We humans expect personalization in almost every area of our lives.
We often consult the vendor when purchasing sunglasses for frame recommendations that complement our face shape.
Similarly, when selecting a night cream, we search for one that addresses the specific needs of our skin.
Or, when buying a watch, we consider our wrist size and shop accordingly.
These instances exemplify how personal factors and preferences influence our choices when making purchases.
So, actually, we NEED personalization.
And not surprisingly, we need personalization in SaaS, too.
Fortunately, companies have recognized the importance of this need.
🛎️ According to a majority of company executives (75%), personalization is crucial for delivering exceptional digital experiences.
Wondering how people adopt personalization strategies in the SaaS industry?
In this article, I’ve prepared 11 real-life examples of great UX personalization across five different categories: dashboards & home pages, content suggestions, learning experiences, emails, and onboarding.
👉 Personalization is the practice of tailoring product experiences, UI, content, and suggestions based on individual preferences, needs, behavior, or context. It involves gathering and analyzing user data.
👉 There are 3 main forms of personalization: explicit personalization, implicit personalization, and contextual personalization.
👉 Explicit personalization refers to the customization of content or product recommendations based on explicit information or preferences provided by the user, such as demographic information, interests, etc.
👉 Implicit personalization relies on analyzing user actions, such as search history and previous purchase history, to understand user preferences and provide personalized recommendations accordingly.
👉 Contextual personalization considers factors like location, device type, time of day, weather, or other contextual cues to tailor content or product recommendations. In other words, it leverages real-time data.
👉 Some of the most popular app personalization practices can be listed as follows: personalized dashboards and home pages, personalized content and educational material suggestions, personalized email sequels, and personalized onboarding.
11 Real-Life User Experience Personalization Examples
Ready to get inspired by those who mastered the art of UX personalization?
See how they ensure user satisfaction through various strategies?
Then buckle up; we’re starting!
Personalized Dashboards and Home Pages
One of the most common utilization techniques of personalization in the SaaS industry is to personalize the main page and/or the dashboard that welcomes the users to the product.
The logic behind this is pretty simple, actually.
In order to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted user experience for everyone, we create an illusion as if the user was always there, seamlessly continuing their journey without any disruption. Thus, we provide a sense of familiarity and comfort.
Here’s how different industry giants employ this technique 👇
Amazon offers a personalized home page based on your purchase history and wishlist.
To ensure individualized experiences, it also analyzes your recent search history and provides product recommendations.
How does it work?
Amazon is a large marketplace with thousands of products, making it challenging to discover new items that you might adore under normal circumstances. However, by employing dynamic personalization strategies, Amazon ensures that users are presented with products they might find interesting.
📚 For example, if a user has a lot of children’s books on their wishlist or has previously purchased five books by L. M. Montgomery, Amazon utilizes this data to recommend more books from Montgomery or other children’s literature.
🎨 Likewise, if a user’s search or purchase history is filled with paints, brushes, and sketchbooks, Amazon provides reminders to replenish their supplies, suggesting paints or sketchbooks that they may need.
Netflix is the #1 app when it comes to personalized mobile experiences and multitiered recommendations, I’m quite sure.
Well, there are a few things Netflix does on its home page.
Let’s examine them one by one 🔎🔎
First, for the reasons I mentioned before, it reminds you where you left off in your series and allows you to continue.
What could be a better move to keep your users on the hook than showing what they love and triggering them to continue!
Then, there’s the “Because you watched …” part!
When you spend quite a time watching a certain show, Netflix doesn’t take it for granted 🙏🏽
Last but not least, the app creates a watchlist unique to your taste.
The shows you previously watched, the ones you added to your watchlist, the ones you liked/disliked…
Basically, all the data they collect from millions of users, including you, is analyzed carefully and used to recommend new shows.
You know what?
Netflix’s personalization efforts do not end there.
They take the extra step to reach perfection for their platform users and offer different thumbnail images for the same show to different users based on their genre preferences.
Here’s an example case for Stranger Things:
You like dark fantasies or scary movies?
You’re probably gonna see a dark and mysterious banner of the show.
You watched a cozy and fun movie about friendship recently?
Well, there’s a high chance that Netflix will present you the show with a picture highlighting Mike and his friends.
High five to Netflix’s devoted design team!
Notion is another SaaS product that offers a personalized experience for its users.
Yet, contrary to Amazon and Netflix, it doesn’t offer real-time personalization based on the previous actions of the user. It shows different user interfaces (UIs) based on the account type of a user.
While creating a Notion account, the potential user is asked to choose the most suitable use case:
Let’s say you want to use the tool for personal purposes like managing a grocery list, travel plans, or book recommendations.
In that case, you probably don’t need numerous pages and dashboards.
Thus, Notion offers a much clearer UI to you.
Yet, if you’re a product manager, this UI could be a nightmare.
creating all the necessary pages from scratch would obviously be time-consuming.
Notion addresses this by providing a detailed UI with templates and ready-to-use pages for those who initially choose the “for my team” option.
How Personalized Notion Really Is?
Well, personalized enough not to overwhelm individual users with unnecessary pages and bore product managers by forcing them to create every page by themselves.
But that’s all.
Unfortunately, the tool doesn’t offer further personalization for individuals with different use cases or even different team managers.
If you’re a success manager, for example, there isn’t any template waiting for you in the UI…
Personalized Content Suggestions
Okay Amazon’s product suggestions are overall great, but can we agree that they’re pretty safe suggestions, actually?
“Hey, you bought a pencil sometime before; it’s been quite a time since you bought a new one, so here it is!”
Does it work? Yes, most of the time.
Do they have the best suggestion algorithm? No, not really, to be honest.
But luckily, there are other companies that provide really personalized content suggestions.
Companies that utilize search history and user activity within the app to gain deeper insights into user preferences, and casually offer highly targeted and relevant content suggestions to their users.
What distinguishes Spotify from many other music apps available in the market is its dedication to a better and more personalized customer experience, I think.
You’re not in the mood for exploration, but can’t you decide which of your playlists agrees with your current mood?
Here are 5 fresh playlists curated from your already existing playlists.
Or maybe you would fancy something totally new?
Here are some personalized recommendations!
I love how the app categorizes your favorite artists based on their genres before creating playlists; and every week, it manages to suggest new artists that I haven’t ever heard of before.
Also, at the end of every year, Spotify creates a yearly report of your top genres, artists, and tracks called “Wrapped”.
I know almost every Spotify user waits for it more excitedly than they wait for their academic report.
It’s a great feature that ensures everyone spends as much time as possible on your platform, investing in their yearly reports, listening to music, and exploring new genres and artists throughout the year.
The stats don’t seem to be important solely for product people!
Like Netflix and Spotify, Youtube offers unique and personalized content suggestions, too.
The platform’s algorithm is primarily fueled by your previous searches, watched videos, liked videos, watchlisted videos, and subscribed channels.
Then, it uses this data to generate personalized categories that align with your interests and preferences.
Like photography, for example 📸 🎞️
Or art and sketching 🖼️ 🖍️
Also, what’s great is that on YouTube, you not only get to see the newest releases from your favorite content creators but also discover videos that have been around for a while, which might genuinely captivate your interest.
Every piece of content is treasured, and no relevant recommendation is disregarded.
Another popular product personalization strategy is to offer personalized onboarding to new users -a.k.a. potential customers.
Based on your users’ expectations and needs, you can create user segments and personas. Later on, you can leverage this data to create various onboarding flows with different feature guides and tooltips to offer a smoother and more personalized onboarding experience.
But, Why Should I Personalize My Onboarding?
Here are some stats that will explain why 📊
✅ It leaves a good first impression on the customers.
✅ It helps users to see the true value of your product.
✅ It increases activation and adoption rates drastically: 86% of people state that onboarding and customer education are vital for them to become real users and loyal customers.
✅ 90% of the customers state that they are willing to pay more for products that offer personalized onboarding.
Users expect a personalized onboarding flow.
They want to see relevant educational material, such as how-to videos, feature guides, interactive checklists, tooltips, and more. And they’re willing to pay more for all these services.
⚠️ 80% of people deleted at least one app because they couldn’t use it.
And it seems like they tend to churn when things get complicated and there aren’t many onboarding materials to help them navigate around, rather than forcing themselves to solve how to use the mysterious extra features in an app.
Now, let’s see some personalized onboarding flows 🏃♀️🏃♀️
Zakeke is a cloud-based visual product customizer tool that enables end-users to customize a product before they purchase it. But as it requires different steps to be taken for every platform, it has many features and pages, which are not important to every user.
Thus, in order to increase feature adoption and provide a smooth onboarding experience for all of their users, they use user segmentation.
For example, this is how the onboarding looks for a Shopify store owner:
When it comes to winning over potential customers, first impressions matter. That’s why product personalization and personalized content, especially during the onboarding phase, is a must.
Zakeke adopts this mindset and provides its customers with the most relevant feature guides and how-tos.
Opinew is a Shopify app that enables shop owners to display customer reviews from multiple platforms on their stores through in-app widgets. As it requires users to collect data from various platforms and centralize them in one place, it’s a relatively complex platform that can be confusing to some users.
That’s why they gathered all their educational content outside of the product first into the in-app help and resource center, then into interactive guides and checklists 👇
For each platform, Opinew provides multiple options to import data. Users can choose the method that suits them best and follow the step-by-step user guide and/or instructional videos to complete the process.
They also provide feature recommendations and guide their users toward the most suitable method to continue, as well.
⚡ To read more about Opinew’s success story, check here 👈.
Personalized Learning Experiences
Not every SaaS product is a content-based platform or a marketplace full of products now, is it?
(Gonna answer for you: OFC NO!)
You might not be able to provide data-driven suggestions to your users like Youtube or Amazon.
Maybe you offer editing services, or you teach languages.
So, how can you offer a personalized experience if you do not have a vast amount of data about the personal preferences of a user?
Well, you can always ask about their expectations and use cases, directly to them 😉
Here’s how Grammarly and Duolingo ensure relevant experiences for their users 👇
Grammarly recognizes that not every written piece is the same.
Editing a literary story, an academic paper, a blog post, an email, or a job proposition requires different approaches.
The vocabulary, tone, and even the grammatical structure can vary significantly across different types of writing.
Thus, it requests the user to set goals, decide on the purpose, and tone.
Do You Get Really Personalized Suggestions?
Well, not all the time.
Language is a complex construction.
Sometimes, the machine does not understand your active decisions and conscious distortions. But that’s why you still get to choose whether to accept or delete the suggestion.
Yet, I need to give credit where credit is due:
Overall, Grammarly provides really great vocabulary suggestions if you want to sound professional, tell a friendly story, or write an academic paper.
P.S. Similar to Spotify’s Wrapped, Grammarly sends weekly reports of your activities and shows how well you did compared to other users in terms of vocabulary, spelling, grammar, etc., which can be again a nice motivation to use the tool as much as possible.
At some point, we all decided to try learning a new language and created our very first Duolingo account, I believe 🦉
We know that during the onboarding process, Duo asks for our learning purpose, our proficiency, and the time we’re willing to spend daily in the app before creating a personalized learning journey for us.
But today, I want to talk about Duolingo Max, the new AI-powered persona of the company.
It comes with 2 core features:
explain my answer and roleplay.
👉 The “explain my answer” feature, as the name itself suggests too, helps users to understand why their answer was wrong/right and provides them with further examples/explanations regarding the subject.
👉Whereas the “roleplay” feature enables them to have real-time conversations with Max.
Here’s a closer to the features:
How Personalized Is Duolingo Max?
Max is powered by GPT-4, a generative large language model.
Thus, almost every interaction with it is unique and personalized according to the needs and questions of every individual user.
P.S. Duolingo Max is not currently available to all users. Certain requirements must be met, including country, language, and device compatibility.
Personalization doesn’t end with the product UI.
In order to ensure a fully personalized experience throughout the customer journey, you should start sending out personalized emails, as well.
And I’m NOT talking about the ones personalizing only the email subject…
I’m talking about the ones that provide helpful and relevant content to the recipients.
You can send how-to videos about the collaborative dashboard or your other customizable features, provide relevant course recommendations, show templates/ design styles, share in-depth industry reports and success stories from real platform users, etc.
Here are some real-life examples of good personalization strategies:
Sunday, a lawn care and gardening company, sends personalized product recommendation emails to its customers based on their locations and the season.
Though Sunday is not from a SaaS company, I believe the strategy they adopt can be adopted by any company, including SaaS companies, as well.
What Sunday does is basically to offer the most suitable solution -a.k.a. the plant type- to its customers at the most suitable time.
The platform collects location data from the customers and analyzes their gardening preferences. Then, depending on the season and the aforementioned data, the Sunday team sends the recommendation emails!
⏳ So, a screen and video recording tool, for example, can adopt a similar strategy for offering add-ons or plan upgrades when a user reaches a certain recording time.
Or a time-tracking app might identify that a particular user consistently struggles with maintaining focus in the late afternoon. In response, the app could send them a personalized email around mid-afternoon, suggesting helpful tips and techniques to combat distractions during that time.
Change the location and season data to any kind of data that would work for your product, but keep the personalized recommendation mail strategy -whether it be an upgrade or simply a blog article.
Finding your dream house AND booking it on Airbnb get more and more hard now that it has more than 150 million users around the world 🌍 🏠
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve added places to my wishlist just to see they’re already booked forever…
Luckily, Airbnb is more patient and determined to send me on my dream holiday!
Since they closely monitor my activity on their website, they know my preferred locations, price range, and the dates I have in mind for accommodation.
Here’s how Airbnb reaches out to potential customers (vacationers) with recommendations that suit their budget and vacation dates:
As part of their personalization efforts, Airbnb goes the extra mile by sending personalized discount reminders.
These emails feature accommodations with decreased prices, specifically focusing on popular places with many reviews or locations that you have previously searched for 💰💰
Personalized experiences are all around us, shaping our interactions in meaningful ways.
We see them in the form of user-friendly dashboards filled with customizable templates, tailored emails and home pages offering content recommendations that resonate with our interests, and intuitive onboarding flows designed to guide us effortlessly.
These personalized touches enhance our overall experience, making us feel valued and understood.
Feel free to look around, draw inspiration from the applications of other companies in the market, and adopt the practices that are most suitable for your own product and customer base.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an example of a personalization strategy?
For example, a personalization strategy for a project management software could involve automatically creating a social media post calendar for a marketing manager while generating a feature update calendar for a product manager -a.k.a. personalizing the dashboards based on roles/ industry. This tailored approach ensures that each user has a dashboard specifically designed to meet their unique needs and responsibilities, ensuring higher adoption rates.
How do I create a personalized experience?
While creating various dashboards and user interfaces may require significant investment and larger product teams, there are personalization strategies that can be implemented with less engineering work. For instance, onboarding personalization allows you to guide your customers to the most relevant and useful features, requiring minimal effort. By tailoring the onboarding experience based on user preferences and needs, you can provide a more seamless and personalized user journey without extensive engineering resources and increase customer retention.