Like many of our customers, Sitecore is in the middle of our transition to composable, and during Sitecore Symposium 2022 the DX team shared what that looks like for us. Derek Hunziker, Jacqueline Baxter, and Megan Engard discussed the introduction of CDP/Personalize on top of the sitecore.com website.
The key brand website, sitecore.com, is built on Sitecore Experience Platform (XP). As part of our roadmap to composable, we are constantly evaluating our tech stack to be sure we are using best-in-class tools that suit our users and build toward a better customer experience. We’re also invested in making sitecore.com a usable case study for our own products where and when it makes sense to do so. These were both considered when we implemented Sitecore Search and added CDP & Personalize to our martech stack earlier this year.
The use of CDP/Personalize is a critical step in our eventual move to XM Cloud; it expands our ability to personalize across channels and across pages on the sitecore.com site and allows us to be more mature in our decisioning by bringing together multiple databases into one central repository.
There are strategic and technical considerations when introducing CDP/Personalize to any implementation, and we’ve learned a lot during this process.
1) Getting the right team
You need to decide who is going to be responsible for running this initiative and utilizing the tool. It is very possible to do this with a small team; a larger team might mean you reach your goals faster, but the team doesn’t need to be large, experienced, or dedicated to CDP full-time to achieve amazing results.
2) Align CDP/Personalize with your existing strategies
Think about how this tool can help solve your customers' problems, and how it can help your brand build relationships with them. With any type of personalization, you should think about where the message or tactic appears in the customer journey and whether it will offer them something helpful and necessary. Aim for eye-catching, rather than overwhelming.
3) Consider the available real estate
No one wants to turn their website into a flashing wilderness of pop-ups, not least because customers do not respond well to that. Since the first phase of any CDP/Personalize project will involve pop-ups of some sort, it’s important to think about the must-haves vs. the nice-to-haves and have a clear understanding of how those components operate. There is only so much space on any given screen. If your brand has a cookie consent form (as it should) and a chatbot or digital assistant, half of your screen is gone before you’ve introduced any personalization.
There are important questions to ask when considering where the personalization should appear:
- Timing becomes critical - is your cookie consent perpetual?
- Under what conditions does your chatbot appear?
- Do you want to run multiple global campaigns at once using CDP, and if so, how will the audiences for those campaigns intersect?
Advance consideration and careful design can help ensure the success of your tactics and prove the ROI of the tool. We recommend making good use of delays and keeping a clear, central record of what experience each segment will be exposed to.
4) Avoid data hoarding
It’s easy to say that you should use your data, but many of us are guilty of data hoarding. Data is the engine that powers personalization, so you’ll need to organize, integrate, and action your data to get the maximum value out of your strategy and the tool. Make sure your wider team not only has access to your data, but knows how to understand and use it – data that sits around is no use to anyone.
1) As a starting point, there are four key questions to ask yourself when implementing CDP/Personalize:
- What do you want to show?
- To whom do you want to show it?
- When do you want to show it?
- What data will you need to make it happen?
2) Next, you’ll need to decide how to collect the necessary data to make your experience happen.
There are three primary ways for obtaining data:
- REST API, for more granular control as well as server-to-server communication
- Batch, for ingesting large amounts of data at once, or on a schedule.
3) Finally, you’ve got some choices on how to target the appropriate audience.
If you’re familiar with Personalization in Sitecore XP, then Page and Audience targeting will feel familiar. Decisioning is where the true power of CDP and Personalize lies but requires more effort to set up. We use a decision model on Sitecore.com to manage multiple site-wide experiences.
During this learning process, we’ve realized a few things are key to making sure you’re set up to scale across a global business.
1) Start small
We began with a demo at Symposium World Tour to test the functionality and understand what kind of lift each tactic would require. Our second step was to run promotions for an upcoming webinar in the Asia Pacific region, and we have continued a slow but steady roll-out since. Our recommendation here is to start with a small and straightforward use case for stakeholders or teams you know well. Check-in consistently during this phase to get feedback on what worked, what didn’t, and what improvements need to be made before you scale its use further.
2) Create a clear briefing process
We quickly found ourselves fielding emails and last-minute requests. It’s critical to identify where are you going to collect requests, who will manage the queue, how much time is needed to launch an experience, and what information you’ll need from stakeholders. Where possible, we recommend creating a library of components for teams to choose from, so you aren’t designing from scratch each time. And remember, personalization is often a discussion, so leave room for that in your briefing timelines.
3) Determine how you are going to set priorities
This will vary based on your business, but you need a process for deciding which tactics take precedence. If, for example, you get two requests for personalization that conflict with or target the same group, what factors will you use to set a priority level? Business objectives can serve as a useful north star here, but each company will have a different focus.
4) Create use cases that can be shared internally to expand to new teams when you are ready
This includes objectives, results, and previews of the personalization components. In our experience, being able to evangelise a platform by having these kinds of concrete examples to show your broader teams is crucial for success and for achieving return on investment. Some people can work with a hypothetical but many need real use cases to imagine how they too can benefit from the platform. So keep notes, and be ready to share when you're ready to scale.
There are many things to think about when adding CDP & Personalize to an XP implementation, but at the core, the question should always be ‘will this benefit the brand and its customers?’ CDP & Personalize are tools like any other, and the strategic approach, technical implementation and continual analysis of tactics will enable you to see maximum ROI while simultaneously creating a superior experience for your customers.