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Building Dynamic Experiences Step-by-Step

Discover with Mason from Noble Studios how to navigate digital personalization amidst privacy concerns, using first-party cookies and HubSpot for dynamic experiences.


Mason Furr from Noble Studios highlighted the significance of dynamic, personalized customer experiences at ConvEx 2023. He emphasized that personalization, when done right, can significantly increase consumer spending. However, he noted a gap in consumer trust regarding data security. Mason differentiated between traditional segmentation and dynamic user experiences, advocating for the latter's individualized approach.

He addressed the challenges of data fragmentation and proposed solutions like Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) and web/app user registration. Mason shared practical examples of using first-party cookies and HubSpot data for creating personalized experiences. He concluded by stressing the importance of building trust and conducting thorough testing in personalization strategies.

Key Takeaways

  • Dynamic user experiences provide a more personalized approach than traditional segmentation.
  • Overcoming data fragmentation is key, with solutions like CDPs and user registration.
  • Trust-building and testing are crucial for successful personalization.


[00:00:00] Divyansh Shukla: Hello, everyone. Welcome to ConvEx, VWO’s annual virtual summit for growth and experimentation professionals. My name is Divyansh and I’m a Marketing Manager at VWO. Thousands of brands across the globe use VWO as their experimentation platform to run A/B tests on their website, apps, and products. This session is all about building dynamicity in today’s experience economy.

[00:00:31] Hence, it is a pleasure to have Mason Furr, who heads performance marketing at Noble Studios. Mason, welcome to ConvEx 2023. The stage is yours. 

[00:00:41] Mason Furr: Welcome everyone, welcome to ConvEx. And let’s talk about building some dynamic experiences step by step. So before we get into the nitty gritty, I want to talk a little bit about a quick little story here.

[00:00:56] About five years ago, I was in the middle of transitioning actually from a web developer to hopefully be a conversion optimizer. And I had some experience, but I wasn’t really actively doing CRO and enterprise level. And so I got the call, the interview was set. It was in a few days. And just like anyone would, I started to panic.

[00:01:20] I started doing a lot of intensive research and really I wanted to know more about the industry. I wanted to be able to answer questions that were asked. I want to be able to ask the right questions and show up in the right way. And so browsing along online, it was impossible not to come across CXL.

[00:01:41] They’re everywhere and they’re definitely a leading authority when it comes to conversion rate optimization and learning about a bunch of other digital marketing services. So I spent incredibly too long in the site. I was clicking around and I was just trying to be the best sponge that I could be. And really just absorb everything. 

[00:02:02] But I had an issue and the more I started reading, the more I started trying to take in information, the less I was able to actually talk to things at a high level. And that’s what I really needed to do. And that’s when I finally got the little message at the bottom of the screen that said, “Hey we noticed you were having some troubles popping around and looking for information. Is there anything that we can do to help?” 

[00:02:29] And it wasn’t an actual bot. It was an actual person. It wasn’t right when I first went on the site, it was an actual human being who showed up to help me. And so naturally being very anxious and wanting to prepare as best as I could. I just spilled it all. And I said, Hey, I’m about to interview as a role for conversion re optimizer.

[00:02:52] And I could just really use some help. I told them I was nervous and I wanted their advice. And so I asked them a number of questions. Including what’s some advice you could give me starting out as a conversion rate optimizer. And they said, be curious and test everything. Gather as much useful data as you can on your customers. And don’t give up. 

[00:03:18] And just as I was about to close the conversation and thank the person for their time, something actually struck me. I had actually seen this person before. And wouldn’t you know it, it turned out to be Peep Laja himself, actually. And for those of you that don’t know Peep, he is an amazing person.

[00:03:37] He’s also the founder of CXL itself, including Wynter and Speero. And so naturally, my next question was, what is Peep doing on a chat with an anonymous visitor, such as myself? And so I just asked him, I was like, what are you doing here? And he just, he told me, he’s like, I just like to pop in. I like to talk to real human beings.

[00:04:01] And see what real people are doing on my website from time to time. And I was like, okay, fair enough. And that just, it blew my mind, but I was like, okay, thank you for your time. And I went out and I landed the interview. And that moment having someone come and help me was truly something special for me.

[00:04:26] They saw my panic, which was very clear. They noticed that I needed help and they didn’t just stick me with a bot, they didn’t just direct me to a help center. They have someone there, walk me through my problems. It was amazing that it also turned out to be the CEO, but that was truly a magical moment for me.

[00:04:49] And that’s, it’s valuable. It’s personally relevant you know, and that’s the true magic that you can bring to your own customers. Because at the end of the day, marketing is not just selling to people. It’s engaging people. It’s connecting with people to create meaningful experiences. And that’s what we strive to provide all of our clients at Noble Studios.

[00:05:09] And that’s what we want to talk about today. Some real ways that we can make those moments happen. And so with that being said, let’s go and talk through what we’re going to cover today. So, first we’ll hop into intro into VPREs, as we call them. The role of data and personalization. Personalization approaches.

[00:05:30] Some of the challenges of building dynamic user experiences. And then we’re actually going to get into the tactical examples of building those dynamic user experiences as well. First example, using first party cookies. And the second example, using HubSpot first party data. Finally, we’ll talk about building trust and what that takes as well.

[00:05:52] So, before we get into stuff let’s talk a little bit about Noble Studios. So Noble Studios, we are an award winning digital marketing agency. We really strive to bring together the best of both creative and performance to help our clients achieve inspiring results. We actually recently celebrated our 20th year anniversary.

[00:06:13] And over the course of time, we’ve really been leaning into creating and providing these valuable, personally relevant experiences to our clients. We’re proud to be a VWO partner. In addition to a HubSpot and a Google partner. And we were also listed on Inc 5000 fastest growing private companies in America. 

[00:06:34] And a little bit about myself as well. My name is Mason Furr. I have just about 10 years in marketing with a focus and experimentation and analytics. And I really love leveraging psychology and data to bring these experiences to light and to better understand people. So how do we create valuable, personally relevant experiences aka VPREs. So it’s truly an output of what we call creative and digital performance. So we’ll talk about it a little bit more in detail here. So this is where both sides of creative and performance come together. So it’s important to know you do need a certain level of intuition because to create anything at the end of the day, you have to take a leap of faith.

[00:07:19] Your data is there to make sure that your leap of faith is educated and it’s not just complete guesswork. But, at the end of the day, ignore that you do have to take some sort of risk, and that’s what it takes to be agile and to create these experiences for our customers. And realistically as well data is there to inform our next steps, but we’re not going to have data on every single decision that we need to make.

[00:07:43] We also have to factor in testing too. That’s a key step as well, because once we take that leap of faith testing is there to really validate the output of whatever we put together. So both are really needed to create an experience and to make really good experiences, they have to be both valuable and they have to be personally relevant to their audience members.

[00:08:07] We make this distinction because VPREs and personalization are a little bit different in a sense. When you talk about personalization, it’s become a very sort of ubiquitous term that’s used everywhere. But something could be personal and not necessarily valuable. Like if I was to show a pop up on every single time you visited a page on a website that showed your profile photo, yes, it would be personal.

[00:08:36] But is it truly valuable? Not so much. When they’re both, those are the experiences that your audience truly remembers. So let’s talk a little bit about what the role of relevant data is in personalization. The whole point of personalization is to make your marketing communication with your audience more relevant.

[00:08:58] In fact, 80% of business leaders surveyed in a 2023 state of personalization report from Segment, said that they reported a nearly 38% increase in consumer spending when that consumer experience is personalized. On the flip side of things, though, only 51% of consumers actually trust brands to keep their personal data secure and to use it responsibly. There’s a clear disconnect between those two. 

[00:09:28] Personally relevant data, that’s a huge problem because that is the backbone to relevant communication with your audience. However, it’s getting increasingly difficult to collect it, to store it, and to leverage it. In fact, 27% of consumers surveyed feel that personalization has become less targeted over the past 12 months.

[00:09:50] And that’s largely due to increasing data privacy regulations, including Apple’s IDFA deprecation. In addition to those those issues, At the end of the day, a lot of data collected on consumers is not meaningful or important enough to create these meaningful, differentiated experiences, to create these true, valuable, personally relevant experiences.

[00:10:14] Access to data is key, but also access to the right data. And most organizations at the end of the day are data rich, but they’re insight poor, which creates a lot of white noise to filter through. As Neil Hoyne says, Chief Strategist at Google, who I have the privilege of hearing speak and truly an incredible speaker, uh, incredible strategist.

[00:10:34] But good data is all about being able to pick up where your conversation last left off. It’s all about tying back to that conversation with your individual consumers. If you don’t have the right information to remember where you last left off in your conversation, then your next conversation, it’s not going to be as relevant to them.

[00:10:53] It’s not going to be as interesting and worse, you may frustrate or annoy them, which is so true. So let’s talk about two different personalization approaches, segmentation versus dynamic user experiences. Curating to the best of your ability, your communication to individual customers on digital touch points is becoming increasingly important.

[00:11:15] We know that. We know that everyone wants personalization. We know that, you know. Consumers are starting to expect it more and more. Segmentation is a way to create these more personalized experiences. However, segmentation is done at a one to many scale. , and they’re often assigned with a high degree of subjectivity as well.

[00:11:35] Additionally, as soon as the organization actually signs these segments, it’s really difficult to roll them back because at that point you’ve launched campaigns, you’ve defined this in your collateral. , there’s a lot of moment that’s backed behind those segments once they’re assigned. Another approach is dynamic user experiences, which is programmatically leveraging these data points directly from individuals.

[00:11:57] which allows the greater scalability of experiences themselves. , this is also commonly referred to as personalizations two. But what’s important about this is it moves from segmentation’s one to many experience to more of a one to one experience. Some of the benefits of leveraging these individual data attributes include they’re truly individualized, especially any data attribute that has a high degree of cardinality, cardinality being the uniqueness of values within that particular data set.

[00:12:34] Because they’re individualized as well, they have a higher chance of being personally relevant, which is what we’re driving toward. They can also be programmatically accessed. And then lastly, you can also test their inclusion or exclusion, just like you would testing an experience geared toward a particular segment.

[00:12:52] So let’s talk about the challenges of creating these dynamic user experiences. First and foremost, we all have to address it, fragmentation is everywhere. So, data is stored in a number of different locations. And if you think about your data as your sort of touch points on your conversation with visitors or consumers it’s like you have notebooks in different areas.

[00:13:16] So if they were talking to you on your website, you might have that notebook stored in your web analytics platform. If they’re talking to you through Google ads, you have that stored in a different location. And all of these different locations, they really cause silos to be to be felt across the organization.

[00:13:37] And your usefulness of this data on individuals is limited by your ability to access it and to use it in these key moments. So let’s walk through some typical solutions then. 

[00:13:48] The first solution is CDPs, they’re pre built, but they do require some configuration. But the goal with these is that you call one single endpoint and then you get all of those user attributes per user, and that incorporates a lot of their various digital touch points.

[00:14:06] It is definitely more useful when you have some sort of user registration experience to help with that identity resolution piece. But CDPs are probably the first and foremost solution to this. The second solution that we see pretty commonly is web or app user registration. The downside to this, of course, is you have to build it.

[00:14:27] So if you want some sort of user registration on your app website, of course, you need to build that. You also are going to be the one responsible for calling those multiple endpoints. So getting data from these different locations and storing it underneath the individual user. It’s as a result, it’s oftentimes not going to be as robust as a CDP.

[00:14:48] And in addition to this too, oftentimes these profiles are web or app based and they’re not really cloud based as well. So. There are some problems with those typical approaches, namely every single business wants to personalize their customer experience, but not every single organization can afford a CDP solution or has the technical experience to manage it.

[00:15:12] In addition to that, not every single site lends itself to a user registration experience. If you’re browsing for places to eat in your city, you don’t want to have to create a profile on every single website that you visit, or if you’re looking for any other service, some experiences just do not lend themselves to user registrations.

[00:15:34] And lastly, but probably most importantly, too, sometimes we want to test how a personalized experience truly resonates with an audience before we go and build or adopt a very robust tool. So let’s talk through some tactical examples of how to use or build these dynamic user experiences. 

[00:15:55] First, we’re going to cover some ground rules.

[00:15:57] So these are principles that we adhere by, and we think they’re very applicable across the industry when it comes to building dynamic user experiences. 

[00:16:07] Number one is experience the experience itself. So you want to ideate for these valuable, personally relevant experiences, not just personalizations. You want to make sure that they’re going to be valuable. 

[00:16:20] Number two is collection. So along the same lines, you don’t need to collect everything. Only what you need to actually create these valuable, personally relevant experiences. 

[00:16:30] Three is trust. You have to build trust into every single experience that you create.

[00:16:35] And number four is test. Make sure you test it and don’t assume that the experience is 

[00:16:40] actually going to be beneficial. So with those in mind, let’s hop into the first example. So leveraging first party cookies to build these dynamic user experiences is a very, very nice and simple way of approaching this.

[00:16:56] So what this particular example does that we’ve set up for you guys is we’ve set a list of pages that we want to track and then what we’re doing is we’re creating a first party cookie that stores an array of those tracked pages based on what individual visitors have browsed. So the tools and systems used in this, we’re just going to be using Google Tag Manager and VWO.

[00:17:18] What’s really cool about this is it doesn’t rely on any account registration or a CDP. Instead, we’re just creating these first party cookies that collect a very specific data attribute of pages browsed for individual users that then we’re leveraging to create a dynamic user experience. In this particular example, we’re going to walk through how we’ve done this for Noble Studios. 

[00:17:42] We’re tracking our service pages, and then we’re going to create that dynamic user experience using VWO. The cookie that we’re setting up is called services_browsed. And again, it stores that array of specified pages that you enter in. 

[00:18:00] So you can find all these codes and all these steps available on our blog at /vwo-convex. It’s going to walk you through all these different steps, in addition to providing you with the actual code that you can just turn around and use.

[00:18:15] So, step one is go ahead and visit that site and copy that code. Step two is create a new tag in GTM and make sure you paste that code within a custom HTML tag. And step three is going to be changing the trigger to fire on all pages. Step four, again, for this particular example, we’ve just tracked our individual service line pages, but for your individual site, you might choose to track different pages such as your cart page or maybe different pages.

[00:18:48] So if you want to modify those, which I highly recommend, there is a variable called tracked_pages. All you have to do is just list them out there in that array and then you’ll be good to go. Step five is going to be make sure you go through QA, make sure everything’s okay, and then go ahead and publish that.

[00:19:07] And just doing that, these five steps, you just created your own first party cookie. Plain and simple, very easy to do. And it’s going to be collecting that data attribute for those particular pages that visitors have browsed. 

[00:19:23] So when we get to step six, this actually goes into applying this dynamic value to create this dynamic user experience.

[00:19:31] And again, you’ll find an example of this code that we’ve used, but all we’re doing in this particular example is we’re taking that cookie value, we’re grabbing that final page that a visitor has browsed, and then we’re dynamically inserting a little continue exploring link on our homepage, just in case the visitor doesn’t want to contact us immediately.

[00:19:52] Maybe they’re looking to browse some more information. We’ve now provided a very easy to access link to allow them to continue exploring their visitor journey. So there’s many different applications of this, but again, you can take a look at the code we’ve used and you can modify it to suit your own needs.

[00:20:11] So, all in all what we’ve done here again, we’ve just set up this very simple, first party cookie using GTM, we’re grabbing that final page from the cookie value using our code. And then we’re using that to dynamically insert this user experience here. And what’s awesome about this is, this is going to be different for every single individual.

[00:20:31] So based off of every single individual’s own pages browsed, this is going to change relative to them. It’s really moving toward that one to one communication that we’re talking about with this. Let’s talk through some applications. Again, this is just one particular example that we’re using this programmatic attribute, but there are many different ways that we can also leverage this.

[00:20:55] If you wanted your cookie to instead track visitors across, say, form completions or cart abandonments or things like that, this principle still applies to that, and you can create these dynamic user experiences just modifying the code very slightly. 

[00:21:12] So, for the second example, we’re going to talk about leveraging HubSpot first party data.

[00:21:16] This is a really, really cool example, and I’m very excited to share it with you guys. So what this does is it uses HubSpot which provides a unique user ID through a first party cookie, which is available for us. We’re actually grabbing that value to make an API call to HubSpot in order to get that user’s attributes.

[00:21:37] From there, just for our particular example, we’re going to be using those attributes to just pull down the user’s first name. And then we’re going to be using that first name to create the dynamic user experience itself. 

[00:21:50] So, some tools and systems used, of course, we’re going to be leveraging HubSpot. Also, we’re going to have to make modifications to the CMS. And then finally, we’re actually going to be testing and applying that dynamic user experience within VWO. So again, just a quick note about this. So this method, again, it doesn’t rely on account registration, so there’s no, like, user logins on the site.

[00:22:13] It also doesn’t require CDP. But what is important to note is it does require a user record to exist within the CRM. In this case, that’s going to be HubSpot for our example. But again, just to note with that, so it does not explicitly require that user login. So, please be aware too, that when we’re going through this example, your HubSpot tier might be a little bit different.

[00:22:38] Make sure that you look into it and make sure that you have API access. And also pay attention to your API limits as well. Of course, you want to conserve those. So, before we hop in, just a quick note. So, we’re going to be using TravelNevada as an example. Again, what we’re going to be doing is we’re going to be using a cookie provided by HubSpot, which identifies these anonymous visitors.

[00:23:01] We’re going to be using that to make the API call, and then we’re going to be returning that first name. So step one, we’re going to walk you through how to set up this private app, which is going to allow API access. So you can do the same exact sort of walkthrough. 

[00:23:17] So step one, log into HubSpot, step two, create a private app and select the scopes that you want which you can see right there. Just to note with this example too, so, we’re going to be retrieving the first name information. And in order to do so, you want to make sure that you have read access granted to the crm.objects.contacts property. So once you do that, then you can go ahead and download the code that we’ve provided.

[00:23:48] Again, that’s going to be on noblestudios.com/vwo-convex. Once you have that, so you have your app set up, you have the code, you’re going to go ahead and modify that code a little bit. So you can lean on a developer to do this, or you can modify the code yourself depending on your technical experience.

[00:24:07] But what you need is you need to copy that access token. So based on that private app you set up, you’re going to get an access token. Go ahead and copy that and then you’re going to put that in the PHP code that we’ve provided to you. Once you’ve done that, go ahead and send that PHP code to a developer to place in your website.

[00:24:26] And then at this point too, you can also make some modifications, which are really cool. So again, based off of this, we’re going to be returning a lot of properties from the contact themselves. But if you wanted any other properties as well, you could also do so. There’s a bunch of information that’s available in HubSpot and it’s typically just a couple lines of code to modify what you’re returning for them.

[00:24:49] Okay, so, step six. Then we’re going to pop into VWO and we’re going to create an experiment. So, go in there, create an experiment. Again, we’re going to copy the code that we provided to you. And then we’re going to go ahead and paste that code which is actually going to allow us to grab the first name that the PHP code is making available for us.

[00:25:10] So that way we can dynamically insert it. In this particular example, what we’ve done for our our client Travel Nevada, is we’ve gone to the my visit page and we’ve actually grabbed that first name to dynamically insert that into the page copy, which is super cool. So in this example, we’re saying welcome back comma first name.

[00:25:33] And this is a very simple sort of way to create this dynamic user experience. So all in all, again, what we’re doing here is we’re grabbing this HubSpot cookie that’s provided. We’re grabbing that value to make an API call through the PHP code. Then we’re going into VWO and we’re grabbing the value of first name that’s returned from that.

[00:25:56] And we’re making modifications on the site to actually use that in a dynamic user experience. Again, this is, this is a really cool example, and HubSpot as a CRM provides a wealth of information and really it acts as a user repository for this information. It makes those data attributes available and then you can actually test these experiences, which is really cool.

[00:26:21] You can get a lot of data from these APIs and it’s not just HubSpot specific. So this same sort of methodology could work for any other CRM. You just have to be able to make those API calls to return those values. You want to make sure you’re ideating for valuable, personally relevant experiences, not just personalizations.

[00:26:40] And there is a distinction between those two. Starting with what’s valuable and relevant and then identifying what data you need is a good step to start off with. And it’s also a really good place to layer in feedback too. You can ask clients. You can conduct client interviews and ask, Is this experience truly valuable?

[00:26:58] Would it help you in achieving whatever goal your experience aims to boost? Step two is thinking about collection. So set about accessing and creating the data that you need to create these valuable, personally relevant experiences. Remember in this step that prototyping is super useful. Again, these examples that we’ve walked through, we’re not having to use user registration. We’re not having to leverage a CDP. Make sure you’re not aiming for perfection and you’re testing your experiences. 

[00:27:30] Step three is trust. Important to note here, which you may or may not have experienced when you’re doing these sort of dynamic user experiences, but any use of a user specific data attribute, it might send someone panicking, trying to contact you to delete their information, which is very reasonable, especially if you use it irresponsibly.

[00:27:52] Be sure to be noble, put yourself in their shoes and give them a way out. And then last, but definitely not least, don’t assume that your audience is going to love whatever experience you come up with. And if an experience loses, make sure you drill down to figure out why. It may not be that the experience itself is bad. It could just be that you know, it might be the application of the experience. Your hypothesis could still be valid. Make sure you drill into the results, win or lose. 

[00:28:20] Let’s talk about building trust. Building trust with users, it really, it should be thought about as a dynamic user experience in and of itself. We should really be offering these one to one ways to opt in or opt out of different experiences. We should test them. We should test them in different ways that we can offer and increase transparency to give users control over the experiences that they’re actually subjected to. Some tactical ways that you can actually build trust into your tests include account registration setting up a control center that is actually underneath a user profile.

[00:28:59] You can also tie it directly into a consent management platform. So as soon as the little cookie banner flies up on your website you can tie it to those options for accepting cookies. And you can also do a lightweight more test specific opt out, which is what we typically opt for if we’re going through and testing out different applications of building user trust.

[00:29:21] And that’s what we’re going to walk through really quickly. So some lightweight test specific opt outs. A really easy way of doing this is to insert a link to the altered elements of a dynamic user experience. In this particular example, if we’re creating this dynamic user experience on Travel Nevada and we were just injecting the first name of the visitor, then we would just include a little tiny opt out of experience link there. And once you actually provide that we attach a little bit of code to it. So if you click on that link, what we do is we create a cookie. We call that pzn-opt-out, and then we attach the value of the actual experiment ID to it.

[00:30:07] The second thing that it does is it actually adds a query parameter to the page itself which is again that pzn-opt-out. And then with a value of that experiment ID itself. And then afterward, we reload the page automatically. And that way the visitor is actually no longer subjected to the experience and they no longer see that.

[00:30:29] So then we’ll kind of hop into what has to happen from the VWO side in order to facilitate this sort of opt out experience.

[00:30:38] So what we’ve done is you set up your VWO experiment to include only visitors who don’t have that cookie. That makes sure that they’re not going to be included from that point moving forward if they opt out.

[00:30:51] What we do is we assess that every single time there’s a page load. So that way, once the page refreshes, that’s what prevents them from seeing the dynamic user experience. And then, to segment out visitors who’ve actually opted out as well, that’s where that query parameter comes into play. So you can set up a segment that looks specifically for that query parameter of pzn-opt-out with your experiment ID.

[00:31:17] And that’s how you can kind of determine who’s opted in, who’s opted out, and look at the different results. 

[00:31:24] So, all in all, you really want to focus on the person behind the data. Test how you can leverage what you know about them, and make sure you make their interactions with you a valuable and a personally relevant experience.

[00:31:40] Awesome. Thank you for your time. Please be sure to visit our /vwo-convex page. It has all the examples, and also, please feel free to visit us on LinkedIn too. Thank you. 

[00:31:53] Divyansh Shukla: Mason, thank you for a really insightful presentation today. I’m sure that this session will help us all when it comes to meaningful personalization.

[00:32:00] ConvEx 2023 is filled with more such impactful content. Stay tuned to listen to amazing sessions lined up ahead. See you there.


Mason Furr

Mason Furr

Associate Director of Performance Marketing, Noble Studios

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