Martin Austwick

MARKETING MANAGER WIREHIVE

Thoughts

Why you should use Sitecore

What is Sitecore?

Over the last twenty years almost all businesses have come to the realization that they need to have an online presence.  To start off with websites were simple static affairs.  An online brochure that summarised what a company did and how to get in contact with them.  The only real purpose they served was to attempt to put a company higher up the search results when a potential customer was looking for a product or service.   However, over time this changed, and websites have evolved massively in both form and function.  They have become an interactive online face to the company, engaging with potential prospects, and providing services to customers in a variety of ways.

As the scope of websites has grown, so has their size.  Blogs, ecommerce platforms, and multi-language sites all involve a huge number of pages.  Other common aspects of sites such as discussion forums, wikis, and e-learning facilities all add to the size and complexity of websites making them harder and harder to manage.

Sitecore defines itself as an experience platform rather than a traditional content management system. This means it’s purpose goes way beyond efficiently managing your web content. It’s aimed at businesses who see their website as a mission critical engine for prospect and customer interactions and experiences. It’s a feature-rich framework has been designed to allow organisations to dynamically communicate to individual visitors, tailoring the online experience to their preferences. It’s based on the understanding that by enabling the best possible outcome for the user, you create the best possible outcome for the organisation – be that a sale, a query resolution or just a positive brand interaction.

But what does that mean for website owners? Here are some of the things Sitecore can do to help you meet your online business goals.

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Personalization

One of the things that makes Sitecore stand out from other content management solutions is the degree of personalization it allows.  From simple things along the lines of Amazon’s “People that bought this item also like these” type messages through to displaying content specific to the geographical location of the person browsing the site, and hiding registrations forms from people who have previously filled them in Sitecore can do it all.

It even allows for personalization based on referrals, such as changing the content of banners on the site depending on where the visitors came from.

Not only does this make the individual visits more efficient, but it makes customers more likely to buy.  It’s long been recognised that the personal touch goes a long way in retail, but it is only recently through the functionality of platforms like Sitecore that this can truly be an option online.

However increasing conversions and customer retention is not the only beneficial effect of personalization that you can get from Sitecore.

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Marketing

The fact that it is possible to identify, and track customers based on location, referral source, previous purchases, site visit activity and much more allows for a huge amount of highly specific data to be collected on each individual visit.  This allows you to significantly increase the effectiveness of any marketing programs you are running.

Sitecore’s Email experience manager is an effective email marketing tool that allows you to utilise all the aspects of customer relationship marketing you might expect.  But because this is Sitecore it also integrates beautifully with Sitecore Experience Platform in order to better leverage customer data to deliver contextually relevant communications.

This goes so far beyond simply adding in a contacts name to an email, even though that alone has been shown to significantly increase conversion.  It allows you to create dynamic content based on all the segments you were personalising for earlier.  You can send emails specific to purchases, emails specific to regions, in fact you can make them as specific or as general as you like.

It takes the concept of personalization and takes it to the next level.  And by doing so gives you the opportunity to revolutionise the way you market to your customers.

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Mobile Optimization

For most marketers this is just hygiene factor but it is impossible to stress enough how important mobile optimization is when it comes to websites.  For years now, people have been talking about mobile friendly sites, responsive frameworks, or adaptive design.  But it is no longer a matter of personal preference or customer convenience.  Having a site that is not fully mobile friendly adversely impacts upon your search engine ranking.  Simply put, mobile friendly sites rank higher in search results than non-mobile friendly ones.

Thankfully that is not an issue for Sitecore.  It is perfectly able to deliver a site in a responsive framework to views on mobile devices, but Sitecore also goes a lot further than that.

The Sitecore Experience Platform collects and combines a variety of information such as device type, screen resolution, and geo-location in order to deliver content that is configured to be as specific to the user as possible.  Not only does that guarantee you won’t be penalised in search results, but it provides the most seamless user experience possible.

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Social Media Integration

Social media has evolved more rapidly than any other aspect of the internet.  Channels such as Facebook and Twitter have effectively replaced discussion forums and instant messaging services across the board.  Social media has grown to the point where it is probably fair to say that it is no longer a separate aspect of the internet, but now simply describes the manner in which individual people interact online.

Facebook alone has over two billion monthly active users worldwide, with almost 1.4 billion users logging into Facebook on a daily basis (source) and these statistics are only going to increase.  So, if you still have any doubts about how important understanding and utilising social media in your online presence is, it is time to put them aside.

Sitecore Social Connect is an API that has pre-built connectors to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more.  It allows you to publish content to social media platforms direct from your Sitecore interface.  If you want more than that Sitecore’s Komfo connector allows you to seamless integrate all the social media relationship solutions offered by Komfo into your Sitecore site.

But Sitecore is not limited to those two options.  It allows you to fully integrate fully with third party solutions in order to best utilise data and leverage trends in user generated content.

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Search Engine Optimization

There are two aspects to search engine optimization, the technical aspect that so many people struggle with is addressed with a robust on-page SEO strategy that strictly follows best practice.  From the correct format of header tags, to ensuring code meets W3C standards.  Sitecore does it all for you.  It even helps with the second aspect – content creation.  The Sitecore SEO toolkit analyses page content and provides a list of recommendations to ensure your site ranks as highly as possible.

There are many aspects to Sitecore that we haven’t covered.  Security, ecommerce, multi-site deployment and many many more, but it is safe to say that there is a reason that for year on year Sitecore has been right at the top of the pile when it comes to Web Content Management.

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Integration with Azure

We covered recently why you might like to run your site on Microsoft’s Hypercloud Service Azure.  So, there is no need to go into that again, but as Sitecore is built on .NET there is no better choice of hosting solution for you Sitecore installation.

If you know exactly how to do it, it is possible to have a fully functioning vanilla Sitecore installation up and running on Azure in 15 minutes.  However, it can get a little more complicated based on which elements of Sitecore you are planning on using. Thankfully however complicated it gets, Microsoft Azure has a recommended topology specifically designed to help you get the very most out of your Sitecore installation.

You can not only make use of all the functionality of Sitecore, but you can integrate many of the varied and innovative services available through Azure.

If you’d like to talk to someone about moving your online web presence across to Sitecore then why not give us a ring.

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