Sitecore’s powerful profiling capabilities are a great way to gain valuable insight on your site’s visitors and offer them relevant, personalized experiences. If this is a new idea for you, you can read our profiling guide for a general overview of how profiling works, including the key terms involved. If (when) you’re familiar with the concept, this blog is for you. Before actually creating your profiles, make sure you understand and follow these best practices. They’ll ensure your set-up process is optimized for success.
Setting up profiles: Consider your future personalization scenarios
Often the most time-consuming part of setting up profiles is assigning profile cards to your content. We will discuss some time-saving tips for that below, but before you even begin the process, you should consider how your profile set-up will contribute to your potential future personalization scenarios. Identifying not only your current profiling needs but also how your personalization efforts might evolve in the future will save you lots of time in the long run. You have to go through all your relevant content to assign profile cards anyways. You might as well take this opportunity to future-proof your profiles.
Rather than creating and assigning only the profile cards you currently need to get your personalization underway, consider developing a more exhaustive set of profile cards for your pages. For example, here at Sitecore we create a lot of personalization around our targeted personas. However, instead of just developing a profile card for each of them, we created cards for the personas’ primary attributes. This allowed us to personalize for our current target audiences while leaving room for new personas based on these attributes. While we can immediately derive insights from traffic patterns, we won’t need to double back later to add new cards, saving our future selves loads of time. Using this approach, you’ll be better prepared to develop a wider range of personalization scenarios in the future.
Creating your cards
Now you’re ready to create your cards. Here are some strategies to ensure you’re using them in the way that works best for your site visitors and content.
Determine the best content application option for your profile cards
Depending on the type and distribution of the profile cards you want to build out, you will need to choose the right option for how they will be applied to your content. The Authoring Selection field on a profile card folder item allows you to pick from the following three options:
- Single – This selection allows only one profile card to be assigned to any item. Select this for cards that are mutually exclusive.
- Multiple – This selection allows multiple profile cards to be assigned to any item, causing the profile values to divide evenly among the cards. Select this for cards describing an entire content item, rather than specific topics that might be mentioned.
- Multiple with Percentages – This selection allows multiple profile cards with adjustable percentages to be assigned to any item. Select this for cards that may describe an entire item or only parts of it, in which case the profile value percentages need to be entered manually for each item.
The more complex Authoring Selection option you choose, the more possibilities you will have for categorizing your content for personalization. More complexity also means more time for set-up, so making the right selection at the beginning is essential. Also if you decide to assign multiple profile cards per page, make sure not to apply too many to a single item because they will begin to cancel each other out. Focus on those pages that correlate strongly with one or two profile cards and skip over the more general pages that could apply to all of them.
Add icons to your profile cards and pattern cards
One simple tip can make managing your profiled content easier — using icons for your profile cards and pattern cards. Simply create and upload a basic image representing each card. You’ll then be able to quickly identify which profile cards are assigned to a specific page through the Content Editor or which pattern cards have been matched to a specific profile through the Experience Profile. You might even consider color-coding your icons to organize your cards by category.
Applying cards to content
If you have a large website, this part can seem like a daunting task. Here are strategies to allow you to get over the hurdle and on your way.
Use search operations to apply profile cards in bulk
Assigning profile cards to each page individually can be quite time-consuming depending on the volume of your content. Using search operations can be an easy way to quicken the set-up process. The search function in the content editor can yield a list of items based on a variety of criteria, including:
- The template used for an item
- Any tags associated with an item
- The content’s author
- Various field values
- The item version and language
You can also search within a specific folder to generate even more precise results. You can then use the search operations to apply profile scores to all the items in the search results. This way, you’re assigning profile cards to all that content at once. This will save you a lot of time in setting up your profiles, especially if your content is already systemized in some form, such as through your tagging strategy or the organization of your content folders.
Side note: Since profile cards are assigned to page items, not versions, you can limit your search results just to your site’s primary language. The search operation will still apply the profile cards across the board, regardless of the language version.
Start with applying profile cards to your top pages
If you have a large volume and variety of content on your site, applying profile cards can be a very lengthy process. This can seem like a huge bottleneck to advancing through your personalization roadmap. In these situations, prioritization is key. Focus first on the top-visited and top-performing pages across your site. This will open the door to implementing personalized experiences that will trigger properly for most of your visitors, even while you’re still applying profile cards to the rest of your pages.
When it comes to Sitecore.com, we have a large number of customer success stories (i.e. case studies). We decided to prioritize adding profile cards to not just our most visited case studies, but also to those that best fit with our targeted personas and exemplify the product features we want to highlight most.
For your site, you’ll want to determine which pages will be the most valuable for your purposes and begin your profiling efforts there. This will allow you to continue making good progress and push past personalization paralysis.
The Sitecore Experience Platform offers powerful tools beyond profile cards to support personalization. You can investigate more in our Knowledge Center, starting with, “Planning and designing for personalization.”
Ari Aisen is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Sitecore. Find him on LinkedIn.