How to use data as a driver for personalization

‘Personalization’ is arguably one of the biggest buzzwords in digital of the last 5 years. Resulting in tons of articles that already explain in detail how to do it as well as why to do it. However, in this blogpost, we would like to zoom in on how to use the data your organization holds to help drive your visitor’s personalized digital experience forward.

OG image Personalization

Data as a driver

When considering personalization, a first reaction typically is to look at what content, story arcs, interactions, outcomes and touchpoints already exist. However, it is equally as important to consider what platforms the customer journey might consist of.

A modern digital journey does not necessarily consist of a single platform. It may just as well have started with a digital experience on a website, an interaction with a voice-controlled assistant or a personal dashboard application on a portable device.

In order to really know what to look for, you need to understand what types of data exist.

Simply put, personalization is based on data captured on multiple platforms across numerous interactions. There are two ways by which data can be collected; either as first-party data, coming from your own digital platform, or as data that is bought from third-party data providers in order to help enrich your own dataset.

It is important to understand what data you have collected, as well as knowing how the data relates to one-another. Doing so can help you pick low-hanging fruits, depending on the types of data and connected systems.


What different types of data can you use?

At some point after the creation of a number of personalization scenarios, these will have to be held up against the information available inside your organization. In order to really know what to look for, you need to understand what types of data exist.

When working around data, the following categories of data can be taken into consideration:

Behavioral data typically reflects user interactions. It is captured either through page visits as analytics information, order and abandoned cart history (on transactional platforms) or as search history that reveals an interest into specific content.

Contextual data provides insight on the circumstances of a user’s interactions. How did a visitor find you, when did an interaction take place, what device was used, what was the weather like. This can help anticipate these circumstances in order to offer more information proactively.

Demographic and Firmographic data provide the same kind of information, where the first aims more at a B2C scenario and the second brings value for B2B scenarios. Demographic data provides information that is of a more personal nature such as gender, family status, age, income, education. Or in a B2B scenario, firmographic data will focus more on the size of a visitor’s company, the sector where that company operates in, and so on.



Leveraging the tools and information you already have

It’s near-impossible to create a conclusive list of systems that hold the various types of data we just described. It’s a better idea to look at alternative ways to interpret data that’s probably already stored inside your organization. You most likely will find the information you need in one of the following places:

  • A CRM, or Customer Relationship Management tool, tends to hold a backbone of contact information you can use throughout the entire organization. From a data-perspective, it can help you find out what your customers are looking for from an outside-in approach. This way, you’re not just looking at what you have to sell, but also at what your customers really want.
  • An OMS, or Order Management System, holds an overview of purchases or purchase intents. It can help you improve on cross-selling opportunities, based on historic information. With and OMS, you can identify trends that approach your products or services in a different way than you’re used to.
  • Captured search queries performed on your digital platforms can help reveal an enormous amount of information. Ranging from often looked-for information, products or services, up to new and quickly emerging trends.
  • Content that provides the details of your products and services is your main source of data. Observe through analytics how content is used and make tagging of content an automated process to help re-evaluate and re-structure it on a regular basis.
  • Location information can allow you to provide nearby shops, services or other local support. However, it’s best to be careful with this information. Offering information to potential customers based on data gathered about another customer (now or in the past) can offer surprising outcomes.

It’s a better idea to look at alternative ways to interpret data that’s probably already stored inside your organization.


All personalization should be customer-centric. If anything, this means you should look even more closely at the systems and data available inside your organization. Tools and information you already have in-house can potentially create more relevant user experiences.

Are you looking to personalize your customer’s experience, but you’re not sure how the leverage the data you’ve captured?

Reach out to us now


Find more here

Don't miss out

It's more than digital, it's your business
The Reference is nothing without its customers. Carglass is the car window repair and replacement specialist for whom we've built a fully responsive Sitecore website. Read more about this client.