User expectations have evolved to the point that they no longer just want a personalised online experience, they expect one. eCommerce, shopping recommendations, tailored news feeds and social media have made us grow accustomed to personalised experiences.

Personalisation is an effective way to cater to different audiences and user types. Whether it’s B2B, trade, students, professionals, tenants, buyers or other audience groups that you may have, personalisation gives you the ability to serve a relevant and engaging onsite experience. In sectors such as membership, personalisation is often perceived as key to differentiating as an organisation, offering something unique and of additional value, that will encourage people to join your association.

It also has the added benefit of creating a website that’s easier for users to navigate, and that encourages interaction and engagement. This is particularly useful if your site houses copious amounts of content - whether it’s blogs, research, news articles, events or webinars.

In this blog, we discuss the different types of personalisation and how to define your personalisation needs to get the most value from your website.

What is website personalisation?

‘Personalisation’ is a catch-all term. When we engage with a prospect who wants website personalisation, our follow up question is usually, “What do you mean by personalisation?”.

In the offline world, personalisation is commonplace. So much so, it often goes unnoticed. Think of a car salesperson. Based on who walks into the showroom, that car salesperson adjusts their pitch based on what they know about the needs of the potential buyer – e.g., are they looking for an SUV or a sports car?

Now apply this to the online world. Only a certain level of information about your users and their needs can be inferred, and as a result, businesses try to present as much of that information as possible on their homepage, which can be overwhelming.

Instead of this barrage of irrelevant information, website personalisation refers to creating a customised onsite experience based on the user.

Types of personalisation

Often when someone says personalisation, you may automatically think of dynamic content which is adapted based on the behaviour and interests of the user. But there are actually numerous ways to create a personalised online experience including:

  • Recognition: Upon logging into the website, the user is greeted by their own name such as, “Hi Sarah”.
  • Recommendations: Presenting the user with related content, events and resources that are relevant to what they’ve already engaged with or shown interest in.
  • Permissions: Role-based user identification allows you to specify what a user can access and make sure the content available is appropriate to the type of visitor or membership level.
  • Preferences: Instead of assumptions about what the user wants to see, preferences put the user in control, allowing them to explicitly confirm what they want to see.
  • Dashboards: You could even give your audience the ability to save content and create dashboards of what content they find useful.
  • Responsiveness: Ensuring the user experience is tailored to the device being used to view your website.
  • Language: Considering the multilingual requirements of your audience so you can offer your content in a language the user will understand.
  • Accessibility: You don’t know the user behind the screen or their personal requirements.  Accommodating accessibility ensures you’re not excluding any visitors from using your website.
  • Landing pages: Creation of tailored landing pages that will take users to a certain area of your website rather than just the homepage.

Defining your website personalisation needs

You can implement personalisation to varying degrees. When defining your personalisation needs, it’s important to ensure the level of personalisation on your website is appropriate and adds value.

While scoping your personalisation requirements, be clear on your objectives. What is driving you to add personalisation to your website? What personalisation do you need on your website? What level of personalisation is critical to your business? What is simply a gimmick?

It’s also worth thinking about whether implicit or explicit personalisation is the best approach to take. Explicit personalisation means that your users are able to explicitly tell you what content they want, whereas implicit is based on presumptions about your user groups and what content you decide they should be served. Typically, we would direct businesses towards explicit, which puts the user in control of their experience. However, if you have many and complex user groups or overlaps between them, implicit personalisation may be the more suitable approach.

Some personalisation functionality is the norm, and you’ll find the majority of CMS’ are able to support it, while other elements may be bespoke and will incur a higher cost. When there’s a higher cost for specific functionality, it’s important to understand what the ROI is. Is it worth it to your business if it’ll keep someone on your site for 30 seconds longer?

Personalisation has the potential to bring huge value, but it is not a silver bullet for success. It involves significant resource which businesses need to be realistic about in order to be effective.

Leaning on the support of an agency with experience in this area will help you understand the complexity of personalisation that your site needs and that your organisation can manage.

The right solution for your personalisation needs

Often, an organisation will look for a CMS that ticks the personalisation box. Yet the reality is that this ‘tick box’ usually represents a small subset of tools, such as dynamic content. As outlined earlier, there are many other forms of personalisation that do not require dynamic content and you’ll find there are more CMS’ able to deliver these.

All of the CMS’ we work with are suitable and capable of providing functionality such as permissions and preferences. But when it comes to changing onsite content based on the attributes and interests of the user, a DXP solution such as Kentico Xperience will win as extensive rules can be added to create the functionality you need. While this is achievable with other CMS’, it will require more development time and, in turn, higher costs.

As a large proportion of your website is content, it’s important to carefully consider your taxonomy and content linking. If you want this to be done dynamically, this will require your development team to build AI into your CMS or integrate with a third-party tool.

The right CMS solution will ultimately come down to the extent of personalisation you need and is something your web agency will be able to advise on.

Our experience with personalisation

We have extensive experience delivering personalisation. Working across industries including membership, finance and manufacturing we have helped the likes of LCCI, Royal Geographical Society, InXpress, Salary Finance, The Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE), and Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) scope and implement effective personalisation solutions across their websites.

Do you need guidance on defining your personalisation needs? We’re here to help, contact our team to discuss your requirements.  

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