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We exist to make your business thrive and our greatest reward is our returning clients. Our focus is and always will be on our clients and not on industry awards and accreditations, which could account for why we’ve won so many of them…
Demystifying Sitecore's Licensing.
Before I start: Sitecore’s licensing model changes occasionally, so it is always recommended to check in with your Sitecore sales representatives or your Sitecore contact. As a partner, you can find who your Sitecore contact is (and get their details) by logging in to Sitecore’s Partner Network. As a customer, you can talk to your Sitecore account manager.
Having said that, we can get going. In essence, there are 2 licensing models: consumption and perpetual.
When you select the consumption model, you can select a band that matches your expected number of visits for your Sitecore powered website(s). If you exceed this number of visits, you’d have to pay an overage and it might make sense to take a look at whether it’s beneficial to upgrade your banding.
With the consumption model, you can spin up any number of production servers, and a limited amount of non-production servers (more on this later), making it ideal if your site can get massively different loads at different periods in time, such as holidays.
With the perpetual model you’re licensed by the number of Sitecore instances, again differentiated based on production and non-production servers. For clarity, if I install 2 Sitecore environments on 1 server, that counts as 2 Sitecore instances.
Both the Consumption and the Perpetual model have restrictions as well based on the number of concurrent users. You can have as many named users as you want in your system, but only a number of them can be logged in to the Sitecore client at the same time.
Also, when we’re talking about servers we’re purely talking about Sitecore instances – it doesn’t matter for instance how many SQL servers, MongoDB servers or SOLR servers you are running (apart from your infrastructure costs of course).
Consider the above image. For a perpetual model, this would be 5 non-production environment (test CM server, UAT CD servers, UAT CM server and Processing server) and 5 production environments (cm and 4 cds). However, when you’re using a consumption model, this would be 4 non-production environments (test CM server, UAT CD servers and UAT CM server) and 6 production environments (although the number of production environments is irrelevant as you can use however many you like).
Any other differences in the models?
The Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA) module is included in the consumption model, whereas with the perpetual model one would have to pay for it.
So is that it then?
Not quite. Within these models, there are 2 product options you can choose from: Experience Management (or XM) and Experience Platform (or XP).
This is essentially Sitecore’s CMS-only offering. This offering does not have any analytics, but still supports in-session personalization for example. This means that I can personalize based on the current actions a visitor has on my website, but not on any of the visitors previous visits. However, it’s worth asking ourselves how useful that is if we can’t monitor how the personalized version is performing versus the default.
Amongst the things that are not compatible with Experience Management are personalisation based on historical data (as that’s not collected), testing, Email Experience Manager (EXM) Federated Experience Manager (FXM).
This is the full Sitecore platform.
So what was this about servers?
As stated above, Sitecore differentiates between production and non-production servers. There is a slight discrepancy between production servers on perpetual and consumption.
For perpetual: Any server that is not a live CD/CM is classified as a non-production server. This includes reporting servers and processing servers collecting and querying production data, as well as any CM/CD/combobox on any dev or test environment.
For consumption licenses it’s a bit more simple: a production server is any server that has to do with production – including the reporting and processing servers (on the production side of things).
The only difference here is the xConnect related servers: Search, collection, reference data, marketing automation and marketing automation reporting. These server roles exist in XP licenses only, and can be spun up as and when required without having to worry about the impact they’ll have on the Sitecore license.
I realise we haven’t gotten around to additional add-ons (such as Sitecore Commerce, Print Experience Manager, or SXA if you’re on perpetual license).
Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.
A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.
So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance.
What is a Content Strategy?
It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.
But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business.
Who are my Audience?
You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.
So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context.
Do I need to tailor content?
As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.
Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:
What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?
Who are they most influenced by?
What voices influence their behaviour?
What type of content do they consume?
Where do they consume content and engage with brands?
Different Content, Different Objectives
All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.
There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.
Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale.
Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels.
Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.
Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.
Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.
How do I manage all this?
Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.
Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.
Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.
If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.