What is Sitecore CDP and Personalize?

Learn how to maximize the value of your customer data using Sitecore CDP and Personalize to deliver deeper and more impactful personalized experiences to every customer, anywhere.

Maximizing the Value of Your Customer Data

Nowadays, siloed and under-utilized customer data make delivering targeted experiences much more difficult. Personalization are difficult for brands to implement into their marketing strategies, let alone achieve flawless execution. Modern consumers expect seamless and connected experiences across every touchpoint when engaging with a brand online. In order to succeed in today’s digital landscape, organizations must fully understand their customers in order to build meaningful relationships with them and drive business growth.

There are two products offered in Sitecore’s Composable Digital Experience Platform (DXP) that enable marketers to achieve this level of connectedness with their customers: Sitecore Customer Data Platform (CDP) and Sitecore Personalize. CDP and Personalize are both standalone SaaS-based products that work seamlessly together to provide personalized and engaging customer experiences. In today’s blog, we want to take a deep dive into both products to help you become proficient in CDP and Personalize. We’ll cover the basic features and process of each platform and how they work together to help you deliver memorable experiences your customers will love.

Here’s everything we’re going to cover:

Defining Sitecore CDP and Personalize

Sitecore CDP Process

  1. Data Collection
  2. Profile Unification
  3. Segmentation
  4. Activation

Sitecore Personalize Process

  1. Experimentation
  2. Decisioning
  3. Experiences

How Sitecore CDP and Personalize work

Why Sitecore CDP & Personalize matters?

What is Sitecore CDP & Personalize?

Sitecore CDP offers a solution to siloed data. It connects and activates customer data across different ecosystems to drive relevance and deliver personalized experiences. CDP builds rich customer profiles from various sources, both online and offline, and creates a single source of truth.

Sitecore Personalize, on the other hand, allows companies to capture, merge, and trigger the omnichannel customer data collected from CDP. This customer data is then used to fuel the experimentation, decisioning, and experience in Personalize to help you make informed decisions about your content and marketing strategies.

Both of these tools work seamlessly together to build meaningful customer relationships through personalized experiences. The following illustration shows CDP and Personalize and how they work together. On the left-side of the image, data from multiple sources is collected, both online and offline, through different APIs.

From the different sources of data, CDP helps us understand every user based on their views, searches, purchases, or customer profile (e.g., device type, geography, and age). From there Personalize will help optimize customer interactions.

Illustration of Sitecore CDP and Personalize working together

Figure 1: Illustration of Sitecore CDP and Personalize working together

Now that we have a big picture of what the CDP and Personalize process looks like, let’s dive deeper into the individual components. Next, we’re going to explore how each product works separately.

What is the Sitecore CDP Process?

CDP follows a process of data collection, profile unification, segmentation, and activation.

Step 1 — Data Collection in Sitecore CDP

By collecting and ingesting first-party customer data from multiple sources, online and offline, CDP is able to build comprehensive and unified profiles of individual customers in real time. Each profile includes customer data such as first-party identifiers, behaviours, and attributes, preferences, interests, transactions, and other attributes. All of which can be used to create more personalized and relevant experiences across channels.

CDP ingests a blend of historical customer data and omnichannel behavioural data. Here are some examples of what data you can expect to populate your customer profiles with:

Historical Customer Data Omnichannel Behavioural Data
Personal contact information (name, email, etc.) Website/app interactions
Cross-departmental customer data Content consumed and journey steps
Service tickets and history Actions taken and CTAs clicked
Offline data Ad platform data
Order history and spend insights Email interactions
Loyalty data
Preferred channels and most active days

CDP has three main methods of ingesting data: Stream API, Interactive API, and Batch API. Review the table below to learn more about each of these methods.

API Type Definition
Stream API The Stream API enables brands to gather real-time, high velocity, and high-volume behavioural customer data. It’s used with Sitecore’s lightweight Javascript library for web, mobile web, mobile app, and call centre behavioral tracking. The Stream API also includes:
Event API — allows for event processing, setting events via mobile and web.
Browser API — allows brands to extend functionality and manage cookies that help identify guests, further facilitating personalization used for capturing and consuming data. It will create, update, read, and delete data.
Interactive API Interactive API is a collection of REST APIs that allow access to CDP. It enables synchronous communication with the platform. The APIs have CRUD functionality, meaning that they allow for creating, reading, updating, and deleting individual guest profiles and orders.
Batch API Batch API is a method for importing large volumes of guest and order data into the CDP using a standard JSON schema. Sitecore's Batch API is first used to upload all historical data for storage against the customer profile. After the initial upload, deltas are uploaded on a 24-hour schedule, but there is no limit on the frequency. The source data is converted into the supported JSON format, which is then imported through the Batch API and automatically compared against existing data.

CDP communicates and creates basic integration through the Javascript library that is loaded on your website. Once initiated, it performs an asynchronous call to Stream API, where the Browser API responds with a cookie for the user. After the new cookie is sent, it’s possible to track events and send behavioural data to the Event API. Using interactive Event API, a company can then request interaction data.

Illustration of the Sitecore CDP communicating with your website

Figure 2: Illustration of the Sitecore CDP communicating with your website


Step 2 — Profile Unification in Sitecore CDP

By consolidating profiles and connecting specific attributes to specific identities, Sitecore CDP can create a single, unified view of each customer. This helps businesses understand individual customer behaviour across multiple touchpoints and devices, and deliver more relevant experiences. It also enables businesses to clean and enhance their data by removing duplicates, inconsistencies, and filling in missing information.

Step 3 — Segmentation in Sitecore CDP

Segmentation is a key function of Sitecore CDP, allowing marketers to group customers into different segments based on shared attributes, behaviours, or transactions. Once the segments are created, marketers can use them to tailor their marketing strategies, messaging, and offers to each audience. Segmentation can also help marketers identify new opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, and optimize their campaigns for maximum ROI.

Step 4 — Activation in Sitecore CDP

The final step is data activation, the process of using the segmented data to execute targeted marketing campaigns across different channels such as email, mobile messaging, and social media. This involves sending the segments and associated instructions to various engagement tools that are integrated with Sitecore CDP. The engagement tools can then use the customer data to deliver personalized messages and next-best-actions to each target audience, based on their interests, behaviors, and other characteristics. Activation helps marketers to drive customer engagement, increase conversions, and achieve their marketing goals more effectively.

What is the Sitecore Personalize Process?

Personalize follows a process of experimentation, decisioning, and experiences.

Step 1 — Experimentation in Sitecore Personalize

Personalize is a tool that allows marketers to create optimized and personalized web experiences for customers. Experiments in Personalize can be simply defined as an A/B test, a customer experiment that runs on the web or on a web-based application. It allows you to run two variants of an experience against each other, to understand which is more effective at achieving a specific business goal.

Personalize allows users to create controlled and random experiments to improve the outcome of specific business goals. It’s more than just an A/B test of components on a web-based application, Personalize measures the greater impact personalized web pages has on your customers and their behaviours.

Step 2 — Decisioning in Sitecore Personalize

The decisioning step in Personalize helps determine the next best action for engaging with customers. It combines rules and predictive analytics to make intelligent decisions about which customers to target, what content to present to them, which channels to use, and when to deliver the perfect messaging. It allows marketers to make fast, accurate, and precise recommendations and respond to customer behaviour in real time. The data from CDP is used to fuel the decisioning in Personalize and create personalized offers, messages, and recommend the next best action to your customers. This ensures that customers receive personalized and relevant experiences that are tailored to their specific needs and preferences.

The concept of decisioning in Personalize starts by creating business processes based customer data or their behaviour. These business processes are depicted using decisioning models as boxes with arrows depicting their dependencies and relationships to each other. For example, a business user will create a guest session data to create logic rules and route a customer to a recommended product. This is what is called a decision model. In decision models, business users can create rules and analytics to make intelligent and systematic decisions automatically and quickly. Ultimately, decision models help other people in your business to understand precisely what is happening from a system perspective.

The attributes of the decisioning tool in Personalize:

Fast — Decisioning is typically calculated in 200 milliseconds or less, depending on the response time of external data connections.

Accurate — Decisioning delivers personalized experiences such as new products, offers, or a sale.

Data-Driven — Decisioning activates the data collected in the CDP platform.

Step 3 — Experiences in Sitecore Personalize

Personalize aims to enable omnichannel experiences that are both consistent and cohesive across multiple channels and touchpoints. The ability to add enhancements and full-stack experiences to any channel allows for a consistent and personalized customer journey, regardless of the channel or device the customer is using. You can deliver personal communications that allow customers to see new products, get relevant notifications, and provide feedback on their experience.

You can use Personalize to power web, interactive, and triggered experiences that provide real-time performance analytics. It can be deployed client side or server side and integrated with any customer experience ecosystem to create tailored web and full stack experiences using real-time customer data.

How Sitecore CDP and Personalize Work

There are two adages for great personalized experiences. And this is reflected in our customer experience technology: Sitecore CDP and Personalize. There are three key steps to personalization:

Illustration of how Sitecore CDP and Personalize work together

Figure 3: Illustration of how Sitecore CDP and Personalize work together


By following these three key steps, we are able to provide our customers with a truly exceptional personalized experience that sets us apart from our competitors. So why settle for anything less? Choose our customer experience technology and see the difference for yourself!

  1. Listen
  2. Think
  3. Respond

‘Listening’ with Sitecore CDP

This omnichannel data collection provides an accurate look at your customers as individuals. With CDP’s profile unification, you won't miss any key information. You can capture what your customers are saying when they fill out a form, track where they’re spend their time, and follow the journey they take before making the choice to engage with you.

Furthermore, by recognizing these individuals in real-time, you can formulate a personalized response based on accurate and relevant data. The tool enables you to listen in a respectful way without being intrusive and keeps customer data secure. CDP helps you make sense of the plethora of data available, preventing data fatigue and providing the basis from which you can identify opportunities for personalization.

‘Thinking’ with Sitecore Personalize

After listening to your customers, you need to determine the appropriate response. This is where personalization and decisioning come into play. Decisioning, as we've learned, blends data, rules, and predictive analytics to make informed decisions about what to discuss with customers, on which channel, and at what time. Enabled by AI and machine learning, it allows you to deliver smarter interactions across every touchpoint.

For example, if you notice that a customer is no longer opening your emails, you can change your approach and initiate a 1:1 conversation on inbound channels instead.

Moreover, experimentation at this stage is critical to continuously learn from every action and reaction. Try something, test it, and then try again. Personalize offers A/B, multivariate, and multi-armed bandit testing options, along with the ability to test across channels, such as email vs. text messaging.

‘Responding’ with Sitecore Personalize

By focusing on listening to your customers and thoughtfully responding to them and their needs can result in omnichannel personalization. Personalize means you can ‘respond’ to the customer, wherever they are, in a consistent and unified way. It’s important when ‘responding’ that you strike a balance between customer and business context. Personalize enables you to consider everything you know about your customers and take relevant factors about the business into account as well.

For example, if there is a high stock level of a particular product that you need to move, your business might offer a discount on that product to entice the customer to make a purchase. When considering how much to offer, it's important to consider what level of discount will be the most effective. If the customer has a high propensity to buy, you may be able to offer them a 10% discount to secure conversion, as opposed to 25%. Responding in Personalize should result in a win-win situation — delighting customers with great experiences while also driving business outcomes and growth. Modern-day marketing is more about creating smarter customer interactions that build trust, confidence, and great loyalty and having the right tools to do it.

Another example, as a sports apparel retailer, CDP and Personalize can help them identify which customer purchases running trainers. But the data doesn’t just stop there. It also enables you to know what style of running trainer individual customers prefer, the brands they've purchased, the time of year they usually order a new pair, and whether they use the website or an app.

Why Sitecore CDP and Personalize Matters?

Value for Marketers

The following table summarizes the added value of both CDP and Personalize for marketing teams and their ability to create meaningful customer experiences.

Sitecore CDP Sitecore Personalize
Aggregate customer data from various sources Optimize experiences in any digital product, app, or channel using the support of experimentation
Activate historic and live customer data in real time by batch uploading profile data where appropriate Apply AI-driven digital decisioning capabilities to connect operational data
Collect, connect, and unify customer data from every channel Provide inbound, outbound, and client-side personalization
Segment customer data based on common attributes, behaviors, or transactions Reinforce decisioning and deliver next-best actions and offers
Sync and activates learnings across your organization from real-time audience insights
Manage day-to-day CDP maintenance with little support from IT departments or developers

Value for the Future

As third-party cookies become increasingly obsolete, companies need to rely on first-party customer data to personalize content and enhance user journeys. CDP supports first-party cookies, which can be used in conjunction with other tools to create a comprehensive view of the customer ecosystem. By leveraging first-party cookies, companies can get a better understanding of their customers and build direct relationships with them.

With CDP offering support for first-party cookies, companies can:

  • Create consistent customer profiles using first-party cookies and store it as a single record.
  • Collect and organize third-party data to create a rich and comprehensive view of the customer.
  • Share the first-party data with other tools within the organization to create customer-centric experiences.

All of these benefits lead to direct customer relationships and highly accurate individual insights gathered with consent. Overall, CDP provides a comprehensive solution for companies looking to leverage customer data to create personalized experiences.

Value in Composability

Because CDP and Personalize are both SaaS, you can easily integrate it with your tech stack. The value for marketers in using a composable solutions is that you can create a tailored marketing technology stack that is flexible, scalable, and cost-effective. You are no longer limited to a one-size-fits-all solution, instead you can scale your stack up or down based on your needs. CDP and Personalize will integrate seamlessly into Sitecore’s SaaS-based, cloud-native CMS — XM Cloud.

In Closing

The ability to capture and leverage actionable customer insights is a key advantage to help businesses stay competitive in today's rapidly evolving marketplace. With the right tools, first-party data can be used to unlock a new level of personalization. Sitecore enables organizations to thrive with superior customer experiences using SaaS-based, composable solutions.

CDP creates a singular, contextual profile for every site visitor, whether they are identified or not. It does this by ingesting data through secure stream, batch, and interactive APIs. It also tracks real-time behaviors as people interact with digital touchpoints including web, mobile apps, emails, and more.

Personalize can then activate the customer data collected in CDP and use it to fuel the experimentation, decisioning, and personalized experiences on your website. Personalize uses a combination of rules and predictive analytics, to determine the next best action for engaging with customers is.

Say goodbye to siloed and unconnected data, and say hello to rich personalized experiences and a loyal customer base. CDP and Personalize are two SaaS tools that are better together. Reach out to our friendly marketing team and we can help get your business started with omnichannel personalization, today!

Until then, happy personalizing!

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Meet Theresa Gutierrez

Sitecore Strategist | Sitecore Strategy MVP

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Theresa, aka 'T', is a high-energy marketing creative with 8+ years of experience across various industries. She's passionate about delivering strategy and design, with a focus on Sitecore SaaS technologies. T is an avid golfer and loving dog momma, appeased only by delicious food and a bevy of something bubbly. Cheers!

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