We are all spending a lot of time online and the competition for our attention is fierce. It is therefore crucial that your organisation’s website can engage with your users quickly and with minimal friction. In this article we’ll look at how personalisation and segmentation can ensure your website can be tailored and refined to provide a better more engaging experience for your users.  

First some definitions: 

  • Personalisation is when the content and user experience of a website is tailored to the individual user. This can include things like showing a personalised greeting, specific product recommendations, and displaying customised calls-to-action designed to appeal to an individual person. 
  • Segmentation, on the other hand, refers to the practice of grouping users into different segments based on characteristics such as demographics, behaviour, categories or data such as transactional history. This enables targeted communications and campaigns to be created with messaging designed for specific groups of users. 

In other words, with personalisation: we’re talking to you Mr Wilcox, whereas, with segmentation: we’re talking to a whole group of people with something in common. 

Examples of personalisation and segmentation on websites

A typical example of personalisation on a website would be an ecommerce site that uses previously recorded browsing history and purchase history to show different personalised product recommendations to each user. The key element to personalisation is that the site needs to know who the specific user is – this is often achieved by getting the user to login to the website. 

An example of segmentation on a website could be a travel company that groups website visitors based on their click behaviour on the website, or the search terms they used to find the website. For example two possible segments would be:

  1. visitors interested in short city-break weekends
  2. those who are looking for a twoweek holiday in the sun.

The website could then be tailored to target related content and offers accordingly.  

These two examples underline one of the key differences between the two approaches. With personalisation the organisation knows who the website visitor is, whereas with segmentation an approach can be based on assumptions and predictions. That said, segmentation can be based on explicit knowledge of the user too. 

What about website portals?

Website portals are a great illustration of where both approaches can be used. In the case of a membership organisation for example, a member would log into the website (or portal) and be able to see personalised details about the status of their membership and the benefits they are entitled to. In addition to this if they are part of a defined membership group or cohort, they need to see information specifically relating to that cohort. Here the cohort is an example of segmentation. 


It’s important to note that personalisation and segmentation should be part of a holistic approach to website user experience and should be used in conjunction with other strategies such as personas, user experience journey mapping, A/B testing, usability testing and user feedback in order to achieve the best results. 

Whilst this article focuses on websites, the concepts of personalisation and segmentation are available in a wide range of other technologies including analytics systems and email marketing platforms. It’s essential to consider the whole technology stack being used and align your strategy to get the most of this approach. 

In summary, personalisation and segmentation are two important approaches that organisations can use to improve the user experience on their website and drive conversions. By tailoring the content to the individual user, organisations can increase engagement, and by grouping users into segments, organisations can create more targeted and effective user experiences.