We all know that personalization works. Based on research, personalizing a digital interaction drives conversions up as much as 19% and in my experience often much higher than that. The business benefits to personalization are numerous.

But what I also know is that many brands struggle to deliver personalized experiences at scale. In fact, 69% of the respondents who took our Sitecore® Customer Experience Maturity Model assessment indicate they’re not doing personalization at all. They’re showing the same experiences to all their customers, not considering if they are a prospect, an existing customer, a partner, an employee, someone looking for a job, or a visitor just researching a product.

This blog post is for them, and any other company that would like to get started with personalization.

Automated personalization

Our assessment tool shows that, across all industries, 31% of those who took the assessment are using simple rules-based personalization, 16% are using algorithm-based personalization, and 7% are all-in with automated personalization driven by machine learning.

Automated personalization is still early days for many – but will move fast over the next couple of years, as machine learning becomes a natural and integrated part of the marketing technology stack.

Getting started with personalization requires a sharp focus on the customer as well as on the people, processes, and technologies needed to support it. As you scale beyond delivering just a few personalized experiences, it’s important to put the right data foundation in place. You’ll also need this data foundation to get the most out of machine learning (because when you put great data in, you get great insights and experiences out).

Personalization checklist

What else will you need? I’ve assembled a checklist for delivering personalized customer experiences:

  1. Assess your current CX state to understand which gaps and strengths you have, and then use that to build a CX roadmap
  2. Align KPIs for CX initiatives to strategic objectives, so you are able to showcase impact that the organization can understand and get behind
  3. Get your executives excited, involved, and committed to supporting your efforts and the business benefits they’ll realize
  4. Get the right resources in place – if you don’t have them on your payroll, use outside agencies or tech partners and identify a CX owner or champion, who will fight (passionately) on behalf of your customers to improve their experiences
  5. Launch fast – focus on harvesting the quick wins and use that to advocate the business case internally (and why you need to do more, across departments, and faster)
  6. Customer delight is all about going beyond what your customers expect. Identify your potential moments of delight, where can you differentiate?
  7. Customer experiences are real-time. The better connected your customer data is across your systems and with channel execution, the more power you have to deliver personalized experiences based on in-the-moment intent and triggers
  8. CX and personalization are not “projects”—they’re long-term programs. Think about how to make sure you continue the efforts after initial launch
  9. Get started and get started now – the future of business is not business as usual. Learning and experience is what will help you scale and extend the CX effort
  10. Machine learning will help automate and scale customer experiences. Invest time in understanding machine learning and data – so you are better positioned to connect the dots


In our upcoming Sitecore Digital Destiny Tour 2018, we’ll focus on what different organizations have done to create best-in-class personalized customer experiences as well as give you more tips and insights to help you get started.

Lars Birkholm Petersen is Sitecore’s Vice President of Business Optimization. Follow him @Larksbirkholm