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The website personalization tools we recommend in this article enable you to segment visitors and then deliver personalized messages of the 'next best product' or 'next best content' within containers on your website as with the classic Amazon personalized recommendations (read their published methodology from this fascinating whitepaper from back in 2003). I originally wrote this post in 2010 when there were fewer personalization options. I have updated it annually since with recommendations provided via social media - do get in touch if you have a suggestion - TIA!
This is the latest 2017 update where we compare the full range of options from free personalization tools to low-cost and enterprise services across these four categories:
The opportunities for applying personalization are now much wider than the initial retail product recommendations. This definition of personalization from my Digital Business and Ecommerce management book shows the opportunities for applying personalization in all types of business.
"Digital experience personalisation is the dynamic serving of customised content, product or promotional offer recommendations to website visitors or app users based on their characteristics and intent behaviour to support conversion and long-term engagement goals".
Although many of us will have experienced personalization through retail product recommendations like those from Amazon, the definition shows the relevance of personalization to all types of businesses. For example, even B2B companies that don’t sell online can use personalization to recommend relevant 'next best content' offers to sustain prospects’ interest in a business and so nurture them towards a sale.
When web personalization services first appeared, they were part of expensive analytics solutions only available to the largest businesses, but today there are many services suitable for small businesses. These are two of the original services which are available today in a new guise and then a completely 'new kid on the block'.
The second category we review here is specifically for Ecommerce merchandising giving automated product placements using aggregated behavioural data (those that viewed this, also viewed that) and personal recommendations (you previously bought this and might like that).
These options can be considered the top 10 retail personalization services that should be on your long-list for comparing if you're looking for a service which is separate from your ecommerce or content management solution.
If you're looking for a structured comparison between personalization services, I recommend this table-based feature comparison of personalization services from agency Freshegg.
The third category wasn’t mentioned in the original post since personalization features were limited in CMS when the post was originally written in 2010, but I have updated in line with a suggestion in the comments.
According to the comment from Damien of Digicon, Episerver, Sitecore, Kentico and Adobe with Target have built-in tools to personalize content based on various rules, such as geo-location, search terms, referrers, lead scores and also provide more advanced personalization based on user behaviour and profiles.
Episerver has an interesting approach to personalization which they describe as 'No-rules personalization: more intelligence, less-work'. Rather than traditional rules-based personalization used by many of the specialist services, this applies machine learning and statistical analysis to visitor behavioral data to tailor category and product pages without the need for rules configuration.
Evergage is recommended as a tool that fits best in this category that has a wide range of options for serving personalization for content marketing in different placements on a site. Other alternatives for B2B personalization or non-retail consumer personalization are:
In the same what that the content management systems now integrate personalization, marketing automation systems have now started to include this option. These include:
Of course, Recommendations aren’t limited to websites only, as you will know from Amazons’ newsletters. To learn more, I recommend this article explaining the inner workings of email marketing recommendation engines which reportedly boost click rates by 50-400%. It shows what to look for when finding the right tool to serve the recommendations inside your newsletter.
Thanks for all the comments sharing options in the post so far, please share others you recommend to build this list via our Twitter @Smartinsights.
By Dave Chaffey
Dave is CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights. He is editor of the 100 templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ Digital Marketing experts. Our resources used by our Expert members in more than 80 countries to Map, Plan and Manage their digital marketing. For my full profile, or to connect on LinkedIn or other social networks, see the About Dave Chaffey profile page on Smart Insights. Dave is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Emarketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.
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