Agile personalization: A strategy for success

In this guest blog post, Andy Kaiser from Ninetailed discusses headless personalization and the benefits it brings to your business.

Andy Kaiser

Andy Kaiser

Published on Jun 14, 2021

As the internet evolves, so does personalization. We are no longer at a point where website visitors can be treated as just one homogeneous group of people. Nowadays, we need to take into account their different backgrounds and interests in order to provide content that is relevant and valuable for them.

Personalization, in a nutshell, means showing content to users based on their previous behavior or customer profiles. For example, if a visitor belongs to a specific industry audience, it is preferable to show a testimonial from that industry or to modify the page to show only relevant industry-specific content.

Personalization can boost customers’ satisfaction, increase conversion rates, and reduce cart abandonment. Personalized experiences are effective because they tend to be more relevant to individual needs than traditional approaches. This means that consumers find them more engaging and trustworthy, which leads to higher conversions and better customer lifetime value (CLV).

However, personalizing your website requires a lot of work—you need to consider how best to tailor content for each visitor based on their preferences or past behavior. You also have to decide what data sources you will use for personalization (e.g., transaction history) and how those data sources will be merged. This is where headless personalization platforms come in, which, when combined with a headless CMS, make it much easier for businesses to personalize their customer experiences.

What is headless personalization, and what are its advantages?

Headless CMSs, like, have proven that SaaS-based and API-first solutions can empower any technology stack, including modern enterprise architectures.

Personalization is an essential component of modern DXP, with headless personalization solutions combining the power of API solutions with server-side data and client-side data and rendering to send users content that is tailored to their specific needs.

What are some benefits of API-first personalization platforms?

Some of the benefits of headless personalization are similar to those of Headless CMS in that it allows developers to use their favorite technologies to create digital experiences while allowing the teams to focus on content strategy and delivering the best message to each visitor of the digital channels.

But it also can include the following:

  • Content management of personalized experiences is more efficient.
  • Websites load much faster because large amounts of data are not being downloaded to the client side.
  • There is no risk of Ad-Blockers as with Javascript snippet-based solutions.
  • Developers have access to the data and can define the appropriate data flow, e.g., sending data to analytics tools such as Google Analytics or the Data Warehouse for further analysis.
  • Marketers can concentrate on creating personalized experiences within the headless CMS, without the need for additional tools or developer resources.

How to apply personalization?

Personalization is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. It requires understanding the customer journey and providing personalized experiences at different points in the process, continuously measuring to identify what works best for customers and updating accordingly.

Following recommendations are some of the most important steps to a solid personalization strategy:

1. The right technology: API-first platforms

All-in-one solutions are inherently incompatible with other technology stack solutions, whereas Javascript-based personalization is client-based, making integration with other data sources difficult, if not impossible.

API-first personalization platforms are modular and can be integrated with the headless CMS, a Customer Data Platform (CDP), or any other API data sources. This is ideal for solid personalization experiences that are future-proof.

2. The right data: First-party data

Personalization requires data and personal data can be used for many purposes, ranging from predicting customer needs or improving the user experience on a website.

Data can be obtained from a variety of sources, but the most effective are first-party data such as website behavior, location, and purchase history, as well as zero-party data such as customer surveys and feedback forms, or demographic information such as gender or location.

3. The right strategy: Agile personalization

Personalization is a must-have strategy for success. Personalization strategies should include audience segmentation, data selection, content creation and deployment, analytics, goals and key performance indicators, and a review of previous work.

An agile workflow with modern web applications and API-first personalization platforms allow teams to iterate and collaborate on personalization efforts. With an API-first personalization architecture, the development and marketing teams can implement upstream personalization strategies from the beginning, starting with a proof-of-concept and iterating to a full excellence personalization framework.

Personalized recommendation vs. intent personalization

As we have seen, personalization is a strategy and approach to digital marketing, not just a tool. Personalization requires data, and personal data can be used for a variety of purposes, including predicting customer needs and improving user experience on a website. Most importantly, it is an engagement strategy and how data is used for.

There are two main types of personalization:

Personalized recommendations

Personalized recommendations are about suggesting content, products, or services which the user might be interested in. The system uses the data it has on your visits to suggest a product that you may like. This type of personalization is often based on the items and pages visited but not necessarily purchased by users earlier. To be successful, this type of personalization usually requires a large amount of data and training the right algorithm.

Intent personalization

On the other hand, intent personalization is about providing a personalized experience that meets specific needs. It’s based on what the intent of the user is  and what they are looking to achieve. This is more than just a recommendation, it’s about delivering personalized content that meets the needs of the user and can be tailored for their specific circumstance or preferences. This personalization strategy, which is primarily based on first-party and zero-party data, can be very successful with less data.

Data, experimentation & personalization

Personalization is a powerful way to provide your customers with the content they need.

Data is core for any personalization efforts. You need to make sure you have the right data in order for personalization engines to do their job and provide customers with what they want.

Personalization has been around for a long time, but it’s only recently that we have seen more complete and future-proof API-first personalization solutions. So, the headless personalization model combined with API solutions, server-side data, and client-side rendering can help you create personalized experiences for all of your users.

Armed with the right personalization strategy, agile teams can better focus on developing and improving products quickly. Agile personalization approaches create customer-centric experiences that help drive user engagement for today’s digital business landscape. A successful personalization strategy requires experimentation, iteration, and learning.

Personalization can be very effective with the right architecture, team, and strategy and is an essential part of a successful digital business strategy to increase customer engagement, improve user experience, and ultimately sales.

Finally, personalization entails more than simply recommending products or services to customers who are likely to purchase them; it also entails understanding intent in order to provide the right information at the right time and in a way that resonates with your customer’s needs.

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