Category: Customer Engagement Platform


Sitecore Digital Marketing System Execution Strategies

December 31st, 2012 — 10:56am

I was lucky to participate and present in all three Sitecore Symposiums this year, where I met and talked with a lot Sitecore customers and partners. It was really great to hear how our customers are using our platform to grow outcomes of their digital channels.

It was interesting to get feedback in terms of how many are using – and planning to use – our different digital marketing capabilities. These capabilities include testing, personalization and automation.

I spoke with numerous customers who are reflecting on how to use DMS effectively. Across the geographies, personalization, automation, and multi-channel marketing are an entirely new ballgame to many organizations.

The ones that are executing on these capabilities have gained more business value out of their digital solutions.

It’s so easy to get dazzled when you hear how digital mature organizations have improved conversion rates, by using for instance personalization.

We sometimes see that by being dazzled, the focus then becomes “Let’s use personalization”.

However you should always treat personalization or use of other capabilities, as a process towards reaching your goals.

In this post I will share some of the takeaways, from one of my shared Symposium presentations, How to be successful with your Digital Marketing System Implementation in a few simplified steps.

Step 1: Get strategic
Like Paul Arden said “If you don’t have a goal, you can’t score” – so true – also in digital channels.

So before you start diving in to the wonderful world of DMS make sure that you have a Digital Strategy in place. Set clear objectives and make sure they are aligned with your strategic objectives. Your critical KPI’s should not be based on numbers of visitors, page views etc. but focus on actions – conversions – that are relevant for your strategic objectives.

Step 2: Define Engagement Values for your Digital Channels and ensure Data Quality
Sitecore’s concept for Engagement Values is a great dimension to track cross channel outcomes (these outcomes should be related to your Strategic Objectives).

Step 2 on the way to happiness is to make sure to have set Engagement Values on digital goals.

An exercise we often do in order to define the Engagement Value Scale, is to create a pyramid that contains objectives in the form of Digital Goals. The top goals are most important for succeeding with your objectives. Then Engagement Value is set on each goal, according to importance and weight between the goals.

Once the Engagement Value scale is defined, it’s just a matter of creating the goals with the right values.

A part of this step is also defining the critical few KPI’s. You use these for reporting.

We recommend that your captured data has a high quality. Something to consider is to have a structured Marketing Taxonomy in place, so you effectively can track all your multi-channel marketing initiatives.

An additional consideration could be to establish different sets of profiles that will give you valuable information about visitor behavior. Examples of profiles are Personas, Stage in Buyer Journey, Product interest, etc.
(More on profiling in this blog post).

Now you have the foundation to measure qualitative outcome of your digital channels.

Step 3: Use Insights
Besides having access to information about your KPI performance, you should also look at data – not just from a reporting perspective, but dive in – do analysis and find areas to optimize if you have quality data; you have access to a goldmine of insights, like:

  • Which assets are most relevant for Personas A
  • Which keyword does Persona B use to find our site
  • Which Campaigns are giving us most value (in terms of our strategic objectives)
  • Which Marketing Channels are top performers – which are not
  • Which keywords has most potential to be optimized
  • Which pages has most potential to be optimized
  • Etc.
  • Step 4: Optimize
    Based on the insights, there should be plenty of actionable recommendations to work with for optimization – and luckily plenty of integrated tools to help with the execution.

    If you don’t have much experience with optimization then start focus on the low hanging fruit. Here are some considerations for low hanging fruit optimization:

    Testing
    Start running test on key conversion pages, key real estate – like Call to Actions on most visited pages. Getting more visitors to your conversion pages will optimize conversions and optimizing the conversion pages will add even more on top. Usually a good start is to look at your top landing pages and start running tests on these.

    Personalization
    Start with simple rules based personalization, which could be based on Keywords visitors used to find your site, GEO location, referring sites etc.
    Create Call to Actions that are relevant for those segments and show them on key pages – to move the visitor towards your goals.

    Engagement Automation
    Start with enabling simple engagement plans on for instance Newsletter Subscribe. A simple engagement plan could be a flow of 3 emails being sent over time
    – emails that will educate the subscriber about your brand and services.

    All of these are easy to configure and are supported out of the box, with no need to write any code, implement any tags, etc.

    As you’re getting results and learning what works and what does not work you could move towards more advanced execution strategies. This could be diving in to more advanced multi-channel personalization, which will be the topic of my next post.

    Happy New Year and good luck with getting more business value of your Sitecore solution and please share any insights you come across.

    Comment » | Customer Engagement Platform, Digital Marketing, Digital Marketing System, Online Marketing, Sitecore

    Oh no – can’t see the keywords from Google!

    February 1st, 2012 — 4:58am

    …. And still trying to be relevant for the visitor!

    Back in mid-October 2011 Google made some changes, that will impact the visibility into which keywords, visitors arriving to your website from Google have used. However it will only affect visitors who are logged in using their Google Account to Google.com.

    The reason for the change is “As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver”, quote Evelyn Kao, Product Manager.

    According to Google they expect it to be a single digit percentage of visitors, where you won’t see the keywords. However as the service, is being rolled out to various country sites and with broader adoption of Google+, that percentage could be even higher.

    Reported by different bloggers within the SEO community, the numbers are constantly increasing – reaching double digits for some sites in November and are getting higher share each month.

    So how can it affect you and the Customer Engaging websites, which you are trying to create and maintain?

    First – a really low hanging fruit in Customer Engagement is to use the keywords for personalization, the keywords reveal a lot about user intent, like why is the visitor here, which products/services is interesting, are the visitor just searching or ready to engage?

    Not having the visibility into the keywords (the intent), will make it harder for personalization based on keywords, when all you get is a (not provided) parameter.

    But how could you, as an Interactive Marketer, still try to deliver an Engaging experience for the first time visitor arriving on an entry page, from Google with the keyword (not provided) parameter. The Visitor then clicks on the Home page, what would be an engaging and relevant message here?

    The picture below shows the behavior of the visitor, according to what is stored in your site analytics.
    How can you optimize the engagement for the visitor, coming with (not provided) keyword

    So let’s evaluate which information you have access to:
    - Geo information about the visitor (Country, City etc.)
    - Which entry page the visitor landed on
    - Referrer Search Engine is Google

    This will allow you to create targeted messages based on the entry page, if it’s a specific service – the message could be – “Learn more about why these customers use the specific service”, linking to case studies around that specific service. It could also be combined with the Country or City, which the visitor is located in, so the message becomes “Learn more about why these customers in x country use the specific service”.

    However the more dimensions you bring in play, the more messaging you need to create, analyze, optimize and maintain.

    If you take a look at a specific entry page, just like a page about a specific service – is it clear which intent the visitor could have by looking at this page?

    The clearer the more usage you could have of the above….
    Unclear leads to other ways around to be relevant for the visitor.

    If the entry page drives a lot of traffic to your site and most of that traffic is from Search, then chances is that the Long Tail of keywords, maybe similar to this:
    The long tail of Search Keywords

    In the Long tail above, 20.546 visits are coming from 29 different keyword(s) and some invisible (not provided) keywords from Google, which at position 4 are 7.8% of all search traffic leading to this page.

    If we look at the top3 keyword(s) terms, they are driving 76.03% of all organic Search traffic to this page.

    If your analytics is integrated with your Web Content Management System and you have access to the data in real time, just like is the case with Sitecore Customer Engagement Platform, then you can access page level analytics and get info about the top keywords for a given page, just like the top3 keyword(s) in the Long Tail example above and use this data, to be more engaging on the Home Page.

    Here are two examples of what you could show on the Home Page, after the visitor clicks from the Entry Page.

    Example 1: The Top1 Keyword(s) drives almost all Search traffic to the Entry Page
    Then the engaging content – that should stimulate the visitor in taking the next desired action, should be based on that Top 1 keyword term, chances are high that visitor have used this Search Term to find your site.

    Example 2: You get much traffic for different Keyword(s) terms
    How about showing a Tag Cloud based on the Top3, Top5, Top10 used keyword(s) terms, which are driving traffic to the Entry Page, could be a simple spot that asks “Do you want more info about…. Keyword(s) Tag Cloud”. Then you are trying to be relevant and chances are (depending on how many Keyword(s) you use in the Tag Cloud), that you are being relevant. If the Visitor triggers on a specific keyword in the Tag Cloud, then you have more info in the intent and you can use this for further optimization of the visitor experiences on your site.

    Some considerations:
    - Not Every Entry Page leads to personalized spots on the Home Page, identify those which are important in driving traffic and where keywords often reveal some intent.
    - Consider Filter “Bad” Keyword(s) sentences out, before showing them in the Tag Cloud. Worst case could be, you are getting a lot of inbound traffic on “brand product x repair”, properly not an engaging sentence to showcase on the Home Page.

    Having access to data and the possibility to seamlessly integrate these data into optimizing the visitor experience in real time, is getting more and more important.

    Web Analytics are not just about having access to aggregate data anymore, it’s should be a part of the real time optimization framework, which can be used to control and optimize the visitor experience in real time. The Analytics of the future is heading towards being Responsive Analytics.

    Please use the comments below, if you have any comments, feedback or have other suggestions for optimizing the Home page, given the quest above.

    Comment » | Customer Engagement Platform, Digital Marketing, Personalization, Sitecore, Web Analytics

    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

    5 killer features in Sitecore Customer Engagement Platform

    May 10th, 2011 — 6:58pm

    At dreamcore North America, Sitecore CEO Michael Seifert revealed Sitecore Customer Engagement Platform, which will be released June 8th.

    First some lingo, next version of Sitecore Online Marketing Suite, which has been on the market for nearly 2 years, is called Sitecore Digital Marketing System, together with Sitecore Web Content Management System it gives Sitecore Customer Engagement Platform.

    Sitecore Customer Engagement Platform

    The upcoming release is available as a Technical Preview, giving developers and partners access to get familiar with this exciting release.

    I have played around in Sitecore Customer Engagement Platform for a while and here are my Top 5 killer features, which purely will rock the world of Sitecore Customers and partners.

    Profile Cards
    In Online Marketing Suite, profiling content was done by setting values (using sliders) on content. Now you can create predefined Profile Cards, where values are set using a radar diagram, the predefined profile cards could be personas, where the values on the radar diagram shows interests of that persona.

    Persona Profile Card

    Editors can use Profile Cards to write better and more relevant content, they can easily choose Profile Cards and write content, based on the settings in those presets. Meaning they don’t have to manually set values, using sliders.
    Editors can select one or more Profiles Cards, the profiling of the content, are then set using one of these settings:

  • Use values from one Profile Card
  • Use average values from multiple Cards
  • Use a sum of values from multiple Cards
  • So much easier to profile content and editors will know who they write for, making it easier to create better and more relevant content.

    So now you have content profiled, whats next?

    Real-time personalization, based on the visitor profile (my next post will cover this).

    Engagement Analytics
    I have used analytics for many years, talked with a lot of customers using analytics, it just takes time to analyze data, getting the insights you base your recommendations on.

    If you, as a customer, don’t have the time or resources for this, your KPI’s will be around traffic, page views etc.. You are measuring quantity, which doesn’t tell you anything! Traffic is easy to get, if you have high enough budget for traffic acquisition. What is interesting is where the valuable traffic comes from, the ones that have high engagement (like conversions).

    With Engagement Analytics Dashboard, it’s easy to get valuable insights, you can use for recommendations.
    You are able to measure quality, see where the engaged visitors comes from and drill down into the specifics.

    Sitecore Engagement Analytics Dashboard

    Now you can see exactly which channels and campaigns bringing most value, and which doesn’t! Making it easier to save money and optimize your marketing spend effectiveness. And best of it all, you can do it yourself with just a couple of minutes!

    Take the picture above, traffic (grey line) is falling but quality (green boxes) is increasing, and direct and organic Search being the one with highest Value per Visits.

    Engagement Automation
    So you got the visitors attention, he signed up for a whitepaper, also giving you the permission to send e-mails to him.

    Congratulations!

    Unfortunately many companies are using this permission to send mass mails, which (unless you have a niche business) aren’t relevant for many of the recipients. So you keep sending them mails, result are low open and click rates, your sales are unhappy, claiming you are bringing them low quality leads and so forth.

    With Engagement Automation, you are able to define flows, that listens to you visitors activity, for instance a sign-up for a Whitepaper, puts the visitor in the Whitepaper Engagement Flow, that automatically triggers e-mail lead nurturing and sends out relevant content, based on the visitors profile (implicit and explicit data).

    If a visitor change behavior, you can trigger another flow or perhaps an alert to sales (if it’s a B2B scenario). Engagement flows can also be used for events, making sure you send reminders and follow-ups, which are scheduled in the flow.

    Sitecore Engagement Automation

    The picture above show an event flow, triggering reminder e-mails.

    Inline Conditional personalization
    Woo it’s just got really really easy to do personalization, no need to be in several applications to define content, conditions and applying the rule. Now you, as a Marketer, can use inline editing, which basically is navigate to the page, section, spot, etc. that you want to personalize, click on the personalization icon and create the personalized content based on conditions.

    Inline Conditional Personalization in Sitecore Customer Engagement Platform

    The arrows on the picture above, shows the icon to create personalized content and secondly, the content has 2 personalized versions (based on location), with content for US visitors being showed. You can change these by clicking the arrows (not mine) and edit the content inline.

    Sitecore Customer Engagement Platform ships with a lot of conditions Out-of-the-Box, these could of course be extended by the API. Examples of conditions are:

  • Based on Keywords
  • Based on location (Country, Region, City)
  • Based on Campaigns
  • Based on Goals
  • I think we will begin to see a lot of Sitecore Customers adopting this feature, they will properly start with the little big things, like personalized content based on top 10 keywords, personalized content based on top 10 campaigns, etc. and scale, once the value of delivering personalized experiences begins to show.

    Integrating it all
    The best of it all, it’s integrated!
    Take a visitor who comes from Search, use Inline Conditional personalization and target that visitor with content relevant to the searched keywords, which can reveal intent and which phase of the buying cycle, he’s in.
    Combine that with Geo information and make the content local to the City or Country the he’s from.

    Using Profile Cards on content and you are able to see which interest the visitor have – and you can personalize content from that knowledge (implicit personalization).

    If you get a transaction, like a permission to newsletter, you can store all previous behavior with that. Depending on behavior, you can assign the visitor to a specific Engagement flow, using Engagement Automation – which will nurture the visitor, according to behavior.

    This could be a personalized e-mail (using Sitecore E-mail Campaign Manager), open and click rates are stored together with any new behavior, that the visitor has on your site, or perhaps through the mobile channel. That new behavior can be stored and depending on what it shows, the flow can send out trigger mails or move the visitor to another flow.

    If you add CRM Integration, it gives some great possibilities in storing data in CRM and integrate online with offline behavior and have your Engagement flows, triggering personalized e-mail according to change in behavior.

    Using Engagement Analytics, you are able to measure the quality, such as, are the personalization adding value (more engagement), does your trigger based e-mail dialogue move the visitor to more engagement – and if not, you have the tools to optimize and go further…

    That’s my list – feel free to comment and share your list as well, there are so many exciting things – if I had a bigger list, I would also have added the new enhanced Multivariate testing, which leaves no excuse for not be testing which content leads to highest Engagement.

    Comment » | Customer Engagement Platform, Digital Marketing System, Online Marketing, Sitecore

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