ThiemeMeulenhoff integrates 200 sites into one to enhance customer experience with Sitecore®

About ThiemeMeulenhoff

ThiemeMeulenhoff was founded in 1792 by the Thieme family as a bookstore, publisher, and printer, and grew to become a leading Dutch educational publisher. The business is based in Amersfoort, Netherlands and was bought by ING Corporate Investments in 2012; it reported annual revenues of €66 million in 2014.

The business is rapidly changing from its 200+ year-old business model based on print where 95% of its current revenue comes from printed school textbooks. It wants to move to be a partner with education establishments adopting new “blended” learning approaches, with online and offline learning supporting and complementing each other. This ensures that learning becomes steadily more personal, more effective, and more efficient.

Challenge

Eric Razenberg, chief executive officer for ThiemeMeulenhoff, explains the challenge: “We are predominantly a content company, delivering learning materials to the educational sector, and we want to continue doing this in the future. But learning is undergoing change; alongside books, technology is playing a major role with growing frequency.”

“Our business challenge is how we help teaching staff use new technologies such as enabling adaptive or personalized learning, to achieve better performance. We don’t do this alone, but jointly with students, teachers and school leaders. For us this means a change to our business model and how we market. So, we now supply traditional learning materials, but together with software licensing, or access to interactive learning systems.”

One challenge was how to communicate about the diverse range of online learning materials that the business offered—ThiemeMeulenhoff had 200 websites, one for each product, in addition to their corporate website. This vast website estate was hard for the business to maintain and develop, and hard for consumers to navigate.

Customers relied on the product websites to get relevant product information, and web acted as a primary sales channel. Dennis Mikkelsen, marketing communications manager at ThiemeMeulenhoff, reflected on the situation: “Many clients buy direct—they are not visited by our sales department, so we need to ensure that product information is accessible online.”

The new solution would see all product websites, the entire digital estate under one corporate ThiemeMeulenhoff website, unified in a single content management system (CMS)—with the aim of making it as quick and easy as possible for consumers to find a product that suits their needs.

Solution

ThiemeMeulenhoff selected the Sitecore® Experience Platform™ as their platform to unify all of their existing product sites. Femke Vinkx, internet marketer at ThiemeMeulenhoff, commented: “So our intention was to move from around two hundred sites to one corporate one—using the Sitecore platform. Our new, single corporate website needed to contain all the available information and communicate it—well, simply, and clearly. The objective: the client should be able to find the way to the product of his or her choice as quickly as possible.”

The business realized that it was wrong to take a “product-first” approach to organize their new corporate site using Sitecore; instead, it needed to focus completely on the customer—how they would navigate to find what they needed. The marketing team re-wrote and re-configured the content, using the range of customization options within Sitecore to concentrate on the customer journey.

“With two hundred websites it’s tricky to discover how a client navigates between the sites,” notes Mikkelsen. “Even we could get lost among them, and certainly the clients did. The term “customer journey” was our starting point here. Because instead of putting a product on our website, we focused on how a client could orient towards that product.”

The new website was live in five months. Vinkx commented: “Sitecore incorporated all our specific wishes, with the platform offering a huge range of options. It made us realize we have really fine products, and the new website with Sitecore does them much more justice than before.”

Results

Sitecore has helped the business achieve their goal of unifying hundreds of sites into one, and Magda van der Heijden, webmaster at ThiemeMeulenhoff, endorses this: “The biggest benefit for the end-user is that he or she can now easily find everything on one website, and for me it means that my work is much simpler. I no longer have to adapt content to two hundred different websites, but can do it all in one extended CMS with Sitecore.”

ThiemeMeulenhoff is now using the Sitecore Experience Platform to continually improve the customer experience. “Using the website visitors’ information stored in the Sitecore platform, we are now trying step-by-step to better match the website to the client,” explains Mikkelsen. “Sitecore is helping us with this, as a partner. I think it’s absolutely brilliant that they have Customer Success Managers. I’m in regular touch with our personal Customer Success Manager, who works with us to see how Sitecore can help us to continually build our customer experience using their Maturity Model.”