Sitecore personalization is still a mystery to many but the objective is quite simple - create compelling content to increase visitor engagement, generate more leads, and make more sales. But exactly what should you personalize? This post looks at how to inspire visitors to engage with your brand, become customers, retain them, and re-engage them if they drift away.
About Sitecore, Salesforce, and S4S
Sitecore, Salesforce, and the integration software, S4S, is a powerful combination that can turn total strangers into valued customers (and keep them). By intelligently connecting these technologies the data captured in each system can be an input to the other.
The behavior of each Sitecore website visitor can be made available in their Salesforce record. As a visitor traverses the website, Sitecore can compartmentalize them into different profiles. The assigned profiles then become the data source used to determine what personalized content to show each visitor. The profile data, along with Sitecore goals, collectively termed analytics, can be pushed by S4S to a Salesforce lead or contact record when a web form is submitted. With the profile and browsing intelligence in Salesforce, agents can better understand their prospects and customers.
In the other direction, when Salesforce agents change the status of leads and contacts in their sales funnel, the values can be mapped to Sitecore where they are used to personalize the experience of the returning visitor i.e. the Salesforce agent can control the content displayed to his/her prospect when they visit the website.
Sitecore websites can differentiate between different visitor types and personalize content to each:
- First-time visitors
- Returning visitors (potentially via an email click-through)
- Visitors who have identified themselves with a name and email address (usually by submitting a web form)
- Visitors who are Sitecore users and have trusted access to a Sitecore customer account or portal
In the last two cases, the visitor is likely to be a Salesforce lead or contact and can, therefore have their experience personalized from Salesforce. With this in mind, let's look at personalizations that can be shown to visitors based on what is known about them in Sitecore and Salesforce.
Personalizing to First-Time Visitors
These visitors typically arrive from different sources:
- Direct traffic - Manually entering the URL or clicking on a browser bookmark
- Search engine - Clicking a link in a search engine
- Referral traffic - Clicking a link on another site, social network or downloaded document, etc.
The first challenge is to reduce the bounce rate. Visitors leave quickly when the expectations created by the referral link are not met by the website. Sitecore can identify a first-time visitor and the referring link and then personalize the content to match their expectations. This may be in the form of a pop-in or prominent content showing custom content or offering time-limited discounts, deals, or specials.
Delay presentation of lead forms
Lead, registration or subscription forms steal valuable space which is better occupied by marketing content. Instead of wasting prime space, only show a web form after the visitor is engaged in the content e.g. after viewing several pages.
Personalize based on the visitors' persona
Use Sitecore profile and pattern cards to personalize based on the visitor's unique characteristics. Sitecore quickly discovers these based on the visitor's browsing behavior. Create tailored content to engage each visitor persona. For example, on an engineering site, the content shown to a visiting mechanic would be different from the content shown to a tool reseller.
Personalize based on Sitecore goals
Sitecore goals are used to show if a visitor has viewed or interacted with important content. Use the goals to personalize the content and messaging e.g. a visitor who has downloaded an engineering white paper is clearly highly engaged and should be shown content to reflect this.
Deals to highly engaged visitors
It's tempting to offer sign-up deals to encourage visitors to complete a form but this can create leads for the wrong reason and create unnecessary costs. A better approach is to wait until the visitor is highly engaged and then incentivize them with an offer.
Personalizing to Returning Visitors
These visitors often arrive via email click-through, bookmark, a link in a document, etc.
Incentivize returning customers
Returning visitors are more highly engaged but need something to push them to completion. Use Sitecore to create new content, expiring deals, giveaways, bundled deals, etc. to edge them over the line.
Hyper-personalize the home page
More is known about returning visitors so use their Sitecore profile to create targeted home page images and content which relates to their interests. Identify around five types of visitors who frequently visit the website and create matching content that speaks to them directly.
Prioritize items on the navigation menus
Again, use the visitor's Sitecore profiles to determine what web pages are likely to be important to different target audiences and make these prominent in the menu system. Finding relevant content fast is the most important attribute of a good website. Also, consider personalizing the search control so it highlights previous searches.
Speak to visitors in their own language
Based on the visitor's geolocation, create respect by delivering content in their local language. Consider also the nature of your offering in relation to the season e.g. northern hemisphere summer vs. southern hemisphere winter, environment e.g. forest driving vs. desert driving, and local economies and cultures e.g. first world visitor vs. third world visitor.
Personalize based on budget
Use Sitecore profiling to identify the visitor's budget. It's likely, particularly with product websites, that the visitor's budget can be deduced from their behavior (or conversations with them if they are a known lead in Salesforce). Once the visitor's price range is known, promote products in that band.
Personalize based on the products viewed
This has been perfected by numerous eCommerce sites like Aliexpress.com and Amazon.com. Both upsell and cross-sell techniques can be used to capture additional revenue. Classically consider boldly recommending similar products to those already viewed.
Personalize based on group behavior
Determine popular pages and products and promote those ahead of items that attract less interest. Show the number of visitors who are currently viewing a page if the number rises above a set value. Alternatively reveal the number of each product sold to date, or on that day, or the total of all products sold. Create FOMO by counting down the number of products remaining in stock if the number is low.
Personalize exit experience
If a highly engaged visitor is exiting without completing a form, consider creating a pop-in offer triggered as they quit the page. As this may be the final message it needs to persuasively argue the visitor remains onsite and fires a call-to-action.
Personalizing to Identified Visitors
Identified visitors range from unqualified leads to important customers. The website messaging should reflect their stage in the sales pipeline. The key difference is that personalization to these visitors is driven by Salesforce.
When the visitor completes a web form they are suddenly a known person and this can be acknowledged in web content. For example, they can be greeted using their first name, and targeted with content based on their form submission data.
Finally, this is the one-to-one stage where both the visitor and the sales rep are known to each other for the first time. It presents an opportunity to show the contact name and details of the rep on the homepage or pop-in content.
Personalize to visitors based on their demographic
Match content to the visitor's age, race, sex, employment status, education, income, marital status, etc. These should be subtle tweaks that will further heighten the visitor's level of engagement. The data source can be their Salesforce record, Sitecore form submission, or some other means.
Focus on creating loyalty
To help retain visitors, the web content needs to align with the visitor's interests. Key customers need to be reminded of the benefits they have accrued and made special offers in the form of a pop-in. Dynamic and targeted content is a proven way to maintain customer interest.
Personalizing in Customer Accounts
Creating Sitecore portal pages is a good way to keep trusted customers. Visitors log in to the portal using a username and password. S4S makes this easy by administering access from the visitor's Salesforce record. There are many ways to personalize the content of the logged-in visitor including their Sitecore role, and profile which can be driven by Salesforce.
Portals are a strategy to retain customers as they are encouraged to sign into their customer accounts to receive deals or targeted messages. For example, news releases can be displayed in the portal to announce price changes, bulk deals, trade prices, etc.
Email preferences personalization
Regular communication, usually by email, is key to customer retention. Allowing customers to determine the nature of these communications via a subscription page is a powerful way to keep them engaged. You need only consider an email from Pinterest to understand the power of targeted marketing.
The subscription page lets customers choose what interests them and these changes are pushed to Salesforce campaigns which become the source list of mail-outs.
Bank card expiry notifications
This presents another opportunity to interact with customers either proactively via email or passively using a pop-in to remind customers to update their payment details.
Sitecore can determine if a visitor has not recently visited the website and this can be a reason to remind them by email about the benefits of returning to the site e.g. completing a purchase, updating an offer, provide new content.
This list provides some personalization ideas. Choose which ideas work best for your site. Many of these can also be driven by Salesforce after the visitor is known.
Not every personalization is guaranteed to increase revenues so continuously track and tweak to optimize the visitor experience.
FuseIT specializes in Sitecore to Salesforce integration. Our S4S integration enables both implicit and explicit personalization. Please contact us for more information or to see a demo of this in action.