By Oliver Jaeger, Vice President of Global Marketing & Communications, e-Spirit Inc. in North America

Websites that offer personalised content are the clear winners in the world of retail. Just take a look at Amazon or Netflix to see how adept a personalised Web experience can be. The same is true of most other Web experiences. But there are more than a few enterprise and mid-sized websites that haven't gotten the memo.

It's true that making content dynamic can impact a website's performance—pages take longer to load and websites with a lot of dynamic content can be a little more demanding to manage. But the value to your overall marketing program and public image is more than important; consumers have come to expect it and those that don't, well, they're behind the times. Fortunately there are technology solutions available that do address this issue.

Dynamic, not daunting, content

So what is dynamic content and why is it still so daunting for many companies?

Dynamic content is that content an individual website visitor sees based on rules that you define. Take Amazon. It's so intimately aware of you that it keeps track of purchases made—not just weeks but years ago. Why not add to that set of skillets or replace the running shoes you surely have worn out by now, it seems to ask. And the seed is planted. Keep in mind that while some people don't like additional recommendations (because they see this as advertising), the key is to utilise technology that allows you to set up rules to prevent annoying your customers.

Not only does the individual respond, but so do websites that are endowed with dynamic content. They garner more hits and thus higher rankings on Google, and mobile websites with dynamic content ensure that customers get that same custom-tailored experience on all their devices.

But dynamic content as it's currently offered for dynamic website personalisation (DWP) has four significant hurdles:

1. There's the content itself - After you've figured out your target audience or personas, you must create and manage content to reach and capture them. Makeup and trendy clothing to young girls versus retirement savings plans and vacation destinations to seniors.
2. Who are your visitors, really? - Some people don't want to be marketed to if they're just browsing a website. Of course, some do, but without a login you won't know who's clicking around.
3. Delivering that dynamic content - Delivery can slow download times (more than three seconds is too long for most visitors) and high traffic websites might need more hardware to handle the volume.
4. Timing is the key - It's important to understand when to provide certain content at the right time along the customer journey. If the company suggests another item during the middle of the process instead of at the end, when you've made up your mind, the entire purchase may be scuttled.

Clear the hurdles with CMS help

A good content management system can help clear away the hurdles by neatly helping you manage your personas and the never-ending flow of content they crave. A good CMS will make use of technologies such as real-time targeting to find out who those people are who only want to browse, but who may be enticed back if you act fast enough to offer them what they're seeking with the right item at the right time. For example, live page elements can be automatically delivered after just a few clicks. Instead of storing massive amounts of data, real-time targeting reacts with just what the visitor wants.

Finally, creating a personalised experience may require small changes to a Web page, not a complete rebuild every time. So why is the entire page being re-created every time? Better to deliver dynamic content when and where it's needed. By reducing the content load this way, you save on the amount of hardware you need and the amount of time your visitors must wait to download.

These are just a few of the considerations to keep in mind if you want to offer dynamic website personalization. A good CMS that flexibly supports new technologies, offers easy content creation and management, and keeps hardware costs down provides an intelligent way of delivering a personalised and dynamic Web experience that's delightful, not daunting.