Sitecore Personalization - Why and How - Part 1

David Walker, Senior Sitecore Architect // April 19, 2017

Sitecore Personalization

Why is personalization so important? Simple, you want to provide the best possible experience to your prospect or customer. This is absolutely critical. You want every interaction with your customer to be as effective and efficient as possible, this requires at least a certain amount of knowledge of your customer but obviously, you can never have too much data from which to make decisions. Today, we are always connected, we expect that the companies that we choose to do business with, to at least know every interaction that we have with them. It is simply not acceptable for an eCommerce site to not easily know what I recently viewed and make recommendations to me. Also, they must know my purchase history with them, in order to make more intelligent recommendations on other products that I may actually need. It all comes back to the core principal, that the more you know your customer, the more effective and efficiently you can keep communicate. The end goal of all this, of course is to create lasting relationships.

I just completed a tour of seven Sitecore User Groups: Houston, Detroit, Richmond, NYC, Boston, Milwaukee and Minneapolis where I delivered my “Personalization and Integration Unleashed” presentation. The overarching goal of that session is to get everyone using their imagination at the limitless possibilities that exist with the Sitecore Experience Platform and in particular personalization. It is very easy to create custom personalization rules and this includes the ability to integrate with any custom and third party data stores. I showcase business use cases for over fifty different external services. Would you like to personalize your website’s content based on weather, average commute time, average household size, an area’s physical attributes, nearby locations of businesses? The possibilities are limited only to the data that you can harness. It all boils down to what would be the most efficient, effective and meaningful way for your marketing team to personalize the interactions with their customers. With such an advanced topic however, I was fairly surprised by some of the questions.

The one basic question that consistently came up. How do I do Personalization within Sitecore? I am going to answer that over the course of a few blog posts and with a short video accompaniment.

First, in order to personalize any content within Sitecore, ideally you need different versions of that content for each variation that you would like to display.

Out of the box Sitecore has approximately one hundred different rules that you can utilize to personalize content. In this blog post and video, I will be utilizing, in my opinion one of the most simple and yet potentially powerful rules for marketing teams to consider – the day of week. Maybe you want to offer special discounts over the weekend or any other specific day of the week. You could also, just as easily, use first week or last week of the month, etc.

In this example, I have installed a clean Sitecore 8.2 Update 3 site and then created alternate content items for the home page. Then, I created rules that show how to personalize the content for each day of the week – Monday through Friday.

 

Step by step instructions for personalizing content via the Content Editor:

  • Select the item you wish to Personalize.
  • Click Presentation tab in the ribbon and then the Details button in the Layout section.
  • Click on the Edit button under the Default – Controls section.
  • Click the Controls section on the left.
  • Click on the Rendering that you would like to personalize in the middle list.
  • Click on the Personalize button on the right.
  • In the “Personalize the component” dialog that opens, click “Add personalization rule” button.
  • Finally, select the appropriate rule you would like to use, enter the appropriate criteria for the macro and select the Content and/or the Presentation Rendering that you would like to use.

Now that you know how to do it, have you identified your marketing strategy? Are your personas current? Have you identified your business use cases for personalization that would be most beneficial for you and your customers? Is it data that you currently have integrated into your Sitecore Experience Platform? If you need any assistance with these questions, whether it is defining your strategy, the best approach to integrating the data you need in order to deliver on that strategy within the Sitecore Experience Platform, or any other needs, we are here to help.

Sitecore, User Experience, Digital Strategy

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