With EPiServer Visitor Intelligence you can create micro targeted onmichannel segments of customers based on their interactions with your brand in store and online. EPiServer’s product suite then gives you the tools to target these segments with super personalised web experiences (CMS), recommendations (EPi Recommendations) and automated marketing campaigns (Campaign).
Collecting your Big Data
The EPiServer Profile Store is the big data repository we should be using to collect anything that may be useful for tracking our customers interactions with our brand. Behind the scenes it is an Azure Data Explorer cluster hosted in Azure. This detail will become important later in the series of blog posts when we write our queries against the data we collect using our channels.
Early in your implementation you should plan for the data you need to send to the profile store as customers interact with your site. It’s best to send anything you think you could potentially use, even at a future date, to get insights on the interaction of customers with your brand.
The two core concepts to understand when implementing tracking are:
• Customer Profiles
• Tracking Events
A customer profile is simply data we collect about a specific customer.
Events that you track about a customer are later consolidated back into their profile behind the scenes.
Out of the box the profile data is very basic with the customers email address. However you can easily extend this by sending extra profile data via the Profile Store API.
You should consider integrating the following pages with the profile API: Registration, profile pages, address management etc
A tracking event can be any data which describes a specific action a customer takes when interacting with your brand. It can be anything from a page view, to creating an order or using a loyalty card in store. Any data you gather on any system which relates to a customer interacting with your brand can be tracked as an event in the profile store.
EPiServer Tracking API
EPiServer provides us with the Tracking API to enable us to very efficiently integrate profile store Tracking Events with out our EPi websites. It is a nuget package you install from the EPiServer feed.
The Tracking API enables us to quickly build payloads with the Tracking Data Factory and then send to the profile store.
Tracking Data Factory
The TrackingDataFactory is a class you can use to easily build event based Tracking payloads as customer interact with your website in such scenarios as:
- Homepage View
- Product Page View
- Category Page View
- Add to Cart or Wishlist
Adding this tracking is very easy but sometimes we will want to customise the tracking payloads with our extended data. There are a couple of options for this using the Tracking API.
- Extending the payload per event
You can extend the payload using the tracking data “setCustomAttribute” extension. This is well explained under the “Customizing Tracking Data” section of the Tracking and Recommendations EPi World developer guide.
On an E-Commerce implementation, you will find yourself extending tracking especially for products. For example if you are selling books, how useful would it be to extend the tracking data to include the author so the website can serve recommendations to customers based on the authors they are viewing or segment customers we perceive to be interested in certain authors so we can notify them of the next big launch.
- Extending all payloads with specific data points
When there are properties we want to track for all events, use the Tracking Data Interceptor. The Tracking Data Interceptorguide on EPi World explains it with a nice example for adding the current market and currency to tracking events.
If the Tracking Data Factory doesn’t support the event you want to track, you can build your own object and use the Tracking API library to send the event. This is a good example on Epi World of using the Tracking API to send a form submission to profile store.
Now that we’ve covered the first step of implementing Tracking into your EPiServer site, in the next post we’ll look at techniques to extend to other systems to enable Omnichannel tracking with profile store.
This will set the platform for us to finally use EPiServer Visitor Intelligence to create and target segments of customers who are interacting with your brand both in store and online.