Personalization engines: What they are and the 7 best options

Katie Leask

Sep 7, 2023

Katie Leask

Sep 7, 2023

Today’s marketers have more data at their fingertips than ever before. 

Information about customers’ devices, behaviors, purchasing habits, preferences, interests, and much more is collected by various marketing solutions at different stages of the customer journey. 

However, this abundance of data also increases complexity, making it hard for marketers to extract actionable insights and use them to generate more revenue.

This is where personalization engines come in. A personalization engine can make sense of all that data and help marketers deliver personalized content, messaging, and product recommendations to each customer.

In this guide, you’ll learn what personalization engines are, how they work, and the key factors that differentiate them. We’ll also explore the 7 best personalization engines, including:

 

Table of Contents
  1. Insider

  2. Braze

  3. Monetate

  4. Dynamic Yield

  5. CleverTap

  6. Salesforce Marketing Cloud

  7. Adobe Experience Cloud

  8. Personalize every step of your customers’ journeys with Insider

Insider can help you aggregate your customer data and personalize every touchpoint customers have with your brand. To learn more, visit our website or schedule a demo with our team.

What are personalization engines? (and key factors to look for)

Personalization engines are software solutions that analyze customer data and give marketers the insights they need to create personalized experiences for each customer.

Most personalization engines can crunch all types of customer data, including demographic information, on-site interactions, purchase histories, interactions with customer service teams, brand loyalty data, and more. 

This data is usually collected by different solutions, like analytics software, customer relationship management systems (CRMs), customer service software, APIs, and more. It’s the personalization engine’s job to make sense of all that data, usually with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.

There are five key factors to consider when comparing personalization engines:

  • Data sources: The more data a personalization engine can use, the more accurate its recommendations will be (provided the data is clean and accurate). It’s a good idea to start your analysis by determining if a personalization engine can connect to all data sources that are relevant to your business.
  • Setup process: Oftentimes, the most difficult part of the personalization process is getting the right data from various systems into the engine. A good customer support team and flexible setup options can help you get through this initial phase as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Personalization and automation tools: These tools are what you’ll use to create personalized experiences based on the personalization engine’s insights. You want to make sure they’re versatile, easy to use, and if possible—built natively with the personalization engine so you don’t have to connect to a bunch of third-party systems and overcomplicate your digital marketing stack.
  • Platform capabilities: Personalization engines and tools are usually part of a broader platform. It’s the platform’s job to connect the engine and tools to the other parts of your ecosystem and marketing stack—like your eCommerce site and platform, offline solutions, and legacy systems—and ensure the data flows consistently between these different parts.
  • Native channels: Personalization engines can provide insights but can’t automatically put them into action. As a marketer, it’s your job to take those insights and create personalized experiences across different touchpoints, like your website, email communications, SMS or WhatsApp messages, and more. The more channels you can tap into natively (i.e., without needing a separate solution outside of the personalization engine), the easier it will be for you to personalize each customer’s experience.

The 7 best personalization engines

Below, we’ll explore the top seven personalization engines for delivering relevant content, messaging, and product recommendations. We’ll focus on their key personalization capabilities and supported channels so you have a good idea if they’re right for you.

#1 Insider

Insider homepage

Insider brings together the most extensive set of personalization capabilities for websites and mobile apps, as well as for channels like email, SMS, WhatsApp, push notifications, and more.

Brands like Samsung, Coca-Cola, and MAC Cosmetics use Insider to reduce acquisition costs, boost conversion rates, and increase revenue by personalizing every touchpoint in their customers’ experience

Our clients also rely on Insider’s extensive data aggregation, automation, and engagement capabilities to:

  • Consolidate their customer data and get a 360-degree view of each customer.
  • Build, automate, and personalize cross-channel marketing campaigns.
  • Reach the right audiences, with the right messages, on the right channels, at the right times.
  • Consolidate their marketing stack and work more efficiently by setting up, managing, and analyzing campaigns across all channels from a single place.

Our solution has been ranked as the best and easiest to use personalization engine by G2.

As a multi-faceted solution for mid-sized and enterprise companies, Insider also ranks at the top of other key categories like:

In the next sections, you’ll see how Insider makes it easy to tailor each user’s experience to their behaviors, needs, and preferences.

Easily connect to any data source and aggregate your personalization data

Successful personalization depends on accurate and reliable data being available for the personalization engine. Bringing that data into one place is often a lengthy and resource-intensive process that requires different teams to connect various disconnected systems, like customer data platforms (CDPs), CMSs, analytics software, legacy systems, and so on.

To avoid this problem, Insider offers flexible setup options, an experienced support team, and an Actionable CDP that can bring your customer data into one place. These capabilities ensure you don’t have to waste tons of time and effort into painstakingly stichting data from disparate sources.

Versatile setup options and an experienced support team

Our support team assists you in getting the right data into Insider and starting  the personalization process as quickly as possible by:

  • Helping you set up Insider (with no extra setup charge). Our team can help you get the necessary data into the platform and ready for use so you don’t have to go through the process by yourself. Insider can connect to pretty much any online or offline data source—including CDPs, CMSs, APIs, analytics tools, point-of-sale (POS) devices, and so on. 
  • Analyze your site and analytics data before our first kick-off meeting. This allows us to give you ideas for implementing personalization and marketing strategies that can generate some quick conversions and revenue.
  • Migrate your existing customer journeys to our platform. Chances are, you already have various automated flows or entire campaigns across various channels—like email confirmation flows, SMS upsell campaigns, cart recovery push notifications, and so on. Our team will migrate these for you in our journey orchestration tool so you don’t have to build them from scratch.

Thanks to our focus on making everything as simple as possible, clients consistently rank Insider highly in categories like ease of use, ease of setup, and quality of support.

For example, say you have a large eCommerce store and want to start using Insider’s personalization capabilities. 

All you have to do is install our JavaScript tag on your site. The tag will automatically start capturing all user behavior data. It can also build a product catalog, although you have the option to submit a product feed in various ways, e.g., by sending us a CSV or XML file, using an API, and more.

From here, our team will help you connect to the rest of your eCommerce stack, get the right data (and journeys) into Insider, and start creating personalized customer experiences as quickly as possible.

Actionable CDP

Insider’s Actionable CDP lets you aggregate your data and get an accurate, 360-degree view of each individual customer.

For example, the screenshot below shows a unified profile with key details about the customer’s:

  • Name and contact information.
  • Channel reachability.
  • Purchase history.
  • Interactions with the site, mobile app, or channels like email, SMS, and push notifications.
Insider unified customer profile

Overall, this data is crucial for the personalization process, as it gives you the necessary insights into each customer’s behaviors and preferences. Again, our team helps you get this data from various sources into Insider’s CDP as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Another key benefit of our CDP is that it automatically creates profiles for anonymous visitors as well as for known customers

While these profiles don’t contain any personal information, they still show you everything anonymous visitors do on your site—including where they click, which product categories they’re browsing, last visited and abandoned products, and more. This lets you personalize their on-site experience in real time, which helps convert them into paying customers as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Lastly, while Insider comes with a powerful and free CDP, you don’t have to use it in order to take advantage of our platform.

If you’re happy with your current CDP, Insider can simply connect to it. That way, you can continue using your data platform and take advantage of Insider’s personalization, automation, and engagement capabilities. 

Personalize each step of the customer journey

With the foundation (i.e., your customer data) ready, you can start implementing various personalization tactics and evaluating their impact. 

Insiders lets you scale your personalization efforts to every touchpoint in your customers’ journeys—from your website and mobile app to external channels like email, SMS, WhatsApp, and push notifications.

Advanced on-site and in-app personalization

Website personalization is crucial if you want to make the most out of your marketing budget, as it helps you convert a higher percentage of visitors into paying customers.

That’s why Insider can tailor every element of your website or mobile app, depending on customer behaviors, preferences, and interests.

For example, our AI-powered Smart Recommender lets you deliver relevant product recommendations to each customer. These recommendations can be completely generated by our AI algorithms. You also have the option to tweak them based on your needs.

First, you can choose where you want the personalized product recommendations to appear:

  • On all website pages.
  • On product or article pages.
  • On category pages.
  • On cart pages.

After that, you can choose between various personalization strategies, including:

  • Most popular items, most-searched items, items that are often viewed or purchased together, manual merchandising, and many others.
  • User-based personalization. Here, our recommendation engine’s proprietary algorithms drive the process to ensure the products shown to every user are based on their unique behaviors and preferences. 

Philips leveraged these personalization capabilities on their site to achieve a 40.11% conversion rate uplift and a 35% increase in average order value (AOV).

As we’ll explore in the next section, you can also use these personalized product recommendations on external channels like email, SMS, WhatsApp, web push, and more.

Besides product recommendations, you can also use Insider to personalize:

  • Banners, categories, and all other content elements. Many of our clients use Insider to create hyper-personalized experiences across their entire website. For example, Yves Rocher used personalized content to achieve a conversion rate uplift of 18.36%, while Samsung used our Category Optimizer to drive a 10% increase in conversion rates during the launch campaign for their Galaxy Note 9.
Website banner personalization
Insider personalized product banners

Mobile stories. Insider offers a special product for adding engaging, Instagram-like stories to your mobile site or app, called InStory. These stories are great for catching users’ attention and putting product discovery on autopilot, as each one can be personalized to the user who clicks on it. Dover Saddlery was able to generate $1.7 million in incremental revenue by showing personalized stories to web and mobile users.

Insider InStory mobile stories

Site search results. Shoppers often make between three to five searches before abandoning your site. That’s why EUREKA—our AI-powered personalized search results tool—gives each searcher highly relevant results based on their past actions, purchase history, and predicted behaviors. That way, you can create a great customer experience and maximize your marketing spend, instead of losing potential customers due to irrelevant search results.

Insider EUREKA personalized website search results

Personalization on email, SMS, and other external channels

Website personalization is just one part of delivering a consistent customer experience. External touchpoints like email, SMS, and WhatsApp are just as important, which is why Insider lets you create tailored experiences on them natively (i.e., without needing a third-party solution).

Here are some of the key channels that our platform supports:

  • Email. Email remains among the most widely used marketing channels, so it takes a lot to stand out among customers’ overcrowded inboxes. Insider helps you do that by personalizing your emails’ subject lines, body text, images, and product recommendations using a simple drag-and-drop editor. You can even use AMP to create interactive experiences inside each email.

Learn more: 12 Best email marketing platforms for different use cases

Insider email builder dynamic content

SMS. You can create personalized email messages just as easily as emails. And since email and SMS are often used together (especially by eCommerce businesses), Insider lets you coordinate your campaigns across both channels to maximize their potential and your marketing spend.

Learn more: 8 Best email and SMS marketing software tools for both channels

Push notifications. Push notifications are a very cost-effective way to engage users as there’s no extra cost associated with sending each one (unlike email, SMS, and online ads). They can be a powerful tool for many use cases, including product discovery, cart recovery, and more. Insider supports various web and mobile app push notification types and lets you easily personalize them to each user’s preferences. Learn more: Top 12 push notification software tools for web and mobile push

Insider web push notification builder

WhatsApp. As a marketing channel, WhatsApp offers many ways to engage customers with relevant content—from personalized promo messages to real-time price drop alerts and event reminders. Insider can help you tap into WhatsApp’s full marketing potential. For example, you use WhatsApp’s new conversational commerce capability to create end-to-end buying experiences right inside the app.

Learn more: Detailed review of the 8 best WhatsApp marketing software tools

Insider WhatsApp conversational commerce flow mens shoes

Online ads. Insider’s versatile segmentation lets you create highly targeted user audiences with the help of our AI-powered intent engine. Besides using these audiences for campaigns built with Insider, you can export and use them for your Facebook, Google, and TikTok ad campaigns. For example, Pierre Cardin targeted segments created with Insider with their online ads, leading to a 445% uplift in conversions, as well as a 164.83% boost to their return on ad spend.

 Insider segment export TikTok retargeting ads

Bonus: Lower acquisition costs by personalizing the experience of anonymous visitors

Website traffic typically consists of a lot more unknown visitors than known ones. Converting as many of these visitors into leads and paying customers is essential for making the most out of your marketing spend.

However, many personalization tools need personal information like emails and phone numbers before they can start creating user profiles, crunching behavioral data, and creating tailored experiences. 

Conversely, Insider’s CDP creates profiles even for anonymous visitors, while its web push notifications and on-site personalization help you personalize their experience in real time.

Here’s how this process works:

While anonymous visitors are browsing your site, Insider collects behavioral data, including where they click, which products and price ranges they’re interested in, their last viewed items, and so on. Based on that data, our platform can start to show visitors more relevant content, messaging, and product recommendations while they’re still browsing your site or when they return to it.

But that’s not all. You can also send an exit-intent pop up to visitors so they can agree to receive notifications before leaving your site. This is a small commitment that doesn’t require any personal data, which increases the likelihood of visitors opting in.

Insider web push notifications consent

After that, you can bring them back to your site with web push notifications that are personalized based on the categories, products, price ranges, and other attributes they’ve shown interest in. This can help you drastically reduce acquisition costs (because you don’t have to use expensive retargeting ads), convert more visitors, and recover abandoned carts.

For example, Lenovo used Insider’s web push notifications to reach visitors who abandoned their cart with personalized messages. Besides getting many of them back to the site, Lenovo was able to lower cart abandonment rates by more than 10%.

Build and automate personalized, cross-channel marketing campaigns 

Insider’s cross-channel journey builder (Architect) lets you create, personalize, and automate multi-step flows and campaigns. 

For example, say you showed online ads to a specific customer segment. You can instruct Insider to send that same segment a relevant push notification and an email the next day.

Cross channel marketing automation Google Ads email web push

This is controlled through a simple drag-and-drop editor. As you can see below, the editor gives you plenty of options to trigger each campaign, including:

  • Events, like users visiting a product category, abandoning their carts, or making a repeat purchase.
  • Restockings of popular items.
  • Price drops.
  • And much more.
 Insider Architect automated journey start

Once you’ve selected how a journey should start, you can choose which segment should be included in it. Insider offers lots of variety in terms of building your segments.

For example, you can start with pre-made audiences of users who abandoned their carts (or a product page), interacted with your brand on a specific channel, and more.

Insider predefined audiences

Or, you can use our AI-powered intent engine to get targeted audiences based on their likelihood to purchase or churn, discount affinity, projected lifetime value, and interest clusters, as you can see below.

 Insider predictive audiences

You can enrich these predefined and predictive audiences with all sorts of standard characteristics—like users’ devices, locations, and demographics—to create highly targeted marketing segments for your campaigns. Architect also makes it easy to choose how each journey unfolds. For example, you can instruct our platform to wait a certain amount of time before sending a follow-up message on a specific channel.

Insider Architect channel selection

You can also easily review each campaign’s results right inside Architect. As you can see below, our platform shows you how many users entered the flow, how many of them progress through each step, and other key details for making data-driven decisions.

Insider Architect analytics

And while there are tons of capabilities you can leverage here, our platform can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

Insider offers an extensive template library with many proven cross-channel journeys. You can use these templates to kick-start your campaigns in no time, without building everything from the ground up.

Our platform also offers three key AI-powered capabilities that can save you tons of time and effort—next-best channel predictions, send-time optimization, and A/B test winner auto-selection.

Next-Best Channel Predictions

When using a bunch of different marketing channels, it can be very difficult to decide which one to employ for each user segment.

For example, say you run a discount campaign across email and SMS for customers who have a high discount affinity but it doesn’t produce the desired results. How do you proceed with so many options?With Insider’s AI-powered next-best channel predictions, that’s no longer an issue. Our platform analyzes each customer’s preferred touchpoints, behaviors, and interests and automatically sends them a message on the most appropriate channel.

Insider Architect next best channel predictions

Send-Time Optimization (STO)

Just like the previous feature, STO uses the power of AI to automate a key decision: when each campaign message should be sent. STO analyzes each customer’s behavioral patterns to determine when they’re most likely to engage with your brand and triggers each message based on that.

A/B Test Winner Auto-Selection 

Insider comes with built-in A/B testing capabilities for comparing different messages, channels, and even entire journey flows against each other. 

Thanks to our Winner Auto-Selection feature, you also don’t need to manually analyze each test’s results and adjust your journeys based on it. Instead, this feature uses machine learning algorithms to automatically determine and direct customers to the winning path variation over a specified time duration.

All you have to do is select a winning metric, which can be open rates, conversions, revenue, or anything else, and determine a calculation window after which the winning path is determined, e.g., 30, 60, or 90 days. 

This makes Winner Auto-Selection ideal for:

  • Determining the best combination of channels, content, and recommendations for achieving your business goals.
  • Improving key metrics like conversions and revenue by automatically optimizing journey flows.
  • Identifying the ideal communication frequency via the optimal wait time.

#2 Braze

Braze homepage

Braze is a customer engagement platform. While its on-site personalization capabilities are limited, you can use it to personalize the customer experience on various touchpoints, including:

  • SMS.
  • Email.
  • WhatsApp.
  • Push notifications.
  • In-app and in-browser messaging.

Braze also has various automation and analytics capabilities included in its Data & Analytics and Campaign Orchestration tools.

Note: Click here to see how Braze compares to Insider.

Learn more: Top 12 Braze competitors and alternatives for cross-channel marketing.

#3 Monetate

Monetate homepage

Monetate is a personalization platform. It offers various capabilities bundled across three products:

  • Discovery, which includes product recommendations, personalized search, and social proof.
  • Experimentation, which includes A/B testing, dynamic testing, and feature experimentation.
  • Personalization, which includes automated personalization, segmentation and targeting, audience analytics, and audience discovery.

Note: Click here to see how Monetate compares to Insider.

#4 Dynamic Yield

DynamicYield homepage

DynamicYield is a personalization software specialized in creating tailored on-site experiences. It also supports in-app, email, and online ad personalization. It can connect to various data sources—like CRMs, APIs, and point-of-sale devices—and create customer segments based on behavioral data, customer journey stages, offline purchase information, and more.

Note: Click here to see how DynamicYield compares to Insider.

#5 CleverTap

CleverTap homepage

CleverTap is an all-in-one customer engagement platform for email, SMS, WhatsApp, push notifications, in-app messaging, and web messaging. It’s traditionally been focused on mobile marketing, engagement, and personalization by helping brands target the right customers and personalize their digital experiences. It also uses AI to help build customer segments, deliver AI-generated content, and drive successful experimentation. 

Note: Click here to see how CleverTap compares to Insider.

#6 Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Salesforce marketing cloud homepage

Salesforce Marketing Cloud brings together a suite of tools for personalization, customer data aggregation, omnichannel automation, and more. It helps companies deliver relevant product recommendations and content across channels like email, SMS, push notifications, and social media with the help of AI. It also has products for different use cases compared to others in this list, like account-based marketing and loyalty management.

Note: Click here to see how Salesforce Marketing Cloud compares to Insider.

#7 Adobe Experience Cloud

Adobe Experience Cloud homepage

Adobe Experience Cloud combines various Adobe personalization and engagement products, like:

  • Adobe Target, which is a personalization engine and A/B testing software.
  • Marketo Engage, which helps with B2B and B2C marketing automation.
  • Adobe Experience Manager, which is a content and digital asset management system.
  • Adobe Campaign, which gives brands a single place to manage and automate marketing campaigns.

Note: Click here to see how Adobe Target compared to Insider and here for a comparison to Marketo Engage.

Personalize every step of your customers’ journeys with Insider

Insider is the ideal personalization engine for mid-sized and enterprise companies looking to improve acquisition costs, revenue, and retention by personalizing each touchpoint in their customers’ journeys. 

Our solution lets you:

  • Aggregate your customer data—from CRMs, CMSs, analytics tools, or any other online or offline sources—into one place.
  • Track customers’ behaviors and uncover their interests and preferred touchpoints.
  • Use our AI-powered intent engine to predict future behaviors (e.g., churn or purchase likelihood).
  • Create individualized experiences across all customer touchpoints—from your website and mobile app to channels like email, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and more.

Additionally, our versatile setup options, experienced support team, and vast template library enable you to get started and see a meaningful return on your investment as quickly as possible.

Click here to book a demo with our team and learn how Insider can help you reach your business goals


Katie is an award-winning content marketer with over seven years of experience in content strategy, development, and copywriting. As Global Content Director at Insider, she currently oversees content strategy across 26 regions. Fun fact: Katie read 64 books last year (for which she owes a long commute and two week-long holidays where she spent approximately six hours a day with her nose in a book).