< Back

Personalization versus personification and why you need both

David Henderson

By David Henderson, CTO

Personalization versus personification and why you need both - featured image
6th May 2021

You want to find a personalization platform that allows you to personalize web and email content for returning shoppers. You know you need to use the right product recommendations in your online store, as well as send triggered emails which show you can reach your customers with the right message at the right time. But what about new shoppers who are browsing your website for the first time? How do you make sure you show them exactly what they need to see, when they need it?


Personification doesn’t require an identified user, since it relies on contextual data and uses advanced AI techniques to personify the experience of visitors who have not yet been identified, even on the landing page and before they click on anything.

This approach works with and without permanent cookies. With cookies, you get the added ability to personify based on the visitor’s current session, hence you can pick up more information and preferences as they browse pages on the site or take other actions, but still without needing the visitor’s identity.

In this example, Killstar tailors the homepage for shoppers based on whether they are browsing men’s or women’s clothing, changing the content accordingly.

Killstar homepage personification

More examples of personification

Whilst personalization focuses on the data of a returning visitor, personification makes use of contextual data, such as the shopper’s location or the weather in their area. This data is used to customize content, tailor product recommendations, and more. You can also find platforms that make use of AI to power personification functionality such as Fresh Relevance’s Price Affinity Predictor, a tool that allows clients to identify a desired price point for new visitors who have not interacted with their website yet and display relevant product recommendations using those insights.

Make sure your personalization platform works well with anonymous sessions so all behavioral and contextual information can be used without needing the identity of the shopper.

An overview of personification

Personification allows businesses to deliver relevant digital experiences based on the analysis of billions of customer journeys, rather than the shopper’s personal identity. It works well on the first page visited by a new shopper (“zero click personalization”), and also works well for shoppers who have withheld consent for permanent cookies, where there’s no identity so conventional personalization can’t be used.

However, less information is available to businesses than full personalization because the identity of the shopper is unknown, which is why a good personalization platform makes use of both personification and personalization, and switches seamlessly to a personalization approach once the visitor has been identified.

Download the Personalization Buyer’s Guide to Identity Resolution to learn more about personalization versus personification.

Download the Personalization Buyer's Guide to Identity Resolution

David Henderson

By David Henderson


As CTO at Fresh Relevance, David leads the dev team. He has been instrumental in designing, building and scaling the platform to help marketers get awesome results by driving sales growth and strengthening customer engagement.