Profiling in Sitecore may be one of the most powerful aspects of the experience platform. The ability to predict a visitor’s ‘persona’ through on site behavior represents a huge opportunity for businesses to both provide customers with what they may want, i.e. real time customer service, as well as drive those customers to conversion points.

Like many things with great power, though, there is also great complexity. Profiling is pretty simple, yet it can get really complex. At the core though, marketers can use simple profiling to create huge impact for their website. The first issue I see when discussing profiling within Sitecore is confusion with the naming conventions, so I’m going to easily explain them below.

The Sitecore profiling terms we’ll go over are:

  • Profile
  • Profile Keys
  • Profile Cards
  • Visitor Profile
  • Pattern Cards
  • Persona Cards

First, there is a Profile. Located in the Marketing Control Panel, Profiles represent the relationship by which a company categorizes visitors. By this I mean, what is the relationship you have with the customer? Is it the activity or product the customer wants, is it the department of the organization with which the customer interacts or is it even the amount of money they are willing to pay? A Profile in Sitecore simply represents this relationship, all the good stuff happens here.

NOTE:  It’s critically important to remember humans don’t fit into just one box. It’s silly for us marketers to make strategies saying “all my visitors fit into these boxes”. Creating strategies based on this type of methodology will have you looking for a new job real quick. ;) Sitecore lets you create several profiles and your visitors can play within any or all of the profiles.

Second, we have Profile Keys. Profile Keys live beneath Profiles and are the attributes which make up a Profile. Let’s say your Profile was ‘sports’ and you measure the type of sports by the activity the user is doing. In this case you may have Profile Keys such as Aerobic, Strength, Contact, Digital. Based on a combination of these 4 keys you may be able to determine which range of sports a visitor is interested in.

Third, we have Profile Cards. A Profile Card is what gets assigned to your content; it represents the interest of the customer or the purpose of the content. Made up of the Profile Keys, Profile Cards get triggered by visitors when reading content and the right combination of Profile Cards will tell us who the visitor is. Using the Sports example, you might have 4 profile cards that exactly mirror your Profile Keys; Aerobic, Strength, Contact, Digital. These cards represent your content so when creating content on Contact sports or Aerobic sports you assign the Cards appropriately.

A Visitor Profile (the xProfile) is where the magic happens. This is where all the interactions and behavioral data for someone on the website is stored. When traversing your site, every interaction is stored in the xProfile, the pages viewed (Profile Cards triggered) and in so the profile score is what represents the actual nature of your visitor as it relates to your content. If your content is truly good, then this should also represent the relationship with your business.

Now we can talk about the people who support our business. This is represented by Pattern Cards. Made up of Profile Keys, Pattern Cards represent your customers.  The profile score (that we spoke about in the xProfile above - it is also made up of Profile Keys) close matches one of your Patterns. This is how we identify a visitor in our relationship. Using the Sports example again, we may have three Patterns Cards of Soccer, Triathlon, Madden (yes, the video game). A person’s xProfile profile score is matched to the closest Pattern Card score.

Lastly, we have Persona Cards. Quite frankly I have no idea what they do. Kidding… sort of. Persona cards are very similar to Profile Cards (they get assigned to content and are triggered when a person views your content) but they represent people and not intent. Extremely targeted content for a type of visitor is where Persona cards really come into play. However, if you have a great implementation of Persona Cards hit me up; I’d love to chat about it!!