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Getting started with personalisation

  • By 3chillies

Not using personalisation on your Digital Experience Platform? Here’s how to get started

When you invest in a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) like Sitecore or Optimizely, you have a wide set of capabilities at your fingertips, meaning you can achieve a lot through your rich set of features. In fact, it’s often these that sway the decision to acquire a particular DXP in the first place; for example, the powerful personalisation in Sitecore is one of its key selling points. 

However, despite good intentions to leverage these features, many of them don’t actually ever get used. A surprising number of organisations don’t get around to introducing advanced capabilities like personalisation or marketing automation, and essentially just end up using their DXP as a Content Management System (CMS). This means marketing teams are missing out on opportunities to benefit from impactful digital features that they have already paid for.

Personalisation is a particular feature that is often neglected. Both Sitecore and Optimizely have strong personalisation capabilities that can provide a great springboard to hone digital experiences for your customer segments. In this post, we’re going to explore why it is worth introducing personalisation to your website. It is easier than you think to get started.

What is personalisation?

Personalisation is the practice of making a website experience and its content more relevant to an individual visitor, based on the information that you have about that customer and the segment they belong to. 

Personalisation is usually based on anonymous data about users and their behaviour identified from website visits such as where users are located, where they click, the device they use and how long they stay on pages. It will also leverage similar data identified from previous website visits. 

Experiences can then also be honed further by personal identifiable information (PII), such as details actively provided by users though completing forms or other information stored in your CRM system. However, the ability to do this is dependent on different factors including integration of a CRM and the consent you have set up for GDPR purposes, and personalisation will generally not involve PII when starting out.

Across your DXP, there are two types of personalisation that can be introduced:

  • Rules-based personalisation: This is where rules are set manually based on user behaviour. For example, if a person clicks on a particular area of the website, a related story can be displayed in the banner on their next screen to improve retention.
  • AI-based personalisation: This is where you use artificial intelligence to automatically identify audience segments, and then define experiences based on these segments. 

What are the benefits of personalisation?

Personalisation has several key benefits:

  • Creates more relevant experiences for all visitors, supporting better engagement with your brand 
  • Meets the expectations visitors have of most modern websites
  • Encourages more repeat visits for users
  • Drives more conversions through sales and completion of calls to actions
  • Helps you focus experiences on priority audience segments, such as those who are interested in a particular topic or service
  • Finds out more about your audience, its segments and its relative behaviours
  • Sets processes in motion to continually optimise your website
  • Gets teams into the mindset to exploit other DXP features like marketing automation
  • Satisfies internal stakeholders who want the website to better highlight their particular content to different audience segments.


Why don’t marketing teams leverage personalisation?

Despite the benefits, many marketing teams don’t get around to using this feature. There are multiple reasons for this, but it essentially falls into five areas:

Lack of knowledge

Sometimes, teams don’t have the basic knowledge about personalisation and how to implement it on their DXP, and this can prove to be a barrier to getting started.


Usually linked to a lack of knowledge, some teams don’t feel they have the digital marketing chops to successfully carry out personalisation. They may even feel a little intimidated by it. They might have found it difficult while using a previous DXP so are deterred from trying again, but the process has actually got easier as most platforms have evolved.

Perception of value

Some teams don’t see it as a valuable enough activity for their website, and this prevents them from prioritising it.

Lack of time

Most teams are very busy and despite the best intentions, their immediate day-to-day workload prevents them from investing the time to get started on personalisation. 

Perceived effort

Some teams think there will be a steep learning curve with personalisation which will require a significant amount of effort. This mindset makes them reluctant to get started.


Teams want to avoid personalisation because they think it might include PII that will impact their commitment to GDPR.

What’s the best way to get started on personalisation?

In our experience, the best way to kickstart a personalisation journey is to start small and learn as you go. This “baby steps” approach means you can get accustomed to personalisation, gain the requisite knowledge and confidence, find out what works and what doesn’t and then introduce it into your day-to-day website management. This involves three key steps:

  1. Commit to experimentation with personalisation
  2. We encounter customers who always intend to introduce personalisation, but never quite get around to it. If you’re in that boat, you need to make that commitment by setting a date to try it out – perhaps in a month when you are less busy – and actively set aside time in your diary so it doesn’t get derailed.

  3. Identify a use case with obvious value
  4. Start with a use case that has guaranteed value and is relatively simple. For example, changing the phone number on a contact page based on the location of a visitor, or the relevant Terms and Conditions. In our view, it’s probably best to try and experiment with rules-based personalisation here, as it’s easier to grasp when you’re first starting out.

  5. Get comfortable with personalisation in your DXP
  6. Next, learn how to implement personalisation in your DXP. If you need help or advice, you can always reach out to your digital agency. Google is also your friend here, and most documentation from DXPs is detailed and informative. 

  7. Implement personalisation, learning as you go
  8. Now it’s time to take the plunge and implement the personalisation for your identified use case. Here, you will be learning and adapting on the job.

  9. Try something a little more advanced and keep on going
  10. Now you have more confidence, it’s time to try something slightly more sophisticated. For example, for a repeat visitor, you might want to change an item on the homepage based on what they looked at last time. Once you have gained even more confidence, you can even start to look into AI-based personalisation. Ideally, starting small should allow you to pick up momentum and introduce more personalisation across your site.

Introducing personalisation on your DXP

Personalisation is a DXP feature that has a range of benefits, but that not all digital marketing teams are exploiting. Actually, it’s far easier to get started than most people realise. By taking baby steps, you can start out on your personalisation journey. If you’d like to discuss introducing personalisation on your DXP,  then get in touch!

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