Explicit & Implicit Personalization on Sitecore

Kevin Schofield , Digital Marketing Consultant

Personalization seems like a simple enough concept, right? Each user that comes to my site should have their own experience. How hard is that? Realistically, it shouldn’t be too difficult to provide personalized experiences for your users as long as you are on a platform that supports personalization, have the necessary data on your users to personalize, and have a plan in place for which type of personalization strategy you are trying to employ.


The platform aspect generally shouldn’t be too difficult if you are using a content management system (CMS) like Sitecore. The data aspect shouldn’t be a problem either as long as you have proper data collection practices and a profile of your visitors as part of your CMS. But the personalization strategy piece is where many marketers can get tripped up.


Types of Personalization

There are two major types of personalization for many content management systems: explicit and implicit.


Explicit personalization is when you change a user’s experience of a website based on known values. You will generally see explicit personalization based on criteria such as your location, if you accessed the site from a specific marketing campaign, if you completed a specific action on the site during you current or previous visits, or from some other known data point about you (Hint: the known aspect is important).


Implicit personalization is when the onsite experience of a website changes based on assumed values due to the user’s interaction. Common examples include suggested/related products or posts on websites, as well as when the onsite experience changes based on the pages you had previously interacted with. These changes to the site experience generally happen because your onsite behavior has aligned with a defined pattern of behavior; based on the decisions and actions you have taken thus far, implicit personalization will ideally provide you with a more relevant experience.


Understanding the types of personalization, how they’re implemented, and how they help you achieve your business objectives will inform the right strategy behind your personalization initiatives.