Often times the simplest things are the better things—and this is not only true with food. It can also be true when it comes to web personalization. We talk about personalization on our website, and it is also a hot topic amongst our digital experience and web content management experts. But we have to admit that we too often try to cover the whole spectrum of what personalization means and requires for and from an organization. Actually, many times small steps involving simple personalization features can deliver a lot of value—without the headache of a full-blown personalization effort.

In this blog post I’ll cover how easy it is to implement personalized home pages that cater to different audiences on eZ Platform, relying on a simple taxonomy of your visitors and the ability for them to define their own preferences.

Catering to different populations:creating relevance and interest

This applies well when you have a set of different populations coming to your digital property and you can clearly envision creating different content for them, or better yet, for which you already have different content at hand to use.

 Examples:

  • On a university portal you can easily consider different audiences: professors, students, alumni and potential students
  • On a real estate portal you can segment between people looking to buy and people looking to rent
  • On a city portal, which has different profiles such as citizens, elected officials, visitors
  • In the case of a content management software company like eZ, we could simply think about segmenting amongst partners, eZ business partners, customers and developers

These are simple segmentation examples that are not complicated on the content production side, so they’re easy when it comes to delivering targeted home and landing pages. They're simple and can deliver significant performance improvements to front page conversions.

For the sake of this example, let’s take our fake food and travel online magazine, Tasteful Planet. By knowing our audience, we clearly recognized that they were not all equally interested in our content, we’ve been able to consider different profiles:

  • Foodie
  • Traveller
  • Chef 

We can easily curate content to those different visitors without a big overhead—we already have the content so editorially it won’t be a burden. Let’s look at how we would do that with eZ Platform Enterprise Edition and Studio.

Use tags and taxonomy to categorize and segment your user base

In order to segment our contact database, we simply add a new field definition to our user profiles to allow the tagging of users using the Tags bundle. Technically it’s very simple: install the Tags bundle (we ship eZ Tags bundle with our eZ Platform Enterprise Demo installation). Add a Tag field definition to the user content type. And voilà, you have the basic engine that will let you categorize your visitors’ interests.

User Preference Field View

User Preference Field

Explicit personalization: let users speak for themselves

You could attempt to guess on behalf of your users by watching and tracking them, or collecting data from different sources. But this is not always easy to do, as it requires some data integration and can also raise some privacy concerns. 

While guessing is one option, there is a simpler and sometimes more effective technique to use when you deal with authenticated users: ask them what they want. This way you can store their preferences and inform them about how their personal data will be used.

That’s what we’ll do in our fake food and travel magazine. We’ll ask users, for instance right after they login, to tell us which topics they relate to the most. And we’ll be clear in telling users about our purpose in collecting this information. This is what experts call “privacy by design”, it will ensure you comply with personal data regulations such as the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

explicite personalisation

explicite user choices

Curate your segments to maximize the power of your pages 

With the setup mentioned above, you’ll quickly build knowledge about your users’ preferences that you can then leverage when managing your different landing pages, while letting your editors choose different content for your segmented audiences.

In our food and travel magazine example, we used a profiling block in the Studio landing page editor. This profiling block lets you choose different variations of content for a specific placeholder in your landing page.

Placing a user profiling block

The editor will define which content to display to different segments and also define a fallback content—the one to display to users not matching any of your segments.

The editor will also define prioritization—which segment should win when a user belongs to two segments (in our example, segments are not exclusive). 

  • If the user is a chef, we might want to display the suggestion for a workshop with superstar chef Alice Waters (which will be displayed even if the user is also a traveller)
  • If not a chef, if user is a foodie, we’ll display the latest reviews for the best street food festivals in the country
  • If neither a chef or a foodie but instead a traveller, then we’ll display a guide for planning the next summer of travelling
  • And if not any of those, we’ll cater him with the default content of our choice
profiling setup

profiling setup

Once it’s published it’s all done, we have just implemented a simple personalization scenario.

The four variations of the page for the four targeted visitor segments

Simple yet very effective!

Nothing above must feel very exciting to the ones who are exploring bleeding edge new tech. You’ll notice I didn’t use big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning or any other super trendy buzzword. We don’t need them! Still this might be one of your best chances to generate quick value from personalization technology and to get started with a first level of delivering personalized experiences.

Personalization can be overwhelming and is a challenge if you want to go for the full menu. It’s often mentioned as “the phase 2 of CMS projects that never starts.” Starting with simple techniques such as the above examples can help you deliver value, mature your plans and eventually get ready to jump on more ambitious projects relying on more implicit rules, sophisticated intelligence, data sources and with a scope going way beyond the web page.

I hope to have demonstrated that some very simple personalization techniques can be used without challenging much of your organization, and they can be simple to apply using a CMS such as eZ Platform.

Here are a few more resources on personalization you might find useful:

If you are interested in exploring more about personalization or using it for your own website, please reach out to our team, we'd be delighted to provide a demo and explore your needs.

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