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PHOTO: Victor Freitas

Sitecore's depth of functionality, range of capabilities, flexibility and ability to create seamless digital experiences makes it a clear choice for many organizations. It’s a platform that can deliver on specific digital projects like a new website or high-profile campaign while also helping teams reach longer-term goals such as growing a loyal customer base.

Sitecore’s power and flexibility is the reason many digital marketing teams choose it over other strong digital experience platforms. However, after selecting it, not all organizations actually take advantage of Sitecore’s extensive publishing power and marketing muscle.

Why Do Teams Fail to Fully Exploit the Power of Sitecore?

When clients tell us they want to get more out of their Sitecore implementation, it’s usually across one or more of the following, interrelated areas:

  • Personalization.
  • Marketing automation.
  • Advanced analytics.
  • Complex content management needs.

The intention is often clear. For example, digital marketing teams share the goal of driving insights and then crafting experiences based on personas. But then for a number of reasons they don’t always get around to implementing that. Their investment in Sitecore doesn’t go much further than the use of the core content management system (CMS).

Teams stall at using Sitecore’s more sophisticated capabilities for a number of reasons including:

  • Too much time spent on day-to-day operations or firefighting so teams don’t have the time or the headspace to get started.
  • Not having the in-house skills or the confidence to operationalize these features.
  • Not having the right strategy and vision.
  • Not quite knowing where to start or thinking it is a bigger effort than it actually is.
  • Technical barriers such as the need to integrate a CRM system with the Sitecore platform.
  • Waiting for an upgrade or a change to a licensing agreement to add extra functionality.

Related Article: What Should Your Digital Experience Platform Look Like? It Depends

Getting Started With the Right Approach

Sometimes teams don’t tap into all of Sitecore's functionality because they believe it will be a huge effort to get something like personalization off the ground. While it does need some thinking to work out a strategy and some time for the set-up, getting started with personalization or analytics is easier than many teams believe.

Sitecore’s flexibility means that teams can start off small, adding these capabilities incrementally and learning as they go. Personalization can be phased in as part of day-to-day operations, it doesn’t need to be a big extra project that nobody really has time to deliver.

Sitecore wants its customers to get the most out of the platform and get many of these features up and running. The last Sitecore Symposium focused on showing real-world examples of smaller and medium-sized organizations getting the very best out of Sitecore using advanced analytics and marketing automation. Additionally, Sitecore continues to provide tools for partners as well as resources directly to customers, such as online training to help kick-start those elements of the platform.

Let’s look at the four key areas where teams should be making the most out of Sitecore.

Personalization

There are a whole range of studies and statistics that show how personalized digital experiences positively impact everything from making purchases to return visits. When your site visitors find relevant content that they are genuinely interested in, it makes a conversion (inquiry, purchase, etc.) more likely in the short-term. In the longer-term, it builds brand loyalty and stronger customer relationships.

One element that makes personalization so powerful on the Sitecore platform is the ability to bring data together from multiple sources including your CRM, your ecommerce platform, customer browsing on your website and social media channels, and even external databases. You get a genuine 360 view of your customer base and insights into their behavior.

Sitecore’s API layer enables the integrations that provide the insight into customers and their behavior, right down to the individual customer level. With personalization capabilities that are both rich and highly granular (but also remain GDPR compliant) it means you can start to tailor your experiences for different personas not just on your website, but also across your other digital channels.

Personalization on Sitecore also comes with other useful features such as algorithms that give you intelligent suggestions. However, the thing we love most about Sitecore’s personalization capability is that it is sufficiently flexible and scalable to  let everyone go at their own pace. Whether delivering a high-volume B2C commerce site or just starting out your personalization journey for a B2B site, Sitecore has the potential to serve everyone’s needs.

Related Article: Which of the 3 Personalization Types Are You?

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is another area where Sitecore excels. Building on the personalization you may have introduced, you can then start to automate some of the related backend processes and enable meaningful interactions with your customers.

Whether you’re a small marketing function with resource challenges or a larger team wanting to take customer experience to the next level, Sitecore’s automation can prove to be your new best friend. It allows you to respond to customers in ways you simply don’t have time to, such as following up with personalized marketing communications. It’s like having an extra pair of (automated) hands on your team.

For example, you might follow up with customers with a highly tailored and relevant email based on their browsing behavior, their responses on a form or even interactions across social media. Sitecore is also really good at helping you achieve a more consistent multi-channel communication across your web estate, social media, email, apps and more. 

Like personalization, you can start to introduce marketing automation and ramp it up at your own pace, starting off modestly but then extending it as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Advanced Analytics

One of the key findings from CMSWire’s State of Digital Customer Experience report is that many digital marketing professionals are not satisfied with their digital experience platform and tools because they don’t deliver the data or the analytics that help them understand customer behavior.

When you enable Sitecore XP to give you advanced analytics, the results equip you with the insights to configure content, experiences and marketing communications. Insightful analytics also go hand-in-hand with effective personalization and marketing automation.

There are three things we really like about the advanced analytics features in Sitecore:

  • Some nice, intuitive interfaces and data visualizations that help you to digest the insights on offer.
  • The ability to bring data together from multiple sources.
  • The AI features that spots patterns, trends and signposts you might otherwise miss and also then delivers suggestions for tactics, helping to make your numbers actionable.

Again, the flexibility of Sitecore is an advantage here, so you can mix Sitecore’s out-of-the-box reports and algorithms with your own custom analytics to achieve reporting for both your core team and your wider network of stakeholders.

Related Article: Why Did Gartner Kill the Web Content Management Magic Quadrant?

Extending Content Management

Sitecore isn’t a product, it’s a platform. There’s even a good argument to suggest it’s a whole marketing ecosystem that allows you to extend and overhaul your content management processes so they are more consistent and efficient.

If you have multi-channel, specialist or complex content management needs, Sitecore has a whole suite of bolt-on content management tools that will help you. For example, you might have a heavy use of digital assets, operate in multiple languages or have an extensive portfolio of products and services which are hard to manage. Perhaps you have a huge army of collaborators, which really complicates your publishing workflow. Sitecore comes with tools that can help all these use cases.

Many of these extra content management features, including a Digital Asset Management system, are bundled into the “Sitecore Content Hub” offering.

Making the Most of Sitecore

If you’re thinking you could do more with Sitecore and want to be a little bit more ambitious, you’re not alone. The trick is to work out what you want to do and then a strategy for making it happen. In our view, agile and iterative is the best approach here. Move at your own pace and start to learn how to get the very best out of personalization, marketing automation, advanced analytics and more specialist content management.

Using the full breadth of Sitecore’s capabilities is an exciting, rewarding and eye-opening journey. The first step may be intimidating, but oh, the places you’ll go!