Sitecore 9 – Your steer for 2018

The Challenge

To increase your customer’s consistency of experience with your company’s products and services.

The Direction

  • Understanding where the opportunities lie for collecting data within your company.
  • Collecting the right type of data (securely) from your interaction points
  • Reaping knowledge from the data to increase consistency across platforms
  • Analysing and acting on feedback to respond quickly and constantly

The Actions

Let’s assume you know where people experience you and yours, typically: adverts, at the tills, trade fairs, award ceremonies, social media, ticket collection point, email, website, product download, newspapers, in the shops, in the press, in the aisles etc. It was the lack of integration between them that was a major challenge.

Get on Sitecore 9 in the cloud

We’ve gone past the tipping point of cloud hosting, so you really should get on it soon grandma, if not your speed to market and feedback loop will get even slower. Sitecore are pushing Azure hard and the benefits of the partnership with Microsoft are there to see, however you’re always free to use AWS, GCP or a private cloud. Whether you’re upgrading, lifting-and-shifting, starting afresh or a hybrid, look at cloud hosting.

Collect data using Sitecore

Sitecore Experience Management/Platform © ™ ® includes:
– Multi-site and Multi-language management
– Marketing Automation
– A/B & multi-variant testing
– Machine-learning based optimisation

Which all brings useful and usable data into Sitecore’s Experience Database (xDB) © ™ ®. If Sitecore’s own features and modules don’t do it then…

Plug everything else into Sitecore

Bring together your data sources into xDB;  ticketing systems, internal databases, Salesforce, Eloqua, payment providers, this API and that API and all website interactions. Headless Sitecore is a beautiful thing, it’s not just an expensive CMS, it’s a door opener. If you’ve got multiple CMSs, fine, use Sitecore’s Federated Experience Manager (FXM) to correlate data.

Use the Data Luke

Personalisation is one way but it’s not the only way. Please don’t just focus on making Barry from Cardiff feeling special on a Tuesday morning as the buys a can of Special Brew. He feels special enough already, and he won’t remember anyway.

Use the data to be relevant, valuable and and remember the Challenge you should be focussing on, to provide a consistent experience. Re-visit the high value areas where you’ve touched each other, was it good, was it as expected, was it consistent, would they want to do it again? Hopefully it’s a yes to all of those but you will only find out through…

Constantly reviewing and acting on feedback

Not at a quarterly where Sharon in sales says she’s heard that someone said popcorn prices are too high. Did that recommendation work? Yes/No -> act. You have the data, you have the knowledge so what’s it saying that needs to be acted upon and then act upon it quickly, then again, then again until it’s happening so regularly that you wish a computer could do it for you.
If you’re not improving then what’s the point?


Although I work on Sitecore and it’s technology remember it’s not the technology that’s the driver behind this, it’s the people. Always maintain the human element of interacting with the customer.

About me – I’m an Account Director at True Clarity where we focus on getting the most out of Sitecore for our clients, who include easyJet, Dyson, ASOS, the Conservative Party and Sophos. I’ve also just come back from the most excellent 2017 Sitecore Symposium where Sitecore 9 was launched.


A Place in London

It’s been a while coming and we are finally here, we’re properly in London, in Kings Cross to be exact. 344 Grays Inn Road to be exacter. Our very own capital oasis of calm productivity.

Until now, away from our Bristol office, we’ve been working on site in our London clients’ offices, taking up their space and drinking their tea. We still do that when necessary of course but now we also have our very own development, training and work area. And our own tea.

It’s a place that’s no more that 30 minutes from our Sitecore clients including ASOS, The Conservative Party and WaterAid.
A place place people want to go to work and maintain and improve our Sitecore productivity.
A place we can call Work. In London.


PS We’ve just hired yet another London Developer so that’s seven of us here permanently. Bristol, we’re catching you up 😉 We’re looking for more Developers (ideally with Sitecore experience). If you want to work with us and our clients, and you’re not a recruitment agency, please give me a call on 020 3428 6841.

Should we upgrade to Sitecore 6.5?

This is a question we’re getting asked a lot these days, clients have been hearing about all the new fandangled features and want to know if an upgrade’s really worth it for their business or organisation. I’d say if you’re on anything less that Sitecore version 6.0 then definitely yes but if you’re on versions 6.0 to 6.4 I think the benefits may give you the answer.

The key benefits are the returns on investment that can be achieved with the new Customer Engagement Platform (CEP) incorporating the Digital Marketing System (DMS). These allow  you to analyse your site’s traffic in real-time and deliver targeted content to them to ensure they get the most value from a visit to your website.  The CEP effectively listens to your users and then reacts to them by serving up the most relevant content.

Here’s a real-life scenario based on my experience as someone who scans websites quickly to find information (especially at lunchtime when time is short):

A typical web search of mine (I want to buy some Wahl hair clippers like my barber uses):

  • I search Google for “Wahl Hair Clippers”
  • Scan results for relevant answers (is it just me or is Google showing me more results from outside the UK these days?)
  • Right click on the relevant results links and open them in a new tab for ease of flicking through them
  • Flick through each tab and discard the annoying ones that a) make it hard to find the relevant content b) are obviously built for SEO or worst of all c) splash pages
  • I have a read of any relevant content on the sites that aren’t annoying
  • I go off on a journey of discovery where I learn about different types of clippers, prices, reviews etc
  • Decide on the clippers I now want, Wahl Super Taper Hair Clippers (which I highly recommend by the way)
  • I buy them

Now there’s a plethora of things that effect my decision; design, usability, speed, time, content etc but to me, in this scenario, content is the key engagement factor…  I know what I want to find out about and I want to find it quickly. And before I get phone calls from our partners saying “how dare you say that usability/design are not the key engagers…” of course they are as well but I’m working on the premise that content is Queen here.

So could the new features of Sitecore 6.5 play a part here? Definitely, an engaging site would realise I’m coming from Google and realise that I know the brand (but I haven’t typed in a model) and react to that. Imagine if I arrived at a page that showed me all the models, their key features, had a model selector (e.g. faceted search), comparison facility, showed reviews of the popular models and an easy yet reassuring route to purchase. Sitecore’s DMS would know that I’m an undecided user and therefore deliver me personalised and relevant content to inform me and helps me make a decision, ultimately buying the product that I want. How happy would I be! And I’ve got most of my lunchtime left too!

Assuming that I buy from the site the personalisation doesn’t stop there, in 6 months time I’m going to need some more clipper oil. The DMS email campaign manager would have a rule set up saying “Mark bought some Wahl clippers 6 months ago, send him that pre-written post-sales email about the clipper oil we have in stock and contains the current prices”. I’m happy again and loving this company that still thinks about me. Who knows they may even email me in two years time to offer me new clipper blades.

Setting up the DMS doesn’t happen by magic and it does take time and investment to meet your businesses goals . To make your website incredibly relevant to a user by listening to them as they’re clicking around then react requires the setting up of the rules based system to surface that relevancy. That investment in Sitecore 6.5 will increase online conversions with real-time targeting and put you a good few step ahead of the competition.

To summarise:
This is just a minuscule element of what the new Customer Engagement Platform and Digital Marketing Suite can do and I’ll be writing about more about its features and benefits in the near future. An upgrade to Sitecore 6.5 will move your website onto the path from a basic level to highly engaged user level. Users who are engaged and have a personalised experience with you are more likely to convert, whatever you measure a conversion to be.

If you, or someone you know, has been affected by any of the issues above and want to talk to someone about it, feel free to call me, Mark Collins on 01179 32 77 00.