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It’s Taxonomy Season

How to get the best business return on your Sitecore investment.

Sitecore Taxonomy OverviewAs marketers become more involved in choosing the tools to drive digital business growth, they must also be very aware of the process and key steps that should take place before one line of code is written. This holds true in every Sitecore build of which I have been a part. If key strategy steps are skipped, a painful learning curve, slower positive results, and sometimes even a rebuild are often the result.
User Journey Maps, Content Scoring, Personas and the focus of this article – Taxonomies – are just a few of the key pre-determinations to a successful Customer Experience Platform (CXP) launch and a smiling C-suite.
Taxonomy, or the science of classification, should be considered the bones of your CXP. In Sitecore it is the frame upon which all rules, personalization, and reporting are built. This is where your business can start to form the rules that are unique to your customers and organization as a whole. Sitecore thankfully supplies a healthy starting place out of the box, but every time I demonstrate that Marketing can customize this taxonomy without having to bother IT, I get smiles from both teams.

Did I say Marketing? Yes, this is not something buried at a system level in Sitecore CXP. It lives in the Marketing Control Panel and setting up key elements like Marketing Channels, Campaign Groups, Assets and Outcomes are all now in the hands of Marketing decision makers. In fact it takes (and should take) far more time to determine all the necessary taxonomy for the business than it actually takes to create them in the Marketing Control Panel. Let’s take a look at a few examples:
Sitecore Channels TaxonomyDefine Channels for both Online and Offline Marketing: Sitecore has a wealth of pre-determined options but if your organization needs another channel, just add it. If you have 20 different divisions all with their own newsletter, define those channels and group them in a “Newsletter” folder. For that matter, if you have a printed newsletter and digital set, split the groups into the online and offline categories.
Define Campaign Groups: Every marketing organization has a slightly different approach to how they organize campaigns. Do you have different business units that offer different brands of webinars? Create a “Webinar” group and define all the different brands in that group.Sitecore Asset Taxonomy
Track Assets by type: PDF, Image, Video, Whitepaper; just to name a few – and now you will be able to understand what type of assets your users like to consume and even dig deeper with asset type across persona – as an example.
Define Outcomes: Outcomes can really help you see your customer as it relates to the completion of desired goals and stages. You can define Outcomes based on points in a sales funnel. Did they fill out a form on a mobile device? Did your customer complete a CTA form or watch a video?
On top of all of this you can assign facets to further derive meaning from your customers’ journeys and actions – but I will save that for a future article.
Now your taxonomy is ready to go. What do you do with it? This is where we start to apply these bones to the rest of the system. With the business organized you can now not only properly define content, but in some cases it will help you see a need for more/different content. Rules can be defined for personalization. Profiles can be automated based on detected behavior. Engagement Plans can drive personalization and automation by detecting and reacting based on different facets, channels, etc. – All based on a taxonomy that is customized to your business.
All of this automation, tracking, data, data, data… This is actually where all of your hard work pays off, because Sitecore simply tracks it and delivers it in detailed reports that are not just out of the box reports anymore. Because you did you hard work up front, it is reporting that fits the needs of your organization, built off of your taxonomy, grouped as you defined and showing you the results you need to know in real time.
From here you can even push these results to CRM, ERP, Commerce, etc. and this can also be in real time, creating a well-defined user journey that reacts to your customer and empowers your business. You can probably imagine how this could get out of control had you not bothered to plan and had you not had a system that could react to the needs of your teams. Fortunately, with the right process defined and the ability to adjust as needed, (because it’s always taxonomy season) Marketing can now work to refine and deliver the 360 degree view of your customer to better guide their journey and your business decisions. Learn more about the power of Sitecore CXP.

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Rick Bauer, Senior Solutions Architect

As a 5-time Sitecore Strategy MVP and Senior Solutions Architect at Perficient, Rick provides insight, training, and a passion for a fully-realized potential of the Sitecore Customer Experience Platform and Content Hub. He utilizes his years of hands-on Sitecore know-how and certification to help deliver clear solutions and actionable results for marketers - both new to the platforms, or looking to take them to the next level of maturity.

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