Skip to content

By using or further navigating this website, you agree to Sitecore’s use of cookies. Click here to see our cookie policy.

Sitecore Sessions

Personalization demystified

How to build a better brand experience with personalization

By Lars Birkholm Petersen, Sitecore VP of Business Optimization

Video transcript

Hi, my name is Lars Peterson. I’m VP of Business Optimization at Sitecore. Today, I want to talk to you about personalization and the importance of personalization. Research has shown that organizations that are personalizing their digital experience see a 19% increase in their key digital conversions. 19%. It’s not just conversions that are increasing, but it’s also the brand experience. They are building better and more connected experiences for their customers. By building better and more connected experiences, they also engage them more. Let’s look at brand experience. Let’s look at digital marketing today. Just as many of you, I’m a consumer. I go into different products and services when I have a need...

My brand experience

Lately, with a new addition of a baby girl in the family, I had a need for a bigger car. I started at my favorite search engine searching for best family cars. At the top of that list there was digital marketing. There was pay-per-click. Different car manufacturers paying to get me into their website. They also used my intent, my search keyword, as part of the ad. Family cars, best family cars, etc. The only problem is when I clicked on each of these links, came to the website, start navigating, it wasn’t really showing me any content related to my intent. It was showing me all the static content that they would show to all visitors coming to their website. It’s not showing me anything about safety, size of the cars, happy families trying to use the car, or even stressed families trying to put two strollers into the car. So I quickly went back, clicked on the next one, clicked on the next one, and eventually ended up further down the list to something that was much more relevant according to my intent. That’s an experience that you can probably relate to when you are searching for new products and services.

Another experience I have, I travel a lot. By traveling a lot, I’m a member of different hotel loyalty programs. Lately, one of my favorite hotels sent me an email promoting me to go to Japan. If I went to Japan, I would get more points with them. The problem here is I have never been to Japan with them. In fact if they look at profile, they can see that my seven last stays are in the US. Three of them are in New York. It would have been much more relevant to offer me promotions, more points, about my next stay in New York. Even incentivize me to book in advance for my next New York travel.

From digital marketing to context marketing

That’s the state of how brands are creating different experiences for their customers today. We need to step away from that. You need to take a step from digital marketing to context marketing. That is much more relevant and much more connected to the intent of your customers.

The three pillars of context marketing

Context marketing has three pillars. The first pillar that is important for you is alignment. Alignment of the different digital objectives to the strategic objectives so we can better show cross-channel success that our executives care about. It’s also aligning whenever you do campaigning across different channels, email, social, pay-per-click. Align those different campaigns so the traffic you receive is also aligned with the messaging you are showing in the different touchpoints that your campaigns are touching on.

Second, you need to be able to collect data. Not just the data from the different campaign activities, as an example, but also the other data. The data about the behavior, what content is consumed, what digital conversions do they convert to, etc. be able to connect that as well into other repositories that can help you better understand the intent, more customer intelligence.

Third, you need to use all that data in real-time to shape the experience across your different digital channels. That’s context marketing.

Context marketing requires data

To get started with context marketing, data is your best friend. Look at data. Look at what you can collect of data. A lot of that data is free, and it’s the first trigger for optimization.

Let’s take a look at what data you can use to optimize the experience. Essentially when we start with personalization, there are typically four different pockets of data that you can tap into.

Four types of data

  • Traffic Acquisition. The first pocket of data is very easy. That’s the traffic acquisition. That’s all the information you get about the customer when they arrive on your digital channel. For instance, if you are doing a lot of campaigning, a lot of different activities promoting the visitors to come to your site, you can tap into them. You can tap into the message of those campaigns. For instance, in my example, looking for a best family car. That would have been a great opportunity for the car manufacturers to tap into that and show me more content more relevant to that intent. More about safety. More about space. More pictures for that mood about buying a family car. That’s the first pocket.

    There’s also a great opportunity here if you’re doing a lot of emails. Let’s say you are doing emails to existing customers. Every one of those clicking that email, coming to your site, is an existing customer. Now you can treat them differently. Show them content that is relevant according to a customer.

  • Digital fingerprint. The second pocket of data you can tap into is also the digital fingerprint. That’s the anonymous data you get. For instance, in here you find information about geo-location, what device they are using. The device can help you understand if they are mobile. Are they using a desktop? But it could also be the device capabilities that you can use to optimize certain content that you would like to promote for those customers using those devices.

  • Profile data. The third bucket of data is the profile. That’s all the information that you have already collected about the previous visit from your customers. For instance here, you can tap into what content did they consume. What pages did they look at? Also, what goals did they convert to? You can use the goals as a trigger to advance them based on the next visits.

  • Site interaction. The fourth bucket of data is the site interaction. What are your customers doing in real-time now on your website? What are they looking at? Have they just signed up for the newsletter? Use that as a trigger point to advance the experience and show them the next content that is relevant according to all the customers who have signed up for the newsletters. That’s four different buckets of data that you can tap into to get started with personalization.

Getting started with personalization

In terms of getting started with personalization, it’s always a great start to start with the top. What are your most important objectives? Let’s look at an example. Start with picking the most important objectives. Of course, as you have done better alignment, then the objective is also something that your executive cares about. Now focus on all your different customers. What are some of the key segments there that you will start personalizing for? It will not be one-to-one personalization to begin with, but you will look at the different segments, trying to understand what is important for this segment, and how can you better tailor the experience for them.

Then, how do you measure it? What are the key digital goals that you will use to measure success? Now you understand the objectives, what you are focusing on, along with key segments that you are optimizing for. Then understand, based on the segment, how do they arrive on the website. Do they arrive from campaigning you are doing? Do they arrive from emails? Do they come in organically, direct, and start consuming content that can help you identify their intent? This is why you tap into the four different buckets of data.

You also want to understand their journeys, not just the landing page. What journeys are they taking on the website? What are the key impact pages that most from that segment will see? That’s your opportunity to optimize the experience for them. Then you want to use data. What information do you already have about them? What do you understand about them? Are they spontaneous? Are they methodical? That will be two very different experiences that you will show for those different segments.

Then, it’s a matter of understanding the different components we have on the key pages. For instance, for this segment, if they come to your home page then on the home page you have a hero. That hero component would be a great spot for personalizing. For that hero spot, it’s about applying the right logic, showing the right content that is engaging, relevant according for that segment. That’s essentially how you get started with personalization.

Quick wins

There are definitely some quick wins: follow the money. For instance, if you are doing a lot of campaigning, marketing activities to attract visitors to different digital channels. Tap into those. What are the promise of the campaigns? Are you promoting a certain product, a certain service? Use that to show content that is relevant according to the intent of all customers coming from those campaigns.

You could also be tapping into your different goals on the site. The newsletter, the form fill out, use that to show the next content that is more relevant. Then of course, geo-location. If you are dealing with customers in different locations, focus on what are those locations. What are the content that will be more relevant according to where they are?

Those are some of the quick wins that are easy to use and will help you increase the brand experience and also the digital conversions.

I hope you found this useful. If you have any comments, feel free to reach out and thanks so much for watching.


Get started with website personalization

Download this popular white paper from our Sitecore Business Optimization Strategies team and learn the nine steps to success with website personalization.

Learn more