Implementing advanced out-of-the-box features
In my experience, out of every 5 organizations using the Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) for their website, only 1 uses the advanced marketing features like personalization and marketing automation. While these are out-of-the-box features, implementing them requires supporting marketing activities, which are often pushed to phase two of an implementation project. Implementing more advanced features in a second or even third phase isn’t necessarily bad, of course, as long as they aren’t postponed indefinitely.
Take Sitecore’s own corporate marketing team as an example. Last July, they went live with a completely new version of Sitecore.com on version 9.1, and it was launched with limited personalization.
Support for Sitecore.com
Launching a new site for a corporate brand is a big endeavor. The Sitecore corporate marketing team chose Valtech, one of our platinum partners, to support them with strategic planning for the site. The team also reached out to Sitecore’s Business Optimization Strategies (SBOS) team for insight and assistance with building momentum for digital optimization initiatives.
SBOS works directly with partners and customers to help drive business value, and we normally focus on “quick wins” — pilot engagements that build a playbook and prove a business case for investment in a wider optimization program.
Like any consulting engagement, we started with a series of discovery calls with the Sitecore marketing team’s leaders. After the initial kickoff call, Sitecore marketing shared a set of strategic planning documents that thoroughly described prospective campaign taxonomy, goals and engagement values, and some simple personalization planning aimed at go-live. These were valuable inputs for the onsite SBOS workshop in November. We also discussed the goals and objectives of the site with key stakeholders and solidified a target week for the workshop.
The Optimization Readiness Checklist
Before beginning an SBOS engagement, I encourage whoever I’m working with to complete the Optimization Readiness Checklist. This template is available for download, and it’s used to check and verify Experience Marketing functionality for a production Sitecore XP implementation. The checklist helps answer the question, “Is my Sitecore implementation technically and functionally ready for optimization?” The audit is normally conducted remotely by a marketing technologist in about 2 hours. Teams then use the results to plan for the workshops.
Before rolling out a roadmap full of personalization and A/B test scenarios, you need to ensure your site is technically capable of optimization. The Optimization Readiness Checklist will help you ensure you can implement what you've planned. It should be completed before roadmapping to identify any technical roadblocks that you can either address with your technical team, or in some cases work around in your planning.
Sitecore.com discovery and workshop
After finishing the checklist for Sitecore.com, we reported two minor issues to the development team ahead of the workshop: (1) Individual contacts records in the Experience Profile tool were all anonymous and could not be opened; (2) A customized workflow was blocking component-level A/B and Personalization tests. After reporting these issues to the marketing team, we began planning for an onsite workshop.
The Sitecore.com environment was in a good state to begin the SBOS quick wins project. With several components personalized on the live site, the Experience Editor can now be used for configuration.
You can learn more about the SBOS team and download some of our free resources here.
Jonathan Corley is a Senior Marketing Technologist on Sitecore’s SBOS team. He advises industry-leading brands on optimizing digital experiences with a sharp focus on strategy and configuration. Jonathan is an Atlanta native and passionate about music and emerging technologies.