Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Sitecore Magic Show

It's always worth catching the Joe Henriques show.  He can make a demo dazzle, and he makes a compelling case for Sitecore's engagement functionality.  Wednesday's tour de force at the New England Sitecore Users Group was no exception.  The head spins at the amount of information presented.

Here are my take aways:
  • The reporting edge that Sitecore's Email Campaign Manager brings is the ability to view campaigns not as visits, but as engagements.  A campaign that has fewer click-throughs, but gets people to do what you want them to do, is  more valuable than one that brings people to the site but doesn't lead them to engage.  Because Sitecore manages both the campaign (ad word, email, Facebook post), and allows you to define goals within the site, it gives you a fuller picture.  The key point is the ability to define goals within DMS, and measure actions against them.
  • You should look at multivariate testing not as a single A/B test, but a combination of them.  This color, with that copy, and this Call-To-Action text might work magic far beyond other combinations. Sitecore lets you define a goal, and then determine which combination of elements gets you there.
  • The magic factor that Sitecore brings to multi-channel marketing is the way it separates content from presentation.  Your products are not pages, and your content tree should not treat them as such, if you want to present them as Facebook wall posts, printed brochures, and in mobile apps.
  • The Design Importer is a very slick tool for creating a landing page or micro-site.  Point it at a URL, such as the demo site built by your design-firm, and it creates Media Library assets and a sublayout, which you can then extend.  If the partners in the room were not wowed (or not showing it), those of us in the client world were pretty impressed.  This would have saved quite a bit of work in my last project, and would have led to a more Sitecore-friendly solution.
  • Social Connected can do some impressive things.  Like letting people sign in with Facebook.  Like making their Facebook information visible through the Sitecore profile.  Like making this information available to the personalization rules engine.  Imagine creating communities of your customers  based on where they went to high school or college.  It's quite a crystal ball that Sitecore gives you.
  • The Customer Engagement workflow tool just looks freakishly powerful.  When a visitor comes to the website, he's part of a workflow, but one that continues over days, not mouse clicks.  Steps along the way might include apersonalized message on the home page, a phone call, a Facebook wall post, maybe an SMS reminder.  I'd seen this at Dreamcore, but the presentation filled in a number of details, such as the ability to load visitor into the plan with a CSV import, or to see where people are getting stuck and to take action accordingly.
A lot of very impressive functionality. Still, as a technical person, it can be really useful to get the perspective of someone who's not.  I went to the meetup with Elizabeth Brown, a recruiter at Grand Circle, and for her the key moment came when the Nicam home page started showing content targeted at professional photographers, based on what the user had done.  "The web experience is like a dance, and the steps must go together quickly and seamlessly, without breaking the rhythm.   I thought I wanted to buy this product, but the one I really wanted was the one you showed me.  When suddenly everything on the demo site was aimed at the professional photographer, I thought, yes, this is the way I want the web to interact with me.  You've taken me here, I must be destined to buy this product!" 


  1. Awesome summary Dan ! Keep rocking !!

  2. Nice recap Dan! It's so motivating to know that we are working with such cool products like Sitecore at Grand Circle.

  3. Take aways are huge! insanely awesome. Dan, good thing is you make this post understandable to us. Full marks to your creativity.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I think "understandable to magicians" is a pretty good standard for technical writing. I'll keep that in mind.