When trying to accomplish a digital transformation, one of the common goals is to create a unique, and personalized experience for our customers that mimics their experiences with our business. While this is a great aspirational goal, it can be overwhelming knowing where to start and how to achieve this level of customer experience.

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There are a few key steps that you should follow in the discovery phase of kicking off your new website project to help ensure that you can achieve your goal of a digital transformation.

The website discovery phase

In order to create a new website that resonates with your customers and performs the functions your business needs, you need to first understand your audience and define the strategic goals and objectives for the project. In the discovery phase, you need to start thinking through the customer conversion points, which Sitecore calls digital goals.

These are the specific interactions that we want each audience segment to do or interact with while on the site. Each digital goal, combined with an engagement value scale, is critical to enabling a personalized experience for your customers.

Leveraging Sitecore, we can also start to configure these goals in the platform early on, making sure that when the site is ready to launch, the personalized experience is also ready to be initiated.

Defining your website goals

Defining the initial point of entry for your website visitors to begin their customer journey helps you to understand where personalized interactions can be designed for a better engagement.

Consider a fairly common strategic goal: to increase our customer base.

You could achieve this goal through a number of interaction points on your website, so you need to consider how you want customers to come to you. Do you want them to pick up the phone and call? Sign up for your email newsletter? Fill out your contact form? Download a whitepaper? Or are you interested in educating your customers?

If your goal is the last one, you’ll need something like reading a press release or blog post or interacting with a product page as an early conversion funnel interaction point.

Defining the initial point of entry for your website visitors to begin their customer journey helps you to understand where personalized interactions can be designed for a better engagement. After defining each of the interaction points or digital goals, you need to create an engagement value scale that prioritizes the goals and assign a point value to each one.

Prioritizing Sitecore digital goals

The engagement value scale is an arbitrary point value that is assigned to each goal. The important factor to keep in mind when defining the value scale is making sure that if a visitor completes a lower-level goal on the site, their score doesn’t equate to a user completing the primary goal of the site.

If a user completes multiple lower-level goals (i.e. reading a blog post), how many of those would equate to completing the primary goal (i.e. opting into the newsletter)? Using a scale of 1–100, if the newsletter signup is the most important action on the site, its value should be 100. By contrast, reading a blog post is realistically between 1–5 points.

Now, you’ve got a prioritized list of elements that need to be accounted for in the design phase.

Designing your website

Taking advantage of Sitecore’s capabilities and native tools, you can use a modular design to create components that are easily reused throughout the customer journey on your site.

Assuming that all of the activities mentioned above are valid functions of your website, you can start to define how to design and promote those features and begin discussing what your site is going to look like.

Again, taking advantage of Sitecore’s capabilities and native tools, you can use a modular design to create components that are easily reused throughout the customer journey on your site. It creates a seamless, personalized experience for each audience segment.

Consider newsletter signups, you can come out of the discovery phase knowing that you need to design a component that allows a user to enter their email address and opt into your newsletter. This component can be featured on the home page and other critical pages throughout your website. You should determine component placement as part of the design phase of your project.

The next step is to think through your secondary goals for your customer journey and design what the various audiences see after they’ve completed an initial step in the journey. Thinking back to our previous digital goal examples, if your visitor has already signed up for the newsletter, they can still view product pages, blog posts, or whitepapers.

Creating the customer journey

Taking advantage of Sitecore’s rules engine will easily allow a custom rule to be created, that only shows the newsletter component to customers what have not previously signed up for your newsletter. So, if a user signs up for your newsletter, they won’t be prompted to sign up again.

Through the rules engine (pictured above) we can also define which secondary call to action gets displayed after the user signs up for the newsletter. In this scenario, we’re creating a rule to hide the newsletter (primary goal) after a user has signed up and then we’re going to display a featured whitepaper (secondary goal) in the design to replace the previous newsletter sign up. Now, we’re reinforcing the customer journey on the site and easing them through the conversion funnel.

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By defining the digital goals early in your project, you’re able to achieve a more informed design and more intentional use of your website. When we dive deeper into the website design, we can identify specific interactions that—when completed by customers—can identify opportunities for your business to enable new content and create new goals that drive results.

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