Work the ‘SOCs’ off your Sitecore investment.

SITECOREferrari

Let me paint you a picture… you invest heavily in a luxury Supercar [insert your dream car here], it returns 0-60 in 2.5 seconds flat and to quote Viv (a la Pretty Woman… yes, I went there, ok), ‘it corners like it's on rails’. You have dreams of cruising down that ‘bucket list’ mountain pass to the riviera, fine-tuning the engine and tucking it away at night in a temperature-controlled garage. Life is gooooood. You’ve made the big time.

You wake up one day to a stark reality. Although you did successfully manage to buy the car itself, the little beauty is crammed into a small, leaking garage. You barely have space to open the door and the furthest you’ve driven it is to get milk from the co-op. Unsure of how to drive such a thorough-bred and adding insult to injury you accidentally scuffed the alloys on every high curb in sight (ooops). Your better half is pretty mad about it all, that money was supposed to pay for a flat-roofed extension (yawn). Life… is not so good.

OK, fine… we’ve all heard that analogy 100 times, but it still holds true. When did opportunity become so disposable? Simply buying the car is not enough.

During my time working with the Sitecore Experience Platform, I have worked very closely with many and varied brands, across different sectors, with different audiences and regional locations - all of whom demonstrate the same limiting factors. They have a Ferrari they use to pop to the shops in. It’s frustrating all round. Marketing teams are desperate to bleed the platform dry to evidence better ROI and meet demanding KPIs. IT teams drowning in change requests to complete theoretically simple ‘out of the box’ CMS tasks. Who is winning?

Enabling brands to succeed is a core objective of our business. In fact not just to succeed, but to be remarkable. As such, over time our strategic thinking and enablement work with clients has continued to evolve... and eventually, my baby (ummm… professional baby) was born... Just one short (or long) year ago we officially launched our Sitecore Optimisation Consultancy (SOC) pillar, aimed purely at working directly with Sitecore customers to better align their business objectives with the abilities of their Sitecore platform. From initial strategic concepts, through to building sites with marketing operations front of mind and even hands-on training.

Baking in business and marketing objectives at the start of a project drives better results and enables the users of the platform, the marketing teams, to pivot comms and customer experiences with ease and agility. In tandem we are upskilling teams by way of the Sagittarius Academy, to enable them to (nod to Kingsley our CTO) “get sh*t done”.

We’ve discussed in multiple blogs, webinars, videos and so on that 2020 has forced organisations to level up, adapt to change quickly, learn to pivot, invest now and so on. In a climate where brands are being forced to truly reconsider the shape of their teams, their tech stack and investments. Learning to leverage what’s at your fingertips, i.e. your digital experience platform (DXP) and its toolset is imperative as customer needs, demands and emotional states rapidly shift throughout the year that was. My advice? Get supercar driving lessons… yes, that’s a thing.

‘I thought it was out of the box’… how many times have I heard that? As a Consultant it’s our responsibility to deliver the bitter truth sometimes... ‘yes, but…’. Whilst functionality is out of the box, bespoke configuration and strategic direction are not. Why are enterprise-level DXPs so valuable? They allow organisations to drive return in line with unique business objectives. It's that simple. Who wouldn’t want to do that right?

Our Sitecore Optimisation Consultancy team works with brands on building and implementing strategies to achieve success. As an agency we build with marketing and personalisation in mind, it forms part of our scoping, our functional specs and our go-live flight checks as directed by SOC. Therefore, we mitigate against future obstacles thus allowing brands to do more with Sitecore. Our strategic consultancy enables marketing teams to adapt to change - mixing up the customer experience in line with evolving demands, segments and need-states. At the click of a button, our clients use adaptive on-site messaging and automated and personalised emails comms. In fact, we can then scale this success further forming part of an augmented team, where we are truly an extension of our client’s teams.

If 2020 has taught us anything in the digital space, customer experience is crucial, relevance and timeliness is expected. It’s, therefore, my opinion that ~10% of your platform investment should be focussed on leveraging that opportunity. It’s no different than the 10% running costs that come as part of the expectation when you buy a Super Yacht. Sitecore is a serious piece of kit.

Learn to drive your Ferrari. Get out onto the autobahn and press the pedal to the metal. All that joy from just 10% more spend. Otherwise, you run the risk that your initial 100% investment is at a standstill.

Build a solid strategy and invest in, without a strategy and methodology to deliver against it, you risk failure. Your progression will stagnate and your hefty investment into tech that delivers ‘out of the box’ personalisation will fail to deliver the returns your business needs. In all likelihood, you’ll then go through a lengthy process to replace it with a slightly less capable toolset and neglect that too. Now is the time, the time to take a step back, do the groundwork and get your platform set up to deliver.

If you’re not portioning out a percentage of your tech investment to ‘learn to drive’, or looking down the back of the sofa for the extras… you should be. Standing still is a very genuine threat in a world that is changing direction more times than an NBA player in the closing seconds of the league final.

If this article has got you thinking about how you can put your Ferrari (other Supercars are available) to work, we’d love to hear from you. It all starts with a conversation so get in touch via phone or email and let's get you learning to drive your brand to the next level!

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

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

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

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?

 
Natalie Waite
Natalie Waite
Head of Sitecore Optimisation Consultancy
Natalie has a strategic online marketing background having spent 4 years working in buying for the UK's leading shopping channel and 3 years specialising in digital marketing. She has a wealth of knowledge across online channels; whilst specialising in retargeting, content marketing strategies and strategic development. With a keen interest in driving conversions, regarding both traffic to a website and its subsequent action on site, she is keen to work alongside our clients to leverage their online communications and conversions.
Natalie Waite

Natalie Waite

16 Sep 2020 - 7 minute read
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