What is personalization?

General definition


In the world of e-commerce and online services, personalization means the process of tailoring the site appearance and contents to individual users' characteristics and preferences.

Personalization is not the phenomenon of the digital age, it dates way back in time and has been applied since manufacturing, service industry and retail appeared as an element of our civilization: it has been used to describe the persistent efforts to tailor the product or service to meet the specific need of the individual buyer. Beyond enhancing customer satisfaction, it’s aim is to improve sales conversion, brand presence and other business performance metrics.


Definition in digital marketing


In the digital age website metrics and analytics became more and more accurate and indicated the inevitable benefits and necessity of personalization that can be utilized in online retail, social media and in almost all online business types.


To focus on digital marketing, personalized marketing is the full-scope implementation of strategies by which e-commerce sites or e-service providers can deliver individualized content to the potential buyers by harnessing the user data collection and analyses and several automated technologies to process customer data mass.


Personalized marketing serves the goal to make the onsite interactions easier and faster, to increase customer satisfaction, to engage visitors by communicating with each of them as an individual, and consequently, in a long run, to make them repeat visits, and convert them to loyal customers.


Personalized marketing is often referred as one-to-one marketing, because the website’s appearance and content setup is tailored to specifically target the individual consumer to grab her needs more accurately and efficiently.


Prestigious digital marketing agencies, independent research institutes and experts agree on:


  • Personalization is a process that creates interaction between two parties. The interaction aims to deliver relevant, individualized content to the recipient to enhance user experience.

The interaction utilizes the insight based on the personal data gained about the user, as well as behavioral data about the actions of similar individual users to deliver an experience to meet their preferences.’


  • Personalization Engines

-are AI-based technology solutions to identify the optimum experience for an individual user

-alter the website presentation layer ( in real time ), initiate automated responses based on the user profile, and/or submit the user analysis to store that tailors its actions to the individual user profile.


  • A personalized experience is a tailored user experience using the data captured about the customer ( along with the frame, environment and context of the customer) in order to enrich user interface-human interactions based on that customer’s preferences, context, intent and other coherencies.


  • Disambiguations and Separations: Product Recommendation


  • Product Recommendation is one of the core features in e-commerce personalization but it is not equal to Personalization. It’s also called personalized product recommendation, whose function is to display and suggest products that are proven to be relevant or could be relevant to the given individual customer. Product Recommendations is an extended topic within personalization, see the dedicated units here.

  • Disambiguations and Separations: Customization


Customization and Personalization have different meanings and implications: the individual user is a passive subject to personalization but has an active role in customization.


  • Personalization: An e-commerce site is personalized if its presentation layer ( products, contents and visual elements) is tailored by the site to the individual customer by the data collected about the customer’s preferences, history and behavior.


  • Customization: An e-commerce site is customized if the customer/visitor intentionally modifies the presentation layer ( products, contents and visual elements) to tailor it to his/her own needs and preferences.

An example: entering into your frequently visited music store you will find your personalized profile that the machine learning-equipped algorithms formed by your music genre preferences and your frequently recurring habits of content consumption and function usage. But, if the music store has an extended appreciation of customers you can also customize your site: you can adjust all the elements manually: what performers would you like get news about from today or what genre would you like to listen to in the evening or in the afternoon. Personalization is when the website + added technologies work to tailor the experience based on the user’s previous behaviors. It is implemented through customer tracking, monitoring and analytics plus predictive technology while customization is done when the user manually changes the settings to fulfill his momentarily preferred needs. As we are going to see in this unit, Amazon personalizes its home page based on the users’ previous searches, page views and purchases, but it also offers the freedom to the user to customize each element of her visit journey.

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