Session: Sharing is Caring: Sitecore Customers talk about Personalization (Part 1)

In the business track this year at Sitecore Symposium, one of the best sessions was focused on specific clients and how they are leveraging personalization to significantly impact the experience for customers.  While many talks typically deal with hypotheticals that “could be done” this talk really focused on implementations that have actually proven results.

Kindercare

Kindercare is a child care and education provider with over 1700 locations, leveraging Sitecore to engage with customers and drive new business.  In implementing personalization for their site, the focus was on developing pattern cards, which address the core types of users they have on the site, such as “Development focused” vs “Value Conscious”.   For each of their five patterns, they scored that user on focus, the types of information they have available.   A “Development focused” user may be more interested in academics, expertise and milestone related content, while a “Value Conscious” user may be more interested in financial considerations and safety.

So far, that lines up with most usages of Sitecore’s persona based personalization I have seen, including the ones that we have implemented for our clients.  A set of user types are identified, typically referred to as a “persona” or “profile” and content is scored against those personas.   When users consume content that is tagged in a certain way, they begin to accumulate a score that associates them with a likely persona.  We can then use the rules engine in Sitecore to deliver content to that user that more closely aligns with that user.

The innovation that Kindercare had in this process was to run a survey of their users to validate the  assumptions.  They prompted users with a survey that asked them about the types of things that matter to them in their evaluation of a child care provider.  They were then able to compare the survey results with the hypothesis they had created in their digital marketing persona.  Rather than trust their own assumptions of what users interested in a certain type of content might also be interested in, they validated and tested those assumptions, enriching their personas.

Take away: Don’t stop at developing personas and scoring  your content against profile characteristics.  Test those assumptions and learn from your analytics what those users really want and update your model to reflect it.

Comcast

Comcast is a large cable television, phone and internet provider across the US.  Their home offerings are marketed under the xfinity brand, which is delivered with Sitecore.  For Comcast, they operate in a wide range of markets and the primary way they want to segment and personalize content to their users is by where they live.

While Sitecore’s IP Geolocation service will potentially return the country, state, city and other information about an IP address, the technology is limited in accuracy because IP addresses can be provisioned broadly across the country.   The information tends to be more accurate in metro areas than in rural ones.  Comcast is in a unique situation to have better information about the location of an IP address, as it is the internet provider for its customers.

Delivering relevant packages and messaging to the local market helped Comcast see a 30% uplift on sales, predominantly by delivering more targeted offers on their homepage for the local geography.

In addition to the focus on geography, Comcast is also customizing the offers they put forward based on other information they have about the user.  Comcast is leveraging Sitecore Federated Experience Manager (FXM) to allow for a more customized offer, even as the user is still anonymous.  The primary use case of the FXM is to monitor traffic on non-Sitecore websites using Sitecore’s xDB and deliver personalized Sitecore content to those sites using JavaScript.  Comcast has turned this process upside down, delivering a standard site experience via Sitecore, but leveraging FXM to change that content via JavaScript once the page has loaded, as more information about the user is made available.

The client-side JavaScript has access to more information about the use through third party cookies and call outs to other services to gather data.  Information, such as gender, interests and previous purchase history can be gathered about the user.  Utilizing the FXM, personalized content is then requested from Sitecore to ensure that the user’s first visit on the page gives them an offer that is the right message at the right time.  Imagine that I’m a person who loves sports and going to the Comcast homepage automatically brings up the NFL Sunday ticket package as the primary offer.  What kind of impact would that have on my likelihood of purchasing cable.

Take away: Federated Experience Manager (FXM) can allow you to use third party cookie data available on the client-side to personalize the experience based on actions that have not taken place on our site.

I loved the real world lessons on personalization that were brought by these Sitecore clients.  I was unfortunately unable to attend the second session, which focused on Cirque de Soleil and how they are using personalization.  If you were there, let me know what you thought.

Author: Dan Persson

As the VP of Technology, Dan leads the MedTouch Product Team and is responsible for our healthcare modules for Sitecore as well as serving as a technical consultant to key clients. Dan has 15 years of experience with a variety of Content Management Software (CMS) tools and was instrumental in building the MedTouch Healthcare Accelerator Framework. He served as Technical Lead on several MedTouch award-winning sites, including The University of Kansas Hospital (Sitecore Healthcare Site of the Year Winner), Drexel Medicine (Interactive Media Awards, Hospital Best in Class 2012) and Providence Health & Services. Dan is a long-standing Sitecore certified developer and graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a B.S. in Computer Science.

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