Personalization vs Optimization: How They’re Similar, Different & Why You Need Both

Last updated on by Fahad Muhammad in Marketing Personalization

Advertisers aim to deliver a positive customer experience for audiences by creating messages that audiences find easy to understand, useful, and relevant.

Personalization and optimization are processes that help advertisers create pre-click and post-click campaigns that deliver a positive user experience and increase business growth.

Today’s post highlights the key differences between personalization and optimization, how to use both on Google and Facebook, and why you need both for the best post-click experiences.

What is optimization?

Optimization enables digital advertisers to improve their campaign; it is a circular process of data collection, testing, and making improvements to campaigns based on the findings you collect from testing. It happens at both the pre- and post-click stage.

Optimization at the pre-click stage

At the pre-click stage, Google Ads and Facebook Ads enable you to run highly-targeted campaigns with a variety of optimizations. Let’s start with Google Ads.:

Google Ads

By optimizing the ad creation process, the right audience sees a relevant ad at the right time. An optimized ad has a headline that includes the offer’s UVP, a relevant and appealing image (for display ads), copy that gives the user information about the offer, and a CTA button that contrasts with the page and tells the visitor the next step.

Clarizen’s search ad demonstrates all of that because it’s relevant to the user’s search term, the headline explains what the product does, and the copy describes various product features:

For display ads, Casper’s ad below is the perfect example. The headline gives the user an incentive to click, the deadline adds urgency to the offer, the image is relevant to the product, and the CTA button tells users what to expect next:

Facebook Ads

Unlike Google Ads, ads on the social network are not keyword driven, so optimization for the platform includes different options.

Churn Buster’s Facebook ad explains the service’s UVP and includes an image that highlights working together and productivity:

Optimization at the post-click stage

This involves improving the components of your post-click experience. Meaning the post-click landing page, thank you page, and thank you email.

The two primary ways to optimize post-click experiences are:

Heatmaps collect data on post-click pages, which help you form a hypothesis which you can run A/B tests to prove or disprove. You can collect customer data for A/B testing through Google Analytics, user recordings, and surveys.

Optimized post-click experiences provide the best user experience, which then translates into more advertising conversions.

All elements of an optimized post-click page — from the headline to the customer testimonials are relevant to the offer being promoted, are useful for the user who’s trying to solve a problem, and easy for them to understand.

The best post click pages don’t include off-page navigation links; instead they include a persuasive headline, copy that explains the UVP, eye-catching and relevant media, a contrasting CTA button with personalized copy, and trust elements like customer badges or testimonials.

State Farm example

State Farm’s post-click page features a headline that explains the service and a CTA button that tells the user what they can expect to see next:

What is personalization?

Personalization is the buzzword word in digital advertising because it can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent, lift revenues by 5 to 15 percent, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by 10 to 30 percent.

Personalization stems from behavioral data. The first step of personalization involves grouping together customers who have similar behaviors and needs. Then comes understanding the customer journey for every audience segment you’ve defined. The customer journey includes the series of interactions a user has with your brand from initial consideration, to purchase and use, and then to subsequent purchases.

When you combine the user segments and customer journeys you create multiple micro-segments, which form the basis of 1:1 personalization.

Personalization at the pre-click stage

At the pre-click stage, sophisticated advertising platforms provide you with options to segment audiences and create hyper-targeted ads that your target audience are likely to click. Also included in the pre-click stage are creating ideal customer profiles to know who to target your offers to.

Google Ads

Facebook Ads

Personalization at the post-click stage

After creating targeted ads and detailed your ICP, it’s time to match each ad with a personalized post-click experience.

Creating true personalized experiences for every audience that interacts with your ad is all about context and it starts with unique UTM parameters. Personalization is more about matching the narrative and context of a potential customer right after they click your ad.

Instapage examples

With 1:1 ad-to-page personalized experiences, you connect every targeted ad with a relevant post-click page. That page can perfectly match the user’s intent along with the keyword search query, like the example below. Clicking this Instapage search ad discussing integrations sends users to the following post-click experience (above the fold only):

Compare that to this example on mobile where the ad discussing WordPress hosting sends you to this new experience:

Both post-click experiences use the exact same URL, except the last UTM parameter:

This slight difference may not look very different on the front-end to the untrained eye, but this personalization would not be possible without the server-side dynamic audience targeting. Effectively, this experience is using sophisticated targeting built into the ad platforms with UTM parameters.

Combine optimization & personalization

Although optimization and personalization use different methods to create a positive user experience, both processes have the same end goal: more advertising conversions.

Don’t think of it as optimization vs. personalization, but opt for an optimized and personalized approach with your advertising.

Use optimization to make the ad and post-click page more relevant and easy to use. Use personalization to make sure the right audience is targeted with the best message at the right time. See how to do both efficiently with an Instapage Personalization demo here.

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