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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…
Mainstream Support Ending for Sitecore 8 & 8.1 - Solutions & FAQs .
If you are an existing Sitecore customer, you may have recently received the news that main stream support for Sitecore 8 and 8.1 will no longer be available…. well that is correct but this doesn't mean that Sitecore 8 customers globally need to panic and push the upgrade button (yet)!
Why has Sitecore 8 support been discontinued?
As with all software products, Sitecore has a life-span and as the development team strive to innovate, push the technology boundaries and release new versions, older releases will inevitably become unsupported which means that mainstream support for and 8.2 and 8.1 will come to an end on the 31st December this year (2018). Furthermore, support for 8.2 will end a year later (31st Dec 2019).
What does this mean?
For those still using 8.0 and 8.1, you will no longer have access to mainstream support with Sitecore, this includes security fixes, bugs with the software, assistance with unexpected behaviour during installation or development and compatibility fixes.
For anyone using 7.5 and older, support has already ended and you should definitely be considering an upgrade to your Sitecore solution..
This does NOT mean your website will stop working after the end of support but if you have any issues with the platform as outlined above it will not be covered in your normal annual maintenance fee. You can choose to buy support from the Sitecore services team and/or via your Sitecore Partner should you need it. Equally if you have purchased extended support then you have a further 3 years for some parts of the standard support.
Benefits of upgrading to Sitecore 9
Not only does upgrading to the latest version of Sitecore guarantee your continued support it also gives you access to a range of new product features and functionality that have since been released with the introduction of the Sitecore Experience Cloud including Marketing Automation and Machine Learning Tool, Cortex.
If you are wanting to upgrade, talk to us about the numerous possibilities. We have a range of fixed-price audits and services to help you make well-informed decisions.
Support doesn’t need to be complicated
Whether the time is not right for change in your business or you are considering an upgrade to your Sitecore solution, Sagittarius has a range of support packages that give 24/7 cover meaning you can rest easy that your website is performing at its best all year round.
We’ve put together the following helpful FAQs which might answer some of your questions around this topic:
Q. Will my Sitecore 8 or 8.1 site stop working?
A. No. Your Sitecore platform should continue to function normally after the 31st December 2018.
Q. If I have Standard Sitecore Support and want to remain on a non-mainstream version of Sitecore, do I still pay the same maintenance costs?
A. Yes. For Standard Support customers, the maintenance program itself provides access to software updates. Standard Support is provided as an addition that is free of charge, assuming the customer maintains their deployment on a supported version.
Q. If I’m running an older version of Sitecore and I want extended support after the mainstream support ends, what can I do?
A. Nothing (from Sitecore directly). Anyone that has a valid maintenance plan is automatically entitled to the level of support that corresponds to their product version. As a partner, Sagittarius can assist though.
Q. I would like to prolong the end date of mainstream or extended support for my Sitecore product, how can I do this?
A. This is not possible. Sitecore only provides extended support for production issues and upgrade scenarios and not for developing new functionality. In a few limited cases Sitecore was able to extend support expiration dates for specific customers. However, given wide impact on the company, such an extension requires sign-off from Product Support, Product Management, and Product Engineering teams.
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.
want to speak to one of our experts?
Paul operates nationally and internationally, helping brands to think outside the traditional horizontal and vertical channels and transform their business with creative multi-channel marketing and digital re-invention.