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Sitecore Commerce: What it is and what it can do .
Over the years I’ve worked with some major brands on ecommerce projects and am fortunate and privileged that I have a number of ecommerce clients that I have worked with for 10 years or more - taking them online, into ecommerce and developing multi-million pound revenue streams through continuous strategic optimisation and progression.
Based on my experiences to date, the idea of having an ecommerce site with all of Sitecore’s toolkit at its disposal ‘out of the box’ sounded, well, quite awesome really as it would enable us to develop sophisticated, effective conversion strategies without the need to build this stuff ourselves.
So, in order to learn more, the next step was to become a Sitecore Commerce Certified Developer and Solution Architect so as to really understand the platform, its features and capabilities so that I could see for myself if the platform lived up to the potential.
To cut to the chase, it does! Sitecore Commerce is an enterprise ecommerce platform that delivers all the things that you would expect of such a product - product, category and inventory management, the ability to apply and manage pricing and set up discounts, plus customer and order management etc.
However, the Sitecore part of Sitecore Commerce server is what sets it apart as a sales channel. This is due to the fact that you have all those enterprise ecommerce features plus the ability to deploy all of Sitecore’s features too, including personalisation, profiling and dynamic segmentation, automated marketing and engagement scoring.
By using Sitecore in an integrated ecommerce platform you can get close to delivering a personal shopping experience for each customer, individually. Whereas most ecommerce platforms have the ability to personalise based on explicit data - what you’ve looked at, how many times you’ve visited, your profile (if you’re logged in), spend to date; Sitecore Commerce server allows you to then personalise based on the learned, or implied data too.
It’s not just personalisation though, you’ve also got Engagement Plans and Automated Marketing enabling you to deliver personalised emails, texts or social messages based on where someone got to in the purchase or checkout process, or if they asked for more info through a form or live chat. You can tie this into CRM to give you a complete picture of your customer across digital and non-digital channels - in-store or on the phone.
It also ties seamlessly into Goals, Engagement Value, Outcomes and Monetary Value giving you the opportunity to deliver personalised experiences or messages based on not just the financial value of your customer, but, of their engagement value with your brand.
The potential ROI from Sitecore Commerce is immense, it’s ecommerce features and API for integrations means it can streamline business processes and so save an organisation time and money, whilst its integrated digital marketing features mean that, without too much effort and practically zero developer involvement, it can empower and enable an online sales and marketing team to deliver personalised unique experiences that are relevant to each and every customer - optimising conversion rates, delivering revenue to the business and creating raving fans.
If you would like to know more about how you can implement ecommerce into your digital business, please get in touch via email at email@example.com or call 01233 467800.
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.