Personalization and Optimization is why you buy Sitecore - so let us get started on the good stuff!

Personalization and Optimization is why you buy Sitecore - so let us get started on the good stuff!

Author: Greg Baxter | Categories: Personalization, CMS, Sitecore CMS

A few weeks ago I had the great honor of running the opening breakout in the marketing stream at Sitecore Symposium 2017, in Las Vegas. Overall Symposium was an amazing event, Sitecore 9 continues the tremendous growth of the platform and delivers more power into the hands of marketers who want to drive revenue with digital.

While the tools are all there, and the will of the marketers is clear, there remain the inevitable questions of “how do I start?”, “how can I get business buy-in?” and “how can I plan for personalization?”

The answers are easier than you may think.

Let’s take this on, one question at a time.

Executive Buy-In

This a mandatory inclusion, there has to be a political will to take this step. The best way to drive this is to be able to demonstrate financial benefit, in a cost-effective short-burn project.

Minimal risk and a clear business benefit is the key.

Look at where on your site you can lift revenue, whether it be boosting “Contact Sales” conversions, or addressing a single pain point using personalization – definitely consider only personalizing the home page as an entry point.

Example - Simple Campaign Personalization – 2 Week ROI

Let me give you an example. Scandlines, a ferry service in Europe has a “day trip” service to take families to theme-park destinations. Their conversion is quite low, and they use Google Adwords to drive traffic. But visitors are not converting. A two-week project was created to simply use campaign personalization to present a clear call-to-action to those visitors who arrived from the Google Ad word.

It's a no brainer to drive maximum conversion from paid advertising.

Scandlines did the business case, and determined that if they could reduce their AdWord “bounce” from their average to 35%, they would achieve ROI. A two-week project was deemed to be acceptable. The following illustrates the very simple requirement.

website optimization

Homepage Campaign Personalization – from a Google AdWord Campaign for Hansa Park, a day trip destination.

The project ROI was delivered within two weeks! Bounce dropped not just to 35%, it dropped to 24% - and the project paid for itself, and boosted revenue inside a fortnight – from soup to nuts, as they say.

Sitecore’s Engagement Analytics is the Key

The second thing to understand is that you really, really need to use Sitecore’s wonderful engagement analytics – because they are actionable. By that I mean that if a visitor converts on a goal, don’t show the same CTA again, swap it out for the next thing you wish the visitor to achieve and drive your customer to conversion.

Above all do not over complicate this! Feel free to use Google or whatever for basic traffic analytics – but build a short, sharp Engagement Value Scale for major business-focused conversions. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater - engagement analytics are absolutely critical to success.

Think of it as a balanced marketing scorecard.

Keep it to 6 or so conversion data points. Here is an example of Nutricia Danone’s Engagement Value Scale. Focus on how simple it is – how it really zooms in on core business level conversions.

Nutricia provided baby milk powder, but understood that it could reach the top of mind exposure, and better sales, if they provided a service designed to assist expectant mothers.

Sitecore engagement analytics

Image – Nutricia Danone Engagement Value Scale

It is a very clever strategy, but the point is the engagement “engine room” is super focused – completely negating too may analytics, and allowing the site to personalize to what really matters from a business standpoint.

The outcome? A staggering 75% increase in monthly sales, and critically, a 140% increase in monthly repeat purchases.

Big data? No, it’s an effective use of small data to drive business conversions through optimization. Think of it like this – if a goal makes into the rarefied air of the Engagement Value Scale it is clearly something you should personalize towards.

Simple Home Page Personalization

Lastly, we will look at managing scope. This is critical. Personalization rules have to be managed, and you don’t want to overdo the effect. Remember, content will increase as you personalize, mostly this will be graphical call-to-action assets, but it will add overhead. Keep it tight, keep it lean.


Image – Example Personalization Hotspots on a Homepage

The intent here is to enjoy homepage personalization that is manageable, yet focused on those customer activities that shift the revenue needle – like booking a test drive, contacting a dealer or booking your car in for service.

Campaign Based Personalization, Sitecore Analytics, and Home Page Personalization

These three low hanging fruit starter points will help you make your entry into personalization effective, manageable and digestible from a corporate buy-in perspective.

Pick some business quick wins, focus on driving a few key conversions, and keep your dreams manageable!

It’s time to take a stand, and show your organization that you can drive real financial benefits using customer experience strategies – just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you do not have to boil the ocean to get results.

For those who want a real deep dive into this subject, feel free to join my hour-long exploration of Sitecore personalization – where we will work through the entire process - end to end.