At Sitecore Symposium 2022, Amy Kolzow, VP of Global Digital Marketing and Mike Shaw, Associate Director of Marketing Technology and Operations, presented on their work with Wolters Kluwer. While Wolters Kluwer’s digital transformation alone was impressive, the learnings Amy and Mike offered the audience from their breakout session titled "A Journey to Marketing Maturity," were the real takeaways.

This post offers an overview of their presentation, with a particular eye toward the insights digital marketing teams can glean from it.

Who is Wolters Kluwer?

As Amy said at the beginning of the session, Wolters Kluwer is the biggest brand you’ve never heard of.

They create content for doctors, lawyers, accountants, tax firms, and more, so they can serve customers and patients in a better way. If you’ve ever been to a hospital in North America, you’ve interacted with software called “Up to Date.”

As an almost 200-year-old company, they had been in a process of digital transformation for some time. But they faced a huge challenge.

The scope of the problem

Wolters Kluwer offers over 900 products to a wide array of professionals, across 30 countries and using 25 languages. The goal was to bring this all together, to tell Wolters Kluwer’s story in an integrated, clear, and compelling way.

When Amy, Mike, and the team began the discovery process in 2020, they found chaos. Wolters Kluwer was spread across tens of thousands of URLs and active websites. There was no way for algorithms, let alone customers, to understand the full scope of what Wolters Kluwer offered. And there had never been a clear strategy to bring them all together. This was, however, just the beginning.

Digging deeper, they discovered live websites for products they no longer owned, PDFs by the boat load, even a guy selling individual articles off a machine that ran under his desk.

They had 30 CMSs, including larger ones like Sitecore and Adobe, and sometimes multiple instances. They were even competing with themselves, with different businesses competing for the same keywords.

At the end of their extensive discovery work, they identified around 280 websites that needed to be migrated onto one.

Remarkably, they didn’t have a business case, because they couldn’t even determine how much they were spending. Some of the budget came from an internal organization that handled, for example, all AWS expenses, while, on the other end of the spectrum, some people were paying for Wordpress sites from their personal credit cards.

The North Star

With a full understanding of the scope of the problem, Amy, Mike, and the rest of the team determined the goals.

The North Star was twofold:

  • Streamlining user experiences
  • Improving discoverability

They also needed to create a system they could manage internally, with centralized access, and ultimate control. This included, of course, connecting analytics, so they could understand and improve the user experience.

The solution

They were able to build an ecosystem where teams are connected through the strategic use of various platforms.

They chose Sitecore CMS as the hub, in addition to Sitecore CMP and Sitecore DAM, in part because they knew Sitecore would understand their problems. They also appreciated Sitecore’s continual growth and innovation, and our composable approach. As they grow, they can plug in the solutions they need when they need them. They plan to use Personalize soon.

How they built it: Agile at scale

How do you migrate over 280 websites to one, determine what content stays and what goes, including not just web content but tens of thousands of digital assets, while maintaining fluidity across a 400-person marketing team?

Wolters Kluwer’s answer was an innovative approach: agile at scale.

Using Sitecore SXA, developers built components in two-week sprints and delivered them on Thursdays. Marketers then picked these up on Fridays, and used them to build and publish pages. All in all, they created 83 components with extensive variations.

During this time, the team was also decommissioning CMSs and determining the content they needed and what they could leave behind.

On top of SXA, they used Sitecore DAM. While they left behind over half of their content, they currently have upwards of 50,000 assets in their DAM.

To support the massive scope and scale of the work, and their unique agile approach, they made their own custom workflow, using tags in an innovative way.

The teams that built, created, and were familiar with the content tagged it all so they could easily find it when it was time for edits and approval. This drastically decreased the technical overhead while increasing agility from a business perspective.

From a data perspective, they moved everything to Google Analytics. By combining web traffic, e-commerce, and checkout flows, they could finally see the end-to-end customer journey — from organic entry to sales conversion.

The results of a massive digital transformation

In total, they built over 30,000 pages, migrating both high- and low-value content. Using the 83 components and their extensive variations, individual teams now create the pages they need, often publishing between 50-100 pages each week. Compared to 2018-2019, where many teams had to pull in an agency just to create a landing page, this makes a world of difference.

There are two firsts that are worth highlighting:

  1. For the first time in their history, all of Wolters Kluwer’s solutions and services are listed in a single place
  2. For the first time in their history, Wolters Kluwer ran a cross-division, multichannel marketing campaign to a single domain and tracked associated analytics

The second highlights the achievement of their approach to analytics. Today, they know they have around 200 million unique visitors per month, and they understand their journeys.

In April 2019, only 2% of Wolters Kluwer organic searches were showing up on the first pages of Google. Today, 8.5% of the searches appear on page 1 of Google. That’s a 325% increase. From an SEO perspective this is a huge win, especially given the scale of the site — 25 languages, 30,000 pages — and it’s no surprise SXA’s SEO benefits were instrumental.

Possibly the biggest win was the increase in their domain authority. From April 2019 to August 2022, they moved up 23 points. This is a massive boost, which Amy, Mike, and the team are particularly proud of.

Looking ahead, the team is excited for the future. Whether implementing Personalize or another solution they’ll only realize they need in the future, Sitecore’s innovative and composable approach will be there to support them. Check out Wolters Kluwer’s website, or learn more about Sitecore’s approach to the composable future.

Dan Olson is the Senior Copywriter at Sitecore. Follow him on LinkedIn.