The magic of personalisation

Some websites just seem to know what you want. Sometimes before you’ve even told them anything about yourself. It’s as if they know about you by magic. And that, my friend, is the magic of personalisation and it’s definitely flavour of the month.

The wizardry happens pretty routinely on ecommerce sites. Now, however, personalisation is becoming a ‘must-have’ on information sites too, and for good reason.  

Content Magic

A little sparkle in your content

Explicit or Implicit what's the difference?

There are two approaches: ‘explicit’ personalisation and ‘implicit’ personalisation. The former is old school: you select whether you’re a student or a lecturer, whether you’re interested in in-depth reports or blogs etc, save your preferences and see the relevant content around the site. The latter, mastered by the likes of Amazon, is automated, based on your behaviour and is where the magic happens.

Deep wallets required?

Now we come to the burning issue. Until now, the only platforms that deliver ‘proper personalisation’ are enterprise level ‘experience management’ products. These are expensive and closed source (boo!), meaning big licence fees. Until now.

Lab Digital and the global Wagtail community, who already developed an integrated A/B testing framework in Wagtail, have created something rather special…  

Integrated personalisation in an open source CMS

You can now create rule-based ‘segments’ directly in Wagtail. A simple example, create a ‘mobile’ segment and a ‘desktop’ segment and show different content within each. Or, go wild and create multiple segments and combinations of segments. The rules could include:

  • what day of the week it is
  • where a user is based
  • what referral link a user came from
  • whether they’ve already visited a particular type of content on the site
  • whether or not they are logged in
  • and so on.

You can then create pages or content blocks that serve up different content to each of your user segments.

The below video shows how easy it is to create a segment for mobile users who have been referred by Facebook and are viewing your site at the weekend. 

Danger, high voltage !

This may all be sounding pretty exciting but a word of warning, it can be extremely difficult to deliver personalisation effectively.

  1. You might need to produce a LOT more content, if you are producing variants for different audience groups.
  2. You’ll need to create segments that make sense now and in the future (so you don’t tangle yourself in an epically complicated web). You need to know your audiences and know what segmentation is practical and worthwhile.
  3. You’ll need to work out whether it’s working and this is likely to require some serious analytics work.
  4. You need to plan to use it. It’ll take a fairly serious amount of thought and planning for it not to just be a tool that you leave idle in the box.

Our recommendation

It’s easy to start simple and build up. 

Consider CTAs, stop asking people to sign up to newsletters when you should know that they already have done. Stop asking people for money like you always have done, when they’ve just given to you, change the message instead. 

Start simply with location or device based personalisation and choose the right platform to enable you to grow. 

Optimizely's late night example is a delighter.

Be sure to get to the bottom of the roadmap for your shortlisted platform by asking these questions:

  • Does it support enterprise search? 
  • Does it have built in A/B testing? 
  • What about personalisation?

You can, to some extent, choose a ‘future-proof’ CMS platform - a ‘framework-based CMS’ (based on a framework like Django or Symfony) that has a full content API. Even if you’re not ready to start implementing fully personalised landing pages on day one after launch, you want to have the flexibility to be able to ‘switch it on’ when you’re ready.

Want to talk about it person to person?

Come and see our talk at Techsmart this year where we'll be showing you how Wagtail personalisation works for Girl Effect,  an innovative international NGO which exists to end poverty by creating a new normal with and for girls. 

If you can't make Techsmart, and you'd like to talk about how personalisation could work for you, get in touch

Will Heinemann

Will HeinemannDigital Consultant