Personas in Sitecore and Commerce Server

June 03rd, 2016

Personas in Sitecore and Commerce Server – A powerful tool

Let me start by saying that Personas are a GREAT tool. They are essential for designing great user experiences that reflect how REAL users are actually using your website.

I hear you say “why is this important?”

The old adage of 20% of your customer’s drive 80% of your revenue might still hold true in a way and it is important to tailor a great user experiences that is relevant for your most important visitors helps you optimize the outcome of your digital channels.

Interacting with a website should be like having a real conversation between two people. Unfortunately, site goals are often not the same as your visitors’ goals, thus creating a disconnect in the conversation, especially when your content is not relevant to your visitors.

The success of your online business depends on satisfying your site visitors. That’s why the visitor experience

What the website delivers should be based on the audience’s needs, so personas are a personification (pun intentional) of the knowledge of the audience that informs what you build, how it works, what it says, and how it looks to trigger that conversation!

Personas are essential to good, user-centered design. Personas are “archetypical” visitors/users of a website that represent the needs of larger groups of users, in terms of their goals and personal characteristics. They act as ‘stand-ins’ for real users and help guide decisions about functionality and user experience design. Personas identify user motivations, expectations and goals responsible for driving online behavior. They also bring users to life with names, personalities, photos and stories that describe who they are and what their needs are.

Although personas are fictitious, they are based on knowledge of real users. User research is conducted before the personas are created to ensure they accurately represent end users rather than the opinion of the person defining the personas.

Once developed, you can make your personas “come to life” in Sitecore, which lets you target, measure and optimize them based on actual site behavior.

Personalization is important too, let’s not forget that, after all what good are personas if we do nothing with them. Don’t take my word for it, 91% of B2C marketers state that personalization is key to achieving long term goals ( 64% of marketing executives say that they want to increase spending on personalization. So…. It’s a BIG deal!

Defining the personas

Now that we’ve got the introductions out of the way, let’s dive straight into putting these ideas to action. The site that we’re working on is an outdoor retailer that sells outdoorsy stuff, camping equipment, climbing equipment, tents, boots etc.…  But the shoppers that come to the site are generally very specific about their needs, targets etc. So we broke down the types of visitors in several distinct personas defined by their needs. For this particular case, I’m including only three distinct personas that we’ve defined:

1)      Mountain Climber – He’s a person that generally (drum roll) likes to climb  

2)      Hardcore Camper – this person likes to hike, camp out (you guessed)

3)      Bargain Seeker – This person has no particular interest, just generally likes a good deal and will scan (a) site(s) for the best possible deal

We broke down the categories of the Commerce Server Catalog into Climbing Tools, Camping Tools, Hiking, Clothing – Climbing, Clothing – Climbing and Sales and Bargains (items on the Sale section). And we scored each one based on the expectations of each of those personas.  

So now we have a business idea of the type of visitors and their interests. So let’s get at it and start to work:

With the new Sitecore Experience Platform (XP), creating personas and scoring couldn’t be any easier, in fact the capability is available out of the box. The XP has simple tools that don’t require any programming, thus make it easy (I like easy) to create the right profiles.

Step no. 1 open up the XP 

Step 2. Go to the marketing control panel 

And start setting up Scores underneath the profiles that match the scoring items outlined in the table we worked out earlier. 

Once completed for the all the scores, created with a value of 1 to 5, move on to the next step

Step 3. Create the three pattern cards that line up with the three personas that we identified by going to the pattern cards, right clicking and creating new.  

Once done, we added the scoring axis, and each one had the Pattern assigned to it. 

Now that it is assigned, as the visitors start to visit and click, we will be assigning the values. Correct? Nope!!!! We still have to do the tedious work of scoring items in the catalog (remember this was a Commerce server solution and we’re taking advantage of the capabilities given to us by merging the two). To spare you what I had to go through in details, I’ll just give you one example of one product being scored. You can get the rest!

First step is selecting the product/item that you wish to score. In this case, since we’re using Commerce Server, we go directly from Sitecore to the catalog! Pretty nifty!!! 

Selecting the item brings up the properties. Clicking on the profile card (highlighted) 

This brings up the profile card. Now you click on edit 

Select customize and score the items at your hearts content. 

Now that we have a persona, and items are scored. It’s time to personalize. In this particular case, we’ve taken advantage of the close relationship between Sitecore and Commerce server and fed the custom control directly from the catalog the products that we wish to display to the visitor based on profile that he/she fits. I will be adding an entry level later on how that feed was achieved, since I don’t want to go on and on for too long!