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Sitecore June 03, 2020

5 tips for setting up personalization in Sitecore Experience Platform


Dept’s Head of UX & Insights, Kyle Cassidy, recently delivered a webinar for Sitecore on setting up personalization in the Sitecore Experience Platform. Below are the five key takeaways from Kyle’s insight to help you get started with delivering successful personalization campaigns. 

It’s widely known that intelligent, data-led personalization strategies directly correlate to an increase in transactions; it’s a marketing concept that’s been proven time and time again. Helping people find what they want quickly, based on their interests and past behavior, makes them more likely to buy. Personalization has been top of mind for marketers for years, yet many brands haven’t perfected the art and continue to fall short with execution. 

Gaining a deeper understanding of your customers and how they use your website is invaluable, and there is no better way to go about it than with the Sitecore Experience Platform. It provides an excellent platform to quickly get up and running with personalization and achieve the results you’re after. The platform enables content editors to create quick personalization rules using the Sitecore Rule Set Editor. Here are five helpful tips to get the most out of it:

1. Always start with goals 

The first step in your personalization journey is setting up goals and engagement values.  This is how Sitecore will measure the success of your personalization activity. Without setting these benchmarks, you’re going in blind. To understand the performance of your personalization test, you’ll either be looking at the number of goals triggered and/or engagement value accumulated. 

  • Goals should be created for interactions that either demonstrate intent or create business value. For B2B this may include a demo request, price calculation, account registration, or survey completion. B2C businesses may set goals for email sign-up, competition entry, brochure download, or configure a product. 
  • Engagement Value (EV) is a Sitecore term used to measure a user’s level of engagement or commitment. From comparing the goals above, you’ll notice not all share the same value to your business. For example, ‘request a quote’ is likely to be more valuable than a ‘newsletter sign-up’.  Give each goal a score in multiples of 5 or 10 on a sliding scale of 0-100, as demonstrated on the Sitecore Engagement Pyramid:

2. Rule-based or Adaptive approach?

There are two approaches to personalization in Sitecore: rule-based and adaptive. If you’re just starting out and want to get set up and moving quickly, rule-based is the best technique. Adaptive is a more effective long-term solution but takes more time to plan and execute in the background.

Rule-based personalization uses ‘if this, then that‘ rules. When the criteria for the rule is met, the result is actioned. For example, if a product launch email campaign gets triggered as a user enters the website, the product launch carousel gets displayed. Whereas, a user visiting the website through organic search will have a standard carousel displayed. The Sitecore Rule Set Editor is a powerful tool with dozens of pre-set options that allow marketers to personalize what content their users see based filters such as the day of the week or location.

In adaptive personalization, the rule is triggered when a user’s behavior matches them to a certain pattern. All users engage with content that’s been tagged in the background, Sitecore learns what type of persona they are most suited to, based on the measurement criteria. Subsequently, Sitecore feeds the user personalized content and continues to adapt as needs evolve. This personalized technique requires marketers or strategies to tell Sitecore what the different personas look like. 

3. Understand users first 

Start to build personas by breaking down audience motivations and goals. If you’ve done customer research in the past, dig out those documents to use as a vantage point. Here are two examples of user personas for a Wifi provider that you may like to recreate for your business:


The Sitecore Experience Profile matches users to personas based on their website activity, allowing marketers to understand behavioral patterns and how to meet their users’ needs. 

In adaptive personalization with Sitecore, there are opportunities to advance this concept and create personas that stick with users across multiple visits to the website, instead of resetting after each session. This enables the platform to further enhance the customer experience by evolving with the users’ behaviors as they change. For example, if they’ve previously purchased an item and have come back looking for support guides or upgrades, you’re able to make that information readily available.

4. Create a Plan of Attack 

The first step to personalization is defining goals. If you don’t already have a clear picture of what your goals are, we recommend hosting an internal workshop and figure them out. Gather a cross-functional team of representatives from influential parts of the business to express their opinions about what is important for the website, and develop an overall consensus about how high certain interactions should rank. 

This exercise should take roughly two hours.  With these stakeholders in the room, you can continue on with a persona workshop to identify different audience types; why these people would come to the website, and how personalization can help them along their buying journey.

With this information, plan how to segment these different profiles in order to drive personalization. In Sitecore, adaptive personalization is activated through tagging content. Map out your plan in spreadsheets and then move onto Sitecore to implement. You’ll impulsively want to tag a lot of content, but it’s best to only tag the content that will give you immediate value. Start small and expand out, allowing you to move quickly whilst testing, learning, and improving. Act strategically and introduce a phased approach to expanding personalization. 

5.Test Using Sitecore Experience Explorer 

Don’t be afraid to trial and trial again. With the out-of-the-box tool Sitecore Experience Explorer, you can test anything before going live. The tool allows you to interact with the website in different ways so you’re able to check what Sitecore picks up along the way and make tweaks to tags, user journeys, or profiles before launching.

Dept can help

Through uniting creativity, technology, and data, Dept builds superior digital experiences. Using Sitecore, we have helped our clients increase their product CTR by over 200% in recent months, and are happy to share our techniques with you.

Questions? We're here to help!


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