Sitecore Experience Platform in the Real World: Connecting Online and Offline Behaviors
Welcome to the first in a series of posts presenting real-world examples of how the Sitecore Experience Platform can help solve digital marketing challenges.
Sitecore has clearly made a huge bet on becoming a full-service provider to digital marketers. Building on a foundation of content management, they've also invested in A/B testing, site personalization, digital analytics and omni-platform user tracking.
With this range of features, Sitecore is now focused on managing the entire customer experience —online and offline. With its recent switch to Mongo DB as the technology underlying its digital marketing efforts, Sitecore can also support broad data collection at a massive scale. That means the fun can begin for digital marketers everywhere.
This article will uncover how one Velir client is using the Sitecore Experience Platform to connect users' online and offline behaviors. This capability has allowed the client to get a comprehensive view of every interaction its customers have with its brand and provide consistent experiences accordingly.
The Holy Grail
The notion of connecting online and offline behaviors isn't a novel concept. In fact, it's one that Sitecore has been propagating with its integrated solution. The convergence of the two worlds is now the Holy Grail for many marketers. The 360-degree view of your customers lets you market to them with a complete understanding of how they've interacted with your brand over time.
Many organizations have approached this issue from a CRM perspective, with Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics as the final resting place for all client data. At first glance, this may seem like a sound approach. However, stop and think about where your CRM will house the dozens or potentially hundreds of digital micro-interactions associated with each client. Most CRM platforms simply aren't built to easily support storing all information regarding online behaviors.
Our Client's Story
As my colleague and I recently learned, this is a situation where Sitecore can help. The project involved working with the client to establish a flow of information among several systems using Sitecore as the connecting hub.
Consider the scenario in which an anonymous user finds your website via a Google search. After browsing, she leaves your website — no email signup, no purchase. She goes on to visit your website two more times with a similar result. The only artifact of her visit is a single anonymous user aggregated into your site stats within Google Analytics. This is a catastrophe!
Let's bring Sitecore into the mix. Now when that user finally signs up for a newsletter during her fourth visit, you have an established connection. The anonymous user within Sitecore's Experience Database (xDB) now has an email address that becomes the one key to connecting data across all systems.
The Sitecore Solution
What does making this connection allow you to do? For our client, it enabled the coupling of all four visits of the user's browsing patterns with years of sales data, reward points redemptions and campaign responses.
Previously, the client had a robust CRM platform that captured granular offline touch points, but was in the dark about its users' digital behaviors. Now the client can understand what content interests its users and how the website content is supporting their recurring offline product purchases.
For this project, we established these online/offline connections in a report database displayed via Tableau. This has been a vast improvement over the standalone CRM implementation in both ease and breadth of reporting. The combined data is also set up to support future data-mining efforts.
What Happens to Your CRM?
As the Sitecore platform evolves, the Contact Card concept will continue to provide a single view of the customer, native to Sitecore, with combined data on online and offline interactions. However, if your organization has already invested millions of dollars and thousands of hours in your CRM solution, don't worry — Sitecore doesn't aim to replace your CRM.
As I've mentioned, your CRM isn't the place to store hundreds of web-based events and page views. Sitecore provides a second, digital-first view of your customer. Key CRM data can be coupled with digital behaviors in a way that reduces clutter and focuses your internal team.
The best part? This combined information is actionable. Once in Sitecore, your organization can send this user an automated email, personalize its website or send push notifications to users' iOS devices.
There it is. An example of how the Sitecore Experience Platform serves as a centralized technology hub for powering seamless customer experiences across all channels and brand touch points.
How are you using Sitecore to achieve your digital marketing goals? Please add your thoughts below — and make sure to watch this space for future posts in this series.