Strategy Talks Sitecore Part 1: Customer Profile

June 02, 2015 Alex Ziegler

We’re very excited about some of Sitecore’s new and enhanced features. But here’s the catch - they are only as powerful as the digital strategy behind them.

In this three-part series, I will introduce you to three Sitecore features that we find particularly powerful:

  1. Customer Profile (focus of this post): Start tracking the behavior of specific customers on your site.
  2. Path Analyzer: Follow individual user paths on your site.
  3. Adaptive Personalization: Surface content based on the persona a user most closely aligns with.

Within each post, I will be answering the following questions:

  • What is it? – A description of the functionality.
  • What can it do? – A scenario showing how the feature can be used by a relationship-based business like yours.
  • What can you do? – Suggested activities you can do to lay the foundation for gaining the most from the functionality.

Introduction - Why the excitement?

If your website is currently on Sitecore or you are interested in getting the latest version, it is time that you consider how to make the most out of your investment. Sitecore has a lot of functionality that you probably don’t yet recognize or haven’t quite figured out how to apply to your relationship-based business. That’s why it’s important to start becoming more familiar with some of its most powerful capabilities.

I recently attended a training session to learn more about Sitecore’s latest version (8), and found that there is a lot of great new functionality available. What surprised me most, however, was just how blank of a canvas Sitecore is providing. Instead of being something that you simply turn on and see perform its magic, it requires a decent amount of thought, configuration and continuous learning.

The good news is: all of the effort is worth it. Sitecore is giving your business the ability to tailor its functionality to your audiences and business goals. This will allow you to create the customer experiences that will set you apart from your competitors in ways that were simply not possible in the past.

Customer Profile

The first feature that I’d like to introduce you to is the Customer Profile. Although the Customer Profile is not new in Sitecore, it comes with some recent enhancements. If you weren’t focused on this capability before – now is the time.

Customer Profile on Sitecore

What is it?

In a nutshell, the Customer Profile allows you to connect your user’s website behavior to all the other client activities you track in your CRM (such as Salesforce or Dynamics).

If you’re not using this capability today, you likely have no way of knowing if an existing client or a prospect is going to your website; let alone what specifically they are doing there. This is because your website and your CRM are not talking to each other.

Going forward, you can use different methods to identify visitors on your site, relate those visitors to existing customer profiles pulled in from your CRM, and track data about that customer’s site behavior. With this data all collected together in one place, you can start to have a single view of your customer’s interests and needs.

This single view can include the following:

  • Past Searches: Past searches the individual has performed on your site.
  • Analytics: Data about the individual’s behavior across a variety of your channels (your blogs, desktop and mobile versions of your site, etc.).
  • Timeline: Visual that shows what actions your customer has performed over time (even before they became an “identified user”) and whether or not those actions are ones you deem most valuable for that particular user. 
  • Classifications: Various ways of classifying the individual based on their interests or online behavior.

What can it do?

Imagine that someone on your sales team, Megan, just met a prospective client, Jeff. Megan enters Jeff as a contact in Salesforce (a CRM tool), as is her common practice. Because your company is using the Customer Profile feature, all of the information Megan enters into Salesforce is also integrated into Sitecore. This makes it easy for Megan to send a personalized message to Jeff through Sitecore. She sends him the following note:

“Hi Jeff, it was great meeting you at the conference last weekend. You seemed interested in our work in the retail industry, so I thought you might want to see this case study on our website <link>.”

Jeff had already been doing some Google searches that had brought him to your company’s content in the past; however in Sitecore this activity was logged under an “anonymous” user. When Jeff receives the email, he clicks the link, taking him to your company’s website. Now that he’s done this, behind the scenes, Sitecore has the information it needs to identify Jeff as a user on your site. As Jeff explores different pages, his behavior is recorded in his Customer Profile.

Megan receives an alert that Jeff clicked on the link she sent him. She’s interested to see if Jeff explored content that is most valuable for a prospective client, as she’s classified him as such. Based on Jeff’s activity, Megan notices that he seems to have a particular interest in an area of the retail industry that she wasn’t previously aware of. This becomes even clearer when she reviews other analytics the system has pulled about Jeff. She sees pages that Jeff had arrived upon through his past Google searches, including ones on your company’s related blog site. Megan is able to gain a lot of insight because Sitecore has allowed her to view Jeff’s online behavior, from even before she met him, by pulling his previously “anonymous” analytics into his Customer Profile.

Megan decides to schedule a meeting with Jeff to talk more about his needs. She now knows where to focus the conversation. Internally, the marketing team has also gained valuable insight into the type of content a prospective client like Jeff may find most interesting.

What can you do?

Here are three activities you can start doing to make a scenario like the one described above possible for your organization:

1. User Identification: Discuss ways that you can identify your users so that you can start to track data about them. It is good to talk about the pros and cons of different methods, and how you will best realize your strategy.

In the case of the above scenario, Sitecore identified Jeff because he clicked on an email that was sent to him through Sitecore. One alternative method is to prompt Jeff to create a custom log-in on the site.

2. User Classification: Consider different ways you may be able to segment your users. For example, ask yourself: “Which classifications make the biggest difference when it comes to the type of content a user would find relevant?”

In the case of the above scenario, Megan classified Jeff as a prospective client. This could influence what content is deemed most valuable for Jeff to view or interact with on the site. It helps to define whether or not Jeff’s visit to the site can be considered a success or if it can be improved in some way. As time goes on and you learn more about your users, it’s reasonable to consider making your classifications more specific.

3. Internal Process: Map out an ideal process for how individuals interacting with clients can make the most use of the customer-specific data you collect. Consider ways that the marketing team can learn from the data as well.

In the case of the above scenario, Megan received an alert about Jeff’s activity and was able to easily access other data about his online behavior to inform her sales process. In addition, the marketing team regularly viewed the information to learn more about users and what can be done to improve their experience. In both instances, an internal process was required to ensure both parties could see, understand and act upon the information.

That wraps up this post about the Customer Profile feature. Stay tuned for the next blog post of this series about Path Analyzer.

Want to learn more about personalization? Read You Said I “Might Like” That???

Interested in the more technical aspects of Sitecore implementation? Check out a few of our other posts on Sitecore:
Sitecore: Express Subitem Module
Sitecore vCards


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Alex Ziegler

At the time of publishing, Alex was a Strategist at One North.


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