Top Digital Marketing Capabilities of Sitecore 9
By Saurabh Gangwar
Sitecore 9 is already out. Below are the top digital marketing capabilities of Sitecore 9, which make it a great CXM product for marketers.
Probably one of the most important features of a WCMS product is Inline Content Editor from a Business User (Content Editor) point of view. In Sitecore, they call it Experience Editor. I have seen some other Inline Editors (of different WCMS Products) as well but with Sitecore, it simply works great for editors.
The Experience Editor is a What You See Is What You Get editor that allows you to easily make changes to content items directly on the page. Content Editor can edit all the content items that are visible on the page — text, graphics, logos, links, and so on. Also, a user can apply marketing functionalities (like personalization) on the content using the tool.
So as a marketer, For example, I want to add a new Promotion Teaser to the homepage and personalize the content on the country basis. I can simply do it myself using the tool without any technical help.
In Sitecore, one can create or configure Experience Marketing functionality in the Marketing Control Panel or in the Experience Editor. The Explore Mode is designed to let marketers test the Experience Marketing functionality on your website.
In Explore mode, a user can simulate visits to your website to see how different personas interact with Experience Marketing features as they navigate through your website. This enables you to test your digital marketing strategy, using a variety of different visitor personas (presets) and preset modes that trigger different elements of Experience Marketing functionality.
Experience Optimization (AB Testing)
Experience Optimization is a term used to describe a constant process where you can view experience usage analytics data and tweak your channels to optimize them to work effectively for your customers, achieve your campaign goals etc..
A marketer can do it by leveraging Sitecore’s A/B testing capabilities. A/B testing allows the marketers to test out one or more variations of some content and compare the customer engagement scores between each to evaluate the most effective version. One can test individual page components, entire sites, or even the entire experience across all channels.
These tests let marketers test alternative variants of your website’s content to find out which pages, components, or combinations of components are the most effective with visitors on the website.
Experience Profiles are one of the most exciting features ships with Sitecore 9. With this, a Marketer can monitor the behavior of contacts that have interacted with the website, by having a full picture of customer experience with your brand across the channels. All the data related to this is collected and managed by xDB under the hood.
This information could simply be used for so many purposes including enabling personalized experiences (as described in the next section), automated customer segmentation and integrations with CRM systems; where a customer’s profile could be synchronized to CRM making it available for salespersons.
Personalization is one of the most important features of a CXM product and Sitecore is not an exception. There are two main ways to enable personalization within Sitecore:
1) Through a rules-based configuration
It’s pretty straightforward in Sitecore, Marketers can use the Rule Set Editor to add rules and actions to a specific component in Sitecore. For example, a promotion could only be specific to some countries (geographical targeting) or a content piece should be served to only a particular age group.
Any amount of personalization customization is possible there. Additionally, developers can also build custom rules as per their needs.
2) User behavior based
Behavioral targeting is something that standout Sitecore from other CXM products. This is another great way to personalize content. Sitecore can consistently track the customer interaction and based on that, it assigns a persona to the customer dynamically. Now instead of fixed rules, personalized content could be served based on the customer persona.
For example, Marketers may want to feature products based on a user’s past purchases or recently browsed products on an e-commerce website.
A Marketing Automation plan is a predefined plan that defines how your website interacts (Campaigns, Notifications etc) with the contacts. It is like an automated program which produces outputs in the form of messages to the contacts when certain conditions are met.
Marketers use Marketing Automation Plans to make the contact relationships stronger by effective communication using the appropriate channel, Content, and media.
For Example, a Marketer can create a Marketing Automation Plan that checks the contacts who have not purchased anything after the registration, the plan could be set up to send them a “Welcome discount offer” email that encourages them to make a purchase.
Experience Analytics provides dashboards and reports for marketers that help in gain insight into the value of customer visits to the marketing goals. The data is collected from their websites, as well as potentially other external data sources.
If you click Experience Analytics icon from launchpad, you would be directed to a page divided into several categories of reports, each containing different charts and graphs. It contains the following categories of reports: Dashboard, Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions.
Based on different reports and experience data, Marketers (and other Decision Makers) can make intelligent decisions for better customer experience and increased sales. Also, there could be smart comparisons for different KPIs including page views, conversion rates, value per visit, and others. Marketers can also view a dashboard with multiple reports that let them filter report data by date range, website, and channels.
A Campaign is a series of activities linked by a plan of action which all contribute toward a larger defined business goal. If you talk about the online campaigns, the business goals are mainly related to better contact experience and increased sales.
In Sitecore, it a pretty straight-forward process. A Marketer can create Campaigns by using defined business goals and it can also be linked to Marketing Automation Plans. Also, the Campaign Emails could be personalized and targeted.
In the Sitecore Experience Platform, A Marketer can also create Campaign Groups, which are high-level campaigns containing different campaigns across different channels.
Forms Module is introduced in Sitecore 9. Marketers can create web forms using Sitecore Forms Module by simply dragging and dropping elements from the Form elements pane onto the form canvas. With this, a user can apply validations, submit data to various destinations, add styling, Export data to Excel, and run reports on form performance etc.
Sitecore’s integration with CRM can make management process easier and more productive by improving customer service. Sitecore has a suite of products named CRM Connect that integrate different CRM systems with the Sitecore Experience Platform. Connectors are available for CRM like Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce.
Some of the benefits of CRM Integration with Sitecore are listed below:
- Bi-direction sharing content and data between Sitecore and CRM apps.
- User Access Permissions control to the Sitecore content.
- Empower sales department to deliver targeted content to the clients
- Gather web analytics information and to create reports.
Email Experience Manager
You need to install this EXM module before it is available in Sitecore Launchpad. Email Experience Manager (EXM) is used to create highly customizable, personalized, and targeted email campaigns to the customers.
The EXM Dashboard provides a nice summary of the performance of an email channel. From the menu, a user can achieve the following:
- Create and manage email campaigns.
- Multi-language support for email campaigns.
- Experience Optimization on email campaigns.
- Creation and management of recipient lists.
- Analytics reports for the email campaigns.
- Suppression and domain list management
Federated Experience Manager
The Federated Experience Manager (FXM) is a dedicated SPEAK application that allows Marketers to add Sitecore content on external non-Sitecore websites. It can track visitors interactions, personalize the experience, and generate the analytics information. This is a pretty powerful tool in the scenarios, where a company has multiple websites and all are not controlled by Sitecore.
With FXM, a Marketer can apply most of the Sitecore Experience Platform features on the content on external websites including personalization rules, create goals and events, and implement content profiling. With this, one can also implement rules that include external sites in engagement plans, as well as track traffic from the external website in Experience Analytics.
Print Experience Manager
Sitecore Print Experience Manager (PXM) produces targeted print materials to your customers and potential customers. It uses design tools (InDesign and InCopy) or an interface (Online Document Generator) to produce personalized and effective print material using the content stored in Sitecore.
Prints could be an important channel for communicating one’s brand value especially at presentations, conferences, and in displays. In today’s world, where the customer expects highly relevant and personalized experiences; Prints can’t be an exception. Print Experience Manager takes the responsibility for you and deliveries the print experience to your customers.
PXM utilizes the same personalization rules, experience profiles, and content managed in Sitecore to dynamically create print content as per your customer’s need. For Example, when a customer clicks to download a brochure. Instead of a standard, “for-all” brochure that download requests can generate a personalized brochure for that customer.
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