Getting Started with Sitecore Personalize: A Beginner’s Guide to Website Personalisation

18 October 2022

By: Robert McGovern, Sitecore Optimisation Consultant

Category: Blogs

Being able to show your customers relevant content is a must in today’s eCommerce environment, which is why tools like Sitecore Personalize are so useful for brands who want to make a splash when a customer interacts with them on digital channels.Not only do customers expect to be treated like individuals, but showing them content and products that are relevant to them ultimately ends up improving your engagement and conversions in the long run too. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.When considering how to use a new tool, it helps to understand the platform and the different elements you need to consider to get a proof of concept up and running. So, what exactly can Sitecore Personalize do and how can you get started with it?

What is Sitecore Personalize?

Sitecore Personalize lets you show personalised content to your customers across various channels based on what you know about them or how they interact with your digital properties. Basically, it does exactly what it says on the tin.

It’s important to make the distinction between the current Sitecore personalisation features that Sitecore XP offers. First off, Sitecore Personalize is a SaaS product – part of the composable suite of tools – and can be bought as a standalone product, as opposed to the traditional Sitecore personalisation features which are baked into XP.

Also, the type of personalised experiences that you can enable with Sitecore Personalize are a little more explicit with pop-ups and alert bars rather than the more subtle personalised components that you see being implemented in XP.

Another really great feature of Sitecore Personalize is the templates you can set up so that marketers or strategists can manage things themselves without the need for a lot of development work.

Sitecore Experiences and Experiments

Sitecore Personalize lets you set up Experiences (which are the personalised moments that can be shared with users based on certain rules) and Experiments (a way to test these Experiences).

Whilst Web Experiences render on the website itself as the user browses, ‘Interactive’ Web Experiences are based on certain interactions on the website that are then rendered on the website, for example, a pop-up on the Homepage when the user adds a product to their Cart.

There are also ‘Full Stack’ Experiences which are API-based and can connect an Experience to other channels. ‘Triggered’ Full Stack Experiences happen when a specific Event has occurred, so something like an Abandoned Cart on the website can trigger an Email to the user with a discount to persuade them to complete a purchase.

Web Experiences are one of the most exciting and accessible elements of Sitecore Personalize and there are some important sections to consider when thinking about how it might work for your business.

The What, Where, Who, When and Why of Sitecore Personalize

When you open the Sitecore CDP & Personalize dashboard, you are met with a number of sections in the left-hand sidebar including Customer data, Decisioning, and Experiments, but it’s Experiences that we’ll focus on right now, specifically Web Experiences.

Web Experiences are made up of five components, some of which are optional, and these are:

Content (the ‘What’)

This is where we pick what we want to show to our visitors when some conditions are met. One of the really great features of Sitecore Personalize is that there are a bunch of pre-built templates which you can use to create Experiences. Things like a Pop-up takeover, an Alert Bar that appears at the top of the page, and a few different types of boxes and notifications are available.

Here we can put whatever content we want – we can talk about offers or discounts, or push recommended content, or prompts to sign-up for your newsletter etc. You can also make your own custom content here if you want to get a bit more creative and you can save templates for future use. All-in-all, it’s very easy to use and accessible, even for someone non-technical to get started.

Page Targeting (the ‘Where’)

This is how you set where you want your Experience to appear, whether that’s on one page in particular or on multiple pages. For example, you can set it on your Homepage if you want to make it widely seen, or on specific Category or Product pages depending on what the offer or message is.

Selecting the page or pages once the CDP and your website have been linked via API, it’s as simple as adding the URL into the box in this section. There are also some Advanced Targeting options if you want to use JavaScript to add a bit more complexity.

Audience (the ‘Who’)

This is where we set who we want to see our personalised Experience based on what we know about the visitor – this can be done in two ways.

One is from our customer database, which is the ‘Segments’ section in Sitecore Personalize. Here we can set our Experience to appear for any of the customers we have information for based on things like product preferences, purchase history, and demographic aspects like region, age, gender etc. If we’re using Sitecore CDP as well as Sitecore Personalize, this gives us a huge advantage in the level we can target Experiences for our visitors. Segment data is updated on a daily basis.

The other way we can target is by ‘Real Time Audience’ which is more circumstantial from the visitor perspective. This can be based on the visitor’s country, the traffic source, the day of the week it is, whether it’s their first time on your site or if they’re a return visitor, or if they visited the site via a campaign tracking code.

Decisioning (the ‘When’)

Decisioning is a way for users to model and run decisions using business rules. Whereas the Audience section focuses on who the visitor is (based on what we know about them), the Decisioning section focuses on their behaviour on our site. When they meet certain criteria, we can show them an Experience. For example, if a visitor puts a product into their Cart and keeps browsing the site, you can give them a discount code to help them complete the purchase, or maybe recommend a complimentary product to them.

The Decisioning section lets you build Decision Models which tell Sitecore Personalize when to show an Experience to a visitor. Here there are three elements to consider: 


  1. There are the ‘Inputs’, which is how you want your Decisioning to start, either based on the Guest (who the visitor is), the Order (the products they’re interacting with), or the Session (what they’re doing on the site).
  2. Then, there are the ‘Decisions’ themselves, the calculations behind what you want to happen. Here, you have the Decision Tables and Templates, as well as the Programmables which let you use JavaScript in a decision.
  3. Then there are internal or external authorities where the information comes from, such as Knowledge Sources like an Offer Catalogue.

Together, these let you build out complex frameworks for when to show certain Experiences, and Sitecore Personalize has a really nice visual Decision Model builder to help you build out these frameworks.

Goals (the ‘Why’)

Goals are how we measure the success of the experiences are running. There are three ways to measure this:

  1. Page View – This is by using a ‘Success’ URL, for example, a particular landing page or purchase confirmation page.
  2. Custom Events – This could be something like a button click or a brochure download.
  3. Revenue – You can link Revenue to Experiences (by Session or by Guest) to see how much revenue your Experiences played a role in generating.

Now go and get started with Sitecore Personalize!

So, that’s a quick look at the What, Where, Who, When and Why of Sitecore Personalize Web Experiences. Now all that’s left is to get started on thinking about how you can go about using it for yourself.

If you need any help in getting your business onto Sitecore Personalize, you know who to contact! Sagittarius are always here to help brands supercharge their personalisation capabilities on Sitecore.

Go back