Kagool Analytics, Author at Kagool

Sitecore’s acquisition of Boxever: navigating personalisation in the SaaS market

Sitecore’s acquisition of Boxever: navigating personalisation in the SaaS market

For people who have been working with the Sitecore CMS for a long time, their acquisition of Boxever might seem like a bit of an odd choice.

As a tool that provides user analytics data management, personalisation decisions and “experiences”, it seems as if it duplicates a chunk of what Sitecore does already with its xConnect framework.

So why is this an interesting purchase?

The key lies with the move towards “as a service” solutions to our content management challenges. The landscape for CMS is changing with the rise of JAMStack, Content as a Service and similar buzzwords, and this acquisition forms part of Sitecore’s strategy to meet these changes head on, and provide the benefits we’re used to from their systems in new ways.

Sitecore’s first foray into the SaaS market is focused around their Content Hub product. They’ve brought a Headless CMS approach to market there, and they’re releasing new hosting technology with their “Experience Edge” products, to help you move away from the need for Content Delivery servers. But what’s been missing from this roadmap so far is any talk of how personalisation should work with these new ways of delivering content. And that is where Boxever fits in.

Firstly it’s solving the problem of how you manage and track your website users in a SaaS world. Its descriptions are very similar to that of xConnect. It tracks customers and their interactions. It allows real-time gathering and querying of this data. And it allows you to mesh this information with your other business data. But because it’s SaaS you don’t have to host it. And that removes one of the challenges of xConnect – data tends to grow over time, and for smaller organisations, that data can become a challenge. So the Boxever acquisition gives Sitecore a way to offer these features to their CaaS websites without the infrastructure challenges their existing technology might bring.

Secondly, it provides a decision-making system to take your analytics and business data, and use these to make real-time choices about what content to show customers. This is similar sounding to the Rules Engine behaviour in the current Sitecore CMS, but it’s more visual and more easily extended for SaaS sites than the traditional model. Boxever’s model gives you a visual decision editor, which allows you to combine data sources to make decisions from. You can pick data from your site analytics, but also from external systems that your admins plumb in. External data sources like order management or loyalty systems can work, but also external Machine Learning or AI systems help categorise data. And you can bring this data together using decision tables (which anyone familiar with Excel should be able to use) or JavaScript code for more advanced scenarios. These decisions can be integrated into your website to help it make choices about what content to show to which users, bringing personalised behaviour into the JAMStack and CaaS world.

Thirdly, Boxever gives you a framework for testing the effect of these decisions on your site, and analysing the outcomes of the tests. You can configure these tests in their product, and customise them to match your needs – what percentage of users see a test at all and which segments of users see which variants in the tests can be set via a simple UI. And you can also run “silent” tests, where it will measure what would have been personalised on your site without changing anything – allowing you to prove to yourself your setup works before releasing it to your users. Unlike the Sitecore CMS, Boxever’s approach isn’t tied to a specific delivery mechanism, so it’s worth considering that this approach can be used with phone apps, kiosks or other channels you need to run.

Overall this acquisition doesn’t bring a radically different approach to personalisation, but like the rest of the CaaS concept, it provides you with flexibility. You now have an as-a-service alternative to xConnect which you can use for your JAMStack sites, elsewhere in your omni-channel landscape. If this model fits your project plans, then it’s available to use now. And if your needs lie more with the more traditional approaches, then the Experience Platform is still the right place to start. And hybrid approaches based around Sitecore’s JSS offerings are likely to be helpful to some organisations too.

To find out how your brand can benefit from Boxever and our wider DXP services, get in touch.

Geoff Lentin / CGO

Please describe your job: what do you do? Talk us through your typical day at Delete / Kagool

I’m Chief Growth Officer at the agency, which is a fancy way of saying I lead our new business and marketing function. OverallI work with the teams to set the new biz and marketing strategy and processes for the group, positioning ourselves in the market to attract the right businesses and getting our approach right to help convert them into clients. 

 A typical day will involve tea, check-ins with some of the SMT, tea, catching up on what’s new across the agency, what’s in the pipeline, tea, recent pitches, strategy and reporting. 

 I work closely with our group head of marketing, Miranda, who makes my role one of simply signing off on her good ideas.  

I have regular check-ins with our technology partners, talking about joint marketing opportunities, reviewing our partner tiering and pipeline and figuring out ways to work better together.  

I’m less heavily involved in the day-to-day pitching these days – so can’t include it in my typical day, but I still get to roll my sleeves up every now and again. We’ve always got something we’re working on, whether it’s lead generation, responding to RFPs, setting up intros with prospects, combing our database for opportunities. So, I try to be a sounding board for the new biz team, coaching when we need to unstick a problem and facilitating the process. 

What are your passions, and how have they impacted the direction of your career?

There’s no golden thread to this, I’m afraid. The two things – passions and career – are pretty mutually exclusive for me. Music is the love of my life (alongside my fiancé, of course) and I’ve been writing music for 15 years or so. My other big passion is psychology. I had an early midlife crisis and at the age of 30 went off to do a degree in it, followed by a Masters. It was purely selfindulgent. It’s helped me develop a lot of useful skills but it would be a tenuous link to say this led me into the business development world. But it’s definitely a help now that I’m here. 

Which has been your most memorable pitch win over your career?

The most memorable ones are where the whole pitch team is in sync and collaborates. I like the pitches where we built up a personal relationship with the people on the client side, so that, on the day, conversation flows and you can go off on useful tangents to explore ideas together. We’ve had too many great wins with great brands to single any of them out, but they all have those things in common. 

Which three people would you invite to a dinner party?

If I don’t invite my fiancé to a dinner party that’s probably being held at our house, I don’t think she’d forgive me. So, 1. Kate – because it would be impossible to hide it from her. 2. Melvyn Bragg – he must be great value at a dinner party. He’s talked to every expert about basically every topic ever, so he must have some great facts and anecdotes. 3. Michael Jordan – he defined my childhood. 

You are invited to the ultimate music concert. Dead or alive, you can watch 3 artists, who would you choose?

Prince. I had the chance to see him live and missed it. I will never get over that. 

Fauré. Composed some of my favourite ever music. 

Aretha Frankin. That. Voice. 

 What is your favourite holiday destination?

I’m definitely more into exploring cities-type holidays. So, Chicago. Waterfront vibes mixed with cityscape, mixed with lakeside marinas, beaches, open air concerts, blues, jazz, original deep pan pizza and basketball.  

What would be your motto?

I don’t have any of my ownbut I am a bit of a quote hoarder. The composer Leonard Bernstein said that to achieve great things, two things are needed: A good plan and not quite enough time.  

That sums up life in new biz pretty well. 

What have your learnings from lockdown been?

Maybe I’m not quite as bad a cook as I thought. Video games can beat Hollywood in escapism, drama, storytelling and emotion any day of the week. 

Don’t put things off. 

What advice would you give a marketer right now?

Experiment with new ideas. Challenge old ones. Get your head around insights and how to create them. 

Our Solution Architects and Sitecore Strategy MVPs Kate Orlova and Anna Gevell will talk us through how to merge Sitecore xDB profile data with Microsoft Dynamics customer data to achieve a single customer view. This tried and tested approach powers timely and accurate personalised experiences from rich user profiles everytime.

They will be covering the following:

  1. Pushing Sitecore xDB contacts and profile scores captured online to Microsoft Dynamics when users register, submit a form or download assets
  2. Pulling Microsoft Dynamics customer data captured offline via phone calls or physical store visits.

If you have any questions about the upcoming event please contact us or get in touch on our social channels. We can’t wait to see you all there.

We’ve been shortlisted in both the Largest Site and Best Integration categories. The Special Jury Awards undergo scrutiny by a Kentico committee of technical specialists. We are beyond proud of the team for this double commendation at this level, taking our total mentions at the awards to 4!

Commenting on the latest achievement, Wilfred Tienzo, Head of IT at Winkworth said:

“Delete’s expertise in the property sector, combined with their approach to both the development and delivery of our site, fits perfectly with our core objectives for this project. Their approach has helped us develop a platform which clearly addresses the needs of the end user and, working in partnership with Delete, we will continue to evolve our customers’ online experience and offer a market-leading service.”

After a turbulent year for the property sector, we are pleased to have delivered a solid digital platform from which Winkworth can provide outstanding digital customer experience. The property market is constantly evolving and highly competitive meaning a high performing digital platform is absolutely paramount to success. Integrated with an extensive amount of property data, Winkworth’s new site enables the easy management of property listing in-house with unique features that stand out in a crowded market. Kentico Xperience was perfectly placed to digitally assert Winkworth’s long standing and highly regarded position within the property sector.

Our Managing Director Andy Ferries also shared his appreciation for the achievement:

“It’s always amazing to get accolades for the work we deliver and it’s an incredible accomplishment to be recognised by Kentico in their 2020 Site of the Year. It’s fantastic to have had the opportunity to deliver this replatform project for Winkworth and they were brilliant to work with throughout. We’re proud to share this achievement with them and everyone involved.”

In a period of increased online customer demand, property firms need personalised engagement that converts more easily to secure their share of a crowded market. We would love to work with you on a world renowned solution too – get in touch here to find out more.

With more than 1,000 Kentico partners globally, the annual Site of the Year contest is fiercely competitive, recognising the best Kentico Xperience implementations from around the world. We are overjoyed to have come out on top and are immensely proud to have helped this charity which is especially close to our hearts.

Our CEO Dan Berry expressed his appreciation of the accolade: 

 As a proud father of a child on the spectrum, I am particularly proud that we were able to help the National Autistic Society in its recent website relaunch given its critical work supporting people and families through diagnosis and beyond. We are delighted with the end solution and immensely pleased that the results it has achieved have been recognised in the 2020 Kentico Site of the Year awards. I want to say a huge thank you and massive congratulations to everybody involved in the project.”

The National Autistic Society needed an improved digital platform which would provide a better service to all those that the charity supports.Their new platform contributes towards transforming the lives of autistic people, improving the social perception of autism and encouraging action from a supportive audience. Ensuring that the digital world is neuro-diverse is a top priority for us at Delete / Kagool and Kentico Xperience offered us the tools to create a site which is accessible to and inclusive of all people. With a solid digital strategy, we enhanced the user journey using an intuitive content and navigation structure, designing stimulative interfaces that make the site exciting and engaging. We also designed an autism community for users to connect and share their experiences with advanced search and filtering to aid the discovery of Advice and Support content. Coupled with an integrated ecommerce platform, the accessible site is attracting more engagement and driving donations for the charity. 

Commenting on the win, David Rossall, Digital Projects Manager at the National Autistic Society said:

We’re thrilled to have our charity’s new website recognised in this way. With great support from Delete / Kagool, our in-house team have used an array of Kentico Xperience’s advanced features and excellent training to create a site that delivers life-changing advice and guidance to autistic people, their families and professionals. Working with autistic people we created ‘calm/vivid’ modes to ensure the site is more accessible for them and the clear navigation and design allow people to find the information they need and the many different ways they can engage with our charity. We’re already seeing the benefits of user engagement and satisfaction.” 

Congratulations to The National Autistic Society and all of the team at Delete / Kagool. Hard work really does pay off! 

We would love to work with you on an award-winning solution too – get in touch here to find out more. 

Many home buyers will be relieved that the stamp duty holiday on house purchases has been extended for a further three months. It has already led to house sales increasing to their highest level since before the 2007 financial crisis, according to the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS). Rightmove estimates an additional 300,000 property transactions in England could benefit from the three-month extension, meaning buyers could save £1.75 billion on the tax. 

For those just climbing onto the property ladder, however, finding a new home quickly enough to see a deal through won’t be easy. To help them hit the deadline, itcrucial that estate agents provide swift and seamless digital searchtoconvert experience. With the painful legal process to completion taking  60 days on average, time in this first phase is of the essence.

The pandemic has changed consumer behaviour. During the first lockdown the government banned physical viewings and buyers flocked online for virtual views – Savills recorded a doubling of online views within a week of lockdown  and an increasing demand for live tours using WhatsApp, Facetime and Zoom by viewers keen to explore properties in greater virtual detail. This trend has only continued, with Purple Bricks commenting to econsultancy * in January that their customers are now filtering first views through virtual tours and then placing offers after a single physical viewing. 

Digital agency Delete / Kagool has been tracking the changes in customers’ online needs in the real estate sector and working with the likes of Winkworth, Barratt Homes and Carter Jonas to help them reduce online friction and satisfy these increased online customer demands. 

First and foremost, running their service on the right digital experience platform (DXP) significantly impacts a property company’s ability to compete at speed. Last year, Winkworth migrated its website from an old bespoke platform to Kentico Xperience and took hold of its digital delivery from a more centralised base. Pain points had included limited content editing capabilities resulting in slow, costly and inconsistent property updates across their 100 offices, and shared platform updates with competitors, neutralising stand out features, as well as annually increasing license costs. The migration has reduced time to market for properties added into CMS from several hours to less than 10 minutes. They have also updated their CRM, accelerating response time to enquiries As a result, page speed and site performance metrics have almost doubled and page load time reduced by from 6-3.5 seconds. Server response time has been reduced by more than 80% and they have managed to update URLs to a more user and SEO friendly format.Tracking and personalisation capabilities also improved to give the brand a step ahead from its competitors. All of which deliver a sleeker and swifter service for customers.   

Delete / Kagool worked with Carter Jonas to redefine their digital strategy,  reflecting their leading market position and converting more sales leads. We also implemented  an upgrade of their Sitecore platform to create a more streamlined and personalised user journey. This has resulted in an improved site search, significant increases in website traffic, customer preferences and onsite engagement.

 

 This approach has helped us develop a platform which clearly addressed and solves the needs of the end user and, working in partnership, we will continue to evolve our customers’ online experience and offer a market-leading service, says Daniel Fulbrook, Head of Digital Marketing.

Upgrades do not have to be interruptions of course. 

 When taking on work for Barratt Homes, Delete / Kagool was able to work in sprints to improve the digital experience while not interrupting day to day operations. As Shane Lightowler, project manager at Barratt Homes explains, “Delete / Kagool were quickly able to put in place both lights-on application support, as well as an agile sprint process for continuous improvement. Both showed strong results early on and we have continued to evolve our processes over time.”  

It’s no surprise that customers are looking for better online experiences. For many people, living under lockdowns and isolation while trying to navigate a big life change like a home move, digital is the only possibility for getting to a shortlist of options swiftly, before entering the physical space to reach a final decision fast. The estate agents who deliver most quickly and follow up with a personalised engagement strategy will be the ones to seal the most deals. In short, they need to be on point when it comes to a smooth service. 

Delete / Kagool has seen the habits of people change and demands updated and while we all hope that restrictions will be finite, some habits are likely to stick around. Add to this the lift on stamp duty and the housing market heats up to the point where to be a part of the game means making sure your offering does very little to get in the way of customer needs for speed and accessibility. 

Get in touch here to find out more.

Delete|Kagool CFO, Ali Saigar

With turnover up by 15%14 new customers and 3 M&A transactions completed, we can genuinely say we have thrived in a pandemic. Good old fashioned business fundamentals about managing customer concentration and industry diversification paid huge dividends as we were able to carry on, business-as-usual when the first lockdown was announced. Sadly however, we lost one customer to Administration. 

 As a board we decided to hold our nerve. None of our staff went on furlough and we pressed on with our plans to gain additional funding from BGF to drive our ambitious 5 year buy-and-build plan, and make our first acquisition – Delete agency. We have the beginnings of a digital powerhouse in the making! 

We have since invested in the business to make sure that both companies were integrated well. We have re-orientated the business with three clear offers to the market around Product, Technology and Performance, and the whole integration was rapidly concluded within 6 months.   

Our year end results just put the icing on the cake. Turnover up by 15% and profits by even more. All surpassing our pre-pandemic targets. 

We have an exciting year ahead as we plan to further execute on our fiveyear plan. M&A activity has picked up and new customer enquiries have risenOur new Lithuania office is coming along nicely. The macro-economics are looking positiveBrexit distractions are in the rear-view mirror and politically the UK is in a lull – which is good for business. The vaccine uptake is tremendous and this is allowing for freedoms to be restored. It is good news that taxes weren’t raised in the budget (other than Corporation Tax which is paid in arrears anyway) and the government stimulus over the lockdown period is likely to result in a spending boom in Q2 due to pent-up demand. There is a big spending wave to be ridden! The stock markets remain relatively buoyant and GBP is relatively stable against the USD (which is weak)Super-deduction and R&D incentives from the government will further favour spending. 

Within the business, our existing clients’ roadmaps look both buoyant and excitingWe are glad we held our nerve and strengthened the business during the pandemic. We are recruiting fast; welcoming ten new starters in the last 6 weeks in the UK alone. (10% of our UK workforce)We will continue to look after our people and add value to our clients by doing right by them, and we will continue to grow the business sustainably – Thank you to our clients, our employees and our partners for helping us to drive our growth ambitions forwards at pace. We look forward to and are very much in the driving seat for the new financial year.                     

To work with us or find out how you can become part of our future success story, get in touch.

A recent report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) stated that the Covid-19 crisis posed a significant financial risk to the UK higher education sector. It said that 13 universities would end up with negative reserves’ and would be at risk of insolvency without a bailout. One of the biggest losses will likely stem from falls in international student enrolments (between £1.4 billion and £4.3 billion, with a central estimate of £2.8 billion)* 

Large sector-level losses mask substantial differences between institutions. In general, those with a large share of international students and/or substantial pension obligations are most affected. These tend to be higher-ranking institutions. Some of the least selective universities, which rely largely on domestic fee income, will also be badly hit if higher-ranked universities admit more UK students to make up for the shortfall in their international enrolments. While recently introduced student number caps will constrain some of this behaviour, there are still likely to be falls in student numbers at the least selective institutions. 

Many courses rely on overseas students to make courses viable. Students from China, Hong Kong and South Korea are particularly concentrated in a range of taught postgraduate courses. A reduction in students from these areas may force some providers to cancel courses because of lack of student numbers.  

 On 4 May 2020 last year, the Government gave their response to the sectors calls for a bailout and announced a support package including an additional 10,000 student places, with 5,000 ring-fenced for nursing and allied health courses to support the countrys vital public services. Stabilising admissions means providers will be able to recruit full-time, domestic students up to 5% above their forecasts in the next academic year, to help reduce volatility and ensure fair and orderly admissions.* 

Fundamentally, this means universities’ attention is firmly fixed on recruiting higher student numbers this year. Competing in a hungry pool for applicants, those with the most compelling online presence and targeted outreach into the social channels where students hang out (TikTok as a trending channel of choice this year) are critical to a successful return.  

At Delete / Kagool we collaborate with our university clients to strengthen their brand identity, unique qualities, life experience and course content. We deliver engaging online experiences that attract, engage and convert prospects; then evolve student journey from enrolment to graduation 

Our strategic experience technologists collaborate with universities to ensure they deliver the very best digital outreach, experiences and interconnectivity for students in the UK and abroad.   

Underpinned by a leading Digital Experience Platform of their choice, we adopt an always-on, student first strategy; plotting their journey along a digital roadmap of transformation that is driven by a personalised customer experience.  

For example, weve partnered Leeds Beckett University since 2014, delivering a range of competition-beating digital products and services on Sitecore to attract, engage and support their 28,000-strong student body.

Our shared objective has been to design a transformation roadmap that that builds the universitys brand and reputation whilst meeting the needs of stakeholder groups and end users. Most recently weve completely reimagined their website, realigning their technology to their future strategy. 

Our ongoing digital partnership enables them to be the best in the business, as we turn from digital engagement to enrolment. We are maximising conversion rates, managing the university’s digital media spend and ensuring the site is easy to navigate with highlighted key content and CTAs.

Were now working together on Phase 2, focusing on additional areas of the website, such as taxonomy-driven dynamic industry hubs. With a whole CRM strategy project also on the go, Leeds Beckett is on track to enhance and retain valued relationships with prospects and current students. 

For those university leaders with an agile mindset who are willing to embrace innovation, the future is bright. They now have the opportunity to rebuild and reshape the university experience to make it more relevant and, by doing so, attract the best students, ensure greater inclusivity and global collaboration, deliver a positive impact on our economic prosperity and reduce the cost of knowledge generation.  

There is no going back to normalonly the next normal. And if the past year has proved anythingit is that the baseline is already in play. Now is the time to embrace, adapt and refine the model for future growth. 

At Delete / Kagool, we specialise in digital transformation in collaboration with the HE sector. We proudly partner Leeds Beckett, Birmingham, Essex, Hull and Portsmouth Universities; as well as New City Colleges, London. Contact us to find out more.

 
*House of Commons Briefing Paper Number 8954, 8 February 2021 Coronavirus: Financial impact on higher education 

Everyone loves an easy life. Humans are hardwired to take mental shortcuts so we conserve energy. It’s one of those annoying hangovers from our ancestral past that benefited us in long dangerous winters. We only exert effort when the benefits outweigh the costs. It’s why we jump on bandwagons and pay more attention to ideas that confirm our existing beliefs. It’s far less effort than re-evaluating our sense of self. But we’re thinking, emotionally fragile creatures now, with wants and workloads, and this conflicts with our heuristics and biases. We need life to be easier, but we want to achieve more. Enter digital experience platforms.

Anyone who’s anyone these days is engineering ‘meaningful digital experiences at every touchpoint’ in the customer journey for their AI-identified audience segments. At scale. 

Whatever that means.

If you spend effort fighting through the difficult jargon, though, you’ll see that all this means is that the fancy stuff about your website will help you communicate more efficiently and sell more, to more customers, because it will make your team’s and your customers’ lives easier.

The beauty is that as the tech gets more complicated and the hyperbole more absurd, marketers’ lives become easier, playing right into the hands of your biases.

If you focus on the best of the best, Gartner’s top right quadrant, there’s an exciting theme around acquiring best of breed products to bolster the intelligence of the platforms. 

Sitecore bought two products recently; Boxever – a platform that allows precision targeting with rich optimisation of customer interactions across the entire customer experience. AI helps you experiment with personalisation quickly and drives smart recommendations. And Four51, which sounds more like an alien crash landing site than a B2B ecommerce platform. 

Four51’s strength is being able to offer genuinely unique and highly customisable experiences for customers, like individual catalogues and pricing for buyers. It’s headless, too, which is all the rage.

You may have also seen that Episerver bought Optimizely. The move adds deep intelligence to how marketing teams can experiment with content to drive sales, conversion, acquisition and all the other KPIs you’re tracking.

The results of the acquisitive nature of leading DXPs is a further alignment to the modern thinking that the best solution for leading brands is a technology stack that uses best of breed headless products, with AI at the heart of it all. 

But all you need to know is that this added complexity makes yours and your customers’ lives easier.

For more information on how we help brands make the right platform choices, contact us.

At the start of this important week, our CEO Dan Berry has shared his personal appreciation:

 “As a proud father of a child on the spectrum, I always look forward to World Autism Awareness Week. It is a great opportunity to help all parts of society become friendlier and more empathetic. I am particularly proud that we’ve helped the National Autistic Society relaunch its website, supporting people and families through diagnosis and beyond.”

At Delete / Kagool, we recognise the need to create not only a physical world but also a digital world that is accessible to, and inclusive of, all people. We helped transform The National Autistic Society (NAS ) website, using smart design to champion it as a vital knowledge base and comforting space for its millions of visitors. NAS is a vital resource for autistic people and their families. We rebuilt the site on up-to-date Kentico technology, vastly improving the visitor experience and amplifying their e-commerce functionality to generate more donations for the charity. We enhanced the user journey with an intuitive content and navigation structure, designing stimulative interfaces and ensuring that the site is accessible for all audiences.

A colour mode switcher activates a calm colour palette across the site at the click of a button, enabling users to comfortably tailor the website experience to meet specific needs. We’ve also ensured that the new Help and Advice section is powered by advanced filtering to offer essential guidance through diagnosis and beyond, incorporating clear, well-structured content that informs rather than overwhelms.

We helped transform the autism community section which offers an essential space for users to connect and share experiences using digital in the right way; enhancing the charity’s critical work that contributes to transforming the lives of autistic people, improving the social perception of autism and encouraging action from a supportive audience. We at Delete / Kagool are incredibly proud to have played our part in creating a digital sphere which is inclusive, informative and engaging for all audiences.

We understand the importance of creating websites that are properly designed to allow people with disabilities to access and enjoy the full potential of the digital world. We create experiences, without accessibility barriers that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Get in touch today to hear more about the work we do using technology for good.