This is part one of a three-part series on leveraging Sitecore’s personalization engine to enable digital transformation.

Imagine this scenario: You’re a B2C company with a steady stream of clients that support your direct-to-consumer offering. You’ve recently launched a new service aimed at serving a growing B2B market and are attending a trade show trying to find customers for your new B2B service. In an attempt to provide relevant content for potential customers, you put together a simple landing page with some content that you think will resonate with them. While at the show, you give people the URL to the landing page, but not the URL to your company’s website, for fear of alienating this new segment.

Related: Five Steps to an Improved Sitecore Editing Experience.

Rather than creating a simple landing page with a little content, wouldn’t it be great to send all those potential customers to your actual site where the entire experience is tailored to their specific needs and interests? And at the same time, maintaining the rich experience for your existing B2C customers, all the while addressing your customers’ needs regardless of where they are in the sales process?

Personalizing the User Experience

Everyone talks about the holy grail of personalizing the user experience, but how do you actually make that happen? It seems like an overwhelming task. Fortunately for marketers, Sitecore makes this easy. As a Leader in Gartner’s magic quadrant report for Web Content Management systems, Sitecore consistently ranks at the top of the list. This series will look at one of the factors that makes them stand out from the competition.

If you’ve decided that you’re ready to finally create that personalized customer experience for your customers that you’ve heard everyone talking about, first ask yourself: “Do I have a strategy that backs up why I’m communicating one message to customer A and a different message to customer B?” The answer to this question is crucial to the success of your marketing efforts, but it’s compounded when you start to fold in a personalized experience within that marketing effort.

You probably have your brand statement put together, but do you know how users flow through your site?

You probably have your brand statement put together and you know what your audiences are interested in, but have you taken time to think about how users flow through your site? You need a strategy that drives the reasons WHY you’re displaying one thing to one customer another thing to another customer: what is it about this message that will help them navigate the site, convert faster, or become a valuable customer/high-retention/tribe etc.

Segmented Messaging

Have you considered what messaging you really want Audience A to see on your home page compared to Audience B? Multiply that by all the key pages and key touchpoints on your site and you’ve got a lot of decisions to make. Then consider how many different opportunities you have on each of those pages. Likely, there is at a minimum some imagery and content that could be tweaked on each of those key pages. There are also likely key promotional areas on those pages that can be targeted uniquely to each of those audiences. That’s a lot of content and a lot of work just to get to this point. If you don’t have the content, that should be priority number 1. If you do have the content, you need to be able to easily identify which assets and which messages align to each audience.

If the above has been addressed or in progress, you’re in good shape. Now think about the segments within each of your audiences. Let’s assume that audience A is a B2C customer and audience B is a B2B customer. Where are those customers in your purchasing/retention lifecycle? Have they converted? Are you trying to convert them? Are they a first-time customer or a long-term client? The message to each of those audiences at each of those stages is different. You don’t want to tell your customer that has been with you for 10 years about why they should be with you…they already know! What they want to know is WHY they should stay with you. At the same time, a B2C customer looking to buy from you for the first time is looking for different information than a B2B customer looking to buy for the first time.

Your audience segments are all different, so your messages at each stage is different.

At this point, you might be asking, “Why is a business analyst asking me about content strategy? That’s pretty far from his domain, right?” Yes and no. When implementing a personalized experience, the first question I’ll likely ask is what do you want to show this customer instead. That’s where content strategy comes into play. I’m not responsible for putting it together, but for a project that includes personalization, I need to be able to understand the content strategy to help clients implement it correctly.

In this article, I’m not telling you how to put together a strategy or even keys to making your content strategy work (I’d point you in this direction for help on that). Instead, I’m trying to help you avoid some common pitfalls that clients inevitably run into when they start chasing the personalization holy grail.

While you’re conceptualizing what this is going to look like and as you start thinking about how you might implement this new strategy, don’t forget about the legal requirements. If you’re site is solely focused on the US domestic market, you’ll have fewer requirements to maneuver (you’ll still need to ask for users consent if doing anything based on their location), but if you have a broader global reach, brush up on the EU privacy laws and look at your specific target audience. Each country can have its own set of legal requirements that may not be included in the broader EU laws.

In the next post, we’ll look at configuring this content strategy in Sitecore.

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