In Review: Explorations in Sitecore

October 29, 2015 Ethel Crosby

Explorations in Sitecore: More Than a CMS
We recently had the opportunity to cohost a webinar with Patrick Schweizer, the product marketing director for Sitecore, a content management system that’s become one of the most advanced customer experience platforms available. With so many unique and powerful features, Sitecore is especially useful for marketers who are looking to take their digital efforts to the next level.

During our webinar, Patrick highlighted Sitecore 8 enhancements, including the Experience Database and Profiles, marketing automation integrations and the Federated Experience Manager. Here’s a recap of what he detailed.

Latest & Greatest: Sitecore 8 Features
Sitecore 8 was built around the ability to create and provide context for your customers to better shape the experience they have with your organization. This level of contextualization requires deep knowledge about your audience—knowledge that’s typically contained in a number of different platforms, resulting in customer data that’s disparate or disconnected. These new features and enhancements help alleviate this common marketing challenge.

  • Sitecore Experience Database – To unify customer data across multiple channels, the Experience Database is a new capability in Sitecore 8 that holds all of the customer data in a central repository, which Sitecore can easily access for personalization, marketing automation and analytics needs.
  • Sitecore Experience Profile – The Sitecore Experience Profile is a visual “data dictionary” that provides user information such as site visits, content consumed, social activities and essentially every other interaction within Sitecore and other external data integrations from a CRM or other application. This profile is the canvas for Sitecore developers to create a dashboard that makes the most sense for each company’s marketing team.
  • Personalization – This is the feature that enables contextual marketing. Sitecore allows every single component to be personalized; Sitecore 8 takes it a step further and allows marketers to measure and evaluate each component’s performance. The Experience Explorer helps simulate personalization so marketers can visualize how the site’s content will look to specific users/personas before publishing.
  • Rule Set Editor – Given that a substantial amount of data has been introduced through the Experience Database, the native rule set editor can be used to drill down to the insights that matter most. The rules editor is also used in Sitecore 8’s new List Segmentation tool, which feeds email/marketing automation programs.
  • Email Experience Manager – Many changes have been made over the years to Sitecore’s email interface; Sitecore 8’s features are on par with the big enterprise email solutions, including content testing, performance reporting and, most importantly, connecting the emails to the customer interactions on the website to create a complete picture of how each customer is interacting with your brand across channels.
  • Advanced Analytics, Testing & Optimization – In addition to the basic metrics marketers need daily, Sitecore 8 offers more intuitive reporting through the Path Analyzer that allows you to see which paths are providing the most value. Through the simple interface, testing is now part of the content authoring process so everyone, regardless of publishing workflow, can test. For advanced optimizers running complex, multivariate tests, Sitecore 8 allows them to fine-tune granular adjustments.
  • Federated Experience Manager – This uses a JavaScript library to inject content from Sitecore into a non-Sitecore site, allowing marketers to capture data from that page and pull it into the Sitecore Experience Database. It’s also useful for companies looking to migrate to Sitecore in an iterative process. From an integration perspective, many B2B companies have specialized portals or software applications that they don’t necessarily want to get rid of, but want Sitecore to host the website and keep portals in full operation – it’s a great way to integrate content into the portals that doesn’t require Sitecore to host the entire site.

Getting Started with Sitecore 8
With so many features and capabilities, Sitecore can seem overwhelming. Here are four steps to get the ball rolling:

  1. Familiarize yourself with new features. Sitecore’s documentation site, doc.sitecore.net and the Master Sitecore YouTube channel are great places to start. 
  2. Focus on quick wins – consider top priorities and what data you currently have available to help implementation. 
  3. Work on an optimization roadmap; how to optimize the user-experience over time. 
  4. Remember: It’s a continuous learning process. Optimize, adjust and refine.

One North is a Sitecore Solution Gold Implementation Partner and Hosting Partner with over a dozen Sitecore-certified employees. To learn more about our Sitecore capabilities and how you can get the most out of this powerful marketing tool, check out these resources.

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Ethel Crosby Director of Technology Operations & Offerings

As Director of Technology Operations and Offerings at One North Interactive, Ethel is responsible for the management and execution of leading digital technology solutions and software product management for B2B relationship-based businesses. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Ethel once zip-lined, upside down, in a rain forest in Costa Rica.

  • Favorite movie quote: "With great power comes great responsibility." - Spiderman
  • Favorite vending machine snack: Reeses Pieces

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