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Planning and designing for personalization

Marketers lean on digital channels in their quest to create better customer experiences. Ready to deliver contextual and highly personalized experiences? Sitecore has you covered.

Why personalization should be at the center of your design

A recent study reported that 3 out of 4 business leaders believe that personalization is critical to success. Why? Organizations that use personalization functionalities see an average uplift in conversions of 19%. Customers visiting your website expect to be able to easily navigate to their desired product, service, or information, and the potential that a truly connected personalized user experience can generate is impactful to the business.

But that potential needs to be planned for and designed around. In a quest to deliver a fluid digital customer journey, recent trends have favored seamless site designs. While they might deliver ease of interaction for the customer, they often do not have the full functionality of digital marketing platforms like Sitecore that are geared toward personalizing and optimizing the omnichannel customer experience.

For Sitecore to craft the formula that will fuel contextual and relevant personalized experiences, it needs touchpoints that generate customer data, like demographics, user behaviors, purchase history, and actions. Your user experience (UX) designers need to keep this top of mind when designing your site.

Why designing for personalization matters

Selling a product or service in person involves an exchange of verbal and nonverbal cues between you and your customer. These cues are messages you can see, hear, assess, and respond to face-to-face and in the moment, as you guide the consumer through their buying journey.

With the proliferation of digital channels, that face-to-face relationship has been replaced by anonymity as customers now guide themselves through the research, consideration, and selection phases online.

So, where and how does personalization become part of the user journey? Your site design needs to factor in questions that need to be answered in order to identify, and then personalize, for your customer segments.

How UX helps you identify segments

Personalization strategies answers a series of questions:

  • Who are you personalizing for?
  • Why are you personalizing for them?
  • What are you going to personalize?
  • Where will the personalization be?
  • And most importantly — how will you recognize them?

UX plays a vital role in answering each of these questions within the digital channels. The components of interaction and conversion that your UX design will create are not only a way to identify the segments, but they’re also the elements that will be personalized. Your calls to action, content sections, imagery, and links can be varied to suit the journey of the visitor as they move through the site or mobile app.

Personalization is about more than the products

Every website should be personalized, not only e-commerce ones. By building your UX around personalization, you can reinforce relationships with your target audience looking for support and service offerings.

The real-time information you capture through personalization tactics can be channeled to your customer service staff, which will, in turn, foster customer retention because it addresses specific user needs and interests.

You may not be selling a product, but you’re selling your brand image — and potentially creating loyalty by showing your customers you’re invested in their specific and very personal journey.

Personalization starts with a plan

It’s easy to get excited about starting on your path toward higher levels of personalization. But before you start mentally counting up all those new engagements and leads, know that all that potential depends on a crucial first step: preparation and planning.

We know it’s not the most exciting part, but without it, the desired business outcomes might not happen. If you’re poorly prepared, you can expect your performance to suffer.

Experience management platforms such as Sitecore rely on proper preparation, which we also call road mapping, in order to deliver the return on investment (ROI) that your organization expects.

Without it, we often see customers with existing sites facing painful roadblocks to optimization, sometimes requiring expensive remediation work. Unfortunately, this often means optimization is put in the “too hard” basket.

Don’t put your brand’s delivery of rich, relevant digital experiences in the “too hard” basket. You’ve come this far, so take the time to plan and ensure that you get on the right path.

Your personalization plan: Where to start

As a first step, you’ll need to align your organization’s personalization strategy and business objectives to your digital goals and engagement value scale.

Being able to prove the results of your personalization efforts across the organization and tie your optimization roadmap to the overarching goals and KPIs of the business means you can more easily pursue further investments in optimization. From simple personalization — like the user’s name added to the user interface, to sophisticated machine learning algorithms — even with a small budget, personalization is still a strategy all companies should leverage.

How can you personalize for an unknown visitor?

Filling a form in your homepage, signing up for a newsletter, downloading gated relevant content, and even viewing your office location — known as “micro-conversions,” these are some of the use cases that ultimately lead to larger conversions, such as a user creating an account, making a sales inquiry, or buying a product.

And while they might be small, they can still prove to be mighty. In the case of the newsletter or downloaded content, the visitor is indicating they trust you by offering you information that turns them from a stranger into a known contact, such as their email address. You can then utilize that information to convert that contact into a lead to be nurtured.

You won’t capture the same identifying information about a visitor viewing your office location, for example, but that micro-conversion still reveals valuable behavioral information that can help you optimize all stages of the customer experience — even before a visitor becomes a known contact.

Customer experience: An ongoing process

UX design for customer experience is an ongoing process that can highly impact the success metrics of your business.. As your site yields results from A/B testing and analytics, you’ll likely discover that some elements work better than others. The good news is that you’ll be making decisions with a data-driven marketing approach, rather than based on assumptions that have never been tested.

The possibilities are as exciting for UX designers as they are for your brand. Learn more about how Sitecore XM Cloud helps you create, manage, and deliver personalized customer experiences. Book a demo today!

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