Success with Personalisation

Personalisation is the Challenge and the Opportunity

In environments that are globally competitive and economically conservative, marketers have to evolve their techniques for survival. And brands are winning the hearts and minds of customers by shifting the paradigm of selling products and service to selling customer experiences. It is a profound movement that has led to new focus and investment in digital marketing - 43% of marketers in say digital permeates most of our marketing programs
eConsultancy 2015

The most intriguing yet widely underutilised technique for digital marketing is content personalisation. The efforts to support our clients execute their own personalisation strategy has led to this blog whereby I’ll share our approach to create personalised experiences across digital channels.

First of all, decide which channels personalisation makes sense for your business - this can be based on three factors

  • High traffic
  • Large subscriber customer base
  • Membership/ Partnership business
  • A combination of the above

Secondly, it is of the utmost importance that you have the right solution that meets the needs of your organisation. Price tags are never a good indication of technology fit for your business. The technology choice comes down to the following elements:

  • Marketing channel for customer acquisition
  • Integration with critical/legacy business application
  • In-house digital skills (digital maturity)

This is a simplified breakdown of key elements that will support a technology choice decision. If you have aspirations for cutting edge digital marketing and want to integrate with your current systems, I recommend seeking a well-rounded solution like Sitecore.

The next step is to start planning for personalisation. Assuming you now have invested in a platform for personalisation, it is time to create a strategy for 1 to 1 personalisation.

Customer Journey Map

To personalise you need to have a customer journey map to see the different touch points of a customer and how your content can support a purchase or customer life-cycle. If you’ve never done a customer journey map before, I would suggest the best way is to role play a real-life example.

Once you have completed this customer journey map, you’ll need to highlight the online and offline customer touch points and marketing channel type - for example: billboard (offline) - above the line Marketing.

Content Creation

Double your content creation. You’ll need more content that is relevant to your personalisation scenarios. Start thinking about every image and text on every email, web page, or print asset as an area of content real estate that will personalise to the individual. You won’t want to personalise everything as it will be impossible to keep track of what is dynamic and what isn’t. So choose a few high impact content spots such as the hero banner and your sidebar.

Personalisation Rules

There will be limitations based on the technology you have implemented however, using a tool like Sitecore Experience Platform (XP), sky’s the limit. Start with basic rules using explicit data such as location, or number of visits. This can be easily managed and is relevant to a large audience group. Granular and layered personalisation rules can be explored as the organisation advances in digital maturity and you identify high value personalisation use cases.

Before executing a personalisation rule it’s important to create a hypothesis to document rules so a personalisation strategy is scalable as it changes or add new rules to test.

Simple Personalisation Example: If visitor has > 3 visits, then pop up modal with discount of 10%.

Rinse and Repeat

No personalisation is complete without a test to show its success rate. Sitecore has built in multi-variant testing but if you’re using a different solution without built-in content testing, Optimisely does cookie based content testing which is recommend for beginners.

When running test, like personalisation, it is fundamental to have a strategy and plan what you’re testing. There’s tones of data you can collect and use to run a test and each business/department will have different key performance indicators to measure. Define these before a test.

For this example, I’ll use number of “conversions” as the testing benchmark (you’ll need to define what is the conversion). Run the testing over a time period and decide the sample size. Start small if it’s your first personalisation exercise.


In a recent study by eConsultancy (2015), 93% of organisations that use personalisation saw an uplift in conversion through the website. Personalisation can work for all website types but it requires the right tools, techniques, and planning. When implementing personalisation for clients, we see consistent improvement to conversions so it’s a worthy investment which can directly impact bottom line. Marketing to the masses is a lottery, it’s expensive, and it’s hard to measure results. Developing a personalisation strategy has measurable results and with the help of Switch’s client services, we can guarantee successful implementation and organisational digital maturity.

Good luck and keep it relevant!

— Nick Jones

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Switch have been awarded a Sitecore Experience Award for Best in Connecting the Experience.
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