3 powerful ways to offer a personalised web experience with Sitecore

For many of us, picking up coffee on the way to work is a daily ritual. There’s something comforting about going to your favorite coffee shop—where the barista already knows you like your coffee black with two sugars and asks how your big meeting went yesterday.

Little acts of familiarity can make a big difference. In the digital space, however, marketers often struggle to emulate this bond between buyer and seller. ATMs try to sell you mortgages you already have with your bank. You purchase a T-shirt online and subsequently get bombarded for weeks by ads for the same shirt.

Data privacy can be a concern—but as long as the data we share gives us some value in return, it’s generally seen as a fair trade. In fact, nine out of 10 consumers surveyed in a 2019 report from Smarter HQ claimed they are willing to share their behavioural data if it makes their online shopping experience cheaper or easier. And 80% of frequent shoppers said they only shop with brands who offer a personalized experience.


So what is personalisation?

An effective personalisation strategy shows targeted, relevant content to the right user at the right time. It’s based on information you’ve gleaned from your users—demographics, behaviour or contextual cues—and tailors their experience to their preferences.

Sitecore, the global leader in experience management software, makes it easy to collect and manage your user data. The Sitecore platform is engineered to deliver a personalized experience at scale in real-time across every channel—before, during and after a sale. These techniques can be set and managed by a marketer and used to achieve quick wins in the short-term and build a formidable strategy in the long run. No development heavy lifting required. To help you understand how personalisation can work for you, here are three powerful ways to harness it on your website.


1. React to your visitor’s context: Who are they? How did they reach your site?

To implement onsite personalisation on your website, adapt elements like header images and copy based on what you know about your user—who they are, where they live and how they reached your site. As users navigate your site, Sitecore tracks these contextual cues and displays specific content to reinforce the targeted message you feel will resonate with each group. 

Location: Do international users visit your site? Update images and copy to deliver a more locally relevant experience. BMI Research creates reports on market trends in almost 200 countries. Consider utilising this research to flag countries of origin and highlight relevant industry reports.

Campaign: Are you getting web traffic from a campaign-specific email or ad? Show them campaign-related visuals and copy as they browse your site. If campaign-specific content and calls-to-action vanish when visitors arrive, you’re missing an opportunity.

Industry/Company: The more targeted your message, the more it’ll resonate. Third-party data providers can match visitors’ IP addresses with their company name. Citrix, a collaboration software company, designs custom homepage hero images and copy for visitors from finance, healthcare and education industries. Optimizely, an A/B testing company, uses the same approach to create 26 different versions of their homepage for visitors from specific companies like Adidas, Walt Disney, Microsoft, Sony and Target.


2. React to your visitor’s behaviour: What they are doing on your site?

As visitors engage with your site, show them sequential content to pull them through the buying journey. This is easy to set up in Sitecore via an engagement plan.

For example, you could kickstart the buying journey by prompting visitors to watch a brand video. Next, the module might promote an ebook or white paper download—shortly followed by a prompt to sign up for your email newsletter. At this point, it’s safe to assume your visitor is fairly engaged with your offering. So now is a good time to hit them with a harder sell like asking if they’d like to set up a consultation with your business rep.

Since a new visitor might not be ready to listen to a sales pitch right away, this approach lets you warm up the prospect with educational content before trying to close the sale. Engagement plans essentially act as a nudge machine that effectively leads your visitors down the sales funnel.


3. React to your visitor’s journey: How do you keep user experiences fresh over time?

A one-off sale is great. But persuading visitors to return to your site and become loyal customers is even better. Sitecore has a built-in maturity curve that gives you a more accurate understanding of your users over time. By assigning values to certain interactions—page views, interactive site elements, etc.—your platform can build and update personalized views of each prospect or customer.

For example, if a prospect starts by exploring different insurance pages but eventually spends the lion’s share of their time on home insurance pages, Sitecore will assign them a higher likelihood of being a home insurance prospect. Consequently, the site will show them home insurance products to augment their browsing in the future. You can even enroll them in a home insurance engagement plan to strategically serve them content based on their buyer journey.

We recommend starting with a “test and learn” approach to validating personas and scoring user behaviours. Your understanding of how visitors use your site will evolve—so be ready to tweak and augment your personas and the content you share with them.


Future-proofing your business

In 2020, users expect to be treated like individuals on digital platforms. According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report, 84% of customers say that being treated like a person—not a number—is critical to winning their business. And IBM’s Institute for Business Value report cites that 76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. By harnessing the power of Sitecore, you’re equipped with everything you need to tailor your website content to your visitors and what they’re looking for.