Marketers understand that customers expect personalized experiences more and more every day. An Accenture study found that “91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations.” And that same survey found that “48% of consumers have left a company’s website and made a purchase elsewhere. The only reason: the experience was poorly curated.”

But once you have a modern design and an optimized user experience, what more can you do? If you are using Sitecore Experience Platform (XP), that answer is, “A lot.” At Velir, we help organizations in a variety of industries make the most of their Sitecore XP, including many like nonprofits and foundations that have more challenging value propositions to communicate. This challenge is apparent based on MarketingSherpa’s report that the lowest B2B average conversion rate across industries is nonprofits at 2%.

Through our work with foundations and nonprofits, we’ve gained expertise in personalization and optimization in Sitecore, using both to improve these low conversion rates. So, what did we learn?

Where to Start: Goals and Engagement Values

Goals are the gateway to Sitecore personalization. They’re created directly from your organization’s business goals and digital objectives, and they take the form of key conversions on your website. Goals don’t take long to configure in Sitecore, even if you have a small marketing team.

If goals are the doorway to Sitecore personalization, then engagement value is the cornerstone. Engagement values allow you to assign points to those goals, representing their relative importance to your business. The points are what allows you to get meaningful information from your Sitecore analytics in terms of how goal completion rates relate to your organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs).

Alongside goals and engagement values, campaigns are another marketing lever in Sitecore that are easy to setup and use. Audiences visiting certain pages or traveling through specific links can trigger campaigns and goals, which start tracking meaningful value for your business by attributing that traffic to specific sources.

What to personalize

Once you begin collecting useful data, you need to do something with it and the calls-to-action (CTAs) on your website, the areas where you are already trying to get audiences to convert, are a natural starting place. Historically, we have seen the highest rate of return on personalizing these types of components. Whether it’s copy, design, or the target goal that is being altered for a given audience, personalizing and testing CTAs will provide insights on how to optimize for various audiences.

After CTAs, we’ve found personalizing the components at the top of pages to be the next most valuable. These components are usually banners, especially on high-level pages. You can look forward to longer and deeper site exploration when your audiences are met with personalized experiences early on the page.

Another key place to start personalizing early is your pages’ exit links. Think of this as redirecting natural paths on your site to where you want audiences to go instead. The key is not to overdo it though. You still must provide users with other options they may want, but the more you know about their place in your sales funnel, the more successfully you can redirect them to the next goal in that funnel.

How to focus personalization efforts

With all these tools at your disposal, and places to get started, you need to prioritize and focus on the highest value conversions on your site. These are the goals you setup with the highest engagement values because they mean the most to your organization. Focus on optimizing for these goals first to drive analytics you want to show your stakeholders.

If your goals and engagement values have been setup for a while, you can start using Sitecore’s Path Analyzer to identify user paths that have a lot of traffic but aren’t leading to meaningful conversions. These are prime areas to focus your efforts because you can use personalization to impact these high value goals.

Also, if you are doing any kind of attracting inbound marketing, then you have some campaign pages that you are funneling that traffic through. These campaign pages are great spots to personalize so that you can get the most out of your inbound marketing efforts.

Last, but not least, we recommend focusing on the member, or logged in user, experience. If there are dedicated pages for logged in users on your site, you don’t want to miss an opportunity to personalize them. Even if you don’t have a logged in user experience, treating your known contacts and return visitors like VIPs is a great strategy. Optimizing for audiences you already know are willing to convert and have opted into communications with your organization will allow you to get more conversions for less effort.

Personalization provides audiences with tailored experiences, making them more likely to engage with your website’s asks. Sitecore provides a great array of opportunities to act on personalization – but configuring personalization requires an understanding of where to best focus these efforts. Once you have that understanding, you can easily prioritize your personalization efforts, create a plan to carry them out, and dive into Sitecore personalization.

Read more about our thoughts on personalization, see an example of our personalization work with Urban Land Institute, or reach out so we can work together on your next Sitecore project.