Buzzword Defined: Personalization

In less than five minutes, we share what it takes to personalize a digital experience and how it works.
Personalization Doodle

Personalization is one of those buzzwords you hear from most marketers when talking about what they’d like to see on their websites.

It’s something everyone thinks they want but don’t always understand what it takes to do. What’s the strategy behind it? The content that’s needed to support it? The implementation necessary to enable it?

In the past year, Manifest has developed several sites that feature personalization, including a content hub for Staples and a new site for the UCLA Extension program. A number of products on the market enable personalization on websites. 

“Personalization is something everyone thinks they want but don’t always understand what it takes to do.”

Manifest leverages Acquia Lift based on our partnership with Acquia and our use of Drupal as the content management system for many sites that we run for clients. These products do a few things:

  • Use tracking scripts similar to Google Analytics to record user data and behavior on sites.
  • Have intelligence on the back end to translate this data into segments or audiences that marketers can analyze and target. (Plus, more advanced processing can leverage machine learning to do predictive modeling.)
  • Store content that can be leveraged for personalized components on pages.
  • Deliver content to a website in specific locations based on the segment or audience the system defines the current user as part of.

Taking Advantage of Your Data

The term “personalization” often refers to a few similar but functionally different content types used in tandem.

Dynamic content is content displayed based on the page—regardless of the user. For example, it would show articles that are tagged with keywords related to the current page that the user lands on.

Segmented content is displayed based on the segment or audience that tracking indicates a user falls into. For example, if a user in Chicago has looked at two articles and a video all tagged with “food,” then logically the site might recommend additional content tagged with the nation’s best pizza (Chicago, obviously).

True personalized content takes the previous two categories into account and extrapolates information from specific data known about the user. For instance, a site might integrate site information with data from a customer relationship management system. The user’s journey (segmentation plus data) is married with specially crafted dynamic content available to provide hypertargeted content.

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