Personalization: The Holy Grail of Digital Experiences

Have you ever wondered how Amazon seems to know what other products you might need when adding an item to your cart? Or maybe you’ve been curious about how Netflix is able to suggest movies and series that align with your particular tastes. You’ve almost certainly visited a website that has requested your location in order to show you information relevant to where you are, such as a Google search for “restaurants.” These are all examples of the current holy grail of digital experiences — personalization.

So, what is personalization?

At WillowTree, we define personalization as utilizing historical as well as in-the-moment customer data and behavior to provide tailored digital experiences.

The key for personalization comes down to what will be personalized, in what way, and the data necessary to drive the experience. By tracking user behavior, businesses are able to provide relevant information and products to users. In the case of Amazon, they’ve personalized the add-on suggestions for particular products. When a user adds a television to their cart, they are then presented with suggestions for products that complement the television. A system like Netflix on the other hand tracks individual user behavior, allowing recommendations to be customized based on the history of content viewed. And Google? They utilize geolocation to provide nearby businesses and other search results that are immediately relevant to the user.

Kick Off Your Personalization Efforts with Strategy

Successfully personalizing a digital presence is not something that happens overnight—it takes time and requires a well thought out plan. For this reason, we recommend the first step of any personalization effort to be creating a detailed strategy.

A personalization strategy starts by establishing business objectives. The question should be asked, “what needs to be achieved and how can personalization help meet these objectives?” Once objectives have been established, specific goals can be outlined that support them. The goals and objectives included in personalization planning will be the foundation for the rest of the strategy. The strategy itself will cover items such as:

  • The digital channels to be personalized.
  • Identification of high-value visitor segments and audiences to be targeted, as well as a research-based understanding of the audiences’ needs.
  • Hypotheses to test as the basis for a personalization campaign, which will define:
    • Measurable objectives and goals for the campaign, based on overall business goals.
    • User segment(s) to test against.
    • Content areas and/or channels to test.
    • Messaging points of emphasis for each audience.
  • Process for implementing, validating, analyzing results, and revising personalization experiments.

In addition to achieving a business’ objectives, personalization also allows businesses to better connect with their customers, which results in an improved customer experience. This can result in increased brand loyalty and user retention, as well as increased revenue potential.

Partners for Personalization

When we look at our definition of personalization, it highlights the use of data and analytics. While utilizing data to make informed decisions is not a new concept, data that provides actionable insights can be hard to come by. For this reason, we partner with platform providers such as BloomReach and Sitecore for the implementation of personalization strategies. At WillowTree, we believe technology should simplify things, not only for our clients, but for their customers as well. To help get the ball rolling on your internal personalization conversations, we’ve included a high-level overview of both Bloomreach’s and Sitecore’s robust personalization capabilities.


Bloomreach’s personalization tool is designed to make the entire on-site experience relevant and personalized to each of your visitors. Bloomreach uses algorithms and merchandising tools to optimize search and landing page experiences, therefore increasing engagement and conversions. The benefits of the analytics provided by Bloomreach’s personalization tool are threefold: 1) they help you understand your customers, 2) they identify and prioritize opportunities, and 3) they demonstrate impact by tracking how adjustments made by your team change your revenue and levels of engagement.


The Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) allows you to tailor experiences based on current and past interactions with your brand, in real time, wherever the customer is. Sitecore XP provides a 360-degree customer view, allowing you to identify how best to connect and personalize your offerings for users. Sitecore XP collects data in real time and responds with the most relevant experience to keep customers connected and engaged with your brand.

What Are You Waiting For?

As we’ve covered, personalization is using data to provide customized experiences. The success of any personalization implementation comes down to a well thought out and research-backed strategy. A study done by EY and Forbes Insights shows that 81% of CMOs believe data and analytics are an important tool with which to build and measure trusted customer relationships.

For this reason, it’s important to have partners who understand personalization and have the tools to provide in-depth analytics that allow for action to be taken. So, what are you waiting for?

Contact us at WillowTree and let’s get started personalizing your digital presence!