Personalisation is so hot right now

We hear this buzzword over and over on Content Management Systems (CMS) & tech blogs, but what is it and why is it important?

When done well, personalisation brings a perfect mix of the most appropriate content to the surface to make your individual visitors experience on your website tailored. Chances are, you're already having these experiences when visiting many websites and don't even notice, which is exactly the point of it! 

As one of the greatest UXers I’ve ever worked with once said: “Good design gets out of the way.”

Think about a great website experience you've had recently, then go back and look over it again with a more critical eye after reading this article and you'll likely notice it.
  • Does the website seem to know what you want to see?
  • Are they suggesting other article headlines that really get your attention?
  • Are they showing you other content types that you're interested in from a pool of related things you're not that interested in?

Boom. That's personalisation. And it’s been done really well.

It’s much easier to spot bad implementations or the non-implementations where website managers have forgone personalisation in favour of other features. While they may benefit the back-end they do almost nothing to serve the website's visitors. People revisit these websites to see the same stale content, or the primary positions on the webpages are occupied with non-targeted, irrelevant content.

Visitors are so fickle these days with tonnes of other options and extremely short attention spans. Once they leave they may never come back. The user experience is paramount, and believe me when I say that visitors notice. The days of being able to ignore personalisation are gone.

Personalisation can be as light or heavy as you want depending on your budget. If your primary objective is to get visitors to consume your content, some examples of a light touch could be using known attributes of an unidentified visitor to frame some rudimentary foundations of their experience. For example:

  • You know they’re in Melbourne from their coarse location data, so show them Melbourne content, instead of making them tell you they want Melbourne content
  • You also know they're on mobile, so direct them to mobile friendly variants of pages, and maybe even hide content that isn't optimised or fully responsive
  • You know the weather in Melbourne has just turned, it's almost commute time and there are train failures everywhere - tell them.

That's three personalisations you can make without even knowing the visitor.

Once a visitor is known, your options and the opportunities increase dramatically. Allowing visitors to set preferences of topics or core parts of your website can deliver an automated, personalised landing page that caters for every unique visitor's needs. The more you know about the visitor, the more you can change their bespoke journey in line with your strategy. For content creators, this drives consumption. For marketers, this drives engagement. For product creators, this drives conversions.

Going to the next level really depends on your CMS, its capabilities and your licence. In the case of Kentico 12 EMS (Enterprise Marketing Solution) things get really exciting at this point. Having identified visitors, together with a solid marketing automation capability within your platform, lets you create 'personas', which visitors are automatically assigned when thresholds are passed. This is done via points that are attributed to them based on actions they perform on your website.

You can make complex or simple automated content changes based on personas, for example, you may use edgier and more brash language for a younger audience, then more conservative and sophisticated language for an older audience. Two (or more) different messages for the same product to chaperone your audience into the conversion funnel, without alienating any of them. So great.

There are many paths to CMS configuration that achieve the goal, but a good vendor will deliver in a way that gives you maximum scalability for the future. Implementation choices like structured pages vs page builder pages really depend on vendors experience and pedigree, and something so simple can translate to cheaper, flexible and faster personalisation abilities down the track.

A good implementation gives your digital team agility and in-house power allows you to respond to visitor desires, content re-prioritisation, market changes and even new initiatives, without having to re-engage developers. Kiandra is big on this. It is one of the core tenets of our delivery team. Whilst we love repeat business, we want to empower you to get maximum bang for buck from your platform at the end of the project, so you don't need to call us every time you want to make a change.

Being able to produce factual evidence of impact using the CMS’s reporting features will also make it easier to justify further evolutions of your platform and marketing activities to keep your competitive edge.

Customers love personalised engagement, and the perfect combination of content serving plus marketing automation is a compelling canvas that is really limited only by the imagination of you and your vendor. When done right, it can dovetail beautifully into your company strategies. It can also deliver an ROI that sets your technical ecosystem on a path to really put you in front of your competitors who are already active in this space.

We can help you choose the right CMS, articulate the needed configuration, help reimagine your content information architecture. We then deliver all of this plus the surrounding change management activities. Talk to us about a no obligation discovery workshop.