Behavioral Targeting | Lars Birkholm Petersen

Category: Behavioral Targeting

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

December 31st, 2011 — 1:56pm

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.

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

Understand customer purchase behavior from Search

October 20th, 2010 — 9:08pm

Wow it’s really been a while since my last blog post, so what have I been up to all this time?

Well first and most important I became a father to a lovely baby girl, what a thrill and many new things to learn (including changing diapers)..

I also enrolled for the Web Analytics Master Certification, by Market Motive – teached by John Marshall and Avinash Kaushik – so it also takes a little time, but it’s definitely worth the time. Really inspiring lections!

It’s really cool to dig more into the wonderful world of Web Analytics – and all the fantastic insight it gives you. Combine that with the wonderful world of opportunities Sitecore Online Marketing Suite gives you, and you have some powerful opportunity, to create great results for your organization.

If you want to understand customer purchase behavior, that comes from search, you should have a look at the analytics on your site today. Segment so you only see visitors, that comes from search.

Now look at your goals mapped with different search engines and now you have an overview of which engines are bringing you most conversions. You could also segment this report by paid and organic search, or even segment brand vs. non-brand keywords – to get an understanding of you are reaching out to new customers, who don’t know you in advance (searched for non-brand keywords).

Remember to look at the conversion ratio, perhaps paid search from Bing aren’t giving you that much conversions, but if the conversion rate is high – you properly wants to throw more money at that Bing paid search.

Now you have insights into which engines are bringing you most conversions, drill down to see which keywords from each engine gives you conversions – are there any surprises here?

Are there any keywords that are giving you lower conversions than expected or even worse – they don’t convert at all! Also take a look at which landingpages keywords are routing visitors to and the bounces on them.

It takes some time, but it’s definitely worth the time! And you should end up with a lot of insight into visitor behavior, dig more into the wonderful world of data and understand visitor behavior on keywords, you expected convert but doesn’t – do they bounce, which pages do they look at, do they use internal search (what do they search for), where do they leave your site.

If you have high bounces on landingpages, you should properly revise the content, think about which call to actions there should be on the page.

Segmenting the Keywords
In terms of keywords, try to index those into three buckets:
1. Looking
2. Confirming
3. Buying

Different Target Groups and Behaviors for Web visitors

These three phases, maps the user journey from visitor to customer, if you sell cameras on your site, the user journey could be:

1. Peter wants a new digital camera, he goes into Google and search for “Digital Camera”, which gives him the Search Engine Result Page. Peter clicks and browse several of the results, learning more on Digital Cameras and finding out which camera, could suit him best. It could be, that a perfect fit for Peter is a handy compact camera with HD video.

2. Peter search for “Digital compact Camera with HD video”, reading about different brands, customer reviews/recommendations and price. Perhaps best match for Peter is the Canon IXUS 120 IS.

3. Knowing which camera is best match, Peter search for “Canon IXUS 120 IS”, here he looks at several sites – looking at price, deliverability, Gurantees, Service etc. – And properly ends up buying the camera.

The user journey above could take from a few hours to several days. If you think about the three phases – it’s really hard to sell a camera to a visitor in the Looking phase, you could properly (with the right triggers) sell to visitors in the Confirming phase and you just need to motivate that visitor in the buying phase, to buy your product, depending on that they have the ability to do so (money).

By mapping your keywords into these three phases, you could identify the visitors once they arrive on your site, from Search – and show them relevant content according to the phase they are in. If they are in the looking phase, you could focus on getting a sign-up for a newsletter or a registration, so you can start your dialogue and be top of mind along the road to the big conversion (buying). If a visitor are in the buying phase, you would properly show customer statements about your fabulous service or have quick you can deliver, even a special offer could trigger the conversion.

Your list of keywords mapped to the different phases, could look like this:

Keyword looking, confirming and buying phase analysis

Rules for personalization
Next step is to bind the keywords, to personalization rules – here you could build three simple rules with Sitecore Online Marketing Suite:

Looking phase rule, where the condition are that keywords match any the keywords from your looking phase list. If a keyword match, then show relevant content – in this case triggers for getting a sign-up with right message “Check out our comprehensive guide for selecting the right Digital Camera, click here to register”.

Confirming phase rule, where the condition are that keywords match any the keywords from your confirming phase list. If a keyword match, then show relevant content.

Buying phase rule, where the condition are that keywords match any the keywords from your buying phase list. If a keyword match, then show relevant content.

Of course you could build more rules, that reflects some of your top priority keywords, like show relevant messages for Canon IXUS 120 IS, if the visitors has searched for “Canon IXUS 120 IS”, it should bring you more value – but just by creating three simple rules, you have distanced your site from all the other static brochureware sites out-there.

Then you could simple place the rules on your design, so they would be triggered when the user comes from search with a matching keyword and sees the page with the rule. It could be a user search for “Canon IXUS 120 IS”, enters the Canon IXUS 120 IS product page, clicks on “About us” – and here the rule will show related content regarding Canon IXUS 120 IS, like “Click here to see why Canon IXUS 120 IS is best in test”.

But don’t stop here – go further and optimize on keywords, with higher Average Order Value than other keywords, build rules that are using insights on Days to purchase or Visits to purchase.

In the example above I have used purchase as buying a product on a eCommerce site, but it could be any type of site, like a B2B lead generation site – where the purchase is happening, when the visitor submit a form like “Call me up”.

Are you using the insights from Search keywords to engage with the visitor today?

Please share your thoughts or experiences, by commenting below.


1 comment » | Behavioral Targeting, Online Marketing, Sitecore, Web Analytics

Behavioral Targeting – Rules and Personas

April 19th, 2010 — 5:22am

In my previous post, I described how to get started with Behavioral Targeting in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite, I used a Paint Store as an example.

For the store I created a mock-up, that looks like this:
Mock up of PaintStore

In this post I will create a simple prototype of the Paint Store, where I will use different rules and Personas, to show content according to the visitors onsite behavior (Behavioral Targeting).

WIth Paint Store, the goal is to sell paint – and my task is to show relevant paint according to the visitors clickstream.

To do this effect fully, it is crucial to have access to real-time session analytics data.

In my prototype I will not use all content profiles as explained in my previous post (because this is a…. prototype), in fact I will only use Content type and Category.

I will have 4 Categories; Blue paint, Red paint, Green paint and Yellow paint and 5 Content types; Products, News, Articles, Offers and Company info.

I create content, so I have two content of every content type in each category, this means:
- 2 blue products
- 2 yellow products
- 2 blue articles
- 2 yellow articles
- Etc..

I create two layouts in my prototype, one is a list with 4 elements and 4 spots (see screen dump below), this layout will be used, when a visitor clicks in the top navigation bar and on the frontpage.

Mock up of PaintStore, showing variables

The second layout is when a visitor clicks on a specific content item (see screen dump below), this layout will show the details of the selected item.

Mock up of PaintStore showing item variables

In this prototype – a visitor will hit the frontpage and we know NOTHING about the intends of this visitor (which rarely is truth, in real life you can look at parameters, such as external keywords, campaign triggers, previous onsite behavior etc., but again this is a prototype ;-)). So we would present a list for this visitor, which has products from each of our 4 Categories (Blue, Red, Green and Yellow) – we would also use the 4 spot areas to show different content types (News, Articles, Offers, Company info) in different categories.

.. And then we will “listen” and use the visitors clickstream to show relevant content, if a user clicks on products – he’s interested in products and we will show products in the spot areas, if he’s interested in yellow – we will show yellow content in the spots area – it’s quite simple, all we have to do is listen and have rules to present content.

However there a many ways to setup these rules and many parameters to consider, this is why this area is so exciting! In the prototype I will “listen” to:
- Category content scores (on a scale from 0 to 5)
- Content type clicks
- Where do the visitor click (which spots)

If the visitor is interested in Yellow products and most clicks come from the left bottom spot, I can then show the most relevant content in this spot, because I know for a fact, that the visitor pays attention to this spot.

The Rules
I have 4 spot areas and I use these 4 simple rules, to show relevant content:

Rule 1: “1 out of 4 spot areas”
If score is less than 5 in any category, then
- Show content from 4 different categories in the 4 spot areas

Rule 2: “2 out of 4 spot areas”
If score is greater than or equal to 5 and less than 10, in one category, then
- Show 1 spot with highest Category and Content type
- Show 1 spot with highest Category and second highest Content type (because we only have two of each Content type in each Category)
- Show 1 spot with second highest Category and highest Content type
- Show 1 spot with third highest Category and third highest Content type

Rule 3: “3 out of 4 spot areas”
If score is greater than or equal to 10 and less than 20, in one category, then
- Show 1 spot with highest Category and Content type
- Show 1 spot with highest Category and second highest Content type
- Show 1 spot with highest Category and third highest Content type
- Show 1 spot with second highest Category and highest Content type

Rule 4: “4 out of 4 spot areas”
If score is greater than or equal to 20, in one category, then
- Show 1 spot with highest Category and Content type
- Show 1 spot with highest Category and second highest Content type
- Show 1 spot with highest Category and third highest Content type
- Show 1 spot with highest Category and fourth highest Content type

The cool thing is, once content profiles and rules are created – it’s easy to change the values (test and optimize) to getter better online performance.

So now I have profiled my content and created the rules above and have Behavioral Targeting on my 4 spot areas, which should give better conversion rates, than a “static” website, which doesn’t triggers on behavior.

But there are so much more you can do, to get even better performance..

I have created four Personas, where I will match the onsite visitor behavior and check if it matches a known Persona – and if it does, use this Persona to show relevant content. The four Personas created are (da da):
- Blue paint Persona
- Red paint Persona
- Green paint Persona
- Yellow paint Persona

Each Persona is profiled with the different categories, this means that the Yellow paint Persona, has the values:
- Blue 4
- Red 4
- Green 4
- Yellow 20

So in order to get a match to this Persona, the visitor needs to have the scores above in the Category profile.
I will calculate and match the scores, using weighting between the scores, like this:

If Blue(OnSite) score are greater than or equal to Blue(Persona)value AND Red(OnSite) score are greater than or equal to Red(Persona)value AND
If Green(OnSite) score are greater than or equal to Green(Persona)value AND Yellow(OnSite) score are greater than or equal to Yellow(Persona)value AND
(Weighting in Blue, Red, Green and Yellow (Persona)value EQUALS Weighting in Blue, Red, Green and Yellow (OnSite) score) THEN
Set (Session)Persona to (matched)Persona

If a visitor match one of the Personas in the prototype, the video background changes and shows the color of the Persona (like a yellow video background).

In real life, a persona could have more parameters to match, like behavior – and you would know which call-to-actions to show onsite.

Different Target Groups and Behaviors for Web visitors

It could also be interesting to look at behavior of the visitor, is he looking, confirming or buying – so I could present prober content and call-to-actions, you wouldn’t (shouldn’t) use BUY BUY BUY all over the page, if the visitor is in the looking phase! Here it would be better to focus on sign-up to newsletter, or add to wish-list etc. so we could focus on an ongoing dialogue for moving the visitor to the buying phase AND THEN present with buy call-to-actions.

In order to calculate on behavior in the prototype (show content according to visitor phase is not implemented), I use four variables (inspired by research by Wendy W. Moe):
- SUMCAT, which is the number of product category pages shown against total number of pages shown
- SUMPROD, which is the number of product pages shown against total number of pages shown
- SUMINFO, which is the number of information pages shown (this covers News, Articles, Offers, Company info in the prototype) against total number of pages shown
- DIFFCAT, which is the number of unique product and product category pages shown against total number of pages shown

I have configured three rules, to classify in which phase the visitor are, like this.

The visitor is LOOKING, if:
- SUMINFO are greater than or equal to 70%
- DIFFCAT are greater than 10%
- More than 3 pages are shown

The visitor is CONFIRMING, if:
- SUMPROD are greater than or equal to 50%
- DIFFCAT are less than 40%
- More than 3 pages are shown

The visitor is BUYING, if:
- SUMPROD are greater than or equal to 60%
- DIFFCAT are less than 20%
- More than 3 pages are shown

Again it’s easy to change the values, and test if this means better performance.

For more on clickstream analysis and Behavior predictions, visit the website of Wendy W. Moe, which has done a lot of research in this area.

The prototype
Below is a screen dump of the prototype.

PaintStore prototype

You can test it here.

Try to click on a category (like yellow), until you’re classified as an Yellow paint Persona, then change behavior, by choosing another categori (like click on products in the navigation and select a red product).

At the bottom of the prototype, theres a statusbar – showing the variables used for the rules:
PaintStore Statusbar

I hope the prototype shows, how much you can do with rather simple rules and content profiling – and sorry for the lack of good content in the prototype (dont’t you know that “Blue saves time”)..

If you add on parameters, like:
- Mouse movement
- Time pr. page
- Behavior on last 4 clicks
- Spot that doesn’t get clicked on
- etc.

And use these parameters in your rules and your Behavioral Targeting, would be even better.

It’s more easier than ever to use Behavioral Targeting on your website, the technology isn’t a problem any more (and it’s affordable), it’s just a question of “adding” prober resources.
By using Behavioral Targeting, you will optimize the way to listen to a visitor and reflect upon this with relevant content in prober context (looking, confirming or buying). In my prototype I have used a eCommerce site (without the basket and call-to-actions), but Behavioral Targeting can be used on all sort of sites.

The important question to ask yourself is “Why do we have a website?”, this should trigger thoughts about measurable goals for your website, like:
- you have an eCommerce site, your goal is to sell products (an alt. goal could be a sign-up for a newsletter)
- you have an newspaper site, your goal is returning visitors, time on site, register to newsletter/RSS
- you have an B2B site, your goal is collecting leads (call-me up forms, contact form etc)

Using Behavioral Targeting you can bring your goals closer to the visitor in the “shape” that fits the visitors Behavior.

Please comment if you have anything in mind, would love to hear your opinions and suggestions for additional parameters to use.

1 comment » | Behavioral Targeting, Online Marketing

Sitecore Online Marketing Suite: How to get started with Behavioral Targeting (Part 2)

April 6th, 2010 — 8:43pm

In my last post (part 1) I gave an overview of key preparations to get started with Behavioral Targeting, these were:
- Target Groups
- Behavior
- Personas
- Goals/triggers

Assuming you have these steps in place, you’re ready to setup the rules needed for Behavioral Targeting in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite!

This post will focus on:
- Content profiling
- Content structure
- Creating Rules

Setting up Behavioral Targeting may be different from organization to organization, because of the difference in Target Groups, Behavior and Triggers.
The steps below will focus on setting up Behavioral Targeting for an online shop, which sells paint – let’s call it Paint Shop. Content profiles and rules will be specific for this shop and might be different from your site needs, but I hope the steps below gives an overview of how to get started.

Content profiling
Setting up profiles and profile keys is primarily based on the analyzed Target Groups, Behavior and Personas from part 1. In my example, where I’m defining profiles for a paint shop, I will add six profiles, these are:
- Content type
- Category
- Target group
- Behavior
- Personas
- Relevance

It’s easy to setup these inside Sitecore, you just open the Marketing Center (available from Desktop), here you find the folder called (surprise) “Profiles”, right click on this to insert new Profile.

Below is a screendump of my Marketing Center with the six profiles added.
Profiles overview in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite

When setting up profiles and profiles keys, it’s important to have the Editors in mind, who will work on the content profiling. Therefore do your best to make the names self explaining (Don’t make me think) and try to keep the choices to a minimum, more profiles means more work and more complexity added when creating the rules. I must admit that having six profiles in my example is actually a little high.

The six profiles added has the following profiles keys configured:

Content type
Profiles Content type

Content type has the Type set to Sum (see screen dump below).

Profiles type

In my paint shop example I have content types, that can be:
- Product description (the product itself)
- Products offers (is my visitor primarily looking for offers – then I can use offer content as triggers to conversion)
- Product categories (is my visitor looking at many categories?)
- Articles
- News items
- Corporate information

By using these profile keys I will get a clear picture of my visitors interest – and can create rules, that shows content according to this.

All profiles keys are set using the Checkbox Control (see screen dump below):

Profiles Control

By using the Checkbox, my editors has a clear choice “Is this content an Article or News item?”, by using Slider that question would be “How much is this content an Article and a News item?”.

If you have a good IA (Information Architecture) and your content is tagged correctly, like all the content in this folder is news items – you will be able to programmatically set the values by using the Sitecore API (and save your editors a little time).

Profiles Category

In my paint shop example I sell paint in 4 categories; Blue, Green, Red and Yellow. The Category profile, has these 4 categories as profile keys. By using these I can track which category my visitors are interested in, across content types and build rules upon that.

Type is set to Sum and Control is Checkbox.

Target group
Profiles Target group

In my paint shop example I have “analyzed” the above four Target groups for buying paint, as control on the profile keys – I use the Slider Control, which can have a value from 0 to 5, where 5 is highest.
I use the Slider control, because content can interest several Target groups, and by using the slider I can adjust according to this and even prioritize who the content is best suited for.

I set the MaxValue to 5, to make it easier for my editors, by using higher MaxValue (like 10), they have to know the difference between 7 and 8.

With values form 0 to 5 I can create a scale, my editors can use:
0 – Content is NOT interesting for this Target group
1 – Content is PERHAPS interesting for this Target group
2 – Content is LIKELY to interest this Target group
3 – Content is INTERESTING for this Target group
4 – Content is INDEED INTERESTING for this Target group
5 – Content is VERY INTERESTING for this Target group

I could probably also set for a MaxValue of 3, where you leave out option 2 and 4 from the scale above, chose 3 or 5 depending on your Target groups, rules and Editors.

As Type I use Sum

Profiles Behavior

In my Behavior profile I use the 3 behaviors; Looking, Confirming and Buying as described in part 1 of this post.

Control is set to Slider with the MaxValue of 5 and Type is Sum.

Profiles Personas

From the Personas step on part 1 of this post, I have “Analyzed” the above 4 key Personas to my paint shop example.

Control used for profile keys are Checkbox and Type is Sum.

I could use the Personas content profiling in two-ways:
1. To get an insight to which Persona matches my visitors
2. Use it to match content, for instance if I have matched a visitor to being “Anna – paint baby room” I will search for content which is primarily targeted for this Persona (by this profile) and show the content. However this demands a little extension of the rule engine and wouldn’t be covered in this post.

Profiles Relevance

This profile will be used to match content and has one profile key “Relevance to category”, here the editor will indicate (by using the Slider Control) how relevant the content is for the caterory selected. This could give us the option the find content, which matches the visitors and sort it by relevance, meaning if the visitor is matched to the Persona “Anne – paint baby room”, we will show content targeted for this Persona AND sort it by highest relevance. However this also this demands a little extension of the rule engine and wouldn’t be covered in this post.

With all the Profiles and profile keys configured, we are ready for some serious content profiling!

When adding and editing content all you have to do for profiling this, is to open the ribbon and click the Analyze Tab and click on Profiles (see screen dump below):

Edit Profiles from Ribbon

Then you get a window, showing all the Profiles you have configured:

Content profiling in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite

Content structure
Assuming you know your Target groups, Behavior, Personas and have profiled content according to these AND you know which triggers you will use depending on the visitors trail (for more on triggers and planning content with the AIDA model, please referrer to part 1 of this post).

You’re now ready to build the targeted content!

Assuming we are building my paint shop, I could have a mock-up of the design looking like this:

Mock up of Paint Shop

In this design I could have containers/placeholders for personalized spots – which in the right side, could look like this:

Personalization Spot

The spot contains of the following fields:
- Name
- Image
- Description
- Link

To set this spot up inside Sitecore, I will start by creating a data template with the fields above, on it:

Data template in Sitecore CMS

Next I will create folders, where I can easily create spots – in my example (see screen dump below), I have created a folder called “Spots” where I have two folders; “Front personalization spots” and “Right personalization spots”. Last folder will contain all my personalization spot for the right side according to my design.

Always consider the editors and make great IA, so it’s easier for them to find proper content (like using several folders with clear names for different spots).

I assign the data template to this folder, so editors can create new spots with the fields defined in the template, by right clicking on this folder:

Content Editor rightclick

Now I can create a spot for Yellow paint and fill out the fields required for a right side spot:

Personalization Spot in Sitecore CMS

With the spot created, I now need a rendering/control, which outputs my content to the user in a browser (because Sitecore is content based, we can actually create several renderings and reuse content across different devices, such as Browser, Mobile phones, iPad etc.).

I have created the following XSLT (called Right column personalization spot) for the browser rendering:


We want to allow the XSLT to be placed in the right column, to set this I go to the “Placeholder settings” folder, under the “Layout” folder and choose “rightcolumn”:
Placeholder Settings in Sitecore CMS

For the right column I edit the Allowed Controls and select the “Right column personalization spot” XSLT as an allowed control:

Placeholder Settings Allowed Controls

So now we have the spots, the output and the right place for these – so all we need are just the rules….

Creating rules
Adding and editing rules is managed through the Marketing Center in the folder called “Personalization”, to add a new rule right click on the folder “Rules” and insert “Conditional Rendering Rule”, see screen dump below:
Insert new conditional rendering rule in Marketing Center

I want to create a rule, that show our “Yellow paint product offer” spot, if the visitor is interested in the Yellow Category. I’ll label my new rule “Yellow product teaser”. Once created I can edit the rule and the Sitecore Online Marketing Suite Rule Editor is shown:
Rule Editor in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite

The Rule Editor comes with a lot out-of-the-box conditions, one of these are “Where the value of specific profile key compares to specific value”, I chose this and can edit the values (kind of like setting up a rule in Outlook to manage mails). I point my “Specific” to the “Yellow paint” profile key and select that the value should be greater than or equal to 3. This means that a visitor should visit 3 pages, which is profiled to the “Yellow paint” Category, before this rule is triggered.
If the visitor has this path, the action in the Rule Editor is set to “set data source to Item”, where I point the item to (ta da…) my “Yellow paint product offer”.

My rule looks like this:

The rule created for the personalized spot in Sitecore Rule Editor

Now I have my rule and the spot I will show in place, whats left is to add the rule my layout or page, where it should appear.

There are several ways to do this, one way is to go to the Page Editor – navigate to the desired layout/page and click on the “Design” button in the top navigation. This shows the Page Designer, where the sites Placeholders are shown – in my example, I have 3 colums – and chose to place the rule in my right column, see screen dump below:
Page Designer in Sitecore CMS

I click the “Add” button and chose my allowed rendering “Right column personalization spot” and Select this:
Page Designer add rendering in Sitecore CMS

With the added rendering selected I click on the “Properties” button and select my “Yellow product teaser” rule under the Personalization heading:
Page Designer Properties

That’s it – the site is ready to rock and show personalized content, so we can sell some more buckets of yellow paint!

You can create personalized content anywhere and in any rendering on the site, that is the huge potential of the Sitecore Online Marketing Suite.

I created a very simple rule, based on the Category profile key, other conditions to consider are:

Where the city compares to specific city
Means I could add a Google Maps spot on my frontpage, which only appears to visitors from Copenhagen and shows location of my paint stores.

Where the visitor no. compares to number
If a visitor comes to your site seventh time, add a banner – “Call to order paint now”.

Where the keywords compares to specific value
Show spots with that keywords, as the visitors clicks through the site – trying to start a dialogue.

Where the page index compares to number
Good for adding spots to landing pages.

An effective rule should also take into account:
- How many pages has the visitor seen (if a visitor has seen 100 pages, my rule is’nt effective)
- The number of other categories browsed, trying to find the users path
- Which type of content does the visitor click on (news vs. product description vs. articles)

You can add several conditions and actions to a rule in the Rule Editor.

If you need other conditions and actions, than the ones provided out-of-the-box, these can be added by using the API.

For more on this – check out this Sitecore Online Marketing Suite Technical Deep Dive by Sitecore Australia.

In my next post I will bind rules and personas – and combine these in a live prototype of paint shop.

Please comment if you have anything in mind.

Comment » | Behavioral Targeting, Online Marketing, Sitecore

Sitecore Online Marketing Suite: How to get started with Behavioral Targeting (Part 1)

March 22nd, 2010 — 7:52pm

In my last post, When to use Sitecore Online Marketing Suite, I gave a brief overview of the features in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite and mapped those to different organizations.

In this first post of Sitecore Online Marketing Suite How to’s, I will focus on Behavioral Targeting – this is one of the most powerful features, which gives you the power for realtime visitor personalization.

Why use Behavioral Targeting?
Behavioral Targeting makes it possible to adapt content to the visitors behavior realtime, this means that content will be more relevant for the visitor and therefore, the possibility of an conversion will be higher than when using same content for all visitors. Good examples of Behavioral Targeting websites are Amazon and Google AdWords, which adapts to your search term.

Behavioral Targeting is easy to configure in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite (more on that in part 2), but takes time to prepare.

Different Target Groups and Behaviors for Web visitors

In this part I will give you an understanding of which steps you need to prepare, before configuring in Sitecore, these steps are:
- Target Groups
- Behavior
- Personas
- Goals/triggers

However there are many ways to work with Behavioral Targeting, the steps described below are my inputs, depending on your situation (organization type, target groups etc.) there could be better alternatives.

Target Groups
Who are listening to you?

You properly have clear definition of your target groups, these can (depending on your Business) be divided into:
- Segment
- Branch
- Region
- Etc.

You properly also have different people within your Target Groups, like:
- Roles
- Age
- Gender
- Interest
- Etc.

In order to target our Target Groups with relevant content, we need to profile our content according to the categories above (or the one which fits your Business).

This means that an editor writing a piece of content on your website, needs to think – who is this content aimed for and profile content with these in mind.

Try to think of your journey, when buying a book at a webshop.
First why do you need the book? If it’s to get better at, lets say, Search Engine Optimization, you would properly search for “SEO” or “Search Engine Optimization”, you will get a list of books matching your search. You can the click on the books, see their description, get an overview – if you find what seems like a good book, you could read other readers review – is it as good as it says in the description? If it is and you have the fund needed, you will properly buy the book.

If you want a new car, you properly goes through the same journey – but it’s longer (unless you’re loaded with funds) and it uses multiple channels.

We can categorize the journey into 3 categories:
- Looking
- Confirming
- Buying

A visitor who are looking are in the early phase, the visitor will see many different pages, such as products/services (depending on your Business), categories etc. And eventually the browsing will be narrowed down into few products/services.

A visitor who are confirming will look at few products/services in few categories, they will spend time on additional information on those products/services and will try to be confirmed, that they’re on right track.

A visitor who are buying has an direct behavior towards very few (one or two) products/services, they know all about the product/service from the knowledge collected in the earlier phases.

If you have a website which sells books, a goal for you will be the sale in buying phase, but you also need to focus on smaller goals, which get the visitor moved from phase to phase.
Web visitors behavior

More on this later..

To track the behavior of a visitor, we need to profile content with information on content types, this could be defined:
- Product (or services)
- Category
- News
- Articles
- Information pages

That way we can see how the spread of content is (are there many category and product views – the visitor is properly in the looking phase).

To target with relevant content we will also profile content according to the three phases (looking, confirming and buying).

Together with the click paths, we will know:
- Visitor phase
- Interest in specific products/services

Now that we have a clear view on our Target Groups and different behaviors, we are able to define our most important website personas.

You should aim for Personas of your key audience and keep it to a few, the more you add, the more complex it would be to maintain.

If you have 2 key Personas, you should setup 3 in OMS:
- Key Persona1
- Key Persona2
- Normal Site Visitor

A Persona should have a name (so you better can relate to it as a person), picture, description, motivation and description of which Target Groups they belong to.

You should also describe motivation and which triggers you can use in the for the personas in different behavior phases, this could be done by mapping User Journeys.

Binding it all together – defining and mapping goals
What outcome do you want from your website?

Now that you have an overview of your Target Groups, Behavior and Personas – you should map goals with behavior for your different Personas, like the matrix below:

Website visitor behavior with goals

Your desired conversions could be mapped against different call to actions, each call to action could be A/B split tested with different variants, to get the highest conversion rate as possible. Variants, call to actions and conversions, could be mapped in a matrix, like the one below:

Conversions mapped with different variants of call to actions

Building content around AIDA model
Every page you create should have a clear trigger, which guide the visitor along the path we want them and towards our goals.

AIDA model with trigger

The triggers can be personalized according to the visitors behavior and our goal mapped to this, the matrix below show AIDA model mapped with behavior phases:

AIDA model with triggers on different behavior phases

For instance, triggers in the confirming phase should focus on building trust (like link to other readers review) and when this is triggered, the focus shifts to moving the visitor into the next phase.

I hope you got some input on how to start a project with Behavioral Targeting, part 2 will focus on structure, content profiling and creating rules inside Sitecore Online Marketing Suite.

Please comment if you have anything in mind.

Comment » | Behavioral Targeting, Online Marketing, Sitecore

When to use Sitecore Online Marketing Suite

March 15th, 2010 — 7:49pm

Sitecore Online Marketing Suite has been available with Sitecore CMS since June 2009, Sitecore Online Marketing Suite gives many ways to optimize a website, with many out of the box features, like:
- Real-time personalization
- A/B Splittesting
- Behavior analytics
- Conversion tracking

But which features are most important to use will depend on factors, such as:
- Business type (B2B / B2C)
- Public / private

In my first blog post with focus on Sitecore Online Marketing Suite, I will provide insights to what you can do with Sitecore Online Marketing Suite and which features are most important for your business.

Lets get started..

First up is a brief overview of some of the features in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite:
Overview of Sitecore Online Marketing Suite

Conversion Tracking
What are the goals with your Website?
I guess its not just sharing information with your Site visitors and flagging your address and contact information?

If your Website is an eCommerce site, goals will probably be a sale, if you can’t get your Site visitors to buy a goal could be a sign-up for a newsletter or adding a product to a wish list. Goals could also be selfservice like, tracking orders, filling in RMA’s etc.

If you are an B2B company, goals with you website will probably be leads – and a way to get leads is “Sign-up for a demo”, “Call me up” etc. forms.

If you an University, goals could be sign-up for classes, registration of new students etc.

Every branch and website has to have goals, Sitecore Online Marketing Suite allows you to easily specify your Site goals with a few clicks, which automatically includes these in the build-in Conversion and tracking report.

Conversion tracking in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite

This wil give you the complete picture of how successful your website is in converting to your goals!

Who should use it: well everybody, otherwise you need to rethink your web strategy!

Campaign Management
Do you have online campaigns like Google AdWords or banners on external Websites?

Do you measure which campaigns gives you highest Return on Investment? Do you optimize your marketing budget for these and cutting down on the bad performing campaigns?

With Sitecore Online Marketing Suite you can create campaigns and track inbound clicks from these campaigns. In the build-in Campaign summary report, each campaign is measured with Site goals and gives you the overview of highest Return on Investment Campaigns.

Campaign Management in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite

With the build-in Campaign Management you can track create and track inbound links, this could also be Social Media linking you from your Social Media engagement in Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc..

Who should use it: If you’re running online campaigns, this is a good way to measure impact and optimizing, so you don’t end up like Lord Leverhulme:

“I know that half of my advertising budget is completely wasted, I’m just not sure which half.”

User Experience / Error tracking
Sitecore Online Marketing Suite comes with build-in Analytics database, which let you track each users clickpath, use this feature to get an valuable insight into how your users is using your site. Track possible errors and optimize for better performance.

It could be that your users has problems with important forms on your site, this could be order form, sign-up for newsletter etc. You can track form dropouts and see what went wrong, perhaps you’re using a strong CAPCHA – your users can’t read.

Below is example of a form, which is about to get a drop-out:

And this shows the drop-out report, seems like the user had trouble with the phone number..

Other Out of the box reports include:
- Top Pages
- Top Landing Pages
- Top Traffic Sources
- Top External Search Keywords
- Top Site Search phrases
- Top Exit Pages
- Visitor Metrics

Top external link report in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite

You can also create your own reports, Sitecore Online Marketing Suite comes with a report designer, where you can customize your reports with access to all data from your Analytics database.

Report designer in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite

“But can’t Google Analytics do all that?”

Google Analytics is great, has a lot own very god reports and measurement options – and it’s no problem running Google Analytics along with Sitecore Online Marketing Suite (you can even access your Analytics account from inside Sitecore through a free Sitecore community module). Google Analytics is a 3rd party application and thereby has some limitations, for an overview of what this, please visit this article:
What Google Analytics cannot tell you.

Who should use it: Well I guess every website could use this feature, so optimizing is based on recommendations found here.

Multivariate & A/B splittests
Will your Site visitors take the red or blue pill?

With Sitecore Online Marketing Suite you can effectively test and optimize your Website to get even better results.
You can test every single text and image on your website, if you have a sign-up for Newsletter, you can test the sign-up button – should it be red or blue? Should it say “Sign-up to Newsletter” or “Sign-up for latest news”.

An A/B splittest is usually a test of different variants which is tested in a period or with X number of renderings. You can measure how many clicks each variant has given and more important how many conversions on your Site this click has lead to.

With A/B splittest you can test different variations of landing pages, front page, banners, call to actions etc. And optimize on the results from you Site visitors in Real time.

You can also create Multivariate tests, which enables you to test different elements and optimize for the right combination – like this header with this picture and this button gives the highest conversion.

For more on A/B splittesting:
Nice whitepaper from FutureNow, Inc.

Who should use it: If you think of content as triggers for leading your users into your goals, you will probably get great value in testing different content and measure, which has highest effect. This feature is for you :-)

It’s better to talk than shout!
Know your Site visitors and talk to them in “their language”.

Sitecore Online Marketing Suite enables you to create realtime personalization, this is properly one of the most effective ways to optimize your website – but also the toughest part (more on the process in a nearby blog post).

A way to use personalization is to create Profiles and profile keys in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite, if I had a website dealing with B2B, B2C and organizations, I could create a Profile called “Overall Customer type” and add three profile keys to that; “B2B”, “B2C” and “Organization”. It’s possible to create several Profiles and profile keys.

I could then use my Profiles to tag my content, if I created an Article I had to tag it according to the profiles keys, asking myself – is this content for B2B, B2C and/or Organizations.

When a Site visitors sees different pages on a website, the pages Profiles are stored and enables you with Sitecore Online Marketing Suite to build rules for personalizations, a rule could be to show B2C content triggers for Site visitors, who mainly see pages related to B2C.

With Sitecore Online Marketing Suite, it is also possible to personalize content based on such factors as:
- Countrys (say Holà when visitors is from Spain)
- Regions (show content related to Oxford if your Site visitor is from …. Oxford)
- Number of pages visited
- Searched for specific keywords
- Comes from specific external URL (enables you to personalize on things like target demographic related to specific external URL)
- Etc.

Personalization can be realtime session based and cookie based, enabling you to create a personalized front page next time the visitor return to your site.
However I would recommend only to personalize realtime and not cookie based, excluding factors as; different people using the same computer, change in behavior (one day I want yellow pants, next day red one….. PS: not me!) etc.

Who should use it: If you have different target groups or users with different behaviors, this is a great way to match the right content to your users, this is also known as Behavioral Targeting. It can be integrated very lightly, were you place small Behavioral Targeting boxes in your websites architecture, this would be a good way to start-up and get some analytical feedback on the conversion rates.

Sales enablement
If you’re into Business to Business – you will love this feature!

Ever thought of your website as a lead harvester, giving qualified leads to your sales department.

Sitecore Online Marketing Suite comes with an integration to MaxMind, which for a small fee to MaxMind translate those IP addresses into which company they belong to, enabling your sales department to react. It is possible to tag important leadpages like; Who are we, Contact us, Pricing, search for “Prices” etc. So that your daily lead report is filtered and only shows users with leadvalue above X, meaning you have to have visited number of leadpages before being considered as a lead.

Example of a lead, which has several visits (note Ebay is fictive in this case):

With Sales enablement it is possible to dig into each potential lead and see details like:
- Number of visits
- User Experience for each visit
- which profile keys score are highest (can tell about their behavior, which department they’ere from etc.).

Lead profiles scores in Sitecore Online Marketing Suite

It is also possible to subscribe to certain leads, which will alert you each time they visit your site.

You can create category of users, like potential lead, existing customer, press, own employees, etc. and classify each user – enabling you to have different reports like leads, visits from existing customers, press etc. and react upon those visits.

If you’re working with personalization you can even personalize content depending on the visitors classification! So you can show press related content to users, who is classified as press and cross sales offers to existing customer users.

Who should use it: Well mainly B2B businesses, but there can be exceptions.

CRM integration
If you’re working with Sales enablement and you have a CRM system, this feature is a killer!

It makes it possible to integrate data from your site to your CRM system, in the Sales report you can click on a button called “CRM” which automatically will save visits from a selected user to a account or contact in your CRM system.
This enables CRM users to have a real-time view on leads and existing customers, which online behavior do they have – are they closing in on a buy?

Below is an example of how to bind a lead from the sales enablement report to an account in Microsoft Dynamics CRM:
Bind data to Microsoft Dynamics CRM from Sitecore Online Marketing Suite

Once the binding is done, you can access visitor behavior from the CRM:
Data from Sitecore Online Marketing Suite in Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Sitecore Online Marketing Suite comes with an out of the box integration to Microsoft CRM, but has an open API so it’s possible to integrate with other CRM systems as well.

Who should use it: Mostly B2B businesses, but there can be exceptions.

With this brief overview of Sitecore Online Marketing Suite, I have created a matrix, where features is compared with different organizations types.
Please note that there can be different scenarios, where another outcome is possible.

In the matrix I have given 1 to 5 points, where 5 indicates that you should defiantly look more into the feature and is also a guideline to start with the features with the highest scores.

Click on the matrix to see a larger overview:
When to use Sitecore Online Marketing Suite matrix

I hope you find this post useful, please provide feedback or comments below.

In my next blog post I will focus on how to get started with Sitecore Online Marketing Suite.

7 comments » | Behavioral Targeting, Online Marketing, Sitecore

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