Sitecore Personalization

Sitecore personalization and content interact for improved customer experiences

Speak with a Hedgehog Strategist:

The Power of Sitecore Personalization

Personalization improves customer satisfaction, boosts conversion rates, advances brand awareness and enhances website metrics. By understanding how personalization and content interact, we define a path for our clients to get the most out of their web technology investments and prepare for maturity in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Personas, Profiles and Patterns

Positive customer experiences start with relevant content and seamless interactions. Providing contextual experiences that are tailored to each individual customer are absolutely necessary for modern businesses. The goal is to provide contextual information along with tailored, focused help and support along the customer journey. Providing the right information to the right person at the right time can have an extremely positive effect on customers.

Personas are the foundation to most web personalization tactics, especially in Sitecore. Recognizing the substantial value differences between visitor personas can inform landing pages and data collection practices. Profiles and patterns can be complicated to grasp and control, but they’re incredibly helpful on the journey. Visitors are real people, so it’s not possible to fit all of them into a subset of predefined boxes. Adjusting from a strategy that matches visitors to a specific pattern to a strategy that allows visitors to define their own interests and fine-tuning for that over time by measuring the rates at which patterns are matched by actual visitors is ideal. Creating a true picture of a customer base, as well as customers individually, requires patience, high attention to detail, and most importantly, flexibility. For more on this, read our post What to Think when Developing Profiles and Patterns in Sitecore.

By the Numbers
74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement.
74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement.
73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experiences more relevant
73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experiences more relevant
86% of consumers say personalization plays a role in their purchasing
86% of consumers say personalization plays a role in their purchasing

The Basics of Sitecore Personalization

There are thousands of companies using Sitecore today.  In talking to many of these companies, we’ve found a lot of confusion over how to approach Sitecore’s personalization capabilities.  Sitecore has built seven powerful and interrelated systems for improving website performance and running marketing automation.  Many users think of these as one big system, so we’ve broken Sitecore down into these separate capabilities to explain how they all work together and to help users better understand how to approach the platform. 

The Road to Personalization

Personalizing the customer experience is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. Setting up your software using customer-centric data and visitor preferences will likely lead to short term success. Long term strategies require tweaking, analysis and vigilance to produce the best results while keeping costs down. This requires vision and commitment, and the process begins with building a solid analytics foundation that can grow it into a robust and flexible program. Technology alone is not enough; the overall success of a personalization based marketing strategy relies on taking your entire digital ecosystem into account. Everything from your website to social media will be impacted by the planning, tests and execution required by the journey ahead.

  • January

    Implement a handful of entry page tactics and start testing. Get a feel for it. Ultimately you’re driving customers to conversion points so you should see some impact and results from this. Set up goals and engagement value starting just with major conversion points.

  • February

    Implement all your profiles and profile cards and patterns. You’ll want to define at least 2 profile groups, create the profile key scales for those groups, create and assign profile cards and make your patterns. You want to see who your audience is. Implement page view tactics to ascertain your most valuable pages and your most common profile types. By doing this before setting up your profiles you can test your profile tactics without the expense and wasted time of testing them later.  

  • March

    Analyze the tactics from January. Create profile personalization tactics; based on relevant pattern matches, you’re now showing your audience more relevant content. 

  • April

    Implement 2 engagement plans. Gather all the data from Q1 and build a plan around that data in Sitecore to test around and measure the results. Review and tweak the tactics from March.  

  • May

    Layer in additional tactics. As you analyze your tactics from Q1, you want to improve and refine. These refinements should be in line with your user journey; use your engagement plan from April to figure out better ways to move your audience to relevant content.

  • June

    Analyze your engagement plans for improvement. This isn’t a process that you can ‘set and forget’. This is the time to figure out whether your tactics have worked to boost engagement and conversions. If they have, great – time to step it up. If they haven’t, time to reassess.  

  • July

    It’s time to put all the pieces together. You want to expand engagement plans to align with our profiling strategy. Now that you’ve had a whole quarter to analyze the profiling data and engagement plans, it’s time to combine the two. They’re great separately, but the gold standard is these two working in concert to attract not just groups of people, but specific users.

  • August

    Time for marketing automation. Having combined profiles and engagement plans and with the analytics up and working, and with personalization tactics layered into profiles and engagement plans, you’ve got a full website strategy in place. Now it’s time to consider how the website can assist with efficiency, and the answer to that is automation.

  • September

    Take a vacation. Just kidding. Now is when you want to look at analytics to make sure that your engagement scales match the results you expect, and continue to create content for your audience.

  • October

    Analyze everything you’ve done for the first 3 quarters. Rinse, wash, repeat. Go through your profiles and patterns and analytics to begin establishing a marketing plan for next year. How can you take it up another notch? 

  • November

    Set up your plan for next year. You’ve learned what worked and what didn’t; now you throw out what didn’t work and figure how to expand and improve what did work.

  • December

    Start gearing up for next year. As you read this at the end of December 2016, you’re probably super stressed about January 2017. You want to do as much work as you can in December 2017 so you’re not as stressed about January 2018. You’ll thank us later.

Sitecore

Considered the best-of-breed in customer-experience management and automation software, Sitecore excels in flexibility, scalability, and the ability to integrate with your company’s needs easily and intuitively.

Transform how your brand interacts with prospective clients

At Hedgehog, Sitecore is firmly in our wheelhouse; we’re a Gold implementation partner with 9 MVPs on staff and a long history of creating dynamic and flexible Sitecore websites for our clients. We specialize in implementing powerful solutions at every level of complexity. Our combination of deep technical expertise and proven processes result in solutions that exceed expectations, every time.