Simply put, the Microsoft Partner Network is massive. It consists of 400,000 partners in more than 100 markets across 11 languages. The website sees 6.6 million unique visitors a year, and those visitors rack up 56 million page views.

As you might imagine, being able to personalize the partner network website to serve up the right content to each of these visitors is a must. In a breakout session titled, “How Sitecore powers Microsoft’s ambition to enable digital transformation for its partners” at Sitecore Symposium 2019, Nicol Chadek, Director of Digital Marketing Operations at Microsoft, explained how Sitecore XP and Sitecore Content Hub create personalized journeys for visitors.

The Microsoft Partner Network website offers a series of products and services that are aligned to both industries and roles. The goal of the website is to offer information to help visitors determine what programs are going to have the most benefit for your business, like go-to-market materials that are available for download.

With 30% of the overall audience being authenticated, it means they have an explicit profile. Through that membership, Microsoft knows what tier they’re in and has a very good idea what that partner is trying to achieve.

But that still leaves 70% as an unknown. This is where Sitecore really allows Microsoft to close the knowledge and experience gap, providing the most relevant real-time moments in their digital journey, serving up the right content at the right time through personalization.

Nicol explained that her digital team has one group of people that is responsible for day-to-day operations, getting content on the web, and creating emails locally in as many versions as possible, as fast as possible, without compromising on quality. No easy task.

As a centralized marketing organization, most of the content comes through a Center of Excellence, which includes Field Content as well as Corporate content. About 80% of the content they deliver is corporate-driven, meaning it goes worldwide, while the remaining 20% is available at the local market level.

There are three main strategic elements to the MPN site:

  • Operational efficiency – it provides self-service and agile publishing options; it’s centralized to allow for local or corporate requests; and it’s integrated with a publishing and localization workflow
  • Marketing innovation – the content is targeted and personalized; the team can conduct A/B and multivariate testing; and engagement plans and nurture streams via email can be built
  • Platform capabilities – partner with the Development team that operates a world-class version of Sitecore on Azure that follows all Microsoft.com brand standards, is compliant and responsive to all form factors

As part of its best-of-breed technology stack, Microsoft added Stylelabs (which is now Sitecore Content Hub) seven years ago to manage its digital assets. Today, as part of the MPN offer environment, a marketer can come in and upload an asset, take the asset, load images, customize the metadata, and if it’s a strategic asset, Microsoft overlay a governance pass so they can QA the tagging and make sure it’s contributing to the experience.

For those marketers looking for a quick turnaround, Microsoft has engineered a query system between Sitecore and Content Hub that typically runs about once per hour, but it can be pushed when requested, so it’s a near real-time service. For those looking for self-service functionality and want to get their assets on the web, Microsoft can give the OK within an hour from someone on Nicol’s team.

She then provided an example of how a profile can be built from an unknown visitor to the MPN, which as she mentioned earlier represents 70% of their traffic. After coming to the homepage, they are served up the default content that has been strategically outlined by the Microsoft team. Integrated Software Vendors (ISVs) are a focus, so that aspect of the page is highlighted. So in this example, they click on a video about ISVs. Once they have interacted with an asset, and in this instance has been tagged with ISV, they have contributed to a pattern match and a behavioral profile has been started.

As mentioned in Mark Frost’s opening keynote, Sitecore AI was developed in partnership with Microsoft and they are also our first customer.

“Auto-personalization will be on (the Microsoft Partner Network) and it will really be the way we can scale the operations and production of this, as well as have it contribute to a broader set of dynamic profiles,” Chadek said.

How to do this right

To be successful, as Chadek shared, you have to fully follow through on the execution and implementation. It takes a lot of hard work, discipline, and subject matter expertise. The most important thing you can have is your leadership team aligned around your key objectives and outcomes. For ISVs, that translates into having as many transacting apps as possible in the marketplace because it provides a quantifiable number that can be measured.

Everyone here at Sitecore is very excited about the integration of Sitecore AI into the Microsoft Partner Network and getting feedback on how auto-personalization is powering their content to meet the needs of their visitors while meeting, or exceeding, their business goals.

Zarnaz Arlia is the Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Sitecore. Find her on LinkedIn