Sitecore’s Experience Profile allows you to create a digital fingerprint of key audience segments and their online behaviour. The identification and creation of these audience segments offers great opportunities for profile-based personalization and a user experience that encourages onsite action and eventual conversion.

However, in the era of personalization proliferation, it is important to pause and ask yourself: does my personalization strategy accurately reflect the evolution of my audience? 

Enter, Sitecore’s Decay Rate: the underutilized, yet crucial piece of information that will take your profile-based personalization from a quick win, to a self-evolving experience. 

What is Decay Rate?

Decay Rate is the percentage by which the relevancy of an assigned web profile decreases as the user’s behaviour changes. This percentage determines how a user’s assumed web profile can evolve based on their historic and current site interactions. Decay Rate works on a session-level basis, meaning that at the outset of each user’s session, the profile assigned to that user will be reduced by the pre-established decay rate. It can be found within the Sitecore Profile, as seen in the image below. 

Sitecore profile

Figure 1: Where to set your Decay Rate in Sitecore

Why use Decay Rate?

Your audience are people, and people’s preferences evolve over time. Have you ever gone onto a website with a specific intent, and then change your mind, but many visits later still see suggested content that relates back to your original experience?  This often occurs when personalization has been set up, but has not considered a customer’s lifecycle with their brand. Sitecore understands this customer evolution, and wants to ensure the web experience adapts alongside your users with the help of Decay Rate.

What do I set my Decay Rate at?

Decay Rate
With 100% Decay Rate, you are effectively wiping the slate clean each time a user visits your website. This is not recommended. 
Decay Rate
With 75% Decay Rate, you will retain 25% of the user’s originally assigned persona to personalize against, while allowing 75% of the users profile to be defined based on the users current session interactions. 

Decay Rate
With 50% Decay Rate, you are retaining 50% of their historical profile, but acknowledge that the user is rapidly evolving. 
Decay Rate
With a 25% Decay Rate, you are acknowledging that users do evolve overtime, but this evolution is not as rapid. This is a good rate to start at if you are unsure of how quickly your audience evolves. 

Decay Rate
With a 0% Decay Rate, the originally assigned profile never changes. 

Decay Rate use case

Let’s take what we’ve discussed so far, and apply it to a realistic example: you are planning your first trip to New York City and visit a travel website to give you some guidance. As you navigate the website, you read articles like “Top Ten Things to do in NYC,” and “Tips for travelling in NYC”. Ultimately, you are assigned the “First Time Tourist” profile. The next time you visit the website, you are greeted with a personalized banner highlighting discounted tours of New York’s main attractions and you happily purchase your tickets. This is traditionally where the personalization story ends, but there is so much more left to tell…

You’ve fallen in love with the city that never sleeps, and are ready to plan your next visit. However, you are no longer interested in the tourist attractions (been there, done that!), and rather, are looking for a more “local experience”. Fortunately, this travel website has set their decay rate to 50%. Upon your return to the website, your “First Time Tourist” profile key score is reduced from 100 to 50. As you peruse the website, your profile increasingly evolves from “First Time Tourist” to “Authenticity Seeker.” As such, your personalized content becomes less about tourist attractions, and more about experiences off the beaten path. 

Begin your progressive personalization journey with Decay Rate

The best personalization strategy is one that is able to adapt. Sitecore’s Decay Rate sets your business on a path with this flexibility and allows you to evolve with the ever-changing expectations of users. Contact us to learn more about our Sitecore Marketing Science practice to find out how we can help.

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