Personalization for Modern Web Applications

Andy Kaiser
Andy Kaiser

May 28, 2021

Personalization for Modern Web Applications

This article is from a collaboration with our friends over at Ninetailed - an API-first personalization platform built for Jamstack apps with edge-side rendering.

Modern web applications have become a pillar of the modern web experience and have been boosted by an API-first modular architecture. Teams with this implementation are able to work efficiently while providing high-performant user-focused experiences in a web app.

Today’s web experience is more than just a website. It's about the entire customer journey, where personalization and data-driven decisions are key to creating successful interactions with end-users and customers.

Personalization and experimentation have proven to be an important part of the modular DXP approach for customer-obsessed businesses that strive to deliver a better customer experience (CX).

What is personalization, and how does it work on modern teams and web applications

Personalized experiences work by matching content with a specific individual’s needs, targeting their interests, and delivering content based on a single user's preferences, behavior, or characteristics. This could be as simple as showing different headlines or visuals, but it can also include changing the whole content of a page or even personalizing the content based on where a user is in their journey. Personalization has evolved from simple A/B Testing experiments, to cover the entire spectrum from grouped experience management to individualization.

Modern web applications are built on an API-first modular architecture, as are modern personalization tools, which allow teams to quickly test and iterate content and customer experiences. They assist them in understanding how different types of content perform in comparison to one another. These tools also make it simple to test the impact of content variations on performance and understand how they affect conversion rates.

Personalization is key to great customer experiences

It’s commonly understood that customers have grown to expect and desire personalized experiences as a result of what companies like Amazon have achieved in this field, in fact, surveys show that 42% of consumers get annoyed when their content isn’t personalized, and 66% of consumers will not purchase from a site when they feel the content does not speak to their specific interests.

Personalized experiences allow each user to find what they are looking for faster, and without having to wade through irrelevant content - often this can mean the difference between a good or bad customer experience and one that impacts conversion rates.

There are many reasons to personalize a customer's experience, including:

  • Making content more relevant and less overwhelming.
  • Making the customer journey more enjoyable and rewarding.
  • Allowing individual preferences and needs to be taken into account.
  • Providing a fast and meaningful experience for the user.

Challenges with implementing personalization and how to overcome them

Creating personalized experiences requires the right technology, time, and resources. However, the benefits of a well-executed personalized experience typically outweigh the costs with increased customer engagement rates, higher conversion rates, more revenue, reduced cart abandonment rates, and lower support costs to name just a few.

The main challenges and reasons why personalization fails are:

Poor Use of Consumer Data

The data you gather about your customers is critical for any personalization project. Data can be obtained from a variety of sources, but 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, are more effective than data aggregated from third-party sources.

Lack of a Personalization Strategy

A good personalization strategy includes audience segmentation, data selection, content creation and deployment, analytics, goals and key performance indicators, and a review of previous work. Personalization has to be thought of as an ongoing process rather than just a one-off campaign.

Technology that is siloed and not API-first

For future-proof personalization experiences, the data and content need to be accessible across all areas of the application.

All-in-one solutions are typically incompatible with other solutions in the technology stack, whereas JavaScript-snippet solutions are client-based, making integration with other data sources difficult or even impossible.

Because API-first personalization platforms are modular and can be integrated with the Content Management System (CMS) and/or Customer Data Platform (CDP), personalization can be achieved at an API level.

Lack of customer privacy protection

In order for personalization efforts to be effective, they need to take into account customer privacy. A long-term personalization strategy needs a balance of data acquisition and analysis that will provide value over time. The goal should always be improving the customer experience rather than annoying them or infringing on their privacy rights.

Ineffective use of first-party data

Many businesses rely heavily on third-party data during personalization efforts, but first-party data (and zero-party data) is extremely valuable for creating more relevant personalized experiences that can even drive higher customer lifetime value (LTV).

Hyper-personalization as unique solution

The goal of personalization experiences should be to improve the customer experience, and not 1-to-1 personalizations, as intense personalization can backfire. Organizations must find the right balance between personalizing their content and focusing on what is most effective. This means focusing on the experiences that work, and not only on AI-driven experiences.

How to implement personalization in a modern web application

Until recently, developers and marketers found it time-consuming and inconvenient to create personalized experiences. To do the job accurately and on a large scale, web personalization tools either did not exist or were part of expensive monolithic suites. However, with modern web applications and an API-first architecture, it has become easier for teams to personalize content.

Instead of executing on a personalization strategy in a month or even year-long integration siloed project, with modern web applications and API-first personalization platforms, teams can iterate and collaborate in their personalization efforts. With an API-first architecture, the development and marketing teams are able to execute personalization strategies upstream from the first day, starting with a proof-of-concept and iterating to a full personalization framework.

As a result, personalization is not just about personalizing content for customers; it's also about bringing business efficiency and agility to the table. The personalization strategy, like all other parts of the marketing strategy, is a work in progress.

In summary, data-driven decisions, an agile iterative process, and an API-first modular architecture, support personalization for modern web applications.


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