Before delving into the detail on the differences between Sitecore 8 and Sitecore 9 its worthwhile to understand the importance of a Sitecore upgrade. There are two main reasons why upgrading to the latest version is paramount:
Sitecore provides patches and updates to its versions and falling behind on these means that your organisation risks missing out on crucial security fixes. With public websites constantly facing new threats, remaining on an old version could mean that your site is vulnerable to these security risks.
The updates not only contain security patches, but also bug fixes and performance enhancements, which help the platform to perform at its optimal level. Sitecore has a fixed support lifetime for each version of its software, this is usually three years for mainstream support and six years for extended Sitecore support. Sitting on an older version for too long will mean that your organisation will no longer have the option of applying the latest security patches or receiving support from Sitecore itself.
The second important reason to upgrade is that your business will miss out on all of the new features and latest technology, which in the digital space can mean you lose that competitive edge. The new features which will be expanded on in the next section have been added to different versions along the platform’s evolution. Failing to keep your solution up to date simply means not seeing the best ROI possible by not fully harnessing Sitecore’s vast potential and value.
Typically, if your organisation is considering a Sitecore 9 upgrade then a reasonable considering is, is it necessary? What makes the new version of Sitecore better than our current solution?
The initial release of Sitecore 9 is now a couple of years old and with the latest Sitecore 9.3 release having dropped late last year means that there are now some very key differences between Sitecore 8 vs Sitecore 9.
Why should Sitecore 8 users upgrade to version 9?
The most notable difference between Sitecore 8 and 9 was the introduction of Sitecore Cortex, the artificial intelligence and machine learning feature. This specifically designed to empower the customer to get the most out of the platform. If your organisation’s website is still on Sitecore 8 you may be aware of something called Sitecore xDB. If not, this is where all of the data which Sitecore collects from user interactions on the platform is stored. With Sitecore Cortex this would enable teams to analyse this data and deliver more engaging customer experiences. It assists with making marketing operations more efficient and allowing for even greater insight and understanding of your customers.
Sitecore is one of the best digital experience platforms for collecting data, big data, but it has never been the easiest to share this data or add to it. Sitecore xConnect has changed that, creating a simple way to connect to Sitecore xDB where all of the valuable data is stored. This is all done following industry data standards, meaning that organisations can now easily integrate data not currently held within Sitecore.
This may not sound all that interesting or mean a lot if you’re new to the platform or have limited exposure to the technical detail. But it’s important to be aware that this is a big deal. In the past, all of the analytical data was tightly coupled with Sitecore CMS, so by decoupling Sitecore xConnect and making this available to other systems means that you’re now able to record all analytics from any interaction. You are also able to integrate this with other established systems which you may already have like a CRM. This is a huge benefit to all organisations, as it means you can finally get a unified view of all your analytical data, which in turn means you will be able to provide better engagement on your platform. This gives your business future insight into how your customers interact with the platform and with your organisation as a whole.
The main difference between Sitecore 8 and 9 in terms of forms is that in Sitecore 9 the Sitecore Forms feature has been reimagined and written from scratch. The majority of websites include a variation of a form as it is a simple way to collect information from the client. In Sitecore 9 the introduction of Sitecore Forms doesn’t sound that interesting on the surface as previous versions were able to include the Web Forms For Marketers (WFFM) module. However, due to the modern demands for forms this has begun to limit their effectiveness, and thus Sitecore Forms has become a key feature. Now out of the box functionality and not an additional module. Allowing for easy to build forms via a drag and drop interface, allows marketers to quickly build multi-step forms with dynamic questions.
Marketing automation in this day and age has become a necessity and Sitecore have addressed this with their new Sitecore Marketing Automation feature. Much like the forms mentioned above, there is a new drag and drop interface which allows marketers to quickly create new campaigns with goals, events and outcomes easily configurable from once centralised place.
So ‘why is it a necessity?’ you might ask. When set up correctly marketing automation can assist with enhancing the customers entire experience on the platform. As this is a new feature in Sitecore 9 it means that you can take full advantage compared to those still on Sitecore 8. By doing this you will benefit your business in numerous ways:
and this is just to name a few!
Platform as a service (PaaS) is a cloud computing service which provides a platform to run applications such as Sitecore without the complexity of building and maintaining physical infrastructure. As the world moves towards a more cloud-oriented approach for a variety of services Sitecore has gotten ahead of the curve in Sitecore 9. Making some rather large changes, by making the application smaller, well smaller components that is. This allows the customer to get a lot more flexibility and scalability from the platform. By responding to different increases or decreases in traffic the platform can now scale accordingly, which in turn improves performance, while lowering running costs. This meaning that cloud hosting is now the ideal way to go.
As mentioned previously Sitecore xDB is where all of the valuable data is stored and in Sitecore 8 architects were limited to MongoDB as the technology of choice. In Sitecore 9 however, with the introduction of xConnect another significant change was made to how the data was stored. Meaning now architects have a variety of choices when it comes to where this data is housed, SQL Server, SQL Azure and Cosmos DB to name a few. This means businesses can choose the technology that best matches the skill sets of those in the organisation.
In Sitecore 8 and below, identity management and authentication was used solely for the Sitecore website. However, with the industry looking to move towards a centralised system that houses the users identity and security information and allows other systems to connect to it, this made it difficult to do. In Sitecore 9 Single Sign On from an external provider is now standard out of the box.
Making the decision to upgrade your organisation’s Sitecore solution isn’t something that’s done lightly. Considering how an upgrade can benefit your business and help move your organisation forward through digital transformation is key. Discussing the details of your upgrade options with a Sitecore Partner, that has the expertise and experience can be helpful.
We are Kagool, a digital marketing agency that specialises in the design, build and optimisation of Sitecore websites. We have been helping enterprise-level businesses achieve their digital goals since 1999 and have a team of highly skilled Sitecore experts that have smart answers to complex technical questions. Contact us today to discuss your Sitecore 9 upgrade options or to book a demo.
Every year BIMA 100 recognises the top 100 professionals who are shaping the future of Britain’s digital industry. Director, Craig Johnson has been recognised and nominated in the 2020 BIMA 100.
The BIMA 100 ceremony will be held at a prestigious event in London, attended by other nominated professionals. Judged by a selection of industry experts, there are 11 categories to be nominated against:
In the last year, Craig has launched an innovative graduate scheme, in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University to tackle the digital skills gap. This successful scheme has already taken two graduates on who have been a great addition to the agency. The recognition for Kagool marks a series of recent accreditations from Best Companies and Northern Digital Awards.
Craig Johnson said, “I’m absolutely thrilled to be featured in this year’s BIMA 100. We’ve been working hard to develop new talent in the industry to bridge the digital skills gap. It’s an exciting time for Kagool, with lots of new projects in the pipeline”
If your organisation is in the market for an upgrade to your Web Content Management (WCM) system, researching and understanding the subtle differences between the products on offer can be time consuming and sometimes frustrating. The variances between vendors are small. But slight differences in product functionality can make huge differences to your business, depending on your organisation’s individual needs.
During your cms comparison journey, shortlisting a number of options will help you decide which WCM platform best suits your organisation’s goals. Acquia and Sitecore both offer highly flexible systems. They provide many features that will meet the needs of most businesses, however there are number of differences between the platforms that need to be explored.
Sitecore is a global leader in providing proprietary experience management software. This means it is a closed source, paid for software. Users require Sitecore licensing and specialised developers to develop a solution. Sitecore’s model is geared towards enterprise-level organisations that need a solution with a high standard of security, that’s built and governed to industry best practices. Generally, organisations that are serious about their digital roadmap and creating superior digital experiences with sophisticated capabilities are best suited with a closed-source platform.
That’s not to say that open-source software doesn’t have its benefits too. Acquia is an open source digital experience company that is heavily intertwined with the open-source WCMS, Drupal. Technically, it’s an open-proprietary platform which removes the common benefits of open source. For example, perceived benefits to open source are that its cheaper, it comes without a ‘vendor lock-in’ and has security advantages. To fully understand its structure, it is important to appreciate its origins in Drupal and why Acquia’s ‘open-proprietary’ set up doesn’t quite deliver in the same way as open source.
The first Drupal CMS was developed in 2000. In 2007 they went on to develop Acquia, billed as the open digital experience platform for Drupal. This new cloud-based software was built around Drupal to give enterprises (who were already using Drupal) the ability to build, operate and optimise their digital products. Acquia has now grown to provide a digital experience platform with Drupal at its core.
Open source software can often keep initial cost down, provide high security, good quality and avoid vendor ‘lock in’. However, Acquia, in this sense, is not a traditional ‘open source’ platform, which is explained over the following comparative rounds between Acquia vs Sitecore.
There is no licence fee to use Acquia’s Drupal distribution, Lightning. This essentially means the initial outlay for an enterprise is zero. True to the ‘open source’ nature of Acquia’s roots in Drupal. However, like most ‘open’ platforms, additional costs tend to stack up later down the line.
In comparison, Sitecore works on a paid licencing model, where various factors are taken into account. The price you pay to licence the software is dependent on the bespoke package of elements your enterprise needs. Sitecore pricing will differ depending on from how many user visits you estimate to have per month, non-production installations, concurrent users and which add-on modules you choose.
But what does a free licence get your organisation? It is very important to take a step back and look at what ‘out of the box’ components you are getting with Acquia. Yes, it’s free initially, but do the tools that Acquia provide fulfil your organisation’s needs and future ambitions? On closer inspection, it is here where Acquia loses its ‘open source’ nature and becomes more of an ‘open proprietary’ platform. In order to customise your core software, to meet your business’ needs, you must choose from several of Acquia’s paid for, pre-packaged modular solutions. You also pay additional fees for ongoing access to Acquia cloud hosting, maintenance and support.
Moving forward, implementation of the chosen platform represents one of the highest costs associated with getting any software package off the ground. When you compound the costs of adding on Acquia’s pre-packaged solutions, hosting and support plus implementation, the supposed ‘open source’ software may have a much higher price tag than initially anticipated.
So, between Acquia vs Sitecore, who wins on price? In the short term, Acquia is without doubt the cheaper option. However, if your organisation has plans to grow and evolve within this digital era and meet customer expectations, then you’re going to get better value in the long term from Sitecore and avoid any hidden extra costs later down the line.
For some organisations the pull of a traditional ‘open source’ platform is the ease of which you can access a global community of partners. These partners can provide endless ‘add on’ modules to suit your businesses individual requirements. If one application isn’t working, uninstall and try another. Avoiding ‘lock in’ to one particular vendor.
Whilst Drupal Core provides this, Acquia Lightning is a Drupal distribution and works differently. Acquia Lightning has Drupal Core at its foundations, but comes pre-packaged with Acquia components, essentially attaching you to a specific vendor: Acquia. As mentioned above, if this basic package doesn’t suit your business requirements, you can customise this by choosing from a number of Acquia add-on applications, further tying you to the platform. These components come with individual subscription fees, as does Acquia cloud hosting and support. In this sense, Acquia is a closed ‘eco-system’.
Similar to Acquia, Sitecore is completely customisable. Sitecore can provide a bespoke selection of modules to suit your organisation’s ambitions. These modules are all native to the platform providing reliable solutions with top notch security and robust support all with one vendor: Sitecore.
For vendor lock in commitments, both platforms are similar, it comes down to which software is going to be the most beneficial to your organisation and its long term goals.
82% of marketers believe their brands are meeting customer expectations, however only 10% of consumers strongly agree that most brands provide a good experience. This demonstrates that providing a basic website is no longer meeting the expectations of the majority of people who are digitally active.
In order to meet the ever increasing needs of users, Sitecore launched the first version of its digital experience platform (DXP) in 2008. Since then, Sitecore has developed a DXP that unifies creating, managing, delivering and measuring personalised digital experiences. It is in fact, the only vendor on the market that provides this.
Acquia initially offered managed cloud hosting and modified services for Drupal. Slowly developing over the years, it can now be classed as a WCM+. Self-labelled as a DXP, it approaches that capability but still is lacking in a number of areas.
For ambitious enterprises, Sitecore most definitely edges into the lead in this round with their market leading DXP. Continuing with this comparison the following rounds look closely at what Sitecore’s DXP and Acquia’s WCM+ can provide your organisation in more detail.
Headless content, ‘write once – publish everywhere’, is particularly valuable to marketers. This is especially true for enterprise level businesses who want to offer an omnichannel experience. Both Acquia and Sitecore offer headless scenarios. However, it can be said that Sitecore’s offering ‘Sitecore Omni’ is more mature. Sitecore offers all content stored in a single location, available to use anywhere on the site. It has a decoupled presentation layer, which can deliver personalised digital experiences for all users.
In comparison, Acquia’s headless architecture is still in its infancy and can present technical challenges to developers. These challenges can often be costly to fix and can mean losing the ability to provide a personalised customer experience for users. Something that is now seen as a necessity not a nicety.
Between Acquia vs Sitecore for headless, there’s no real contest, Sitecore is leagues ahead from years leading in the industry and years refining its technology.
Online user expectations have risen sharply in the last few years. Customers expect brands they engage with to know them and offer a seamless, personalised experience. Sitecore have been refining their personalisation capabilities for over a decade. Sitecore’s personalisation capabilities provide marketers with a suite of tools from behaviour based targeting to machine learning and valuable insights. Native to the Sitecore platform, its sophisticated tools can provide an omnichannel experience. Plus, its interface is user friendly even for beginners.
With Acquia, personalisation can be added onto the core distribution of Lightning with Acquia Lift. Lift is the only personalisation tool for Drupal and is billed as a ‘no code’ application. Like Sitecore, users have the ability to create content, collect data and build personalisation on one simple interface. However, in Acquia, when content is used in ‘headless’ scenarios, personalisation capabilities can be lost or require developer input to fix.
Sitecore again edges forward with their capabilities, providing a top tier level of hyper personalisation from years of refining this feature. If personalisation was a car, Acquia’s capabilities would be closer to that of a second-hand Vauxhall. Does a reasonable job in getting the user from A to B in the journey, but nothing like a Mercedes or Tesla, that’s considered everything it’s driver might enjoy during the journey.
One of the major advantages of Sitecore, is its integrated platform ‘Content Hub’ which provides end-to-end content management. Other platforms like Acquia offer a ‘white labelled’ alternative, where their platform is in fact made up from hundreds of third-party modules – all under the digital asset management umbrella. This can mean one poorly built module leading to issues throughout your whole site.
Sitecore Content Hub is fully integrated into the CMS, DXP and commerce products. The Content Hub includes Sitecore DAM, content marketing platform (CMP), product content management (PCM), and marketing resource management (MRM) capabilities. This gives marketers the ability to work efficiently end-to-end developing the content that makes up a user’s personalised digital experience.
Both Sitecore and Acquia are very capable platforms, when utilised to the fullest they both possess the tools and processes to take your organisation further along its digital roadmap. The question is how ambitious is your organisation?
After weighing up the various pros and cons of each piece of software, only you can decide which you think is best suited to your organisations needs and ambitions. Acquia would be a suitable choice for smaller organisations that aren’t planning on growth that requires a scalable solution. It ticks the box for a lower budget solution, with limited features.
However, if you’re a results driven organisation and focused on future progression, Sitecore can provide you a first class enterprise level solution that will carry your organisation through into its digital future and provide outstanding value for years to come.
If you’re unsure of the steps you need to take to begin your organisations digital transformation, talk to us – we would be happy to chat through your different options. We are Kagool, a top tier Platinum Sitecore Partner with over two decades of experience creating optimised Sitecore experiences for enterprise-level organisations around the globe. Contact us today to discuss your project requirements.
Both Sitecore and Google Analytics have their merits and there are no technical reasons they cannot be run side by side. In a perfect world, you would run just one analytics solution. A tool that offers all the data and provides a complete single source of truth for a sites’ data, that all teams can operate and rely on confidently. Unfortunately, the perfect platform does not exist, so why not take the best of both with Sitecore Google Analytics?
There are three clear advantages to using a combination of Sitecore and Google Analytics:
Setting up Google Analytics in Sitecore can be relatively simple. We always recommend using a container tag such as Google Tag Manager.
Using Google Tag Manager is well worth the additional effort to future proof the setup and allow customisation or modification at a later date. Whichever way you set up GA, you will likely need your Sitecore Partner agency to first install the tracking codes.
Sitecore Analytics is integrated into the platform and included with Sitecore licencing. This feature offers an integrated and bespoke view that can be more specific and relevant to site activity and therefore more applicable to business objectives. The in-built analytics suite is designed to work alongside other Sitecore marketing tools, which is great for on-site activity insights.
The setup of Sitecore Analytics can be a little more complicated than Google Analytics, as the minimum requirements are higher. Knowing or setting values for engagements can seem a little daunting, but to really get the benefit of Google Analytics, a similar approach should be followed; setting up goals applying values to micro and macro conversions.
When running two analytics solutions side by side, there will be differences in the data. This is unavoidable without some heavy-duty server-side monitoring and processing. We always suggest using analytics as trend data. Therefore, we need enough data to offer statistical confidence. We can’t rely on a low number to draw definitive conclusions.
Google Analytics is not widely seen as intrusive but being part of the wider Google suite means it can be blocked and removed by many tools. Google Analytics is not currently blocked by Apple’s ITP feature but can be blocked by common browser extensions.
Sitecore analytics is rarely blocked by these same trackers. The screenshot below shows that it doesn’t even register as a site tracker.
Both tools process data in different ways, so cannot always be compared directly. Add to this, there is common confusion across the Google Analytics metrics of:
Google Analytics typically defaults to sessions or page views whereas Sitecore Analytics defaults to visits. This can lead to some confusion and misinterpretation.
One major flaw of Google Analytics can arise with sampled data. As the scale and complexity of an organisations data increases, so do it’s reporting requirements. When using Google Analytics to report, these actions can be limited by sampled data.
Signified by the green shield turning yellow, the sample size can drop drastically, reducing the confidence in the data. This can be minimised by simplifying the report view (less segments or report depth) or shorter time periods.
The most definitive way to minimise sampled data is to move from the free version of Google Analytics and upgrade to Google Analytics 360. However, this can come at a prohibitive licence fee.
In addition to availability of unsampled data, the Google Analytics premium licence also comes with complete ownership of tracked data. This can be a grey area for the Google analytics free version.
Data in Sitecore Analytics is unsampled at all times and is owned by the organisation. This can mean some slower processes, but higher confidence in the data and ability to transition it between platforms.
As mentioned above, neither system is infallible, and having the two to reference offers marketing teams the confidence of fall back data.
Broadly speaking, more organisations have experience with Google than Sitecore Analytics. So, using Google Analytics can speed up some simple reporting requirements and allow more team members to “self-serve” their ad-hoc reporting needs.
The reporting functions between the two can facilitate different activities. Given the background of Google Analytics, integration into other Google Products such as Google Ads and Google Marketing Platform is in place by default. As such, Google Analytics is a more suitable tool for acquisition and click stream reporting.
Sitecore Analytics’ full title is Sitecore Experience Analytics, due to the focus on user experience. Therefore, user behaviour reporting has a more enhanced functionality. The Sitecore path analyser reporting offers a far more comprehensive visualisation of user navigation and funnel tracking than any standard implementation of Google Analytics.
As it’s an integrated solution, the transition from Sitecore Experience Analytics to workflows in Experience Editor for personalisation, profiling and pattern matching is hugely valuable and way beyond the data in Google Analytics. While Google Analytics could be integrated and pass data to Sitecore for these functions, having it running through the system is invaluable.
Both platforms have different strengths and weaknesses, but if set up correctly both add value and intelligence to an organisation’s digital strategy.
If you’re keen to start benefitting from using Sitecore and Google Analytics more effectively, we can help. We are Kagool, a top tier Sitecore Partner and Google Partner. We have been working with enterprise-level organisations across industries for over 20 years to help them transform their digital performance. Contact us to find out how we can help with your next project or to book a digital marketing audit.
Digital transformation has completely evolved how we interact, work and operate businesses over the last decade. Digital trends rapidly become the norm and organisations must be prepared to move with this quick pace to thrive or they risk falling behind. Businesses that are digitally savvy are looking to machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to advance their organisations. 75% of businesses think AI will give them opportunities to move into new business ventures, whilst 84% say it will empower them to obtain or sustain a competitive advantage.
Enterprise-level businesses that choose Sitecore to power their digital strategy have access to sophisticated AI personalisation capabilities that:
Find out how to implement Sitecore AI effectively to create seamless, personalised digital experiences.
AI personalisation is the utilisation of machine learning algorithms to accurately identify and deliver valuable information specifically tailored to unique traits to end users. With the added strength of AI, marketers now can be widely relieved from numerous daily demands of manually constructing every scenario, returning time to allow focus on new opportunities and innovation.
Marketers report that personalisation increases their sales by 20%, whilst 31% of customers saying that they expect businesses to deliver personalised experiences. Sitecore have offered personalisation capabilities to their customers since 6.1 with the addition of the rules engine. Personalisation has been at the core of the Sitecore capability, a priority since 2009. The release of Sitecore 9 was a pivoting point for AI personalisation, when the platform introduced Sitecore Cortex (the machine learning function in Sitecore, integrated via xConnect) which would drive the transformation of marketing activity on the platform for the future.
When evaluating digital trends, we have researched and learned from the leaders in the market. Of those messages we listened, watched and heard; we found those that bring value to our goals. The vision statements for digital trends that will drive this new decade include emphasising the importance of brand awareness and resilience, the value of digital maturity for companies, and the value of integrating data across different platforms. Another heavily discussed digital trend is the integration of machine learning to previously manual and routine tasks.
With the introduction of Cortex to Sitecore’s platform, we are diving into the AI era. This integration pushes the platform into the future. Instead of requiring manual analysis and labour, our marketers are now supported in the ability to comprehensibly understand all that data we’ve been gathering for analysis. That information will be used to bring about better experiences for all customers.
We are moving from the era of collecting data, analysing it on our own to handing the bulk of the tasks to machines. Much like the industrial revolution added automation replacing tedious manual processes, profoundly increasing productivity, by using AI we will be injecting the same type of efficiency into the digital marketing process, and therefore the bottom line for many businesses.
Digital marketers have quite a bit on their plates, juggling between the content crisis and the task of analysing and understanding the copious amounts of data coming in from website activity. This means:
Marketers have had the benefit of tools such as Sitecore personalisation, path analyser, and A/B testing, all of which requires human touch to preserve relevance. Now with Sitecore AI, the machine learning algorithm can churn through the same data being gathered previously to learn about the visitors, remove the need for manually identifying how personas use particular pages, and automatically flag the various types of users who visit.
Ultimately, once the AI can identify particular content to be contributing to “successful” visits for particular persona segments, the platform can automatically start showing that content. Rather than requiring a marketer to manually identify and set up the page and personalisation rule. This means as the engine becomes “smarter”, users will benefit from seeing the best valued content for them, each visit, without any necessary tweaks or changes from the editor’s side.
Further to the added benefit of automatic personalisation, AI can also identify the gaps that marketers can address. Perhaps there’s a persona segment that has not been addressed, or there is content that falls flat with all segments. With the newly acquired time marketers can now address these gaps. Finally, Sitecore Cortex has the benefit of suggesting personalisation rules that, through analysing the previous visitors’ behaviors, the ML algorithm can draw correlations where a Marketer might miss. This is the safety net that ensures valuable insights aren’t lost. Each of these insights can drive value for the overall business.
Cortex analyses data within the Sitecore xDB (the database which holds all interaction and engagement information). The engine detects similar trends and behaviours of visitors to the site and automatically applies content tags based on engagement and visitor persona traits. With that automatic content tagging, there is a spill over benefit which drives SEO efficiency and accuracy. Once there has been a statistically relevant number of visitors, the automatic personalisation becomes more valuable by providing new suggestions on personalisation rules. This provides a percentage representative of how successful a newly authored personalisation rule may be when compared to the foundation of all interaction data gathered previously. This is called the Weighted Predicted Effect. An additional value for ‘Total predicted effect’, is provided which represents the success of the combined effect of all the personalised rules on that page. Engagement values are constantly being tested against and shifting with the tides that come naturally with each of the persona segment behaviors.
How to set up
At the current scale of data that marketers are working with, we need the help of machine learning to keep up. Without the need to manually set up, Cortex drives a constant testing scenario, comparing content and engagement values to always optimise performance. Simply put, all of this functionality is built into the existing features and pages available in the Sitecore digital platform in versions 9.1 and higher.
Cortex is available in Sitecore 9.1 and later. If you’re on an older version and are considering a Sitecore upgrade to benefit from AI personalisation and machine learning capabilities, contact us – we’d be happy to chat through your options. We are Kagool, a Platinum Sitecore Partner that specialises in the design, build and optimisation of Sitecore solutions. We’ve been helping enterprise-level organisations achieve their digital goals for over 20 years, so your project would be in safe hands. Get in touch if you’d like to chat about your project.
The global spread of COVID-19 and the action taken to slow it, is affecting the foundations of our society around us. Routines, which were once strictly adhered to, have disappeared and been replaced by flexible working. Many organisations are striving to maintain an air of normality in unexpected and challenging circumstances with digital crisis management becoming a main business priority.
Global use of internet-enabled devices is greater than ever before. The internet is now deep-rooted in our everyday routines, both in our personal and professional lives. At this time of uncertainty, those affected by COVID-19 are connecting with their family and friends on their tables, phones and laptops. Enterprises that are digitally enabled have made the switch to home working. Both examples make being in isolation just that little bit easier to cope with. But in terms of business, there has been an instantaneous need to survive through digital means only – how have organisations reacted to this new immediate priority?
For a number of years, businesses have been traveling along a digital transformation roadmap. Some organisations who were ahead on their digital journey will excel at this time of change. They may even thrive in this new disparate society. Those who had thought ahead and accelerated their digital transformation strategy may have planned for such crisis situations. With the arrival of government restrictions, these organisations have been able to implement responsive business models which will now place them in front of their competition. This makes digital crisis management easier for these organisations.
For businesses that may have discounted or held back on developing digitally, now is the time to act. Companies must move quickly to ensure their workforce are able to continue in their existing roles from their new ‘home offices’, with uncertainty in the months ahead for all. In the hope that once the battle against COVID-19 has been won and companies may adopt their use as a permanent feature, tech giants Google, Microsoft and Silicon Valley Start-ups Slack and Zoom are all offering their remote working platforms for free.
If IT systems are under strain and VPN’s are not capable of accommodating a full workforce some organisations face an uphill battle in the coming weeks to ensure their infrastructure is capable of handling this transition. So, what action can you take now to try and make this switch to a new digital reality easier?
We don’t know how long COVID-19 restrictions will be in place, but what we do know is that acting now could be the difference between a business existing in 18 months or that business sadly failing. Adopting digital crisis management best practice can make a real difference to colleagues and customers alike.
COVID-19 maybe be the biggest ‘disruptor’ that a number of generations have witnessed, but disruption is the predecessor to innovation. Use this time to innovate and push forward your organisation’s digital strategy.
Here at Kagool, we have been helping enterprise-level businesses achieve their digital goals since 1999, through designing, building and optimising websites using Sitecore. We have a team of Google certified, digital marketing experts, dedicated to helping our clients get the most out of their activity and how to get the best results from their digital marketing strategy. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can assist with digital crisis management.
A digital content strategy is the driver towards achieving marketing and business goals. Really, it’s a well-considered and structured plan, or roadmap, that marketers use to define all the digital content for a set period, with clear objectives.
The phrase, ‘content is king’ caught on for a reason beyond alliteration (though that probably helped). Content strategy often underpins an organisation’s wider digital marketing strategy. If marketing was a vehicle, content is the fuel that’s essential to turbo any aspect of your digital activity, from search marketing to email marketing or paid media. Whatever you’re driving, your business certainly doesn’t want to find themselves on empty.
72% of marketers said that having a good content strategy was crucial to their wider business success. This statistic explains why a reported 70% of marketers are actively investing in their content marketing strategy in 2020.
With the pressure on marketing and content teams to make sure that their spending creates the highest ROI possible, now is the time to make sure that your organisation’s digital content strategy is watertight. Ensuring that it’s geared to accelerate customer engagement, conversion and retention as the digital landscape develops.
You’re a marketing manager raring to go and start developing your content. Before you begin, take a step back and think about the person, people or organisations you want to engage with your offering. The stats say it all, 80% of people are more likely to purchase a product or service from a brand who provides personalised content. Because really, what is the point in creating content if nobody wants to engage with it?
Knowing who your target persona is will guide you as you begin to plan a content map. So, how should you go about that?
If you are a new organisation or one that has just started using Sitecore, and you don’t have the user data yet. Look to your competitors and do some good old fashioned research. Find out:
Knowing who is viewing what content, and how they are engaging with it allows you to plan and tailor your content for your users . Once you have customer personas decided, Sitecore can set up persona patterns and personalisation rules to track customer segments. This provides an extremely high level of customer personalisation.
So, now you have your target audience down to a tee and you understand their viewing habits, platform preferences and the topics that interest them. How do you make sure your content reaches the right people?
With so much content available online, the chance of getting your content seen organically on SERPs is slim, if you don’t have a robust digital content strategy. Part of this strategy must be to build your content with SEO at the forefront of your mind at all times. How can this be achieved?
“Write the way you speak”, Google now has the power to read and understand written content. Voice Search is on the rise, so make sure written content is well formed and intelligently written. Google will look favourably on articles written in this way, as it now relies on syntax and the sentiment of content instead of just keywords.
So, you’ve followed all the steps above and your content is now a search engines dream. You’ll be happy to find out that not only does great content achieve a good position in a search listing, but it also helps develop a direct relationship with your key audience, creating a digital community of followers. How?
A well-structured and SEO minded, digital content strategy should bring more organic traffic to your organisation’s website. This new traffic will bring with it a lot of interesting and important data. After a short space of time you will be able to use this data to evaluate the success of your content strategy in relation to your wider business goals. You should be able to:
Without a structured digital content strategy, it is almost impossible to know if you are fully exploring all avenues of content creation. Or if the techniques, platforms or even tone of voice you are using is hitting the spot for your desired customers. Most businesses will not continue to pay for copywriters, videographers or designers to make content if they cannot see a clear ROI.
Reading this guide on digital content strategy may have set alarm bells ringing for you. If this is the case, all is not lost. Following the simple steps above will help but you may find that you need some extra help to kick start your journey to success.
That’s where we can help. We are Kagool and we do things differently. We’re an award-winning digital agency and a top tier Sitecore partner. We have teams of digital experts that can help transform your organisation’s digital content strategy and help you meet your business goals. Contact us to learn more or by booking a digital marketing audit.
Hyper personalisation improves on traditional website personalisation techniques. Combined with the latest versions of Sitecore. It leverages artificial intelligence to take your organisation’s digital marketing strategy to the next level.
To understand hyper personalisation, we have to think about our existing understanding of personalisation. Typically, web personalisation aims to provide users with more relevant content based on one or more targeting factors such as:
These criteria allow us to select from several pieces of prepared content and ensure the user only sees what is most appropriate for them. It’s a tried and tested approach that yields impressive results on thousands of websites around the world.
However, there are shortcomings with this form of personalisation. The targeting criteria are very limiting because they essentially reduce a user to a stereotype. For example, you might live in London, and personalising content based on this information assumes that you are the same as everyone else that lives in that city. Rest assured, organisation’s that use advanced personalisation techniques know that you and your neighbours are different people. Treating people as members of a homogenous “London” segment is useful for simple user cases, like a localised sales promotion, but it offers little depth in terms of understanding website visitors as individuals. So, should this be described as “personalisation” at all?
The goal of hyper-personalisation is to stop marketing teams from pigeon-holing users with such restrictive segmentation. It has emerged as a direct response to an increasingly tech-savvy population that demand to be recognised as unique individuals, with their own objectives and interests.
Hyper personalisation arises through the use of big data and machine learning. Lots and lots of data. Machine learning software analyses huge volumes of data to identify patterns hidden within it. Just as a child learns about the world, the machine is provided with examples of historical user experiences and told which ones are considered “good” and which are considered “bad”.
Given enough data, the machine will eventually begin to understand the patterns that make a good user experience. It can then use that understanding to customise the experiences of new customers.
The machine works with raw data, so it isn’t swayed by prior knowledge of pre-determined market segments. Whereas humans might be blinkered by the need to produce segment focused marketing campaigns, the machine can look at the behaviour of individuals, often gaining deeper insight than we could hope to do ourselves.
Sitecore Cortex is a machine learning capability baked right into the latest versions of Sitecore Experience Platform (XP). It has massive implications for the way marketing teams form personalisation and A/B testing strategies.
Since the introduction of Sitecore xDB in version 7, the Sitecore platform has been collecting huge amounts of data about each user session. In addition to recording the basics, like their path through the site and their duration on each page, it also collects more business specific data like the goals they triggered and behavioural profiling information. Cortex is the engine that allows Sitecore to leverage all that collected data and gives marketers true insight in to both their customers and their content.
Sitecore personalisation is relatively straight forward. You produce several pieces of content targeted at different audiences, and then you assemble one or more rules that allow Sitecore to decide which content to serve up to the user. A rule is made up of a “condition” and an “action” and might look something like this:
“where the current contact matches the Cyclist pattern card in the Hobbies profile, show Bicycle Promotion”
This easy-to-use functionality has been available to Sitecore customers for many years and is one of the key features that attracts businesses wanting to boost the performance of their websites.
Cortex builds on this to offer even greater benefits to marketers. Rather than relying on the user to devise and build personalisation rules, Cortex makes suggestions for Sitecore personalisation rules that could result in improved customer experiences and better conversion. These suggestions are the result of deep analysis of the data collected within the system, so they might produce options that wouldn’t be obvious to the marketer. Alternatively, they might reinforce what the marketer had already planned, giving them confidence that they’re on the right track.
The rise of hyper personalisation and its implementation in Sitecore through Cortex are a welcomed leap forward in the martech industry. Customers are finally able to get the bespoke service they want, resulting in a more enjoyable experience and a better opinion of the business.
Meanwhile, marketers have unprecedented insights into their customers’ needs and objectives, as well as a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of the content they produce. A digital marketer using Sitecore can now work with confidence, armed with tools that would be unimaginable without the power of data-driven machine learning.
Hyper personalisation can be considered the first true form of personalisation the industry has seen, and it’s producing positive outcomes for all involved.
Understanding the needs of your customers on an individual level doesn’t need to be an overwhelming task. Kagool is a Sitecore Platinum Partner agency that’s made up of a team of talented developers, designers and digital marketers. We have been helping enterprise level organisation achieve their digital goals for over 20 years. If you’d like to explore how your organisation could be getting the most from Sitecore and delivering truly personalised experiences, contact us and we’d be pleased to help. Alternatively, book a Sitecore audit to uncover how to get more from your existing investment.
Almost 90% of marketers believe social media activity has boosted their brand visibility. 75% of those went on to state an increase in traffic to their company website. A recent survey uncovered that nearly all Fortune 500 financial services organisations effectively use social media profiles. But what are the advantages to implementing social media strategy for financial services businesses?
Social media strategy is important for five main reasons:
Social media is probably one of the fastest moving aspects of digital marketing. By the time you’ve finished this article there will likely be a new emerging channel, feature, algorithm that influences user experience and behaviour. This can sometimes seem overwhelming if your organisation doesn’t have a dedicated team monitoring the social media landscape, which is why working with a digital marketing agency can be beneficial.
Just like how digital marketing and technology in the sector has disrupted and evolved, social media does too and plays an integral role to brand perception, customer service, and digital marketing performance.
This is less of a trend now and more of a standard expectation, not just for financial services, but industry wide. Social media has been around long enough now for a whole generation to be digital natives that learned their way around likes, shares and follow interactions inline with learning to talk. User expectations have therefore changed from just having an email or website chat facility available to contact companies, to customers being able to contact their favourite brands, banks, insurance companies, public services etc across any channel.
Audiences want to feel human connections with businesses, which can be achieved via social media and pivotal in building customer loyalty. When asked to rank which channel gave businesses the best opportunity to connect with customers, social media, of course, won the race. At the start of 2019, it was estimated that around 60% of the global population were active on some sort of social platform, being visible on their favourite social media platforms is becoming more and more of a necessity for businesses, not a choice.
There is an ongoing shift from Facebook to Instagram for financial services’ audiences. It’s not just beauty, food or consumer friendly brands that are moving into the Instagram space, banks, insurance companies and the like are waking up to the opportunity. The average follower count for the financial services industry is 38,595 – a sizeable audience your organisation might not want to ignore, or risk losing to a competitor.
A recent report identified that, although the audience size for financial services is significantly smaller than Facebook, the engagement is far higher. Indicating a great opportunity for financial services businesses to take a closer look at Instagram and growing their audience.
Personalisation has been a running theme for online and offline experiences for a few years now. But now we’re seeing social media platforms step up their game when it comes to targeting and better understanding audiences needs and interests. Social channels ad tools are getting more sophisticated when it comes to segmentation and showing relevant services or products to your target audience. Marketers can fine tune their ads to make sure the right people are being shown content at the perfect moment to boost conversions.
At Kagool we can help your organisation plan and implement an effective social media strategy for financial services. We specialise in the design, build and digital marketing of Sitecore websites. With over 20 years of experience in helping global organisations achieve their digital goals, your social media and overall digital strategy is in great hands. If you’d like to get more in-depth understanding of how well your organisation’s digital marketing is performing, contact us or book a digital marketing audit – we’d love to help.
Marketing campaigns can be time consuming and complex. Marketing teams must carefully manage their time and budgets throughout long campaign lifecycles, whilst keeping a close eye on analysing and optimising their marketing activity to deliver the valuable results. But how can streamlining integrated campaigns with detailed reporting be achieved effectively and efficiently across an organisation?
Sitecore Content Hub is a powerful marketing suite that gives marketers the ability to manage content, media assets, data and management rights. Content Hub seamlessly integrates
into one single platform, addressing the challenges a marketing team faces with their campaigns, planning, reporting, budgeting and Sitecore optimisation.
Sitecore’s definition of a content hub clearly outlines the platform’s vision for digital marketing and content.
“A content hub acts as home base for all your disparate content, as well as a platform that helps streamline, speed up, and simplify every part of a marketer’s job — all in one solution. It offers a clear view and intuitive, collaborative features that keep the complexity low and the added value high.”
It’s not uncommon for assets across a business to live in multiple locations, in multiple systems, across multiple departments. Businesses are often lacking a clear direction on how to streamline those assets, which ultimately reduces the overhead of managing them, not to mention ensuring a single point of truth for all assets. Sitecore Content Hub takes the headache out of asset management.
Sitecore DAM provides marketers with the ability to store marketing assets such as videos, images, documents etc, directly within Sitecore. This provides a consistency in how assets are stored and tagged with relevant meta data. It ensures the quality of assets are adhered to and results in maintaining brand consistency.
In addition to the benefits of the storage and management of assets, this lends itself to another benefit, the searching of assets.
Digital Rights Management is about the access control of assets in a system to ensure they are used for their intended purposes. Essentially, what would happen is an asset would be set to a relevant access level, e.g. “restricted”. Depending on the level of access applied to the asset, there is functionality available to manage that asset and stop it from being downloaded, embellish it with a watermark etc.
Ultimately DRM within Sitecore is an automated way to manage these control schemes to ensure copyrighted material is dealt with in the correct way by a set of rules that are ultimately managed by an administrator.
The key is that DRM is integrated into DAM, which historically, within technology, these two systems stood alone.
The management of these assets through DAM, utilising DRM schemes within Sitecore also allows you to ensure your websites search functionality is able to abide by those rules, ensuring only applicable assets and returned within search functions.
PIM is all about storing information against a product within the platform. So, you could relate this to ecommerce websites that have a product catalogue, but also share the same content across print or any other system that uses product information.
PIM within Sitecore Content Hub provides organisations with the ability to trace where an asset is used across an application or system. It allows for information to evolve and constantly be embellished with new marketing content, providing a Single Point of Truth (SPOT).
It also allows marketers to integrate third-party systems that may already contain a lot of the product data, with marketing content within Sitecore.
Managing your product content in the right way, integrating data from the right systems to embellish your marketing data allows you to have that SPOT, but to publish to omni-channel at ease.
Without MRM tools, it makes it very difficult for a marketing team to manage the process of creating new marketing campaigns and projects. MRM tools specifically provide a team with the ability to help:
The integrated features Sitecore Content Hub provides help businesses tackle all of the above on any scale. Equally, by being able to tailor different features for different team members, for a variety of roles, ensures that aligning your team’s processes comes with as minimal challenges possible.
In addition to this, Content Hub’s built-in project management tools make it simple for the wider team to report on progress and view that progress through Sitecore MRM Dashboards.
Any enterprise level business that has a busy and ambitious marketing team could benefit from a fully featured system like Content Hub. If your organisation prioritises their content marketing strategy and is looking for sophisticated tools that can truly transform how campaigns are created, optimised, delivered and monitored – this is worth your attention.
If your marketing team is ready to harness Content Hub’s capability to have a single point of truth for content, product information and effective application of workflows and roles, get in touch – we’d love to chat to you about Sitecore.
We are Kagool. A Sitecore Platinum Partner agency that designs, builds and optimises award-winning Sitecore websites. We’ve been helping enterprise level organisations around the globe achieve their digital ambitions with the Sitecore platform for over 20 years. So, when it comes to Sitecore – you’re in the best hands.
Contact us today to find out how we can help or learn about a Sitecore 9 upgrade.