Marketers have been talking about marketing personalization for years and for good reason: Data shows it can make a huge difference. An Experian study found that personalized marketing emails achieved six times the rate of transactions of emails that weren’t personalized. And Janrain found that companies that personalized the web experience for visitors saw an 18 percent uptick in sales.

In spite of such a strong case for personalization marketing, with the exception of a couple of high-profile companies like Amazon and Netflix, most businesses still struggle to do it well.

Even if you don’t have access to as much data or technology as companies like Amazon and Netflix, there’s still hope. Other (smaller) companies are out there making headway with marketing personalization. Here are a few of them pulling it off.

1. DeepSky

DeepSky calls itself the “Entrepreneur’s Accounting Department.” Their target audience is clear, but it’s a category that can include a lot of variety. Entrepreneurs run businesses of all types and sizes, each with its own set of goals.


To better provide value to each entrepreneur who comes to their website, DeepSky’s Free Tools section provides a personalized calculator to help businesses figure out a reasonable amount of budget to devote to accounting each month.

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Based on the answers visitors provide to a series of questions, the tool produces a personalized recommendation for how much of their budget they should be willing to spend on accounting to get the specific services they need.

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This the kind of question their target audience is likely to have that can’t be easily answered with a blog post. There are too many variables to be able to provide an answer that’s generally applicable. By providing a personalized calculator on the website, they can provide much more valuable information than they could otherwise, and they’ll get a clear picture of which of their visitors are most likely to be a good fit for the services they provide.


If you like wine, chances are you have some clear preferences. Maybe you only like dry wines, or maybe you always go for sweet ones. But maybe you have a harder time pinning down exactly what it is you do and don’t like about a wine.

If you buy from, that’s no problem. You can rate every wine you try and get personalized recommendations based on how your tastes and ratings compare with other members’.


While isn’t a huge company, it is able to bring a similar system of data collection and recommendations to wine selling that Netflix does to movie streaming. Customers gain a better understanding of what they like and don’t like, without having to take a sommelier course and learn how to speak intelligently about tannins and mouthfeel (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

3. Brainshark

Brainshark offers B2B cloud-based services, including a freemium product for easily creating and sharing video presentations called myBrainshark. It also offers a more robust cloud-based software for managing presentations and doing more with them (called SlideShark) that’s available for a free trial before purchase.

The company recognized that their users were hitting some common road bumps on the path to adoption and purchase. Too few of the users of both the free and paid versions were bothering to actively use the products once they signed up, while those who did were (predictably) much more likely to buy.

To encourage use of both products and get users of the freemium product to consider upgrading, Brainshark used a campaign of personalized messages that would pop up in the screen of both products when the user had them up, and on the BrainShark website when users signed in. The messages pushed users toward content that would help them get more out of the products and action items to use the products effectively.

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As a result, their freemium product saw a 15 percent increase in registrations and Brainshark saw a 150 percent increase in signups for a trial of the paid product.

By not only showing messages to get their users to take an action, but also making sure each one was personalized to where the user was in the purchasing process, they were able to increase engagement significantly and break down some of the roadblocks keeping customers from converting.

4. ModCloth

Some shoppers like to buy clothes on impulse, while others like to browse more often than they buy. For those in the latter category, ModCloth makes it easy for you to save items you like to return to later by either adding them to a wish list or clicking on a heart to note that you “love” them.


That’s a nice value add for customers since it makes it easy for them to return later to the items they like, but it also gives the company the opportunity to send emails that gently nudge customers back to the purchase page anytime a product goes on sale or is about to go out of stock.

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More cautious shoppers can bide their time and know they’ll be alerted whenever something they were considering purchasing is even more attractive because it’s on sale or almost out of stock.

When done well, personalized marketing gives your audience what it needs at precisely the moment it needs it and, thus, increases your conversions. And it doesn’t just have to be for the big guys. Products like HubSpot put personalization into the hands of smaller businesses, as well. Our eBook on personalized content can help you get started.