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Sitecore Personalisation – What is it and how do we do it?

Sitecore Personalisation – What is it and how do we do it?
3rd September 2020
News and Insights

Find out how Sitecore Personalisation empowers businesses to implement unique digital experiences and tailor content that drives valuable results.

When you think about personalisation, it can quickly become a headache. Who are all the people your brand caters to? Teenagers, families, job seekers? What are their interests, what are they looking to find? How do each of these people interact with your brand? Is it mainly through social, or browsing the website? Each of these questions increase the complexity in accomplishing the task of personalising the website. In a world where over 75% of customers expect brands to have a personalised experience, a website can’t just show one version of itself. It can’t be all things to all people. There is more value if your website can speak directly to each of your customers.

What is Sitecore Personalisation?

Marketers are tasked with the challenge of creating websites that reach a huge range of customers. Sitecore Personalisation offers marketers unprecedented power to deliver more on-point and valuable online experiences. You create websites with the intention of reaching your brand’s audience. And whether you’re a marketer looking to understand the best tool to solve the complexity of personalisation, or you’re working with Sitecore now and are looking to better understand Sitecore Personalisation, this article aims to provide some clarity on what personalising using the platform means, and how the product does it.

What does it mean to have Sitecore Personalisation?

When companies are capable of communicating to their customers using personalisation, there’s a clear outcome of success. Netflix’s incredible success is not just attributed to a timely move to streaming services, but also to the strength of their personalisation strategy. Any user starting out with a new Netflix account experiences basic personalisation such as whether they have an adult account or a child account, then based on geography – what films and shows rank best in their country. As a user continues to use the service, the recommendations become more specific and unique to that user. Netflix recently discussed its learning algorithm, and what they know you like, not what you say you like through thumbs up, is how they best refine their recommendations to you. They know your implicit tastes based on your viewing habits (binge-watching, when you last watched, where and how long for etc) and ignore your external ones (giving titles a thumbs up, adding them to your lists).  Netflix knows the real you. It’s like the bookshelf in your living room that you only pack with Penguin classics while you hide your dog-eared Dan Brown under your bed. They’ll even suggest programmes at night that you haven’t finished because they know it’s late and you don’t have time to get into a long movie.

The result is almost a never-ending stream of possibilities that encourages more and more watching.

This is the type of experience brands need to emulate – where the goal is each individual user being shown individualised recommended products on the home page, unique promotions and email marketing based on their personal preferences and online behaviours. This is what it means to add a layer of personalising content on a website.

Using Sitecore Personalisation, marketers can quickly and easily set up pages to deliver unique content, creating a more valuable experience to each individual visitor. Each visit gives brands the advantage of building relationships with these customers. By building relationships, visitors return. People seek out the brands that are the best at giving them what they want quickly and effortlessly, whether they’re conscious of wanting it or not.

How does Sitecore tackle personalisation?

As a Digital Experience Platform, Sitecore provides all the necessary tools for businesses to deliver enterprise solutions that cater to the many needs of their customers. This resolves the issue of building a basic website that attempts to cater to everyone in one strategy. In reality, you need something that can deliver to every demographic in a smarter way. The additional power of flexibility from Sitecore, where not just each page can be customised based on your visitor, but specific components can be personalised, means there’s an exponential number of combinations of personalisation that can be created.

Of course, it’s up to your marketing team to strike the right balance of personalisation. Each personalised piece of content can result in additional demand for unique assets. For example, on an events page, the image you may want to show could be young adults at the venue, versus an image of a family at the venue, depending on the customer type landing on your site. Only showing one image may discourage engagement from the other type of visitor profile. This is exactly the challenge Sitecore personalisation solves. With the pressure for content to drive personalisation, there’s added consideration of how you might manage your digital assets. Content creation can be a headache, but with a planned digital asset management strategy and tool such as Sitecore DAM, this can be mastered.

The basics to Sitecore Personalisation

Sitecore Personalisation works by remembering visitors and what they do, and specifically how they interact with the website. Using this information, marketers can build up profile data points, which allows them to deliver higher value content specific to their visitor.

Marketers set profile values to a visitor, which allows the personalisation to be configured. Certain clicks and actions on a website give the visitor a set number of points, which then fall within a defined range by the marketer. Then content can be personalised based on the defined range in which the visitor profile falls within. As the visitor continues to navigate the website, Sitecore Personalisation tracks the profile value and only shows the content that has been specifically created for that visitor profile.

Think of it like a coin sorter: a certain sized coin would fall into the designated area, there’s a certain threshold the coin will need to pass in order to be accurately identified. As visitors navigate the website, more data points are gathered such as where they navigate into the website. Perhaps they’re searching for a job, which gives them a basic profile as a career seeker. As the job seeker filters down to a particular location, this identifies the data of geographical locations to the marketer. Finally, job types are reviewed by the visitor allowing marketers to understand the experience level, the types of job function and which job is being applied for. All of these data points can help shape the personalisation journey on the website. When that visitor returns to that website, they can be immediately shown a banner that shares more job roles that have opened up in their location, or similar job roles that have opened in other locations. This experience enhances the chance of success with the user’s journey.

Levelling up in personalisation capabilities

Now that the basics to Sitecore Personalisation have been covered, it’s important to also present the additional techniques that are available to marketers.

We can’t expect our marketers to fully understand the various profiles of their audience on the first attempt. Consumer needs and interest points are constantly changing and marketers are constantly working with a moving target.

Because of this, an iterative approach to personalisation is incredibly useful. Iteration and flexibility are two of the many reasons Sitecore Personalisation is one of the best tools in a marketer’s toolbox. Specifically, Sitecore’s A/B Testing ability. Rather than sticking to one version of personalised content, marketers are able to test personalised content strategies. Content creators can create two versions of content and marketers can use Sitecore’s A/B test to verify which piece of content attracts better engagement from visitors. The A/B test is the next step in advancing from the basic personalisation principals.

Another stream of testing is Multivariate testing or M/V testing. This follows the same logic as A/B testing, but rather personalising on the component, M/V testing is personalising on multiple variations of components that compose the page. In terms of complexity, this is the stage marketers can work towards when setting personalisation hypothesis and validating based on actual visitor engagement data.

Setting up Sitecore Personalisation is tricky and takes time, but getting this right opens many doors. The brand experience improves, customer satisfaction increases, and ease of use for marketers matures. Up until this point, personalisation has been a manual process, one that takes time in terms of configuring and defining. However, with a solid foundation in defining the personalisation characteristics, AI can be introduced to analyse the customer interaction data points. This can become quite a useful tool to marketers in removing a number of more tedious tasks. It’s all a matter of setting up the foundation for strong personalisation strategies.

It’s easy to get lost in the complexities that come with Sitecore Personalisation and not knowing where to start – especially with the pressure of meeting personalised experience expectations from customers and stakeholders alike.

So, what can Kagool do for marketers?

Finding the right digital partner is vital to great enterprise website design. At Kagool, we’re all about Sitecore. We’re a Platinum Sitecore Partner and we’re the biggest UK partner to be exclusively Sitecore, with over 30 Sitecore clients that all have personalisation as a key business strategy.

We’re not just great developers. We’ve got digital marketers, copywriters and SEO experts all in-house. We understand the power Sitecore Personalisation gives to marketers and we want you to get your hands on it.

Want to know more about Sitecore? Get a Sitecore demo or find out about Sitecore pricing, contact us. We’d love to hear from you.