Getting started with SDL SmartTarget

Okay, you've invested in SDL SmartTarget and are ready to allow your marketing team to deliver targeted content to your website users.

SDL SmartTarget Targeting Slide Out Menu

So, where do you start?

This blog post will outline some basic steps that you may want to consider for getting started with SDL SmartTarget.

Step 1 - Do some planning

Before diving in and starting to implement SmartTarget functionality, it's advisable to take a step back and do some planning. You'll want to ask questions such as:

  1. Exactly which type of content you are trying to control (e.g. Banners, News articles, Products, etc.)? This content will need to be created and added into Tridion, so you will need to consider where (in which publication) this should be created in within the CMS.
  2. Which pages on the site do you want to use to display targeted content?
  3. Which specific regions on these pages do you want to control?
  4. What are your website user personas and what are the specific, measurable/detectable attributes that determine whether a specific user fits a persona?

On top of this, you may want to ask some broader organisational and content strategy questions, such as:

  1. What is the theme for the content that you intend to use for targeting? For example, will you plan your targeting around an upcoming campaign, a specific product range or an upcoming event?
  2. How much existing content are you able to re-use for the targeted areas of your site
  3. How much additional new content can you realistically create for targeting? (Having lots of personas and areas on the site that you want to use for targeting is great, but this may significantly increase the burden on your content creation team, unless you plan carefully.)
  4. What is your schedule for running targeting campaigns? How does this fit in with your overall content timetable and planning?
  5. What is the criteria for determining whether the targeting has been successful?

There is a lot to think about regarding the content strategy. I hope to cover this, in relation to Tridion, in a future blog post.

Back to SmartTarget…

My best advice during your initial planning - Start small!

I strongly advise that you start with single SmartTarget promotion, using a small amount of targeted content on a limited subset of your site's pages.

This will allow your team to familiarise themselves with the SmartTarget tool, determine how you intend to measure the success of your future promotions and to clarify your longer term objectives.

Step 2 - Configure your Page Templates

Before the editorial teams can start creating promotions, the existing page templates will need to be updated to clearly specify the page regions that can be targeted and, in addition, the triggers that can be used.

The page template updates will need to be done by the technical team. This is where your preparation and the initial requirements questions will prove useful.

SmartTarget comes with a number of default triggers (i.e. attributes that you can target against) out of the box (e.g. Browser, Operating System, session duration, etc.). You can extend on this list of triggers if you need to target based on different attributes. However, configuring this is outside the scope of this blog post.

Step 3 - Set up your first SmartTarget promotion

If you've read my previous blog posts, then you'll be aware that promotions are the most used feature within SmartTarget.

There are three questions that you'll need to answer when setting up your SmartTarget promotions: where, when and what.

SmartTarget - Where when and what

The steps below outline how you can configure each of these, and other considerations that you will need to make, when setting up a new promotion:

Step 3.1 - Where: Publications

This is where you specify which publications you want you new promotion to apply to.

SmartTarget is aware of your BluePrint structure, so you can also configure your promotion also to apply to child publications by choosing the Include Child Publications option.

SmartTarget promotion 1 where publications

Step 3.2 - Where: Page Regions

You can then select one or more page regions that you would like to target with your promotion. For example, in the screenshot below, the **Homepage Promotions **region is being targeted.

SmartTarget promotion 2 where page regions

Step 3.3 - When: Triggers

Triggers determine when (i.e. under what conditions) the selected targeted content be displayed.

As mentioned earlier, SmartTarget comes with a number of default triggers, but these conditions can be extended.

SmartTarget promotion 3 when triggers

You can also use triggers to limit the promotion to only specific page templates or to only trigger when there are a certain number of targeted results available.

Step 3.4 - What to display

This is where you'll chose which targeted content that you want to display when this promotion executes on a page.

You can select all of the content within a specific folder (and sub-folders), only content tagged with specific keywords from the taxonomy or by selecting individual content components.

SmartTarget promotion 4 what to display

You can also control the maximum number of targeted results to display and add additional filtering to the content to be displayed (e.g. filter by schema) within the What to display section.

Step 4 - Publish the promotion and content and check your promotion is working correctly

Once you've set up your initial promotion, you'll need to ensure that all of the content that you are using has been published and that your promotion is available in the target (Staging or Live).

You should then be able to view the targeted region and content working on your site. The screenshot below shows the the SmartTarget promotion appearing on the Staging website in Experience Manager.

SmartTarget Promotion within Experience Manager with Stage Two promotion

You can then use the **Session Footprint Set **functionality to test your SmartTarget promotion under different circumstances. For example, the screenshot below shows the user simulating a user with the Mac OS operating system.

SmartTarget Promotion Setting Session Footprint

Some additional points to note...

Setting up your initial promotions will give you a clearer understanding of how SmartTarget works. However, there are some additional points to think about. Such as:

  1. You'll need to ensure that the targeted content has been published for all of sites (i.e. publications) that will use it.
  2. Initially, you will probably want to explicitly select the content (component) to display for a promotion. As you become more familiar with the system you can select any content within a specific folder (or bundle!) or classified with a specific keyword from within the taxonomy.
  3. You may want to consider using SmartTarget Experiments to assess the performance of two or more competing pieces of targeted content. However, you'll need to be think about how you measure this performance and determine what 'success' is.

Wrapping up

Hopefully this post will give you some ideas for getting started with SDL SmartTarget. If you have any specific questions then feel free to contact me directly or post your questions using the SmartTarget tag on the Tridion Stack Exchange site.