Why Sitecore is the Ultimate CMS for Your Marketing Needs
By Saurabh Gangwar
Since its launch three years ago, we’ve spent a lot of time getting to know Sitecore 9 and above. One of the biggest things we’ve learned and love? Their ever-improving, seamless marketing capabilities.
Sitecore has quite a few tools that would make any marketer’s life easier. From analytics to print materials, we couldn’t just pick a few, so here’s our lengthy list of favorites to include versions 9.0, 9.1, and 9.2.
One of the handiest features of a content management system (CMS) is inline content editing for business users, like content editors. In Sitecore, this is referred to as their Experience Editor. While plenty of different CMSs offer this function, Sitecore has done a beautiful job of making life as easy as possible for editors.
The Experience Editor is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get tool that allows you to easily make changes to content items (like text, graphics, logos, links, and so on) directly on the page. Not to mention, you can apply marketing functionalities like personalization.
Example: You want to tease a new promotion you’re running, add it to the homepage, and personalize the content on a country-by-country basis. Using Editor, you can do so without requiring any specialized technical help.
More on personalization later.
In Sitecore, users can create or configure experience marketing functionalities in the Marketing Control Panel or in the Experience Editor. Explore Mode is designed to let marketers test the experience marketing functionality of your website.
Explore Mode allows internal teams to simulate visits to a website to see how different visitors interact with features as they navigate through. Why is this helpful? Because it enables you to test your digital marketing strategy using a variety of different visitor personas and preset modes that trigger different elements of the experience marketing functionalities.
Experience Optimization, or A/B testing, is used to describe a constant process where you can view usage analytics data and optimize your channels to work more effectively for your customers, achieve your campaign goals, etc.
A/B testing allows marketers to test one or more variations of content and compare the customer engagement scores to evaluate the most effective version. One can test individual page components, entire sites, or even the entire experience across all channels.
Testing alternative variants of a website’s content allows you to identify which pages, components, or combinations of components are the most effective with visitors.
Personalization is key. Users begin leaving clues about their wants and needs the moment they land on your site. Listening to those clues can help you better mold their experience. While 9.0 and 9.1 excelled at this, 9.2 offers a greater advantage – active personalized experiences and increased management capabilities thanks to Sitecore Content Hub. This has been dubbed a marketer’s “dream tool” because it integrates everything into one platform. By “everything” we mean product information management, digital rights management, marketing resource management, and much more.
We can’t wait to dissect and further explore the possibilities of personalization with you in our upcoming blog.
In the meantime, there are two main ways to enable personalization within Sitecore:
1. User-behavior based
Sitecore has behavioral targeting figured out. You can consistently track the customer interaction and, based on that, assign a persona to the customer dynamically. Now instead of fixed rules, personalized content can be served based on the customer persona.
Example: Marketers may want to feature products based on a user’s past purchases or recently browsed products on an e-commerce site.
2. Through a rules-based configuration
It’s pretty straightforward. Marketing teams can use the Rule Set Editor to add rules and actions to a specific component in Sitecore.
Do you have a promotion that needs to be geographically specific? Perhaps you have content relevant to a particular age group. Personalization within Sitecore is wildly possible.
Additionally, developers can build custom rules dependent upon their needs and, since the emergence of 9.2, managing data has become much simpler because it removes unwelcome data. Why is this such good news? Well, you’re saving time and resources because you’re not dealing with the tedious task of sorting through loads of unnecessary and unwanted information. Additionally, this particular feature upgrade complies with those big bad General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), making life a whole lot easier for marketers.
We love experience profiles. With this, a marketer can monitor the behaviors of visitors as they interact with the site by having a full picture of the customer’s experience with your brand across the channels. All the data related to this is collected and managed by xDB under the hood.
This information can be used in so many ways – enabling personalized experiences, automated customer segmentation, and integrations with CRM systems where a customer’s profile could be synchronized and made available to salespersons.
A marketing automation plan is a predefined blueprint that determines how your website interacts with visitors (think campaigns, notifications, etc.). It’s like an automated program that produces messages to the contacts when certain conditions are met.
Marketers should love this because using these can make the visitor relationships stronger using effective communication with the appropriate channel, content, and media.
Example: You create a marketing automation plan that checks in with the contacts who haven’t bought anything after registering on your site. The plan would trigger a “welcome discount offer” email encouraging them to make a purchase.
You’ve created, you’ve optimized, you’ve personalized, you’ve created again, and now you want the data. Experience Analytics provides dashboards and reports for marketing teams that help gain insight into the value of customer visits as compared to marketing goals.
If you click the Experience Analytics icon from launchpad, you would be directed to a page divided into several categories of reports, each containing different charts and graphs. You can choose from Dashboard, Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions. 9.2 has added a number of applications that will improve the analysis of collected data.
These features include:
- Email experience manager
- Path analyzer
- Experience optimization
- Experience analytics
- Experience profile
Based on different reports and experience data, marketers (and other decision-makers) can make intelligent decisions for better customer experience and increased sales.
A campaign is a series of activities linked by a plan of action which contribute toward a larger, defined business goal. If you talk about online campaigns, the business goals are mainly related to better contact experience and increased sales.
In Sitecore, a marketer can create campaigns using defined business goals and link to those Marketing Automation Plans we mentioned earlier. Of course, campaign emails can also be personalized and targeted.
In the Sitecore Experience Platform, a marketer can create campaign groups, which are high-level campaigns containing different, smaller campaigns across various channels.
The Forms module was introduced in Sitecore 9.0 giving marketing teams the ability to create web forms by simply dragging and dropping elements from the elements pane onto the form canvas. With this, a user can apply validations, submit data to various destinations, add styling, export data to Excel, run reports on form performance, etc. 9.2 has evolved so that JSS can fully support Sitecore Forms/headless deployment. In fact, marketers will be happy to know that email campaign messages have multiple new email submission actions.
Sitecore’s ability to integrate with your CRM makes management processes easier and more productive. They have a suite of products named CRM Connect that integrates different CRM systems with the Sitecore Experience Platform.
A few of the benefits of a CRM Integration with Sitecore:
- A bi-direction sharing of content and data between Sitecore and CRM apps
- User access permissions control to the Sitecore content
- Empowers the sales department to deliver targeted content to the clients
- Gathers web analytics information to create reports
Email Experience Manager
Email Experience Manager (EXM) is used to create those highly customizable, personalized, and targeted email campaigns we mentioned earlier.
From the menu, a user can:
- Create and manage email campaigns
- Implement multi-language support
- Track experience optimization
- Create and manage recipient lists
- Pull analytics reports
- Manage suppression and domain lists
Federated Experience Manager
This is a good one. 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 cases where a company has multiple websites that are not all under the Sitecore umbrella.
With FXM, a team can apply most of the Sitecore Experience Platform features to the content on external websites, create goals and events, and implement content profiling. With this, you can 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’s Print Experience Manager (PXM) produces targeted print materials for your existing and potential customers. It uses design tools like Adobe’s InDesign and InCopy or an online document generator to generate print materials using the content stored in Sitecore.
As we approach 2020 and things become increasingly more digital, it’s easy to forget that printed collateral can have value in strategic situations – presentations, conferences, displays, etc.
PXM utilizes the same personalization rules, experience profiles, and content managed in Sitecore to dynamically create print.
Example: When a customer clicks to download a brochure, instead of a standard, for-all download, they will a personalized brochure for that customer.
One of Sitecore’s values, that we share here at Content Bloom, is the idea of continuous innovation and improvement. Because of this, they never fail to impress us with their innovative iterations to newer versions of the platform.
Keep an eye out for our next piece on a more in-depth look at what version 9.2 has to offer.
Do you use Sitecore for your marketing efforts? What’s your favorite component?
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