Seasoned marketers will remember a time when improving the web presence of a company meant creating a website and creating some copy that might get seen online … someday. Today, simply having a website with good user experience, clean design and witty homepage content isn’t enough. Today, a new required box is being drawn: personalization.
Email has turned the corner; gone are the days of email “blasts” to entire lists. Email (when done correctly) is precise, segmented and thoughtful, and this thoughtfulness is felt. Marketers practicing segmentation in email campaigns experience an increase of 15% in traffic that converts (mailchimp.com). It’s this same attention to detail that is making its way to the homepage and the entire website through a the growing trend of website personalization.
The War Against Bad Marketing
The movement for elegant marketing solutions started as a fatigued whisper and has begun to crescendo into an internet roar. The increasing prevalence of interruptive ads, intrusive pop-ups and disruptive user-experiences are turning customers once open to marketing messages into harsh critics. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of this loud and crowded internet tunnel we have found ourselves in, and there are marketing experts out there making sure you, the responsible campaign designers of the world, find it.
Meet Our Experts
We didn’t necessarily scour the internet searching for names - most of these folks we’d come across through our habitual reading of cutting edge blogs like marketingland.com, searchengineland.com and others. We follow and share information from folks that talk about the topics we’re focused on most: geotargeting, personalization, and GIS. We then made a list of over 100 folks we thought were influential to our business and have helped shape our vision for the future of marketing and compiled our list based on articles we’ve read and ideas these influencers have shared. Though we don’t have scientific parameters for how we deemed these elite few the personalization experts you should care about, follow and glean insights from, we do know that they share in our vision for the fight against lazy marketing through personalized website content. Here now is our list of the Top 44 Website Personalization Experts!
Follow him @andy_ashley.
Congratulations to Andy for making our list of personalization experts. Well deserved too. Peter Thiel asks the famous interview question “describe one thing you know to be true that others disagree with you on” and in the case of Mr. Ashley, a couple of his answers might revolve around IP targeting. In his article on IP Geolocation, Ashley explores the myths associated with location marketing and what to believe and dismiss as conjecture. If you’re looking for an expert to unearth the tremendous value in a single IP, look no further.
Senior Editor, Industry Dive’s HR Dive, Marketing Dive, and Mobile Marketer
Liza caught our eye because of her recent article regarding diversity in the workplace, and the subsequent importance of online ADA accessibility. We couldn’t agree more, and value leaders in our industry like Liza! She is a clear choice for our list because of her desire to help businesses make positive change - a truly admirable cause. With base websites and content personalization tools, accessibility is key and should be a cornerstone of software and web development. Thanks for stepping up, Liza!
Follow him @mherzber.
Matt Herzberger co-created BlogHighEd, a site that aggregates higher education blogs from around the internet. Matt advocates for using web technology in higher education recruitment. Web technology? Higher education? Two things we’re all about. BlogHighEd provides people working in higher education with more resources than they can shake a stick at, and as a digital consultant, we’re sure Matt has the answer to your burning higher education recruitment questions.
Follow him @gregfinn.
Longtime author at Searchengineland.com, marketingland.com and a partner at CypressNorth.com, Greg Finn also has been featured on Searchenginepeople.com as one of the experts to follow on Twitter in the PPC world. Though his expertise lies in SEM, Greg’s ability to speak knowledgeably about any subject surrounding online marketing make him an easy entry on our list for website personalization experts. Marrying digital marketing campaigns with conversion focused landing pages is one of the first things you learn as a digital marketing manager. Greg and his team at Cypress North do this better than anyone out there. Side note on Mr. Finn, he’s been an amazing influence on the GeoFli team and even gave one of our co-founders their first gig in the digital marketing world as a content writer.
Follow him @davidkonline.
Contributing Editor, Marketing Dive
In David’s recent article, he explores how to target consumers who actively avoid advertisement. Yes, we all think we are immune, but some consumers are truly averse. How do we engage them? By addressing that our consumers are looking for a genuine website experience, still catered to them. David belongs on this list due to his extensive experience evaluating and writing about the marketing world and its tactics. And, as a startup, we’re sentimental about his contributions to startup accelerator and incubator programs. Thanks for your time and your insight, David!
Staff Reporter, Inc.com.
Sonya’s witty titles on Inc.com caught our eye immediately, and we couldn’t stop reading. Our favorite? “Amazon’s Master Plan: Selling You Stuff That Sells You Stuff”. Sonya seamlessly ties Amazon’s end goal of selling “you” stuff (not the “faceless mass” kind of you) and the personalization that must come in tow to be successful. Her insight into Amazon’s need for better personalization to drive sales was undoubtedly addressed by Amazon in some meeting, but non-Amazons can take a leaf out of their book, take Sonya’s advice, and show each and every customer, rather than a mass of their customers, an individualized experience on their websites.
Follow him @robertboc.
As the Director of Social Media for Harvard Business School, Robert knows his stuff. With 61 (and counting!) articles posted on LinkedIn, Robert is more than happy to share his social media knowledge (on social media, of course!). If you’re interested in social media, Harvard Business School, or all of the above, Robert is a perfect person to follow for unique insights into the world of alumni outreach.
Casey Markee is a self described SEO speaker, writer & trainer, comic book geek, crossfitter and KU Jayhawks fan (according to Twitter). What separates him from most are his articles featured on searchenginenews.com. We appreciate his forward thinking articles like the “Seven Digital Marketing Predictions for 2017” and a look at the famous question/conundrum “You’ve Decided to Start a Blog. Now What?!” With over 400+ online marketing articles and 17 years experience, if you’re looking for someone to help deliver a personalized SEO experience, you might think about reaching out!
Follow him @joshuaddodson.
Joshua Dodson was a co-host for the 2017 Higher Ed Analytics Conference, but his day job is serving as the Director of Digital Marketing for Bentley University. Of course, when you’re also writing articles like “Using GPS to Identify Nearby Donors” we knew he was a ringer for a feature. While the article focuses on using granular data to exactly identify donor locations, it’s not a far cry from using location data to show specific content to donors in each location. And Joshua didn't stop there. As part of a yield campaign for an incoming undergraduate class, website personalization was used on an event landing page, using information from their CRM record. Data-driven insights to improve conversions? We love it.
Follow him @rajnijjer.
As the GM of GeoMarketing.com, is it any surprise Raj wound up on this list. Sourcing some of the smartest marketers and minds in the world to write about nodes, beacons, mobile, IP and everything else geotargeting, if anyone has their pulse on the way the world is “locating”, it’s Raj. Billed as the leading daily source for location and mobile marketing news for CMO’s and marketing professionals (our team can verify!), Yext provides marketers with a one-stop shop for all the new things happening in location marketing. Whether you’re an early adopter in the tech space or a young startup with some traction looking for an influential investor to provide some rocket fuel, Raj Nijjer is a great person to follow.
Follow her @albright_c.
Associate Director, Hannipan Marketing
Carrie is a frequent author in marketing blogs across the web, and is no doubt used to the limelight. We found Carrie on Searchenglineland.com, and couldn’t agree more with her insights regarding location targeting. Marketers of all walks can learn from her take on location targeting based on IP address, such as that one effect of location targeting is subsequent, sometimes inadvertent targeting based on income level. What are the effects of those decisions, how can we make sure we are reaching our audience appropriately, and what do they want to see? “Allow the data to tell you what to do.” Carrie says. Listen to Carrie.
VP of Intelligence, L2
Evan, you had us at this sentence in his article on l2inc.com: “The site homepage is often a consumer’s first digital touchpoint with a brand, yet many brands have struggled to produce streamlined and relevant homepage experiences.” We of course see a direct correlation between location-based-content and the performance of a website at the discovery and awareness phase. In his article “To Win the Content Game, Brands Must Learn to do More With Less,” Evan talks in length about the clutter in marketing: the lazy ad-specific clutter that is experiencing a diminishing return on click-throughs, conversions and engagement as ad-blockers, ad-fatigue, and ad-hatred all increase. The key, he says, is website personalization. Hey, sounds familiar. Here’s to you, Evan. Keep fighting the good fight and keep writing great content.
Sara has been working as the Web Content Manager for Bluffton University since 1991, longer than some of our team members have been alive! Her job duties include producing and maintaining all of the content published on the Bluffton University website. Beyond being the web guru at Bluffton, she also spoke at the 2017 Higher Ed Analytics Conference, where she talked about how colleges can connect their online analytics to real-world actions.
Follow him @nathanhchan.
Publisher, Foundr Magazine
We like Nathan because we like a little pushback. Nathan’s articles on entrepreneur.com challenge marketers to think about their preconceived notions, like if selling on Amazon is really the best move, or to question if your content marketing strategy is actually working (it’s not). We all need a Nathan around, which is why he made this list. Check out his work every once in a while to evaluate if you’re doing the best you can be!
Follow her @britneymuller.
When you want to be a digital marketing master, but only have so many hours in the day, Brittney Muller is a great source of relief. With articles like “The Lazy Writer’s Guide to 30 Minute Keyword Research” and “Refurbishing Top Content”, you can be sure to work both efficiently and effectively with you SEO. If you’ve been through the digital marketing conference circuit, you’ve probably seen Britney speak. As an expert in user-experience among many other things, Britney makes our list because, well, we believe user-experience is at the core of all great marketing. So check out some of her articles, follow Britney on Twitter, and work smarter!
Founder and Managing Partner, Scrum50
That Mike is a serial entrepreneur is an understatement - between his work at Creative Alliance, founding Byte Interactive, WELD media, and now Scrum50, Mike has had a busy couple of years. Well, decades. Mike’s hustle is what we look up to and wanted to showcase his career as an inspiration to fellow readers, entrepreneurs, and marketers. Mike inspires us to shake off the dust, question our processes and methodologies, and constantly improve. What a guy. Thanks, Mike!
Stefan is a digital marketer, UX expert and writer for LeanPlum. One of his articles that struck a chord with our team was Etsy UX Analysis: Personalization That Powers Conversions. While the article focuses a bit on surfacing content to returning visitors, it also reviews the distracting placement of ads (which Stefan calls 'too effective') and how it disrupts UX. We couldn’t agree more. “Suggesting the right product at the right time could make the difference between a successful conversion and a failed one.”
Follow him @jschoemaker1984.
Hook, line, and sinker, Jeffrey got us with his website personalization article on Perplex. Personalization isn’t just a buzzword! Jeffrey is so right about the effects of immediately offering the most relevant content possible to website visitors, and we’re so glad we aren’t alone in this belief. Website personalization increases conversion rates - it just does. Congratulations on the nomination for “Best Technical Solution” at CodeGarden 2017, and keep up the innovative work. We’re right there with you.
Nick Van Huis
The world of SEO and specifically local SEO is pretty crowded. Fortunately, Nick Van Huis is there to provide some clarity. It’s no secret that the formula for great SEO is, well, great content. But what happens next? Great content is one ingredient, but when someone is trying to learn about your business at a local and personalized level, how do you maximize that experience? That first touch? With simple tips for beginners, Nick’s writing is clear, easy to follow, and provides simple instructions on how to improve your search engine optimization, not just on Google, but across the internet so your business can get found by the right people. And if you can do that, well, you’re well on your way to digital marketing mastery, or at least on your way to more happy and qualified website visitors.
Follow him @gsterling.
Contributing Editor, Search Engine Land
We’ve only been talking about website personalization for two years now, so if you’re not convinced yet, check out Greg’s cover of an Urban Outfitters Case Study on location data’s success as an e-commerce targeting tool. Greg is on this list because he did his due diligence by speaking to PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall about how location data proved to provide increased conversion rates at an alarming rate for Urban Outfitters - 75% in fact. The kicker? They weren’t even sure they were right, so they ran the test again, with the same results. Thanks to Greg’s great work and identification of this case study as an important piece for marketers to see, the case is continuing to be built for the incredible website personalization we’re all capable of.
Follow her @laurynchamberla.
Associate Editor, Geomarketing.com.
Lauryn writes about geotargeting and she does it with early adopters in mind. We like that! Recognizing that location marketing lives well beyond IP targeting and website personalization, Lauryn writes about beacon technology and specifically how companies are using beacons to surface proximity specific content. Let’s all give off a collective “whoa.” Lauryn’s Twitter feed is witty, winey (yes, we meant to spell it that way) and informative. Thanks, Lauryn, for occupying a complicated but growing trend in proximity-based marketing reporting.
Follow him @nealschaffer.
Founder and Editor-In-Chief, Maximize Social Business
How could Neal not make this list? Well, he couldn’t. Neal is always contributing to the world of marketing with his business, articles and books, speaking engagements, and constant improvement in the industry. We’re not alone in thinking he’s a leader - Forbes, CMO.com, and Salesforce all think so too. Neal, shoutout to you and your career. Thanks for your continued and developing insights to social media strategy, and that you continue to share them with the marketing world.
Follow her @pammktgnut.
CEO, Founder, Marketing Nutz
Pam’s decades of valuable experiences in marketing have earned her a clear spot as a leader, something also agreed with by Forbes! As a successful entrepreneur, speaker at a number of incredible conferences for companies like Hubspot Inbound, and podcaster, we can all rest easy knowing that Pam has things to say that we should all listen to. Check out her comprehensive blog covering everything from social media, integrated strategies, analytics, and more.
Agency owner, writer and entrepreneur, John Surdakowski landed on this list after we looked at his agency website avexdesigns.com and thought it was one of the cleanest projects we’ve seen. Simple and elegant but also not humble: they do good work. As John notes in his article for business.com titled: How to Increase Your E-Commerce Conversions in 2017. “77 percent of agencies acknowledged that a subpar website user experience is a big weakness for business.” What more, we recognize that an improved website performance can sometimes double conversion rate, increase time-on-site and decrease bounce-rate. Follow on Twitter @avexdesign for some images and designs that will make you think twice about bashing Twitter.
Follow him @helveticaman.
As the Digital Analytics Lead for Harvard University, Aaron drills into the data from websites, emails, and social media to deliver actionable insights, and find out why content works the way they do. His talk at the 2017 Higher Ed Analytics Conference covered tracking site engagement using scroll tracking rather than time-on-page. As a team that loves improving and tracking engagement in any way possible, his insights into scroll tracking were especially valuable for us!
Follow her @lilachbullock.
Social Media Expert and Speaker
Lilach has been in the business for quite some time. Since starting asklilach.com in 2006 and selling it in 2009, she’s focused on consulting for clients who need social media management and strategy guidance. We admire her drive and commitment to her journey to becoming one of the most powerful and influential social media experts. Lilach’s been recognized by Forbes, Oracle, and Career Experts as a leader in the space for a reason. Make no mistake, she’s a force to be reckoned with and we can’t wait to see what her next project is. Check her out at lilachbullock.com.
Follow him @bmassey.
We first met Brian Massey at the Higher Ed Web conference in California. He was wearing a lab-coat and had a lot of charisma. The extent of his expertise in the digital world was still unknown, but we thought we should learn more about this individual and his project. Since then, we’ve seen Brian’s name come across our Twitter feeds, our LinkedIn articles and we’ve seen his ideas and case studies featured on some of the top publications on the web: the diagnosis is in, the conversion Dr. is for real. Focused specifically on increasing conversions, Brian works with colleges and other industries to create a seamless path from discovery and awareness to consideration and decision. Brian is also the author of the Customer Creation Equation. Here’s to you, Brian, and the ability to cut through the quirky lab-coat and deliver some deep digital marketing insights.
As we take a quick pause to get ready for our next website personalization experts, check out these fun trends: the internet cares about digital marketing and conversion optimization.
Follow him @petersontee.
Social Media Reporter, Third Door Media
When it comes to what’s new, what’s happening, and what’s exciting in the world of social media, marketing, and technology, Tim is all over it. Not keeping up with his blog would put anyone at a disadvantage - don’t spend another minute not knowing this in-the-know guy’s name. It’s Tim Peterson. Our favorite article is Tim’s six-month recap of social media marketing in 2017. A brief stroll through the past six months reminded us of Youtube’s “adpocalypse”, the emergence of Instagram stories and questions surrounding Snapchat’s relevancy, and LinkedIn’s debut into retargeting capabilities. It should remind us that anything can happen, and we have to stay ahead of the curve. Stay vigilant!
Follow him @mcparlin.
Just as cotton is the fabric of our lives, data is the fabric of our digital marketing and website personalization. Without it, there would be no such thing as IP targeting, website personalization or the ability to geotarget. Thankfully, folks like Hugo Moreno are here to help put into layman's terms exactly how to harvest this data and make sense of it to deliver simple and elegant marketing solutions. In his article: Location Intelligence: “Mapping The Opportunities In The Data Landscape” Hugo talks about how “Fortunately, changes in the technology over recent years means that spatial mapping and analysis software is becoming more user-friendly, moving out of the sole domain of GIS professionals and into the realm of everyday users.” We agree. Particularly helpful was Hugo’s insights into thinking spatially - “thinking about how place and location matter within your organization and how answering where things are might help you better understand the business problems you face.”
Follow her @k_march.
Kristen Ingels, the Senior Brand Strategist at SimpsonScarborough, is more than just a Brand Strategist. She’s a Pacific Northwest native, just like us. Her article, "Two Steps to Better Digital Marketing" resounded with us because it boiled down to one takeaway: targeting, targeting and targeting. We have to agree with you on that one, Kristen. We can’t wait to see what other insights you have planned for us!
Follow him @davidakaplan.
Managing Editor, GeoMarketing
David has been a busy fellow. A veteran journalist, David has worked for AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek, and MediaPost. Now, his career at GeoMarketing from Yext has led him to become a well-known writer in the geotargeting sphere. David has hustle - hardly a day goes by at GeoMarketing that David doesn’t publish an article about anything from Coors Light partnering with local bands to how many people Amazon will be able to bring into Whole Foods. Don’t miss out on his articles!
Follow him @marcushanscom.
Director of Graduate Admissions, Roger Williams University
We had a chance to chat with Marcus by phone after one of his (many) conference presentations for Carnegie Communications. Marcus is a gifted marketer, specifically for his ability to stick to a niche and own it. In this case, it’s graduate school enrollment marketing. In a world where undergraduates (think dorm-rooms, move-in-days and meal plans) own the college marketing world, a frequently overlooked area is graduate school. Campuses with up to 20 undergraduate admission counselors sometimes have less than 2 graduate recruiters. Doing more with less is where Marcus Hanscom thrives - using online marketing to reach thousands instead of face-to-face when the resources don’t allow it. We appreciate Marcus’ efforts to spread the word on new technologies, what’s working, and what isn’t. If you’ve been to a graduate school admissions conference in the last five years, chances are you’ve seen a presentation with (and went home with, too!) some valuable information from Mr. Hanscom.
Follow her @amyljorgensen.
Amy Jorgensen, the Associate Marketing Director at the University of Virginia made our list for her emphasis on digital strategies in higher education marketing. Not only that, but Amy offers fresh insights into content creation, SEO and accessibility, and sometimes meshes all three into a unique perspective. We particularly enjoyed her article, "SEO & Accessibility: The Technical Components" for giving us a perspective and some guidelines into web accessibility that can be easy to forget about.
Follow him @highedmarketing.
Owner, Bob Johnson Consulting
Bob, we’ve got something in common - a passion for higher education marketing. We saw his blog and wanted to give a shout out to yet another person working in a space meant to improve institutions of higher education. Your dedication to your newsletter, to helping over 80 universities improve, and generally helping people market better is admirable. Thanks for your work!
Follow him @wilreynolds.
FollWebsite personalization is only as good as the creative and copy you associate with it. Small changes can have large positive impacts, but could it work the other way? What if small changes could have negative impacts? Wil Reynolds is a digital marketing expert and director of digital strategy at SeerInteractive. With articles like "How to Write Better Ad Copy Using Reviews" and insights into developing content strategies, Wil certainly isn’t the first person to write about such topics. What separates Wil from the pack is his ability to see through generic “write great content” and go deeper into strategies like reviews. We find that websites using state-based reviews and testimonials receive a 25% increase in time-on-site, a 17% decrease in bounce rate and an improvement in conversions. Heading to MozCon? Look for Wil.
Jeremiah works for Up&Up as their digital marketing manager, and focuses his expertise on telling the world about the terrific work his agency does helping colleges market themselves to potential students. Jeremiah made our list because of his passion for non-disruptive marketing, that he’s not the tattoo guy (no offense to Jeremiah Barba, the tattoo guy!), and his excellent white papers on social media engagement for higher education marketers.
Follow him @mikehornatterry.
Senior Director for Marketing & Communications, Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia
Billed as a marketing strategist with extensive experience driving digital communications and e-commerce marketing strategies (terry.uga.edu), Mike manages a 900k annual advertising budget. When you’re working with ad-spend that size, you need to know your stuff. Fortunately, Mike does. With presentations at Carnegie Conferences, and the AMA Symposium for Higher Education, Mike talks knows higher education marketing. Without a large digital footprint, our guess is that Mike spends most of his time with his sleeves rolled up working hard for the Terry College of Business. Keep up the good work, Mike and we look forward to hopefully hearing more of your presentations in the future!
Follow her at: @libbyeckhardt.
A Montana Native, just like GeoFli, Libby Eckhardt works in the Ohio State School of Arts and Sciences as the Chief Communications Officer. More than just a Chief Communications Officer, Libby’s Twitter feed is filled to the brim with articles she’s picked up from around the internet, with insights from higher education marketing to SEO to growth hacking. Between her job at Ohio State, her two kids and visits to Montana, Libby has the hustle to market well, and share her knowledge with the world. Her Twitter is not to be missed. And Libby, next time you’re in Montana, shoot us an email. We’d love to meet up and talk shop!
Follow him @cunningham527.
As an enrollment marketing professional at Carnegie Communications, Mark focuses his expertise in the world of traditional and digital marketing strategies, though it could be argued that the two are merged so closely that now, it’s simply a marketing strategy. As another person on the list connected to the Carnegie Team, Mark made the list because his sole focus (on a strategic team of marketers) is lead management and digital strategy. Since GeoFli works with a lot of colleges to help personalize the recruitment process, our guess is that sitting down with Mark would lead to some really insightful conversation about the direction of higher-ed marketing.
Follow her @ohhijoylin.
Joy Lin is the Director of Digital Strategy and a blogger for the Destination Marketing Association International, where she both works as a digital strategist and writes about the strategies she’s developing. Joy stood out to us for her article, “Changing the Role of The Website In Destination Marketing,” where she discusses four ways that destination marketers can change their websites, making them mobile friendly, showcase fresh, relevant content, constantly be innovating, and our personal favorite, personalize the site to surface the most relevant pieces of content to the people who want to see it the most. We think that’s a great idea too!
Follow him @bartcaylor.
President and Founder, Caylor Solutions
The GeoFli team first met Bart Caylor on the LinkedIn Group “Higher Education Marketing and Communications.” Bart was posting about website personalization, and we were commenting about how we were building a tool to do just exactly that. Fast forward and you’ll find Bart still writing articles about cutting edge technology and strategies. As one of the more prolific writers out there in the space of higher-ed, you can find Bart posting, well, everywhere. Though sometimes quantity does not equal quality, Bart and his team at Caylor Solutions deliver some simple to read and simple to execute-on strategies. Among our favorite are articles on the university homepage, user-experience and decreasing bounce-rate.
Ellen works as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Capture Higher Ed, but she won us over with her article, “Out-of-State Does Not Mean Outta-Reach", where she dives into ways to personalize higher education websites with things like retargeting, mobile targeting, and, of course, our personal favorite, geo-targeting. With her expertise in higher education marketing, we’re more than excited to feature Ellen in our top marketers list.
Follow him @jensplarson.
As a digital strategist for Eastern Washington University, Jens is responsible for developing online marketing strategies the college, and just as importantly: analyzing the performance of his campaigns to find out if they’re working (or not). What really stood out to us about Jens’ session at the 2017 Higher Ed Experts Conference on using Analytics. Not only was it a talk about using data to find out bounce rates, and all the typical metrics that marketers use, he also discussed how to determine gaps in web content, and how to find out if you’re filling those gaps as you continue to publish content on your site. We think that’s awesome, Jens!
Follow him @natemouttet.
As the Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing at Seattle Pacific University, Nate Mouttet has worked in higher education marketing and communications since 2002. In his current position, Nate oversees graduate enrollment management, the university’s financial aid strategy, its marketing and communications. Matt’s drive for success, something we see in the many, many groups he’s been a part of, and of course the schools he’s worked for in various capacities was our reason for including him on our top marketers list.