These days, websites have an almost unlimited amount of tools that they can use to put their site above the crowd. One of those tools is used consistently by some of the biggest companies in the world - yet it seems to be underused by so many. That tool? Personalization.
What is personalization?
Personalization means providing users a catered website experience based on the information you already know about them. There’s a good chance you experience a level of personalization in your daily life already. Take Amazon or Netflix - you are presented with recommended products or movies based off of your purchase or viewing history. Unlike customization, you did not ask for these recommendations - the websites/apps provide them to you in order make your experience more enjoyable. We can probably agree they might work a little too well.
So right out of the gate we can see the enormous potential personalization has for websites that are service or product based - but what if your website is mainly informational? Often the owners of these types of sites haven’t gone so far as to even look at the option - but they are missing out on some big advantages in doing so. Here are just a few:
Helpful navigational guide for users
With personalization you can use data you know (such as from where a user accessed your site) and help guide users to the most relevant content. Does your company have multiple contact points across various states? Then you can create a contact button in your header that leads users to a specific contact page, depending on the state they’re visiting your site from.
Gain more detailed knowledge about how your site is used
Pair up personalization with your analytics (or Sitefinity DEC) and you’ll be able to see an even clearer picture about what on your site works and what doesn’t.
Brand Memory / Positive reinforcement
Using personalization to add more personality to your site will help play a role in your users remembering the experience - and your brand. Do your visitors come at all hours of the day? Greet them with a “Good morning” or “Good evening” message depending on when they visit. Even small novelty features like that can make a big impression.
All of this sounds great, so why aren’t more sites using personalization? I believe it’s overlooked because it sounds like a huge undertaking. One of the biggest advantages with using Sitefinity is that setting up personalization is very easy.
Personalizing content in Sitefinity
Personalization in Sitefinity comes down to two simple processes: creating a user segment and editing your content to display for that segment.
1. Creating a segment
Segments in Sitefinity are for defining the characteristics of a user you want to check for. Creating these segments is located under the “Marketing > Personalization” dropdown, then clicking the “Create a User Segment” button:
Once you create a segment, you set up characteristics for it. Right out of the box, Sitefinity provides a good number of characteristics which they can determine from the user. Here is a full list of those characteristics.
On top of creating multiple segments, you can also look for multiple characteristics within a segment (e.g. a user visiting the site after 6pm AND/OR is from Wyoming).
2. Updating your content
Once you create the segment you’d like, you can now edit the content of a page to display specific information based on that segment. You can do this in one of two ways: Personalize an entire page (if you plan on personalizing multiple items on a page) or personalize a single widget or content block. Both actions are done by editing the page and either selecting the person icon at the top left of the page editor, or by clicking the “more” link on your widget and selecting to add a personalized version.
There is a lot of power here. You can display different content for multiple segments, giving your pages a lot of potential adjustments for a wide user base. On top of this, Sitefinity gives you an easy way to preview your page so you know how it will look for different users. In this example below, I can see what a staff page looks like when someone visits during the day vs. the evening:
As a developer what I love about personalization is that something like the above could be done by a content editor without any need for a developer, but we can personalize custom developed widgets and take it as far as can be imagined.
Considerations when using personalization
Personalization in Sitefinity is so easy to set up that any content editor can do it, but there are some things you should keep in mind when you start going down this path:
-Consider SEO. Search engines will scan your site and fall under a segment. If you use personalization to change critical content then you may lose out on indexing that content.
-On that same note - do not restrict personalized users from accessing content on your site. Use personalization to help them find the more relevant content easier.
-Strategize. Think through what you really want to do with personalization and do your research before going through with it (Who are you targeting? What’s the goal?).
Start using personalization!
I have spoken about and looked into this subject quite a bit and it’s sadly one feature I don’t see many companies considering. Plus, this is just scratching the surface! Sitefinity compliments personalization with even more features such as A/B testing and the Digital Experience Cloud which take your analytics and personalization to another level.
My hope is that this post helps show how great, simple and powerful such a tool can be in Sitefinity, and when you’re ready to use it - we’re ready to help you.