The Future of Personalization in Sitecore
A lot is changing with Sitecore these days as we move to a SaaS Digital Experience Platform (DXP). Sitecore’s portfolio now has Content Cloud, Engagement Cloud, and Commerce Cloud with multiple products in each. Amidst all this change you might find yourself wondering what’s happening with personalization in Sitecore these days. Maybe you’re looking to dive into personalization with Sitecore for the first time and are wondering what your options are. Maybe you’re looking to move to XM Cloud and are worried about your current personalized experiences in XP. Regardless, we’re going to dive into the current state of personalization in the new Sitecore portfolio together.
As mentioned above Sitecore’s new composable portfolio is structured around 3 main clouds with Engagement Cloud containing the products that focus on collecting and activating customer data to deliver personalized marketing. This includes the CDP, Personalize, Send, and Connect products. You’ll also find some personalization available within XM Cloud, the flagship CMS product offered as part of the Content Cloud suite of products. All of these may stand alone or be used in conjunction and which ones you use in combination will alter the features available to you around personalization. We’ll simplify this for you below so that you have a good grasp on what products you need to help accomplish your goals.
Within the Engagement Cloud suite of products, Personalize is the product that does the heavy lifting of personalization. It allows you to create personalized user experiences on your site as well as managing A/B and multivariate tests. Personalize can be implemented on sites that are built on other CMSs or any other channel within your stack as well. There is an initial set of templates you can use to get started and you can work with a developer to create more templates if you need them.
There are some data retention rules that differ for Personalize on its own versus when it’s used in conjunction with other products. Personalize, on its own, will retain data for the last 40 sessions (roughly “visits”) within the last 90 days, with offline session limited to 10. It will retain the last 100 events from each session. Only the last 20 orders are retained. For users that meet your identity rules, the identity is kept indefinitely but for anonymous or unidentified users their data is only retained for 6 months after their last active date. You can read up on all the details in Sitecore’s documentation.
CDP (Customer Data Platform)
Although Personalize handles the implementation of personalization on your website, its access to historical data and data from other systems is limited. This is where CDP comes in. Sitecore CDP, and any Customer Data Platform (CDP) is a piece of software that combines data from multiple tools to create a single centralized customer database containing data on all touch points and interactions with your product or service to guide and inform your personalization efforts. This is the essential part of having a truly data-driven implementation.
If you want to be able to retain more user data from the website, CDP will help with that. You can use Sitecore CDP without Personalize, though here we’re focusing on personalization and how adding CDP enhances that. Although the data limits for unidentified users match those of Personalize above, for identified users all events and data from the last 1000 sessions are retained for each user. All orders are all retained as well. You can read up on all the details in Sitecore’s documentation.
XM Cloud also comes with some integrated personalization options. This integrated personalization uses a rule-editor-type approach that feels very similar to the way personalization is managed in XP today. Additionally, personalization will be accessible and manageable through both Experience Editor and the new Pages editor. The embedded personalization and analytics are powered by a simplified version of Sitecore Personalize and Sitecore CDP, making it easy to add these products to your composable stack later to add additional functionality.
An initial set of 14 rules will be available in XM Cloud. In our experience, this core set will be a great place for organizations to get started in personalization as it includes conditions for date, device, geolocation, page visits, referrer, and UTM parameters. XM Cloud will have the same data limitations of a standalone Personalize instance but with a 30-day limitation instead of 90. If you add Personalize on top of XM Cloud though, the XM Cloud personalization will be able to utilize the last 60 days of data and if you add Sitecore CDP, then the last 90 days of data.
At Velir we were pleased to see the inclusion of basic personalization in XM Cloud as this would allow our mid-sized clients to get started in personalization without having the upfront costs with new technology purchases, training, and development. Getting started with Personalize is certainly easier than getting started with XP, but for clients thinking about XP, or not yet utilizing most of its features, XM Cloud will now be able to able to meet their needs.
Overall, personalization in the Experience Cloud product portfolio offerings is well represented and possible regardless of where your organization is in your personalization journey. If you have any questions about which combination of products might best suit your needs as you move to the cloud with Sitecore, reach out! We’d be happy to help.