Amy Larsen: Then, the second thing would be … I guess it’s three fold. The second thing would be start asking yourself what audience, what goal. Get used to that very simple question. What goal do I want them to achieve? When it’s goal-oriented, you’ll have better use cases upfront. You can hit the ground running with some test variables or pilots that you can implement in short term so that you can start to see results. Then, you can pivot once you get the results in place.

That lends us to the third is keep it simple. That idea of what goal and have it be an audience and a thing, and moving towards that goal so that you can see quick iterations. It helps for adoption when people see quick wins. The more you can simplify that statement and focus on that piece, the more you’ll be able to create a bit more groundswell internally and people start to jump on and want to use it. That’s kind of what we’re seeing now is everybody’s clamoring, ‘I want to use personalization,’ now that they’ve seen the results; that gains that adoption. Think about internal work processes.

Think about the simple who and what goal, and then third, keep it simple.

James Carbary: I love it. Amy, this has been incredibly helpful. If there’s somebody listening to this. They want to stay connected with you. They want to learn more about Siemens. What’s the best way for them to go about doing both of those things?

Amy Larsen: Absolutely, would love to be able to keep in touch. The best way is to reach me is going to be either on LinkedIn. I’m under Amy Larsen, working for Siemens. You’ll see me there. Or, via email,; and happy to answer any questions.

James Carbary: Love it. Amy, thank you so much for your time today. Again, this has been incredibly helpful, so I really appreciate you chatting with me today.

Amy Larsen: Thanks, James. Great chatting with you and best of luck to anybody out there who’s going down that personalization path.

Leigh Brown
Leigh Brown

In addition to serving as the in-house gif-master, Leigh runs marketing programs like they're going out of style.