Sitecore Campaign Set-up

Now that you know more about your users and their behavior, it’s time to analyze what brings users to your site in order to create marketing initiatives that result in more conversions.

Sitecore Campaigns allow you to target the user once they arrive at the site. Campaigns, like the Google Analytics URL Builder, include a query string that ensures inbound links are tracked in Sitecore Analytics. However, Campaigns can take this tracking further—they can be used to trigger personalization. (More on this in a future post.)

Once you have Campaigns set up, you can incorporate them into any inbound marketing activities. Analytics can track the activities that are triggering Goals and Profiles you’ve established. For example, you could see that email marketing is leading to more brochure downloads from the Retired Profile you established. Or you could track that Facebook is driving more newsletter signups for the Young segment.

To configure a Sitecore Campaign, log into the Sitecore Experience Platform dashboard and open the Marketing control panel.

Create the Campaign Category

To create the category, right click on the Campaign folder and Insert New Category (social categories are configured). Name it and save.


Create the Campaign

This is where you’ll create the specific Campaign. For example, you may have several AdWords campaigns simultaneously in flight. To create, right click on the Campaign Category that you created, insert new Campaign and name it to correlate to your on- or offline Campaign (example: Fall Sale).

Fill in the appropriate fields. Not all of these are necessary—we recommend starting with these:



Channel Select the appropriate channel from the available dropdowns.
Title The title of the Campaign should match your on- or offline Campaign.
Campaign Link This Campaign query string will be used to ensure site visits generated by this campaign are recorded by Analytics and can trigger personalization.

For example: sc_camp=7147FC33D65741B78CF354926779C1AE

Append the query to the link to your website from the inbound source. If the link already includes a query string, prefix the provided text with an ampersand (&). If the link does not include an existing query string, prefix the text with a question mark (?).

Type A Campaign can either be online or offline.
Enroll in Engagement Plan Select the engagement plan state you’ll assign to visitors when they participate in this Campaign.
Traffic Type This is how the Campaign is categorized in Analytics. Example: A visitor might come from an email campaign, which will put them into the Referred – Other category. To ensure that this visit is classified as the Email type, set traffic type as Email.

Deploy the Campaign in Workflow

You must deploy a Campaign in the workflow before you can associate it with a content item. To deploy a Campaign:

In the Marketing Center, select the campaign you want to deploy.

On the Review tab in the Workflow group, click Deploy.

Associating a Campaign with a Content Item

After creating a Campaign in the Marketing Center, you must ensure that the Campaign is triggered in Sitecore Analytics so you can track which Campaigns are driving visitors to your site.

To associate a Campaign with a content item:

assign campaign

In the Content Editor, expand the content tree and navigate to the content item you want to associate a campaign with.

In the Analyze tab, in the Attributes group, click Attributes.

In the Attributes dialog (Figure 2), click the Campaigns tab and select the Campaign you wish to associate with the content item.

Campaigns can also be assigned at the Standard Values level, if you would like to track all content. For further implementation information, Contact HI. 


Configuring Goals in Sitecore

You’ve done the work of categorizing your users and content. Now it’s time to discuss your specific goals for each user group. Sitecore goals measure activities visitors can perform on your website. You can assign a goal for any action you’d like your user to take.

Example goals:

  • Download a brochure
  • Register for a newsletter
  • Visit a page

We’ve established our data-first approach in previous posts: gather data now; capitalizing on it later. We recommend setting up all of your goals on the site to start compiling insights on your users. When you’ve created profiles, you’ll have the ability to segment your data to note trends—such as young users are more likely to download a brochure compared to senior users.

Prioritizing your goals by level of importance will give you the best insights. For example, a user signing up for a newsletter is likely more valuable than a page visit. Sitecore allows you to assign different engagement value points to each goal. As a visitor navigates through the site, Sitecore tracks points as the user triggers goals. Once the visitor leaves, Sitecore calculates the engagement value for the visit. The Experience Profile will allow you the goals and engagement value of each site visit.

The number of engagement value points allocated to each goal isn’t as important as the ratio between engagement value points assigned to the different goals. For example, a user signing up for a newsletter could be 10 times more valuable to a marketer than one simply visiting a page. In that case, your engagement value points would look like this:

Engagement Values

In a future post, we’ll talk about incorporating goals into engagement plans to further capitalize on Sitecore’s advanced marketing functions. In the meantime, what follows are the step-by-step instructions for setting up Sitecore goals.

Setting Up Sitecore Goals

 To configure a goal, log into the Sitecore Experience Platform dashboard and open the Marketing control panel.

  1. Create the Goal

To create the category, right-click on the Goals folder and insert new Goal. (An optional step would be to first create a Goal Category to group goals.) Name it and save.

creating goal

  1. Fill in the appropriate fields

Not all of these categories are necessary; we recommend starting with these:

Name The name for your goal.
Points The number of engagement value points that are assigned to a visitor when they achieve this goal.
Description A suitable description of the action, such as a user signing up for a newsletter.
Rule Select the rule that should be evaluated when the page event associated with this goal is triggered.
Goal Checked by default. Select this checkbox to ensure that the goal appears in the Content Editor’s Goals dialog. You can then associate the goal with a content item.
Track as Latest Event (Sitecore 8) Select this checkbox to ensure that the goal appears in the lists of latest events on the Experience Profile.
Show in Events (Sitecore 8) Select this checkbox to ensure that the goal appears in the lists of events on the Experience Profile.

(We recommend choosing one of the final two options.)

  1. Save, Deploy and Publish the Goal

After you’ve filled in the appropriate fields, you can save the Goal. You must deploy the new goal before it becomes available in the Marketing Center, and you can associate it with a content item or a campaign.

To deploy a Goal:

  1. In the Marketing Center, select the goal that you want to deploy.
  2. On the Review tab, in the Workflow group, click Deploy.
  3. Publish the item.

The new Goal is now available in the Marketing Center and you can associate it with content items and use it in your campaigns.

Associating a Goal with a Content Item or Media Library File

After you have created a Goal and deployed it, you can associate it with a content item or Media Library file. This means that the Goal is achieved every time a visitor views this item.

assign goal

To associate a Goal with a content item:

  1. In the Content Editor, navigate to the content item to be assigned a specific goal
  2. Click the Analyze tab and, in the Attributes group, click Goals. In the Goals dialog, select the Goal that you want to associate with the selected content item.

To associate a Goal with a media item:

  1. In the Sitecore desktop, open the Media Library.
  2. Navigate to or search for the content item you want to track.
  3. In the ribbon, Analyze tab, Attributes group, click Goals.
  4. In the Goals dialog, select the desired Goal.
  5. In the Media Library ribbon, click Save.

Sitecore User Categorization: How-To

Now that you know all about Sitecore Profile and Pattern Cards, it’s time to learn how to set them up.

To configure a persona profile and profile keys, log into the Sitecore Experience Platform dashboard and open the marketing control panel.

Our Sample Personas are:

  • Yanni Young Person
  • Mary Middle Age
  • Sally Senior

1. Create the Persona Profile.

To create the persona profile, right-click on the profiles folder and insert new profile. Name it “Persona” and set the Type to “Sum.”

Pic 1

2. Create Profile Keys.

Right-click on the persona profile you created, insert new profile key and name it according to your profile key. Set the maxvalue to the highest value in the scale; we recommend a scale of 0 to 5.

Pic 2

3. Create the Profile Cards.

Profile cards contain the information about each persona. To assign presets for the profile cards, select the profile cards folder below the persona profile and click on “Insert Profile Card–Persona”.

A Profile Card–Persona comes with these presets to describe the Profile:

  • Name
  • Image
  • Title
  • Details
  • Age
  • Description
  • Education
  • Family

You do not need to fill out every field, but the more you complete, the more smoothly your content editors can access necessary information about the personas.

The final step is assigning the profile keys to each persona.

Pic 3

Profile Cards Configuration

Here you can also select whether multiple Profile Cards can be used to profile a content Item or whether just a single Profile Card is more appropriate.

Click on the Profile Cards folder and then the Content tab. If you determine that multiple cards are applicable, Sitecore will allow you to use the same weighting for each card by selecting Multiple; or use custom weighting by selecting Multiple with Percentages.

Pic 4

4. Create the Pattern Cards

Open the Marketing Center and navigate to Marketing Center/Profiles.

Select the Pattern Cards item and right click to create new Pattern Card.

Name the pattern card. Click OK to create it.

In the new pattern card item, enter the appropriate information.

In the Pattern field, enter the profile values that you think are appropriate for the visitor behavior that you want to characterize.

Save your changes.

PIc 5

5. Tagging Content to a Profile

With the personas configured in Sitecore, you are ready to use them for profiling content.

Within the Content Editor, click on the content you would like to profile, then click on the icon for Edit the Profile Cards associated with this item.

Pic 6

Here you’ll be able to add and remove the Profile Card for each piece of content.

If you have configured your profile cards as multiple with percentages, you will be able to tag the content with multiple profiles and weight the relevance for each profile.

Pic 7

Rinse and repeat for all applicable content.

Congratulations. You have now laid the groundwork for gathering insights on each user segment and can now personalize your content to each categorized user.





Introduction to Sitecore Advanced Marketing and xDB capabilities

Sitecore clients are poised to start capitalizing on the power of the Experience Platform (formerly DMS), but many are overwhelmed as to where to begin. They’ve seen the demo—they understand Sitecore has tools that help them know their customers and personalize experiences based on behavior. But then what?

This is where we at HI come in. In this series of posts, we’ll lay the foundation for predictive personalization in Sitecore. We’ll help you make sense of Profile Keys, Profile and Pattern Cards, Goals and Campaigns, and we’ll provide instruction on using the rules engine to target content.

You’re ready, but where do you start?

The big question! I’m approaching this series with the assumption that you and your organization have undertaken instrumental strategic and user-experience planning sessions while designing your marketing goals and website. These initiatives offer keen insight into your users’ behavior. So, before we dig in, you should:

  • know the types of users visiting your site and buying your product.
  • have defined personas and/or customer or visitor segments.
  • have mapped out the customer journey of your personas or segments.
  • possess a strong grasp of your goals for each user group.
  • know what content is tailored to each segment—and have tagged it accordingly.
  • are familiar with inbound activities driving users to the site.
  • be familiar with the content authoring experience in Sitecore.

Once you have all of the above in place, you’re truly ready to get started—which means approaching things from a data standpoint. Now we’ll determine how we can optimize each user’s experience with the support of user categorization.

Sitecore User Categorization

I recommended getting started by first setting up your visitor segments and tagging your content to gain insights into your users’ behavior. Once that’s in place, you’re ready to set up user categorization.

Where to start?  Many Sitecore clients get tripped up over the difference between profile cards, profile keys and pattern cards. Here are some simple definitions of each:

Profile: a category of visitor to your website

Profile Keys: personality attributes that apply to your profiles

Profile Card—Personas: descriptions of the lifestyle, habits, background, interests and profession of a user. Creating profile cards and profile keys allows you to classify the visitors to your website. The profile cards and keys you create should reflect the interests of the personas for whom you designed your website.

Pattern Cards: a category of the behavior and interests of the user based on the content they consume

Profile Values: a value corresponding to the interests and behavior of the visitor

Now let’s discuss the order of operations. It’s best to start by clearly defining your personas. For example, let’s say our client is a bank with products for customers based on different stages of life. Let’s categorize the site’s users.


  • Young: under 35 years old
  • Middle Aged: 35–60 years old
  • Senior: 60+ years old

Profile Keys:

What attributes/behaviors apply to each profile?

  • Opening a checking account
  • Saving
  • Funding college
  • Looking for a loan
  • Ready to retire

Profile Card—Personas:

Personas humanize your segments and make it easier for your content authors to categorize content.

  • Yanni Young Person
  • Mary Middle Age
  • Sally Senior

Personas include multiple weighted profile keys to define the user. For example, on a scale of 1 to 5 (this scale and these values are the profile values), Mary Middle Age could have the following profile keys attached to her:

  • Opening a checking account: 1
  • Saving: 3
  • Funding college: 5
  • Looking for a loan: 3
  • Ready to retire: 2

Pattern Cards:

Pattern cards are very similar to profile cards—they are a collection of profile values and keys, but they have different purposes. When a visitor navigates through the site and views different pages and consumes different resources, they accumulate the profile values of all the pages and resources they request. Sitecore calculates the average score the visitor has accumulated for each profile and maps the visitor to the pattern card that is the closest match.

Next, we’ll discuss how to set up these elements in Sitecore.

The New SEO Benchmark: Preventing Pogosticking with solid Information Architecture and Quality Content

Search engines have evolved. Content created for people is now rewarded, which is great news for your brand. It means no more time wasted on dubious SEO workarounds like superfluous keyword-stuffed listicles that detract from your brand and fail to serve your audience. Now you can focus on creating a helpful, compelling experience for your user—and search engines will support your efforts by helping your audience find you.

But what happens when your visitors find your website, but not what they’re looking for? User intent is now a benchmark of SEO ranking. When someone visits your site and decides it’s not for them, they click the Back button. This on-and-off behavior is called pogosticking, and search engines have learned to track it. Essentially, if you’ve misled a user to click on your site or a site visitor has landed on a page that doesn’t meet their needs, your search rankings are penalized because engines like Google will interpret this bounce back as the user failing to find what they want based on their search terms.

So what’s the solution? Fortunately, you can prevent pogosticking by the time-honored best practices of good design and valuable, well-planned content. This thoughtfulness takes time.

The first step starts with your site’s architecture.  When we approach User Experience and Information Architecture with our clients we ask them to think of where users are landing: the Homepage, the About Us page for branded keywords, Product Detail pages, etc.   We want to make sure the purpose of the site and its services are obvious from the get-go.  Site structure should quickly offer visitors an overview of the page’s purpose and content—ensuring your audience that, yes, they’ve come to the right place. When newspapers reigned, this practice was known as putting headlines above the fold: place informative headlines right up front so that people will unfold—or scroll—and keep reading.

Once the site and page structure is in place, we will think about the content buckets as they relate to the site map.  Our design will make sure that the content is highlighted, but we still need to ensure that the content on the page supports the users’ intent.   Thoughtful and purposeful content will keeping people reading—and engaged.

So how do you if you are winning the pogosticking game?  One way is to look at bounce rate.  Bounce rate is no means a perfect measure of user intent, but it does provide an idea of how many users are only visiting that page and ‘bouncing’ from the site. From Google:  “Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).   There are a number of factors that contribute to a high bounce rate.  For example, users might leave your site from the entrance page if there are site design or usability issues.” I.E.  This could be a flag that you are losing the pogosticking game.  “Alternatively, users might also leave the site after viewing a single page if they’ve found the information they need on that one page, and had no need or interest in going to other pages.”  This is why you have to be carefully using bounce rate as your source of truth when it comes to pogosticking.

We’re here to help.  If you’re concerned about your website’s search performance or have heard that users aren’t finding what they are looking for on your site, we’d love to sit down and talk user experience and content strategy.

Sitecore 8.1 – Overview of the exciting new Marketing Features

We’re excited about this week’s Sitecore 8.1 launch, and as a strategist, I’m extremely pleased with the enhancements to marketing features. I look forward to working with our clients to implement them.

Most importantly, this release demonstrates Sitecore’s commitment to improving and evolving the marketing features that give you a 360-degree view of customers.

Below are excerpts from the official 8.1 release notes and my thoughts on what these mean for Sitecore marketers.

Experience Analytics:

  • New reports reflecting the full taxonomy provided in the Marketing Control Panel have been added.
  • The following new dimensions and reports have been added:
    • Outcomes
    • Assets
    • Asset facets
    • Goals facets
    • Campaign facets
  • Device detection dimensions and reports have been added.
  • Experience Analytics has added pie charts to support data analysis.
  • The pie chart type supports all existing metrics and dimensions, and it can work with multiple segments.
  • Drill-down functionality has been implemented to allow a user to open a new report based on a specific segment of a chart.
    • This functionality is supported on bar and pie-charts.
    • The header title can now be added to ListControls. It is hidden by default if no title has been added.
  • Several small bug fixes and corrections on reports have been implemented.

One of the first Experience Analytics questions I get from clients is, “Can this replace Google Analytics and Omniture?” With the 8.1 improvements, we’re getting closer to that being a reality. Pie charts and drill-down functionality help bring the data that xDB collects to life. The new built-in device detection is one of the highlights of the release. I anticipate the Analytics dashboard will continue to be a priority for Sitecore, and we’ll continue to see more built in reports in the future.

Experience Optimization:

  • Enhancements to the Personalize the Component dialog have been implemented.
  • Two KPIs have been added to each rule in the dialog:
    • Effect measures how the rule improves Engagement Value based on the original test results.
    • Reach measures the percentage of site visitors that have seen the rule in the past 30 days.
  • The data visualization in the Personalization dialog has been improved to better communicate which rules are the best performers.
    • Improvements to the index bars have been made to make the effect of each rule easier to understand.
    • Several improvements to calculations and data storage have been implemented.
  • Improved test logic across languages and devices has been implemented.
    • Enhancements have been added to facilitate setting up tests in specific languages.
    • The ability to run individual tests on the same page in different languages has been implemented.
    • Content tests now run across devices, whereas other tests are device-specific.
  • The Cancel test feature has been implemented.
    • Test creators can now cancel tests without selecting a winner or consulting an administrator.
    • Tests can be cancelled from both the Experience Editor and Experience Optimization applications.
  • List improvements:
    • Improved UX consistency when selecting a test within a list.
    • Device and language information has been added to the lists.
  • Starting tests on variables and personalization rules without using workflows has been implemented

The initial 8.0 upgrade improved the testing process and made it easier for content authors to set up tests—it even suggested tests that they could perform. I like that you’ll now be able to see the percentage of site visitors that have seen a personalization rule in the past 30 days. It’s important to monitor your ruleset to ensure you’re reaching the audience you want to. If you add too many parameters and no one is seeing it, it’s time to optimize. Overall, the features demonstrate Sitecore’s focus on gaining insight on customers and achieving a context-driven marketing program.

Campaign Creator:

  • Provides a unified, user-friendly interface to create, classify and manage campaigns.
  • Provides easy access to campaign codes to facilitate and enable the tracking of online marketing activities such as email campaigns or traffic from external websites.
  • Contains links directly to Experience Analytics for quick access to campaign performance reports.
  • Uses the marketing taxonomies to organize and filter campaign activities.
    • Utilizes new Marketing Foundation APIs to facilitate quick taxonomy facet searching.
  • Enables creation and management of campaign activities without using the Marketing Control Panel or the Content Editor.
  • Allows the organization and filtering of campaign activities by date and time, as well as provisioning for open-ended campaign activities.
  • Automatically publishes campaign activities upon creation and unpublishes upon deletion.

Previously a separate application, the campaign creator is now integrated into the platform. For those not familiar, campaigns can be added to inbound marketing activities to target and measure users arriving at the site. Campaigns are very similar to Google Analytics URL Builder—they include a query string that ensures inbound links are tracked properly. With multiple inbound marketing activities, the Campaign Creator makes it incredibly easy to manage Sitecore campaigns and access reports on what activities are driving conversions without using the Marketing Control Panel or the Content Editor.

Path Analyzer:

  • New map types covering outcomes, channels, goals and assets from the Marketing Taxonomy facets have been added.
  • The Outcome map type shows the paths that generate the most revenue, outcomes, and revenue per outcome.
  • The Channel map type shows the paths that contacts take through a website coming from different channels. Eight maps including the most common channels are included by default.
  • The Reverse goal and asset map types show the paths that lead to a specific goal or asset.
  • The Experience map type allows for custom maps to be created across sequences of pages, progressions across channels, campaigns, events and outcomes.
    • Three experience maps are included by default. One provides an overview of the channels that drive visitors to a particular goal or landing page. Three experience maps are included by default. One provide an overview of the channels that drive visitors to a particular goal or landing page.
  • If CMS-only mode is enabled then Path Analyzer will not be accessible. All requests will be denied and an appropriate status page showing that CMS-only mode is enabled is displayed.

The Path Analyzer was the showstopper of the initial 8.0 upgrade. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that lets you understand how people arrive at an item, where they went, and the effectiveness of the paths that they took. The improvements really take the tool to the next level. They give insight into goal conversion and the paths that users took to trigger those goals. With these improvements, the tool is now on par with (if not better than) Google Analytics Behavior Flow and Goal Flow reporting.

We’ll continue to keep you posted as our clients upgrade to and capitalize on 8.1. In the meantime, contact us if you have any questions on upgrading and implementing 8.1.

Helping understand ADA Compliance

A website launch is no feeble undertaking. Hundreds of cumulative hours go into user, competitor and analytics research, IA and UX, creative design and content development. Then of course there’s the site development, the testing and so on. Imagine launching that site stuffed with inherent barriers between potential web users and your message.

The section 508 amendment to the Rehabilitation Act is intended to remove barriers in information technology so that people with disabilities can access federal information, but the standards are also helpful in making all websites accessible.

What does it mean for a website to be accessible? In 2012, the National Federation of the Blind estimated that there were over 6.5 million people, aged 16 and up, who reported significant vision loss. The American census estimated more than 4 million people with hearing disabilities. Color blindness affects 10.5 million American men and over half a million American women.

So to put it bluntly: if you’re not intentionally making your website accessible, you’re potentially confusing or blocking out over 20 million Americans alone.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) have laid out best practices you can adopt in order to ensure your site is free of barriers.

Principle 1: Perceivable

“Information and user interface components must be presentable to users in ways they can perceive.

Sighted and hearing individuals may take it for granted how easy it is to consume information online. Photos, text, video and more are juxtaposed in ways that create meanings that each component, taken alone, wouldn’t have. Luckily, it isn’t difficult to use alt tags, closed captions and design practices that help simulate the full effect of your site for users with vision or hearing impairment.

The rest of this principle describes making content adaptable to simpler layouts and making it easy to read, such as making text clearly visible over the background. These practices may seem obvious, but they often get lost under flashy designs or stubborn code.

Principle 2: Operable

“User interface components and navigation must be operable.”

In addition to screen readers, the WCAG guidelines aim for accessibility for users with limited mobility, seizures and a number of conditions associated with old age. The items under principle 2 again remind us that accessible design is often just good design.

Principle 3: Understandable

“Information and the operation of user interface must be understandable.”

Again, these principles often boil down to “make your website legible.” It includes instructions for making it easy to correct mistakes in fillable forms, and it encourages designers to keep the operation of their sites predictable.

Principle 4: Robust

“Content must be robust enough that it can be interpreted reliably by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technologies.”

Here, we’re reminded that modern programming can almost assure backward and forward compatibility across a number of devices. If you want users to see your content and interact with it, making sure they can load it is a great start.

We’re both happy and proud to help our clients bring their site into compliance with all levels of accessibility and have vast experience making sure we are implementing best practices in the Sitecore back end (templates including alt tags, descriptive links, etc.) to ensure the client is able to easily maintain compliance moving forward. Here’s an outline of our approach:

  1. Confirm what level of compliance a client needs to achieve.

The WCAG contains different levels of compliance:

  • WCAG 2.0 Level A harmonizes with Section 508 and is required—you must do it.
  • WCAG 2.0 Level AA is preferred—it would be nice if you did it, but it’s not required.
  • WCAG 2.0 Level AAA is equivalent to Section 508 compliance—optional for all but government agencies, and it would be extra amazing if you complied.
  1. Complete an accessibility audit.

We can formulate a plan only after we:

  • identify and prioritize all accessibility errors.
  • define a method for addressing any issues.
  • document the system’s overall conformance with Americans with Disabilities (ADA) and with WCAG.
  1. Present to client stakeholders.

We’ll explain the audit report, which contains:

  • an executive summary.
  • compliance metrics with the selected accessibility standards.
  • product-specific examples of significant violations.
  • extensive technical documentation about every type of accessibility best practice that was violated.
  1. Work with the client stakeholders to prioritize violations.

We’ll design a joint roadmap to address violations.

  1. Implement website updates to conform to compliance guidelines.

And now your site is accessible to more users than ever!