Personalisation Prerequisites.


Implementing personalisation on your site is an exciting step...and in my opinion it’s my favourite element of my job. However, you do need to consider that there are some steps that you need to take to ensure that it works.

Personalisation - The Challenge

Be prepared - It’s difficult.

It’s not difficult from a technological point of view but a content management perspective.

You need to embark on this journey with your eyes wide open. Before you used to only have to consider one page of content for the home page, but if you want to personalise you need multiple pages of content for each personalisation strategy that you have. It escalates quickly.

The mythical ‘Phase 2’ or Phase 3

We always say (and we hear it a lot) that we will implement the personalisation strategy once the website is live. However the problem is it often never happens….so how do we get you there? What steps do you need to take?

How much should you personalise?

You simply need to personalise ‘just enough’ to make a difference and make the user feel nurtured.

Personalising customer experiences, whether on your website, in an email push, or a social media campaign, requires you to deliver content that takes into account the context of customers’ current and previous brand interactions.


Personalisation Prerequisites

SO the prerequisites, what are they?

Sitecore Setup:

OMS/DMS/XDB - You need to ensure that this is enabled (this may need additional servers for Mongo DB as you need to be able to store the data that is generated - which could incur an additional cost).

Top Tip

A great blog has been written by Jamie, our Lead Client Side Developer on the Basic Sitecore setup can be read here: /blog/basic-sitecore-architecture-infographic

What is Mongo DB?

“Sitecore 7.5 introduced MongoDB as the main datastore for the Sitecore® Experience Database™ (xDB). Sitecore xDB allows organisations to collect all of their customer interactions from all channels to create a comprehensive, single view of the customer that allows marketers to better optimise the customer experience in real-time.

In xDB, the collection database acts as a central repository for storing contact, device, interaction, history and automation data. An optimal collection database configuration helps organisations increase the availability, scalability, and performance of their Sitecore deployments.

With MongoDB, companies can ingest, store, and analyse varied data from billions of visits with ease. MongoDB scales horizontally across commodity servers, allowing customers to cost-effectively grow their deployments to handle increasing data volumes or throughput.”


What happens if you don’t have MongoDB?

Don’t panic, there will still be some features that will work - but you will not get the full experience.

You will be able to personalise based on current user activity, for example based on the user’s location (GEO IP) or if a particular Goal has been triggered on site.

What you can’t personalise is the trailing visitor information, for example what they have previously purchased or their Engagement Value’. Effectively anything that you would like to personalise in the long term...will need Mongo DB.

Content Architecture


Ideally your site needs to have been built inline with Habitat, which follows the Helix development principles suggested by Sitecore. If this has been followed then you will know that you need to have the following:


Components. You need components (if not you need to personalise the whole page, rather than individual components).

Display Components & Data sources

Display Components must accept data sources, as Content sources need to exist for personalised component


Goals need to be defined and implemented.

Profiles and Personas

Profiles and Personas need to be defined and implemented.

An audit of your site can be carried out to ensure that Personalisation can take place, please get in contact with us to find out more!

Additional Costs

You should be aware that to personalise by location (Geo IP) and or device on Sitecore, you will need to purchase nominal credits from Sitecore’s App Centre. Don’t forget that Sitecore’s App Centre uses Silverlight, so

you will need to use Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari to access it.

Want to know more about personalisation? Speak to one of our in-house experts today via or call us on 01233 467 800.

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?



27 Jun 2017 - 5 minute read
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