Tag-arkiv: Sitecore

Mapping data for personalization in Sitecore

Getting started with a new Sitecore solution, you are probably eager to get started with personalization. One of the first questions to address is of course what data to base these personalizations on.

It isn’t difficult to see the advantages of a full, seamless omni-channel experience but it requires alignment of data across systems. Something that is usually a goal – but also a progress that takes time.

Available data for personalization

I have previously written about having a pragmatic approach to what data to base personalizations upon. But how do you get started with personalization without having to wait for the holy grail of user data in your own organisation? A good starting point could be to create a data map for the different kinds of personalizations you want to achieve.

In short, you can base personalizations on four different types of data:

Using Sitecore data for personalization


1.      Data created by Sitecore

Sitecore has a lot of options to learn about your users behaviour. Luckily these tools are available without the need of additional code. Everything from goals to behaviour based “personas” can be created through configuration inside Sitecore. All data is stored in the Sitecore xDB.

2.      Data collected in Sitecore

Data, ie. from input fields, can be stored in Sitecores xDB. So, information like company, job title, e-mail, preferences and such could be stored in the xDB and used in the personalization rule editor.

3.      Data from connected systems

A lot of value is gained from using data from connected systems, such as a CRM, ERP or dialogue management software. In certain cases, a viable solution will be to look up data in connected systems on the fly. There can be certain pitfalls to assess before going this direction, such as performance and security.

4.      Single view of customer

This is often referred to as the holy grail of user data. The basic idea is that no matter which system is asking about the user, the answer is always consistent and up to date. The data could be collected and synchronised into the Sitecore xDB, a CRM or a data warehouse. The point is that you will be able to create a continuous, consistent experience for the users, across channels and devices.


If your road map has “single view of customer” as the end station, there are plenty of steps on the way in which to create real value for your users and business through personalization with real user data. So don’t let your ambitions be your own road block. Start with what’s already there, or map what you have and make the appropriate connections.


Every journey starts with a single step.

The relevancy gap

You probably know why you have a digital platform (a website, an app or whichever platform you deliver your services or products on). But guess what: your users also have a reason for using your website. What makes the users enter your website, is that you provide, what they are seeking. If you don’t provide it, they will probably find it somewhere else.

It makes good sense to design your products around a business model. After all if your only purpose was to satisfy customers, you might as well give anybody what they want for free. Instead we find ways to design solutions that help business grow by satisfying their user’s or customer’s needs.

If I own a coffee shop franchise, I’d like to use my website to support engagement for my mocca thirsty customers. I would love to make the loyal visitors. I would encourage them to be ambassadors on social media.

That would be my goal.

But that’s probably not the job at hand for a visitor on my website. Maybe they just want to find an address or opening hours. Maybe they want to see my amazing coffee menu. Or maybe they just googled “how to avoid a bitter cup of joe”.

There’s a relevancy gap. What the user want is not my end goal for the user.

So what should I do? If I only provided an address and prices, it wouldn’t support my digital strategy. And if I went to the extreme of what the user wants, I should probably just offer them free coffee.

But one thing is for sure: we are dependent on our customers, and we cannot change the task they have at hand. If they want to find an address, we can’t convince them, that they don’t need the address. Of course we should provide them what they come for, as long as it doesn’t interfere with our strategy. So maybe we should start by giving them what they want in a way that supports our strategy: “Find your local coffee pusher and see the daily special on their Facebook page”.

With optimization tools such as A/B-testing and engagement analytics, such as provided in Sitecore, you are able to explore what kinds of communication helps you drive your digital strategy the best. The goal is to close the gap. To make sure that your digital strategy and the user’s needs are aligned.

But, as you might have noticed this is a simplified example. You probably have a lot of different users with a lot of different “jobs to be done”. This makes things harder. And maybe you need to bring out heavier tools.

If you have worked with optimization, you know that small changes can make a big difference. But you can only come so far with optimization, since – all things considered – users are inherently different. They might be from different target groups, have different tasks, different history with your brand or they might need different things from your digital services at different times.

This is where personalization comes to play. By segmenting your users by what ever parameter is relevant, you are able to control your marketing to these segments giving you the opportunity to enhance the relevancy for the individual user.

The reason for using personalization is not that the tools are available or easy to use. It’s that they have the ability to make your website matter for the specific user.

Identity and relevancy

It’s a misconception that you need to know who a user is to improve the relevancy of the individual user. How did they find your website? We don’t need to know the name, address and Facebook friends to personalize content to our users. When working with personalization you can start out with as little data as single click on your website. Or you might be able to detect whether the user has visited your website before. What did they show interest in?

Sometimes the data isn’t specific to the user at all. Sometimes it describes a huge set of users. Often you can retrieve real gold in looking into your business intelligence. This could be data about churn, successful cross-selling strategies or other behavioral metrics.

Sometimes the most valuable piece of information is whether the user previously has signed up to a newsletter – simply because it indicates a level of interest.

Using Sitecores rules editor you can setup a lot of rules, without being able to uniquely identifying the user. Time of day, triggered goals, visited pages and so forth can help you display information with higher relevancy.

Sure, the more data the merrier, but don’t let the lack of specific user data stop you from trying to elevate the relevancy of your website to the individual user.

Personalization is not a quick fix

Personalization might be a quick win. With tools like Sitecore, setting up simple personalization rules can be done in minutes. But a quick win is not necessarily the same thing as a quick fix.

These days it seems everybody’s talking about Experience Marketing. And one of the main tools in the Customer Experience Managers utility belt is personalization. And not without reason. One case after the other is proving, that personalization works. It lifts conversion rates and impacts the users experience of relevancy.

Never the less it’s important to take steps towards an personalized website in the right order. Before we can utilize personalization we need to focus on having a solid foundation. But how do you know if you’re foundation is ok? Well, look at it this way: If you know what role your digital platform plays in your business strategy, and you know how to measure it’s success, then you’re on the right track. If you’re taking steps towards optimizing and testing your site, and you’re judging the results by looking at these measurements of success, it’s safe to assume that personalization is your next steps.

Because here’s the deal: If you’re websites already broken, if it does not provide the solution to the problem it’s there to solve personalization will not make a big difference. By working with personalization you can increase the relevancy of each users visit. Not change what you’re website does.

Whether or not you are using Sitecore, you can take a look at their maturity model to assess where you are, and whether you are ready to begin working with personalized content. Take the maturity test on Sitecores website, to assess yourself.

Personalization is not gaffers tape. It won’t hold something together that’s already apart. It’s lube. It makes the machine run more efficient by creating less friction.

Personalisering er ikke det samme som at være personlig

I Pentia arbejder jeg med et af de mest udbredte værktøjer til at arbejde med personalisering: Sitecore Customer Experience Management (tidligere Sitecore DMS), hvor du har mulighed for at arbejde med personalisering på både mikro- og makroniveau.

De måske største trends inden for online kommunikation er personaliseret indhold og personlig kommunikation. Alligevel har jeg på det seneste flere gange mødt professionelle webfolk, der forveksler personligt og personaliseret kommunikation. Det interessante er ikke, at de to begreber dækker over noget forskelligt, men at der i krydsfeltet mellem de to kan opstå noget interessant.

Uanset hvordan du vælger at arbejde med personalisering, bør du nemlig holde dig for øje, at personalisering ikke blot er et værktøj til optimering. Det udgør en del af din kommunikation.

Personalisering er overalt

Der findes mange måder at personalisere på. Uanset om man arbejder med begreber som “segmentering”, “collaborative filtering” eller “predective marketing” er overskriften relevans.

Service Design: From Insight to Implementation skriver Polain, Løvlie og Reason:

All types of organizations have the potential to personalize services and create huge benefits for themselves and their customers.

Service Design: From Insight to Implementation

Der er ikke nogen tvivl om, at personalisering er en meget stor – og meget væsentlig – trend. Det er ikke længere nok, at de digitale løsninger gør vores liv nemmere. De skal også være vedkommende.

Prøv at tage din telefon frem, lås den op og se, hvilke apps du har liggende. Siger det lidt om, hvem du er? Gør disse apps en forskel for, hvordan du lever dit liv? Hvordan er det disse apps formår at blive vedkommende?

Jeg kigger på min telefon og finder en vejr-app, der automatisk viser mig, hvordan vejret bliver, der hvor jeg er. En navigations-app, der ikke blot ved hvor jeg bor, men hvor jeg typisk tager hen. En foto-app, der deler billeder med mine venner. En sundheds-app, der holder øje med min kropsvægt og mit motionsniveau. Stort set alle mine apps tager udgangspunkt i viden om mig, mit sociale netværk eller min adfærd. Oversigten over mine apps afspejler mine personlige præferencer, og de siger noget om, hvordan jeg lever mit liv.

En måde at være personlig på

Der findes mange måder at personalisere på. Men der findes kun en måde at være personlig på. Og det er ved at være personlig.

Personlig kommunikation handler ikke kun om viden. Det handler også om stil. Om at indgå en ikke-anonym-dialog. Forleden fik jeg en “personaliseret” besked fra Svetlana. Der stod

Hello mpj! I am looking for a man, i’m 21 y.o. let’s talk? My name is Svetlana, I’m from Ukraine.

Men det var åbenlyst, at der ikke var tale om personlig kommunikation. Gennem personalisering var der gjort et håbløst forsøg på at virke personlig. Men jeg hedder ikke “mpj”. Jeg hedder “Mads-Peter”.

Når jeg i stedet modtager et nyhedsbrev fra Threadless.com – som udmærket kender mit navn – skriver de ikke “Hello Mads-Peter”, selvom de sagtens kunne. De skriver bare “Howdy!”. Og det virker overraskende nok mere personligt end Svetlanas forsøg på at anvende personalisering til at virke personlig.

Hvorfor virker det bedre? Fordi personlig kommunikation ikke kun handler om at vide noget om den, man kommunikerer med. Det handler om, at kommunikationen ikke skal være anonym. Det handler om også at give lidt af sig selv.

Det er noget, Virgin America også ved noget om. Prøv at købe en flybillet på deres website (du kommer langt ind i flowet, før du skal betale), og se hvordan oplevelsen er langt mere personlig end f.eks. SAS eller British Airways.

Personlig personalisering

Personalisering er overalt, og vi bliver som forbrugere ikke længere overraskede over at se personaliseret indhold. I mange tilfælde forventer vi det ligefrem.

Men noget personalisering fungerer rigtig dårligt, fordi det virker invaderende eller uhyggeligt. Hvis man en gang har prøvet at lede efter en gave til sine børn på nettet, og man efterfølgende ser, hvordan al markedsføring omkring en pludselig bliver til reklamer for legetøj, kan man nemt føle sig overvåget. Det er ikke tillidsvækkende.

Men hvis du ser på en bog på Amazon og får vist andre bøger, som folk, der har købt bogen, også har købt, virker det meget relevant. Det kaldes Collaborative Filtering når man sammenligner profiler og anbefaler emner baseret på de profiler, brugeren ligner.

Amazon collaborative filtering-eksempel
Customer Who Bought This Item Also Bought … (eksempel fra Amazon)

Det, der gør dette semi-personaliserede stykke markedsføring bedre, er, at det indgår i den dialog, Amazon allerede er i gang med brugeren om: at finde den rigtige bog til dig.

I stedet for at blot at vise dig en masse forskellige links til musik, prøver Spotify at gøre det samme. Den lille indledning “You listened to …” gør den følgende anbefaling langt mere relevant.

Spotify personalisering
Discover i Spotify begrunder sine anbefalinger

Det er ganske banalt, men de fortæller blot brugerne, at de forsøger at komme med en anbefaling på baggrund af den viden, brugerne selv har givet ved at benytte løsningen. Og i stedet for at være en påtrængende reklame er det blevet et stykke personlig kommunikation, der afspejler den service-orienterede tankegang, der ligger bag.

Personalisering gjort rigtig

I stedet for at anskue personalisering som noget, der sker bag tæppet, så få mellemregningerne kommunikeret ud til brugeren. Det virker mere personligt og oprigtigt. Og det er langt mere tillidsvækkende.