Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sitecore Experience Profiles and Identifying Users Overview

Sitecore customer experience profiles provide a high level overview of the customer and provide insight into their experiences across all channels which ultimately builds up into a full picture of that customer.

In Sitecore 8 the basic flow for the analytics collection is as follows:

  • The user access the web site (desktop browser).
  • As the users browses the web site (and completes actions) the data profile is building up inside the MongoDB session.
    • If the user is unknown the session is stored against an anonymous user, however if identified the data is stored against a known contact.
  • Once the session ends/expires the data is flushed into the Experience Database where it will be displayed via Experience profiles and Experience Analytics in the Sitecore administration area.

Known users

The ultimate goal here is to create known users which then allows interactions to be tracked across all channels (desktop, mobile, email etc.). A user is generally identified via their email address (which can be gathered from logging in, completing a form or subscribing to a newsletter). 

To create a contact record a call can then be made via code to the Sitecore API to store the visitor's details (it may just be an email address, but can be full contact information and even picture) - all of their data from anonymous browsing is also retained against their new contact record.

On future visits (where the session may have ended or the cookie deleted) you can also identify a user by email address (in code) to ensure all data is stored against their profile and not an anonymous one. 

What can we track?

I like to think of a customer's Experience Profile as a puzzle. There are many pieces of the puzzle which can be used to build up the picture, and like the puzzle you can often make out the whole picture without having all of the pieces. On that note, without going into every piece  available, here are some of the features of the Experience Profile (each contact card):
  • User details (including photo)
  • Visits (as well as each page visited and for how long)
  • Pattern/profile matches
  • Campaigns
  • Downloads
  • Searches

Conclusion

Sitecore is the market leading CMS when it comes to marketing automation and analytics. Just from this quick overview it is evident just how powerful having Experience Profiles of customers can be, especially considering it works on every channel and integrates with Sitecore's marketing activities. Another point to consider is bringing in external information into the profiles from external sources such as CRM.

My follow-up post (Sitecore Experience Profiles How to Identify Users) has the code required to create the users and identify them on subsequent visits.

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