Published: 18 December 2015 Despite first impressions, segmentation and personalisation are not the same things when it comes to digital marketing.

Having progressed from a traditional marketing background to specialise in digital, I am often struck by the overlaps between the old and new world’s of marketing.

On the face of it there are strong links between the topics of segmentation, the preserve of marketing strategic planning for decades, and personalisation which is one the key emerging trends prevalent in the latest generation of web platforms such as Sitecore. The latter can personalise a users experience and content on a website based on whether they meet a number of pre-set criteria.

Both techniques involve dividing up an audience into different groupings to help improve the effectiveness of marketing activities.

However there are in fact key differences between both techniques. These are best summarised as follows:

  • Segmentation is based on what we know, or can assume about individuals
  • Personalisation is based on what individuals tell us through their online behaviour
To illustrate this, consider a travel website which might attract users from different segments; in this case a user with a young family looking for family friendly holidays and another user from a retired couple.

On the face of it, it would be justifiable to assume that website content should be personalised based on these two different segments – show family holidays to one and holidays for couples to the other.

However true personalisation is dictated by the behaviour of users across both segments. For example despite their obvious differences both users could be impulsive or last minute bookers as evidenced by the proximity of travel dates to the date on which they are searching. This could lead to the website experience to be personalised with more aggressive last minute offers.

On the other hand, users from both segments could also share the same behaviour or performing multiple searches over a series of visits to the site, which may imply they are more considered decision makers. In this case their website experience could be personalised to highlight customer reviews to provide reassurance, or encourage them to follow the brand on social media.

In either case the segment that the user comes from is less relevant – its how they behave on the website that matters, as it is adjusting to this behaviour which is most likely to result in an online conversion.

Josh Whiten

Digital Marketing Director


Page Name: {% PageName %}

Page Template: {% PageTemplate %}

CampaignID: {% AgentReferrer.ID %}

CampaignName: {% AgentReferrer.Name %}

CampaignPhone: {% AgentReferrer.Phone %}

Item Location: {% PageLocation %}

Search Session Exists: False