Claire Marshall recently posted on IBM’s Smarter Conference blog an article titled “5 ways to personalize your site content via IBM Marketing Center“. In the post, she talks about the following ways to personalize your site:
- Greeting – if you know the person’s first/last name then display it on the page
- Referring Site – if you know where the person came from to get to your site, then display content targeted to users of that site. She used the example of someone coming from Facebook. You could display an offer to people that have “liked” your site in Facebook.
- Browsed – if the person is a return visitor, display content that is relevant to what they looked at before.
- Purchased – if the user has purchased something from your site, display a cross-sell or an accessory to that item.
- Offline – import offline data about customers, so when they come to your site, you can personalize something for them.
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After reading the post, I was left the question, “Good ideas, but how do I do this?”. And since this is a Portal blog, I thought, how can I do these 5 suggestions using IBM WebSphere Portal?
So, here are ways you can use WebSphere Portal to implement these five suggestions:
- Greeting – in your portal theme, you can easily display a welcome message to your logged in user. You can use the JSP tag <portal-fmt:user attribute=” value”/> to display any attribute about the user that you store in LDAP (or via Member Manager to be totally correct). So you can display the user’s name this way: Welcome <portal-fmt:user attribute=”Salutation”/> <portal-fmt:user attribute=”FirstName”/> <portal-fmt:user attribute=”LastName”/>.
- Referring Site – the referring site is available to the WebSphere Portal Personalization engine, so you can write rules about the referring site. The referrer is available through the Profiling rule and you can use the host name or the entire URL.
- Browsed – You can capture the fact that a person has been to your site in a variety of ways. One way is to log an entry in a database when the user logs on – you can use a login filter for this. Another way is to capture the data being fed to your user analytics systems like Core Metrics or Web Trends. As an example, you could update an LDAP attribute for the user to indicate they have logged on, or maybe you can add the date of the last login. These LDAP attributes are available to the personalization engine as part of the user object. With this data, it becomes a simple task to create a personalization rule that displays content to a returning user.
- Purchased – Here you can take a similar approach to the “browsed” suggestion above. You can also use a custom data source in WebSphere Portal’s Personalization Engine. With this in mind, you can create a custom datasource out of your “items purchased” table in your sales order system. Using that datasource, you can now write a Personalization rule that decides what content to show a user based on past purchases. In addition, WebSphere Portal includes the LikeMinds Recommendation Engine. You can use that tool in your personalized site to make recommendations based on what purchases the user has made or where they have navigated on your site, and more.
- Offline – I think this is a special version of “purchased”. If you can load data from your offline interactions with customers, then you can make a personalization datasource out of that data just as easily as the sales order data mentioned above.
There you have it. 5 ways to personalize your site in WebSphere Portal taking advantage of all the built-in features that have been available for a long time. To learn more about all the Personalization capabilities of WebSphere Portal, take a look at the product document for Personalization on the IBM site.