Hyper personalisation

Hyper personalisation
31st March 2020

What is hyper personalisation and why do marketers need to know about it? Find out how organisations can use hyper personalisation with Sitecore.

Hyper personalisation improves on traditional website personalisation techniques. Combined with the latest versions of Sitecore. It leverages artificial intelligence to take your organisation’s digital marketing strategy to the next level.

What is hyper personalisation?

To understand hyper personalisation, we have to think about our existing understanding of personalisation. Typically, web personalisation aims to provide users with more relevant content based on one or more targeting factors such as:

  • Their geographic location.
  • The site that referred them.
  • Their user profile preferences.
  • Their browsing behaviour.

These criteria allow us to select from several pieces of prepared content and ensure the user only sees what is most appropriate for them. It’s a tried and tested approach that yields impressive results on thousands of websites around the world.

However, there are shortcomings with this form of personalisation. The targeting criteria are very limiting because they essentially reduce a user to a stereotype. For example, you might live in London, and personalising content based on this information assumes that you are the same as everyone else that lives in that city. Rest assured, organisation’s that use advanced personalisation techniques know that you and your neighbours are different people. Treating people as members of a homogenous “London” segment is useful for simple user cases, like a localised sales promotion, but it offers little depth in terms of understanding website visitors as individuals. So, should this be described as “personalisation” at all?

The goal of hyper-personalisation is to stop marketing teams from pigeon-holing users with such restrictive segmentation. It has emerged as a direct response to an increasingly tech-savvy population that demand to be recognised as unique individuals, with their own objectives and interests.

How does hyper personalisation work?

Hyper personalisation arises through the use of big data and machine learning. Lots and lots of data. Machine learning software analyses huge volumes of data to identify patterns hidden within it. Just as a child learns about the world, the machine is provided with examples of historical user experiences and told which ones are considered “good” and which are considered “bad”.

Given enough data, the machine will eventually begin to understand the patterns that make a good user experience. It can then use that understanding to customise the experiences of new customers.

The machine works with raw data, so it isn’t swayed by prior knowledge of pre-determined market segments. Whereas humans might be blinkered by the need to produce segment focused marketing campaigns, the machine can look at the behaviour of individuals, often gaining deeper insight than we could hope to do ourselves.

Sitecore’s use of hyper personalisation

Sitecore Cortex is a machine learning capability baked right into the latest versions of Sitecore Experience Platform (XP). It has massive implications for the way marketing teams form personalisation and A/B testing strategies.

Since the introduction of Sitecore xDB in version 7, the Sitecore platform has been collecting huge amounts of data about each user session. In addition to recording the basics, like their path through the site and their duration on each page, it also collects more business specific data like the goals they triggered and behavioural profiling information. Cortex is the engine that allows Sitecore to leverage all that collected data and gives marketers true insight in to both their customers and their content.

Sitecore personalisation is relatively straight forward. You produce several pieces of content targeted at different audiences, and then you assemble one or more rules that allow Sitecore to decide which content to serve up to the user. A rule is made up of a “condition” and an “action” and might look something like this:

“where the current contact matches the Cyclist pattern card in the Hobbies profile, show Bicycle Promotion

 This easy-to-use functionality has been available to Sitecore customers for many years and is one of the key features that attracts businesses wanting to boost the performance of their websites.

Cortex builds on this to offer even greater benefits to marketers. Rather than relying on the user to devise and build personalisation rules, Cortex makes suggestions for Sitecore personalisation rules that could result in improved customer experiences and better conversion. These suggestions are the result of deep analysis of the data collected within the system, so they might produce options that wouldn’t be obvious to the marketer. Alternatively, they might reinforce what the marketer had already planned, giving them confidence that they’re on the right track.

Hyper personalisation is better for customers and marketers

The rise of hyper personalisation and its implementation in Sitecore through Cortex are a welcomed leap forward in the martech industry. Customers are finally able to get the bespoke service they want, resulting in a more enjoyable experience and a better opinion of the business.

Meanwhile, marketers have unprecedented insights into their customers’ needs and objectives, as well as a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of the content they produce. A digital marketer using Sitecore can now work with confidence, armed with tools that would be unimaginable without the power of data-driven machine learning.

Hyper personalisation can be considered the first true form of personalisation the industry has seen, and it’s producing positive outcomes for all involved.

How effective is your organisation’s personalisation?

Understanding the needs of your customers on an individual level doesn’t need to be an overwhelming task. Kagool is a Sitecore Platinum Partner agency that’s made up of a team of talented developers, designers and digital marketers. We have been helping enterprise level organisation achieve their digital goals for over 20 years. If you’d like to explore how your organisation could be getting the most from Sitecore and delivering truly personalised experiences, contact us and we’d be pleased to help. Alternatively, book a Sitecore audit to uncover how to get more from your existing investment.