Create sites with personalization for your customer

Creating custom user experiences on the web is difficult. First, you need to know which target groups you are searching for, second you have to categorize them and build unique content for them. Finally, you require identifying them on the web. Let us look how you could solve these issues together with magnolia cms.

Find the right target audience


Finding the right target groups is usually not a technical difficulty. Let us try to find an example: A hairdresser with a local business, maybe with two or three different locations and several specializations like e.g., bridal hairstyling. We already identify different target groups.


As already explained, the hairdresser is specialized in bridal hairstyles and this is a separated target group. In our example, we want that this user group sees a special banner on the homepage of our website.

Create segmentations in Magnolia CMS

Creating personalized experiences in Magnolia CMS isn’t that complicated, however before we begin, let’s take the chance and explain some topics. Magnolia CMS let you configure two types of categorizations.

Segments are predefined audience groups. You can define multiple traits that identify a segment group. In Magnolia CMS you are using segments to define for whom you want to show a specific variant of a page or component.

Personas are predefined users. They are usually part of one or many segments. In Magnolia CMS you use personas to simulate  user behavior. Personas could have one or many traits.

Traits are identifiers. E.g. a location trait is used to identify you as a user from a specific city. A cookie trait could identify your interests on a page. Traits are used in segments or personas to define these types.

To create a page we always need a “neutral” original variant. So before we start using personalization in Magnolia CMS it’s good to have a fundament. After we have built our original page, we have two ways to start personalization. You can personalize components, or you personalize a whole page. Both ways are valuable in their own way. Please notice that I will show you page variants, but component variations are working mainly the same way.

  1. After you have created your page, select the page and create a page variant through the action “Add Page Variant” in the action bar to the right.
  2. After you done this, Magnolia created a new subpage structure with the variant that say “No audience selected”.
  3. The next step is to choose an audience to the same name action. In the dialog you could add a name of your variant like “bridal hairstyle” and choose the correct segments.  
  4. Now you have a whole page variant that runs independently of your original. You can completely change the style of this page to the target audience.
  5. After you have completed that step, you can simulate the page. Click on the original page and trigger the action “Preview as visitor”.
  6. On the right, you can now select between different personas you have created. You will see that the “bridal hairstyle” variant will shown if a persona fits to the traits of the segments.  

Identify your users trough traits

Traits are the way how Magnolia identifies and displays the correct content. Traits are requested each time a user reaches your site. Every request could result into a different page. But to identify a user request they need to get more information. One of the easiest ways to get information about a user request are the things you already send with every request. That’s why cookies are so relevant. In our example, an easy way could be to score each request on the page in a data table inside your cookies. With this, you gain more and more information of your user over time. If you require a more advanced solution for handling scoring, the Content Recommender Module is what you’re looking for.

If a user used a form on your website you can use this data for personalization too.

If you need more information about your users, you can either integrate your commerce system or CRM if you have some. To do this it’s easy to create a custom personalization trait. More will come on this page.


With magnolia cms you can already segment your target user groups in segments and personas. The tricky parts are to identify your users if you have no data. An obvious solution is to let magnolia learn about your users and track interests. Another solution is to connect to other systems like your CRM or a commerce system to get more information about your users. My recommendation is to start with the out-of-the-box solutions in magnolia, and then add custom traits for your solution.

Disclaimer: I will not get into the topics of GDPR or CCPA. Please be aware that you need to get consent of your users. 

Portrait: Marvin Kerkhoff</h2
About the author

Marvin Kerkhoff

Marvin Kerkhoff is a web developer since 2004. He started to work for Arvato Systems Schweiz 13 years ago. He did his Magnolia certification in 2010 and achieved the highest Magnolia certification in 2020. He has a strong background in broad E-Commerce and Digital Business projects with various customers.

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