Does Personalizing Website Content Make Sense?

When planning your website, one of the first questions you will face is whether you should personalize the content on the site or go with a more formal approach. There is no absolute answer to this one, so let’s take a look atPersonalizing Website Content the factors you need to consider when making the choice.


What does personalization of content mean? It simply refers to the “speaker” in the content. If you look at a site like, there is no personalization whatsoever. Fidelity is a financial brokerage site, so the content is written with the “speaker” being the business itself.

Contrast this with a site like This is the primary site of Pat Flynn, a very popular blogger who provides business tips to his readers. Personalization is the approach throughout the site. Everything is about Pat, because his goal is to connect personally with his readers. This is a classic form of content personalization.


When launching a site, your content should either be personalized heavily or not at all. The approach you take depends on the type of site you are running and the tone you are trying to convey. The nature of your business will typically provide you with the answer.

Let’s return to our Fidelity example. As a brokerage, the company wants to convey an impression of sophistication, security and stability to its target audience. SEC regulations aside, the company wants you to believe your money is safe and will grow. In such a situation, it is best to convey a highly professional, corporate tone through the content.

Now consider a different business from the same financial niche. Barry Waxler is one of our clients and a financial planner in San Diego. He works with high-end clients and handles most of the work himself. Much like Pat Flynn in the example above, Mr. Waxler is the “brand” and personalizing the content to reflect this fact, and connect with his readers, is a smart strategic approach.

As you can see, whether to personalize is a decision focused more on an elective choice on your part, not the niche your business is in. In fact, a business niche where personalization is classically not used can often be a great place to employ the tactic because it allows you to stand out from the competition.

Willing to Commit?

Starting a business may require time and money, but it doesn’t always require the ultimate sacrifice. What is that sacrifice? Exposing yourself to the public as the face behind the business.

Consider Google. You probably know Larry Page is one of the founders. Can you picture what he looks like in your mind? If Google is portrayed positively or negatively in a media piece, few think of Page, much less picture him. This is because Google is not a personalized entity in any way.

Now consider the ramifications of personalizing your online business. Your face will be front and center. If we return to, people do not post positive or negative reviews of the site. Instead, they do so for Pat Flynn, the person. He is the brand and reaps the benefits and bears the scars personally.

So the simple question you must ask yourself is, “Am I willing to be exposed as the face of my business and receive negative feedback?” Don’t feel bad if you shy away from such exposure. Most people do. If you are reticent to expose yourself, though, you need to ask yourself just how committed to the business you really are.

Selling The Site

Okay, you are ready to go with personalization. Before you make the commitment, there is just one other issue to consider – what is your exit strategy for the site?

The exit strategy is the method you plan to use to leave the business. The common strategies include:

  • Run it forever and leave it to your heirs,
  • Sell the site to a third party for an obscene amount of money, or
  • Take the business public and make millions when investors buy the stock.

If you decide to personalize the content, you may run into problems with a few of these exit strategies.

Consider a site like This was the primary site of Corbett Bar, an extremely popular online blogger who provided his readers with a host of tips on making money online. The site was completely personalized, which is to say the brand was Corbett himself and not the website.

Would you ever buy such a website if you had the money and were looking for an acquisition? Probably not. The problem is that the people who are on the mailing list for and who visit the site frequently would most likely abandon the site once Corbett was no longer the content creator.

Corbett may have realized this is an issue. He recently redirected all of his content to Sparkline, where he is one of a number of online gurus. Although the new site is still packed with personalized content, the fact there are numerous content creators means one can leave without it being the end of the world for the business.

So, what about your site? You need to seriously consider your exit strategy. If your goal is to take the business public, then personalization is a poor strategy. If your intention is just to run the business for as long as possible, personalizing the content is a wise move.

Difficult Decision

In some cases, the personalization decision can be a difficult one. Consider When Phil and I started this site, we had this very discussion. Phil was more for the corporate content approach while I was more about the personalization of the content. Ultimately, we decided on a personalization-light strategy.

So far, it seems to be working.