A personalized customer experience starts with an approach anchored in targeting customer segments and guiding them through relevant customer journeys. What distinguishes the pacesetters is their ability to prioritize which customer segments are the strategic drivers of the business, craft experiences tailored for these segments, and align content to the decision stages in their priority segments’ journeys. With the following methodology, any organization can achieve a pacesetter advantage.

Identify your most important customer types

All customers are not the same. Customers are classified into groups. Some groups are more important to your business than others. The question is how to accurately select, segment, and prioritize these customer groups.

A segment is a group of visitors who share similar characteristics and have been determined to benefit from the same experience. Segments can be defined by, for example:

  • Audience types
  • Stage in journey
  • Product/Service categories
  • Industries
  • Personas

In Sitecore, you can use explicit customer data to target specific content to specific groups of visitors, providing a more relevant, personalized experience.

To prioritize customer segments and focus initial personalization efforts on your most valuable visitors, use the PIE criteria. PIE stands for Potential, Importance, and Ease.

  • Potential is both the potential to increase visitor engagement by personalizing the experience, and the potential ROI of doing so.
  • Importance is the number of contacts in the segment.
  • Ease is how easily you can identify a visitor as belonging to a certain segment.

We recommend that you start with segments that have the most potential (business value) and importance (size); then you can move on to focus on those that have lower importance but high potential (business value).

Map your customers’ journeys

A customer journey is the complete series of experiences that customers go through during their lifecycle and includes all of their interactions with your brand and organization. Today, customers are in control and progress through their engagement with your brand on their own terms; however, there are similarities in how segments engage through their journey.

It’s important to understand each stage of the customer journey so you can evaluate whether you engage with them in the right channel for that stage, with the right message and content.

How should you map your customer segments’ journeys? Create a cross-organizational team of people representing the touchpoints between your customers and your brand. Run an exercise where the team uses sticky notes to map and detail the following for each identified segment:

  1. Steps in the customer journey
  2. Definitions of each step in the journey
  3. Customer touchpoints for each stage
  4. Key customer activities in each step

Then, use these insights to create a table that details the following for each step in the customer segment journey:

  • Stage
  • Description of the stage
  • Touchpoints/channels of customer engagement
  • Customer activities/actions in that stage

With this clear understanding of your visitors, you are ready to create a Digital Relevancy Map for each segment.

Create a Digital Relevancy Map for each segment

A Digital Relevancy Map (DRM) is a planning framework that captures the content and functionality that’s optimal for your major segments at each stage in their journey. A DRM helps ensure you have the right content in the right channels to engage and nurture prospects or customers toward your business objectives (e.g., becoming a customer or advocate). A DRM provides a focused content guide for leveraging Sitecore’s rules-based and machine-learning predictive personalization.

Different goals have different business values — for example, watching a video is less valuable than registering for an event, or purchasing. To measure performance and evaluate the business impact of each segment and optimization tactic, Sitecore’s Goals and Engagement Value Scoring capabilities enable you to identify, rank, and assign relative values to actions taken by your customers through their customer journeys. Through Sitecore Analytics, this provides not only deep insight, but also the ability to run, test, and optimize personalization and calls to action through your visitors’ journeys.

Evaluate, match, and map your content to your DRMs

Having defined Digital Relevancy Maps as a roadmap to guide the creation of a personalized customer experience, you can now evaluate your existing content, understanding concretely if or how each asset or call to action aligns with your defined journey stages and visitor intentions. This exercise enables you to quickly spot areas requiring new targeted content, or content you no longer need to produce or maintain.

An effective way to do this is to create a “content” spreadsheet for each DRM. Create a row for each of your existing content assets. Create a column for each of the journey stages of your DRM. Refer to the goals/CTAs you defined in your DRM and refer to the content needs you outlined. For each of your current content assets, evaluate whether or not they apply or align with any of the journey stages or content needs. This will help you better use current content and understand which content assets are not relevant to your priority segments.

Create data-driven personalization strategies

To truly understand your customer base and customer needs, leveraging data is non-negotiable. Begin by collecting pertinent information such as demographics, customer behavior, and purchase history. This data forms the foundation for crafting personalized customer journeys that cater to individual needs. Implementing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is pivotal for consolidating data points and creating a comprehensive view of each customer.

Leverage automation

Use automation to streamline processes and make real-time adjustments to your marketing campaigns. Automated systems can analyze customer behavior and adjust personalized e-commerce content like product recommendations dynamically. This not only saves time but also ensures that your interactions with customers are relevant and timely, aligning with their expectations.

Send personalized email campaigns

Email marketing remains a powerful tool when employed strategically. Craft personalized email campaigns that reflect the preferences and behaviors of individual customers. Tailor content, promotions, and recommendations based on their previous interactions and purchase history. The more relevant your emails, the higher the chances of increased conversions, customer retention, and customer lifetime value.

Incorporate social media into your personalization strategy

Leverage the wealth of data available on these platforms to understand customer expectations and gather feedback. Tailor your social media marketing campaigns to align with individual preferences, creating a seamless and personalized experience across channels.

Harness the power of artificial intelligence

AI algorithms help you analyze vast amounts of data and identify patterns. These algorithms can predict customer preferences and behavior, enabling you to offer personalized recommendations in real-time. Integrating AI into your personalization strategy enhances the overall user experience and drives customer satisfaction.

Create individualized homepage experiences

When customers visit your website or mobile app, greet them with a personalized homepage experience. Showcase products or content based on their preferences, recent purchases, or browsing history. A dynamically personalized homepage captures attention and encourages further exploration.

Putting it all together

Creating personalized customer journeys requires a holistic approach that encompasses data-driven marketing strategies, automation, and a keen understanding of customer behavior. By breaking down silos, integrating various channels, and adopting AI-driven algorithms, businesses can elevate the customer experience, drive customer loyalty, and ultimately improve conversion rates.

Stay ahead of customer expectations by consistently refining and adapting your personalized strategies based on real-time data and feedback, ensuring that your brand remains a trusted partner in your customers' journeys.

With a clear understanding of who your priority segments are, the stages of their journey, their intentions, appropriate calls to action, and a mapping of relevant content, you are ready to leverage Sitecore's composable digital experience platform to deliver highly personalized and relevant experiences, with clear measures of performance and business impact, to both prospects and customers.