Getting Started With Sitecore Adaptive Personalization

How to use Sitecore profile cards, keys & values.

This blog is part 4 of my series ‘Getting Started With Sitecore Personalization’.

If you haven’t read the other articles in this series, click on either article below depending on what stage in your Sitecore personalization journey you’re in.

  1. Part 1: Setting Up Sitecore Goals
  2. Part 2: Multivariate and A/B Testing
  3. Part 3: Setting Personalization Rules

This article is going to be all about adaptive personalization and how to get started with it.

Before we dive too deep, let’s first look into what adaptive personalization is.

What Is Sitecore Adaptive Personalization?

Adaptive personalization is a way of personalizing a visitor’s experience on your site when they meet a particular ‘profile’.

A profile is a categorization that you can set in Sitecore which will place your website visitors into a particular consumer group (or buyer profile) based on the content that they view or interact with on your site.

How Do Your Website Visitors Fit Into A Profile?

You’ll create profiles in Sitecore for certain attributes that you want to track your site visitors against. As an example, for our site, we could have a profile of ‘Product Interest’ to track what product a visitor is likely to be interested in based on the pages that they’re browsing.

Each profile will have ‘profile keys’ which are a particular attribute that’s associated with a particular profile. Each of these will be assigned a value.

If our profile is product interest, for the getfishtank site we could have four product interest profile keys: Has Sitecore, Wants Sitecore, Wants Search for Website, Wants Search for their People. Each of these profile keys will be assigned a value (i.e. 10 points each), and each page on the site will be assigned an appropriate number of points for each relevant profile.

This allows us to track how many points across each of these profiles a visitor accumulates, in order to determine which product they’re most likely to be interested in. Their journey and point accumulation on the site is known as a ‘pattern’.

How Does This Trigger Personalization?

You can set up personalization rules so that when a visitor matches a profile in real time with the closest pattern you can display other content on the site that’s relevant and personalized to someone with similar interests or behaviour to theirs. This will give them a personalized experience on the site, and (hopefully) contribute to a higher goal completion rate, whatever that may mean to your business.

Creating Profiles

  1. Click on Marketing Control Panel in the Sitecore launchpad.
  2. Open up ‘Profiles’. You’ll see Sitecore has already added some sample profiles you can use as examples, or to build upon. I suggest making your own from scratch so it’s customized to your business, website and needs.
  3. Right click on Profiles, and click Insert > Profile. You can also choose to insert a folder first if you’d like to categorize your profiles using folders.
  4. Name your profile. In keeping with the example used above, we’ll call ours ‘Product Interest’.
  5. You can set what’s called a decay rate if this value will change over time (i.e. if your profile is ‘age’ you’d want to set a decay rate because the person’s age will change over time).

Creating Profile Keys

  1. Right click on the new profile you just created and click Insert > Profile Key.
  2. Add as many profile keys as you need, in our case, we’ll be adding four: Has Sitecore, Wants Sitecore, Wants Search for Website, Wants Search for their People.
  3. You can add a minimum and maximum value of points that you’d want this profile to acquire. In our case, we have no reason to add a min and max value so we’ll leave these blank.

Creating Profile Cards

Here's where it gets interesting.

  1. Right click on Profile Cards and click Insert > Profile Card.
  2. The best way to describe profile cards is that they’re like the personas for your site.

    In some instances they’ll be the same as the profile keys you set, and in others they’ll be different. If you’ve set profile keys for different age brackets, your profile cards might contain personas, with different values for each age bracket. Sticking to our product interest example, we’re going to create the exact same profile cards as the profile keys we created earlier (Has Sitecore, Wants Sitecore, Wants Search for Website, Wants Search for their People).

  3. Name these cards according to the different categories or personas you want to assign visitors to.
  4. Scroll down on each persona profile card until you see Profile Card Value. You’ll notice the profile keys you created earlier will be here in a matrix, with the option to adjust the value of each profile key attributes that will make up each of your profile cards.
  5. Adjust the values for each of the profile keys on each profile card. For our example, we are giving full points (10) to only the profile key associated with the profile card.
  6. When you’ve finished, click save and publish your work on the profile level.

Associating Profiles With A Page

  1. Select the page you want to associate a profile card with in Experience Profile, or open the page in Experience Editor from the Content Editor (Publish > Experience Editor).
  2. Click on Optimization in the top navigation.
  3. On the far right side of the top navigation click on ‘Associate profile cards’.
  4. Here you’ll see a list of all the profile cards in your Sitecore instance. Click Edit next to the one you want to use.
  5. You’ll see a list of the Profile Cards associated with this profile. Click on the one you’d like to associate this page with. If you want to associate the page with more than one, or adjust the profiles to a specific value percentage, click Customize.
  6. If you clicked Customize, you’ll be able to assign specific values to each key of the profile. We would use this in scenarios where a page could be either visited by a Wants
  7. Sitecore or Has Sitecore profile. In that case we would give 50% of points to either profile.
  8. When you’ve finished setting profile cards and values (if required), click OK. The page will save automatically with your updates.
  9. Publish your changes.

Using Profiles To Personalize A Page

In order to use the profiles a visitor matches on your site to personalize their experience, you’ll set them up as a rule the same way you set up other personalization rules.

Click here for comprehensive instructions for setting up Sitecore rules.

There are a number of rules you can use that use profiles to trigger personalization, including:

  • where the specific field in the user profile compares to value
  • where the specific field in the user profile is not empty
  • where the value in the specific numeric field in the user profile compares to number
  • where the current visit matches the specific pattern card in the specific profile
  • where the value of the specific profile key in the interaction profile compares to specific value
  • where the current contact matches at least one of the profile pattern card in list
  • where the value of the specific profile key in the contact behavior profile compares to specific value
  • where the value in the specific numeric field in the user profile compares to number

Wrap Up

We’ve covered a lot in this blog about Sitecore profiles and profile cards, keys and patterns that can be used to trigger adaptive personalization in Sitecore.

I hope this guide is useful to you in getting started with setting up patterns and profiles and getting more comfortable with Sitecore personalization.

Remember I’m only a question away. You can ask me any questions in my Facebook group for Sitecore marketers and content authors and I’ll respond directly, so please don’t be shy.

Good luck with your personalization efforts!