Sitecore XP provides marketers with extraordinary new capabilities, but knowing where to start can be a challenge. Fortunately, understanding how visitors use your site now can point you to short-term, high-value Sitecore XP opportunities:
1. Should we personalize content by geography?
One of the simplest tactics to implement in Sitecore XP is to personalize content based on where in the world the visitor is located. Your current Google Analytics reports can help you decide:
- Is geographic personalization likely to have an effect on visitor behaviour?
- What content should we show to visitors from a given region?
2. Is geography likely to be a useful segment for personalization?
If visitors in all of the regions you currently target behave similarly, then it’s unlikely that personalizing content based on geography will make much of a difference. But, if how visitors interact with your site varies by where they’re from, then it makes sense to experiment with geographic personalization.
One quick way to find out is to open the geolocation report in Google Analytics and select "bounce rate" as your dimension of analysis. You’ll see a map that looks something like this:
At a glance, you can see that visitor behaviour differs by state – and you can quickly determine that visitors from Virginia and Wyoming bounce at very high rates.
This level of variation suggests you should consider targeting personalization efforts at these outliers. Perhaps immediately highlighting your Virginia address to visitors from that state will increase engagement. Or, you could show a case study to visitors from Wyoming that highlights a local company.
The best part is that you will know – very quickly – if these personalization activities are successful. Simply compare visitor bounce rates from the target geographies in the months preceding personalization with the rate following the introduction of personalization.
3. Which geographic personalization rules are likely to drive results?
Engagement rates (or their negative, bounce rates) can be useful as a general indicator of success. But for many organizations, the ability to convert visitors (into a lead or a customer) is the key objective of the site. Again, analytics can prove incredibly useful for identifying the levers you can use to improve performance.
Consider the following table. It summarizes conversion behaviour for a hospital foundation website.
At first glance, it would appear that there is little need for personalization – the eCard offer is the highest converting for all geographies. But – critically – the value of each of these conversions is not identical. One recurring donation is worth hundreds of eCard purchases. If you multiply conversion rate by average value of donation, you can derive the potential revenue generation of each offer:
This suggests, rather definitively, that personalization rules should be implemented that:
- Ask City and Suburban Visitors for a one-time donation
- Invite visitors from other geographies to "Send a Patient a Gift"
At this point, you may be thinking that the personalization rule should be obvious – people from outside the city are less likely to visit a patient in person and so are more likely to send a gift. But no one had ever suggested this prior to the analysis being done. It’s always easy to connect the dots in retrospect.
(Note that this table can be a little tricky to derive from Google Analytics – if you’re struggling, drop me a note and I’ll share our template).
4. Should we be personalizing content by visit number?
A powerful and almost-always overlooked personalization tactic is to promote content to visitors based on the number of times they have visited your site. Intuitively, this makes some sense – the first-time visitor is likely to have little knowledge of your organization or what it does; the tenth time someone visits your site, they have presumably learned something about you.
Again, analytics can be a useful guide. We’ve found two analytic approaches particularly insightful:
- Compare conversion points by visit number
- Examine the first click a visitor makes from the home page by visit number
5. Should we target Calls to Action based on visit number?
With some Google Analytics gymnastics you can tease out the conversion rate per call to action by visit number. As the following table suggests, this can be quite illuminating:
The implications of this analysis for Sitecore XP tactics is clear:
- For 1st and 2nd time visitors, the most effective call to action is to download a brochure, which suggests they are seeking introductory information
- For those visiting between 3 and 6 times, "Request a Quote" is the highest performing call to action. This indicates progression through the buying cycle and suggests they are moving closer to making a commitment
Those who visit the site 7 or more times appear ready to purchase. Promoting a call to action specifically designed to drive an online purchase is likely to be most effective for this visitor segment. Sitecore XP makes it trivial to create rules that put the right offer in front of the right person based on visit number. In this case, visit-number based personalization would be our pick as a short path to significant results.
6. Does visit number matter if we don’t have conversion points on our site?
Many organizations do not view their website as a conversion engine and are more concerned with visitor engagement – publishers that rely on advertising revenue are a good example or colleges that recruit through their website but take applications through a separate system. In these situations, we have found that “first click analysis” provides useful insight into how visit interests vary with visit number.
Unfortunately, getting this information from Google Analytics requires considerable configuration. You need to create custom segments so that you can examine visitors by visit number. Apply these segments and examine the Navigation Summary for the homepage. Export this information to Excel and then do some magic there. It requires effort, but the end result can be exceedingly useful.
We performed this analysis for a university and it clearly suggests how the questions in visitors’ minds varied with visit number.
We found that first time visitors were twice as likely to select "Admission Criteria" from the home page as those who visited more than 4 times.
Conversely, those visiting 4 or more times were 50% more likely to click on “Application Deadlines” than first-time visitors:
Together with other analysis, this lead us to conclude that there was a fairly smooth progression of interest for prospective students, questioning whether they would be accepted to the program, to determining the costs associated with the program, to identifying how to actually apply.
Sitecore XP makes it simple to highlight content that matches the interest profile of the visitor based on the number of times they have visited the site. Analytics can provide the insight into what to promote and to whom.
And there’s more…….
The Nonlinear Sitecore XP consulting practice is built on the foundation of analytics. We strongly believe that understanding how visitors use your site today is the fastest route to delivering results with Sitecore XP.
As a result, we’ve written about this a lot: