Connective DX

DIGITAL EXPERIENCE DESIGN Charting a path to customer-centric personalization

The case for personalization couldn’t be stronger, but many companies still struggle to find the path to their customers’ hearts. Forrester Research reports that more than two-thirds of brands today list personalization as a top priority, but many of these efforts underperform due to assumptions based on outdated data, siloed efforts and inside-out business goals.1 To bridge this gap and help marketers improve the performance of their personalization efforts, we developed a simple, measurable and repeatable personalization framework covering every stage of the customer journey.

Connective DX Experience Optimization Lead Ryan Summers shared the framework and a compelling case study at a recent Camp Optimization meetup. Path to Personalization: KinderCare Case Study dives deep into the business challenge, strategic methodology and measurable results that this personalization framework enabled.

After a successful responsive redesign and website replatform on the Sitecore Experience Platform, KinderCare’s marketing team wanted to take advantage of Sitecore’s personalization capabilities and measure the value to the business. “KinderCare needed more leads and more engagement," Ryan says. “This framework enabled them to understand their customers in ways they never had before and use that insight to increase engagement and conversion.”


Connective DX Experience Optimization Lead Ryan Summers shares a customer-centric framework for personalization at a Camp Optimization meetup.

Personalization framework measures customer & business goals

This framework starts with a hypothesis about customer behavior and breaks the complicated process of personalization into three manageable buckets:

  • User goals: What do the users need?
  • User tasks: What actions do they take to get there?
  • Business goals: How does this help the company?

​Slide showing elements of the personalization strategy

These buckets are then divided into stages (understand the user, observe their behavior through analytics, identify needs and opportunity, etc.) and tactics for each stage (segmentation, personalization, experiment, measure, etc.).

​Slide showing stages of the customer lifecycle

As insights and value are revealed, this methodology can be iterated and reconstructed over the entire customer lifecycle—identifying and meeting customer’s needs, reducing friction, driving conversions, and delivering value.

Start with a deep understanding of your customer

Customer data analysis and research are key to understanding traffic on your site and building your strategy. But until they’re connected with people and their needs those data points won’t reveal the way forward.

For example, KinderCare’s “busy mom” persona, Amber, has a lot of key tasks. It's emotional. It's daunting. It's expensive. Ryan and his team developed the hypothesis that the way people approach these tasks varies by their mindset.

“We could have Amber come to the website five times over, but her mindset may be different each time. She may be trying to solve a different problem or answer a different question,” Ryan says. “Understanding these mindsets enables us to develop a true ‘person-first’ personalization strategy.”

Test hypotheses to narrow the field of possible actions

Your website content offers a well of information about what your users are trying to do—if you apply the right measurement strategies. To do this, a Connective DX content strategist scored every page across 10 potential content interests. Then, Ryan used customer analytics to track real users’ sessions and began compiling session scores that could indicate potential mindset.

The user mindset marks the beginning of their journey. Knowing Amber’s “Point A,” we could begin to answer the most important personalization question: What gets Amber through her journey—faster, better?

Screenshot of ​Sitecore personalization tool with content scoring graph
Sitecore’s personalization tools allow for easy content scoring and mindset reporting.​

Use a mixture of approaches to validate findings

This implicit, observed understanding of a user’s needs still falls short as an inside-out (what we think we know about our customers) perspective, allowing bias and misperceptions to cloud reporting. Take the time to validate your assumptions by varying your approach and comparing the results. You might see your hypothesis is way off or you may find that correlating data further refines your strategy. “The important thing is that your model is based on something you can go back to and prove,” Ryan says.  

For KinderCare’s high-traffic site, we used a simple survey to validate our hypothesis, with 300 people answering two questions.

  1. What are you most focused on at the moment?
  2. What type of information are you looking for?

With concrete data connecting the user mindset with content needs, the hypothesis evolved: “The experience designed around a specific mindset will positively impact the conversion value for that audience on those pages.”

Graphic showing the experience design workflow
Ryan’s framework delivered a user-centric, personalized experience that improved conversions by 86% and increased page value by 246%.

Demonstrate value of personalization through analytics

Don’t let the role of data slip to the end of a project when your team reports on performance to the executives. A solid personalization framework relies on customer data analytics at every step, from discerning your user’s goals and revealing blockers in their journey to eventually making it easier to do business with your company.

For KinderCare, the data suggested that continued focus on high-traffic, low-value pages could deliver significant experience improvements for users in two key segments. Using that data to refine the hypothesis, the team was able to deliver results that exceeded expectations:

  • 30% increase in conversion rate and 48% lift in goal value for the “Family Focus” mindset
  • 86% increase in conversion rate and 246% lift in goal value for the “Good Parenting” mindset

Customer-centric personalization is a win-win approach

By testing and validating each assumption and initiative, you ensure that your work stays connected to specific user needs and meaningful business outcomes. The path to personalization may seem like an uphill trek through the wilderness, but with this repeatable strategy framework you can build upon small wins, iterate on new insights, and deliver measurable results that keep both customers and your C-suite happy.

What are your challenges with personalization? What frameworks and tactics have helped you tackle the complexities of delivering personalized experiences? Let us know in the comments below.

1 Pivot To Person-First Personalization, authored by Jennifer Wise and Andrew Hogan, published by Forrester Research, April 6, 2017

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