Hippo Web CMS 7.8 Takes on Customer Experience with New Targeting Module

6 minute read
Dan Berthiaume avatar

Open source Web CMS provider Hippo is releasing version 7.8 of its flagship web content management product. The new web content management system includes a number of features designed to make 2013 and beyond very personal for Hippo clients and their customers.

This Time, It’s Personal

One of the most important upgrades to Hippo CMS 7.8 is a highly customizable targeting feature that lets marketers create personalized experiences for site visitors. Marketers can also create in-depth customer personas using data from a variety of internal and external sources. In an exclusive advance briefing with CMSWire, Hippo Director of Product Marketing Sonja Wraith explained why the company is now deciding to focus on the development of leading-edge personas.

The market is speaking about customer experience,” said Wraith. “It’s about the customer journey -- how should I design a digital experience targeting each step.”

To that end, the Hippo CMS 7.8 targeting feature -- called the Relevance Module -- allows marketers to customize the site appearance based upon the demographic characteristics of each individual visitor. Information can be gathered whether the visitor is anonymous (using visit context, session information and channel), known (leveraging data from CRM systems, loyality and transaction system) or based on a define Persona (behavior, interest and engagement).

During the briefing, Hippo CTO Arje Cahn explained further how this type of personalized targeting works.

You maintain a profile and store different types of information you gather from a visitor,” said Cahn. “Real-time visitor analysis allows you to create characteristics based on external data systems such as CRM and/or a local weather data provider to add to the visitor profile the marketer uses.”

Marketers can view the information about each visitor, as well as internal data such as what content the visitor has already seen in a new interface called the Experience Optimizer, and then turn that information into into highly detailed visitor Personas.

In a template composer tool, marketers can then reconfigure and create optimized site experiences tailored to specific Personas. In addition, users can leverage the tool’s “alter ego” feature to take on the role of a persona and experience the site the same way a visitor with that persona would, allowing real-time testing and problem resolution.

Note that the Relevance Module is only available to Hippo Enterprise customers and is optional.


Hippo Developers Rejoice!

Hippo is very clearly a developers Web CMS, and Hippos spends a lot of time ensuring that developers have the right tools for the job. In that vein, improvements to the Hippo Web CMS include improved DTAP Updater processes.

The Developer Perspective and Updater Editor allows developers to create, manage and run Groovy updater scripts against a running repository from the CMS user interface, allowing bulk changes to existing content, as well as a “reload on startup” feature that automatically updates newer versions of initialized items. In addition, a “diff and patch” tool allows developers to bring live configurations to the developer environment for revisions.

Furthermore, improvements to the delivery tier allow thousands of pages to be served per second, ensuring site responsiveness, and non-cacheable persona components (such as live location of a unique visitor) are rendered via a separate, client side, asynchronous Ajax call.

Learning Opportunities

Other delivery tier improvements that enhance targeting capabilities include turnkey live page diagnostics and canonical content access that reduces memory consumption by the content repository.

Content Management Enhancements Improve Channel, Template, Image Capabilities

Other enhancements to the general content management functionality of version 7.8 aid areas such as channel management, template development and image handling.

An automatic locking feature (with override) prevents overwriting by multiple users during channel editing and improvements to the template composer tool ease the selection and configuration of components. In addition, images can now be uploaded directly from the image picker and uploaded images are automatically validated using customizable parameters.

The Road to ‘Digital Miracles’

The new, customer experience-focused features of Hippo CMS 7.8 are part of the vendor’s broader roadmap toward a customer experience-centric 2015, guided by a desire to enable “digital miracles.” As Wraith explained, marketers and content managers are seeing a content management paradigm shift drive by a need for customer intimacy.

There is a shift from publishing articles to managing customer experience,” said Wraith. “We’re mashing up analytical data in dashboards and showing how customers and customer personas move through their journey, with conversion rates. We’re providing analytics with metadata and customer behavior insight.”

In addition, Wraith said Hippo is targeting multichannel CMS users and plans to release a tablet-compatible version of its Web CMS. To enable a “more holistic” solution, Hippo will also pursue best-of-breed alliances with compatible vendors in niches such as analytics, CRM and video.

Hippo Follows Through, Aims for Differentiation

Hippo CMS Version 7.8 and the larger 2015 roadmap for Hippo’s CMS functionality follow through on promises Hippo CEO made when version 7.7 was released in January 2012.

For WCM solution providers, ‘context aware’ goes well beyond managing web experiences and personalization,” said Verberg. “It digs deep into how we will enable our clients to open their repositories so that things like location, environmental data, history, social attributes and even real-time online behavior can be utilized to deliver a more relevant, contextual experience. At Hippo we believe that this philosophy applies to both the managers of the content and the audiences the managers are empowering to consume their content through whatever method they choose.”

And as CMSWire pointed out at that time, both Forrester and Gartner, among most other analysts, agree that context is a key element of supporting high quality customer experiences. And Hippo is not the only Web CMS vendor to go this route -- CoreMedia, Sitecore, SDL and many others have this same view of the future of content management. It's the delivery that's typically different and that is where Hippo will have to define itself. That's what it's working on.

Hippo CMS 7.8 is available now in the Community Edition with all updates described above (except the Relevance Module). Hippos expects to release the Enterprise edition without the Relevance Module in Febrary 2013 as GA and a limited availability Enterprise Edition with the Relevance Module. Targeted GA date for the Enterprise Edition with the Relevance Module is planned for May of 2013 (and it will include a Migration Pack for 7.7).

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