Profiling & Predictive Personalization with Sitecore DMS | Lars Birkholm Petersen

Profiling and the power of Predictive Personalization with Sitecore Digital Marketing System

Seems like I always tend to start my posts with ”It’s been a while since my last post”, but time really goes fast these days, it’s been +6 months since the release of Sitecore Digital Marketing System (and my last blog post) and I haven’t really blogged about the wonderful Digital Marketing capabilities, that ships out of the box.

However I have luckily been very busy working with clients and partners, to unleash the power of Digital Marketing System :-)

So my first Sitecore Digital Marketing System blog post, is about the wonder you get by using the Predictive Personalization, to be more relevant to your visitors by “listening” to their implicit browsing behavior and react with relevant content.

There are many different terms for Personalization based on implicit browsing behavior, like Behavioral Targeting, Adaptive Content – within Digital Marketing System we call it Predictive Personalization, because of the capabilities to recognize a visitor towards a predefined Pattern and show relevant content according to that match.

It’s really that simple, but before coming to the outcome – that is to have the visitor converting to your goals, because you are showing relevant (engaging) content, leading to that conversion, based on the implicit browsing behavior, there are a few logical steps you need to take in order to use Predictive Personalization.

These steps are:
- Configure Profiles, which are used to profile visitors according to their browsing behavior.
- Profile content, according to which content is relevant to which profiles
- Configure Patterns, that are used to match the visitors real time profile against predefined patterns
- Configure personalized content, based on the Pattern match

For the untrained eye – this can seems like a lot of configuration to do, but it’s really not that much, remember all this comes Out of the box, so there is no need to involve IT or developers to configure this, it’s mostly a matter of following the right process.

The alternative for not using Predictive Personalization, based on Pattern matching, is to use traditional Rules Based Personalization (which Sitecore Digital Marketing System also has included), but it’s not the same outcome you get.

With Rules Based Personalization, you could have simple Personalization rules, like “Where visitor has visited x page and y page, then show this content”. But as content are modified and new content are added, you end up using a lot of time maintaining your rules. With Predictive Personalization, once you have configured your personalization, all you need is to profile new and modified content and then the site will automatically include these into the Personalization logic.

Step 1: Configure Profiles
The profiling within Digital Marketing System has improved a lot since Sitecore Online Marketing Suite, the improvements include the ability to setup and configure presets, or as it’s named in Digital Marketing System, Profile Cards.

Once you have configured your Profiles and Profile Keys, which is done similar to, how it was done in Online Marketing Suite (see previous blog post about how that is done here).

Then it’s time to configure your Profile Cards, let’s say you are a car manufacturer and your site is about showing the different models and types, then your profiles might be:
- Persona
- Car Type
- Stage in Buying Cycle

If we take the Persona profile as an example, the profile keys to that profile could be:
- Practical
- Precautious
- Environmental conscious
- Boaster

All Personality attributes of visitors.

Your Profile Cards are presets, so now we have the opportunity to create Persona presets, like:
- Lynette, the business mom
- Al, the save the planet
- George, see my car
- Hans, Is it safe
- Peter, do it yourself
- Alvin, Mr. Business
- Etc.

If we take Lynette as an example, she will have high score in Practical, because she needs her car to have space for kids, groceries, baby carriage etc. There would also be med-high score in Precautious, since she is transporting her beloved and a little score in Environmental Conscious, she is concerned, but it’s not top of mind. She will have a 0 score in Boaster, since she is not buying the car to be the talk of the town.

The Profile Card presets for Lynette might look like this:

Profile Cards in Sitecore Digital Marketing System

Notice how the Radar Diagram are used to map Lynettes presets into the Profile Keys axis.

Step 2: Profile content
Once you have configured your profiles and hopefully also Profile Cards, which will make it easier for editors to profile content.

Next step is to profile content, this is where the power of Profile Cards really comes handy, in old days (Online Marketing Suite), an Editor needed to profile content by setting values for the needed profile keys, with different editors with different preferences, this could be an advanced task. Now the Editors can simply select the relevant Profile Cards for the content, and then the content will be profiled according to the values set on the Profile Card preset.

Within each Profile, you can configure if Editors can select a single Profile Card, Multiple either with same or different weighting.

The picture below shows an example of profiling, using a single Profile Cards.

Selecting a single Profile Card in Sitecore Digital Marketing System

Another improvement in Digital Marketing System is that Editors easy can see which profiles are being used, for the selected content – making it easier for them to know who they are writing to.

Because of the visuals, a Best Practice is to always include a picture and a description with your Profile Cards.

Profiling content in Sitecore Digital Marketing System

Step 3: Configure Patterns
Patterns are new in Digital Marketing System and very powerful.

Once your content has been profiled, visitors coming to your site will be profiled real in time, according to the content they consume, this will make it possible to see if they are interested in a show-off car or a minivan, if they have concerns about safety etc.

Using Patterns, the real time visitor profile will be matched towards predefined patterns within each profile, you have predefined patterns for.

Within the Persona profile we could have these patterns:
- Family visitor pattern
- Handy man visitor pattern
- Business visitor pattern
- Etc.

Just like creating Profile Cards, Patterns are created similar, by setting values using Profile Keys axis.

Creating Patterns in Sitecore Digital Marketing System

Our Family visitor pattern could have high score in Practical and Precautious.

If the visitor is consuming a lot of content, which has been profiled with the Lynette Persona, then this visitor will properly match the Family Pattern most.

The Pattern Matching are done by calculating the N-Dimensional Euclidian Distance (this is done automatically, so no need for an extra math grade), Your site simply find which Pattern a visitor is closest to and that Pattern can be used for personalization.

Pattern Matching in Sitecore Digital Marketing System

Imagine how relevant a Car Manufacturer could be, if they know which Persona Pattern a visitor is closest to, together with Car Type Pattern and step in Buying Cycle Pattern!

Step 4: configure Personalization based on Pattern match
To make it all come to work and be relevant for the visitor, the final step is to configure the personalization based on Patterns.

This is actually really easy, assuming you have created the needed content for the spots, you wish to use for the personalization, otherwise you can of course create the content on the fly.

Simply select the spot, where you would like to have the personalized content being shown, click on the icon for personalization and create the personalization rule, see example below.

Pattern based Personalization Rule in Sitecore Digital Marketing System

…and voila you are now being more relevant for Family visitors on your site!

If you would like to learn more about the process, we have released a guide on Sitecore Partner Network about Profiling & Predictive Personalization, the guide comes with worksheets that can be used in the process.
You can find the guide here (requires login).

This concludes my last blog post this year, which unfortunately is only second blog post this year.

I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope to be blogging more in 2012 :-)

If you have any comments or suggestions for future blog posts, please use the comments below, thanks.

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Category: Behavioral Targeting, Customer Engagement Platform, Digital Marketing System, Online Marketing, Sitecore, Uncategorized 3 comments »

3 Responses to “Profiling and the power of Predictive Personalization with Sitecore Digital Marketing System”

  1. Rasmus

    Nice article Lars – very pedagogical – even I get it ;)

  2. Thomas

    I think I must be missing a step. I don’t see a profile card icon on the content tab of my content item. Everything else is as described.

  3. LarsDK

    Hi Thomas,
    If you have configured the Profile Cards, then try to open a content Item (like a page) in Content Editor. In the right corner (below versions and languages), there should be a spider chart – click on that and you can profile using your profile cards.

    Hope that will do the trick.

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