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Sitecore 9: The Case for Upgrading.
Sitecore has evolved from a simple web-experience platform, to a platform that enables marketers to tailor their content to their customers and provide the ultimate engagement strategy across all marketing channels and devices.
I’m going to be looking at the main reasons for upgrading from your existing version to Sitecore Experience Platform 9:
Upgrading from Sitecore 6.x to Sitecore 9
Sitecore 6.x took users from a basic web content management system to something that could create a web-experience, however, Sitecore 9 has built upon these features tenfold and offers so much more than the CMS you’re used to.
If you’re currently using Sitecore 6.x it’s likely that over the last year or so you’ve had to face unexpected behaviour, errors, compatibility issues and defects that haven’t been supported by the Sitecore team (support for 6.6 ended in December 2015 and June 2015 for 6.5). In this case the upgrade to Sitecore 9 is crucial for business development which has the added benefit of reinstating a Sitecore support network.
Better for marketers
Whilst Sitecore 6.x was every developer’s dream, it was a content marketing nightmare with very basic content management features and rudimentary personalisation. Sitecore 9 puts the user experience back into the hands of your marketers and added functionality including the ability to drag and drop fields in form creation means it’s easier than ever!
Sitecore 6.x relies on your IT and analytics team to extract visitor data from multiple sources with various reports. Sitecore 9 with xConnect effortlessly interchanges data with the systems that matter, putting all of that information in one place for you to analyse and measure.
Web crawlers, spiders and bots are continually evolving with new ways to index; causing headaches for many analytic professionals with reporting discrepancies; Sitecore 9 gives you confidence in your visitor data allowing you to track and report effortlessly.
Upgrading from 7.x to Sitecore 9
The release of Sitecore 7.x changed the marketing game; it shifted the platform from a ‘web-only’ system, to something that could create omnichannel digital experiences which opened many doors for marketers.
Sitecore 9 takes this experience one step further with the ability to a true cross-channel, multiple device omnichannel marketing journey. With Sitecore 9 it doesn’t matter how your customers interact with your brand: online, in store, through an app or via their mobiles, all of this data is linked and stored to create a seamless user experience.
Not only does Sitecore 9 recognise how your users are interacting with your brand, you can also personalise their journey based on pre-set personas which each visitor is segmented into. As they move through the customer journey they trigger pre-set goals that continue to personalise this journey based on their interests and ignites follow up emails to ensure they’re always engaged.
Enhanced email performance
Sitecore 9’s email manager has dramatically improved with the release of new tools such as List Manager and Campaign Creator as well as integration with Experience Database (xDB) making it easier than ever to manage your email marketing efforts.
With Sitecore Cortex you don’t have to worry about finding the time to analyse and calculate new customer personas. Cortex automatically identifies the common attributes of visitor behaviour and suggests personalisation criterias and segments for them, meaning all you need to do is accept or skip.
Upgrading from Sitecore 8.x to Sitecore 9
Sitecore 8.x built upon Sitecore 7.x’s foundation of business and marketing empowerment whilst focusing on offering more advanced cloud deployment models for IT teams.
Sitecore Experience Cloud
The Sitecore 9 upgrade continues to develop this idea with the release of the overarching brand: Sitecore Experience Cloud. The cloud itself encompasses all of the Sitecore applications, putting everything in one place for marketers and providing them with richer data.
Sitecore 9 gives you the ability to collect and connect data from anywhere, whilst machine learning analytics allow you to predict behaviours and possess true omnichannel data. Experience Database collects and connects this data in real-time from in-store visit and phone calls to online and mobile activity; giving you the opportunity to better personalise your marketing efforts. The new release also gives you the ability to integrate with external data sources including Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SQL Azure, MongoDB or Cosmos DB.
Sitecore forms and marketing automation
Forms and marketing automation features have been completely redesigned to promote the collection of quality data and include a drag and drop functionality for improved usability. Whilst marketing automation allows you to send out automatic customer-nurturing and follow up emails to customers that have triggered pre-set goals or not completed desired actions.
Thinking about upgrading your Sitecore platform? Learn more about the latest release here.