Thursday, April 14, 2016

What stood out to me in Sitecore's Context Marketing for Dummies book

Unfortunately it's not George R. R. Martin's long awaited next book, but the Sitecore edition of Context Marketing for Dummies is a fascinating read with some great insights. I had seen physical copies of the book on Twitter, but was pleasantly surprised to receive an email campaign with a link to download the ebook version (grab your copy here, it's free). Even before the book had finished downloading there were some takeaways for me around how Sitecore themselves were doing internal context marketing. The email itself contained four calls to action, which   linked off to a redirect page on the Sitecore site. Embedded in the URL was my Sitecore contact ID (for their CRM and experience profiles) along with the email campaign message ID. Obviously that is standard for emails sent with the email experience manager, but the download page then promoted for personal details (including phone, title and company). This detail collection to me has two key purposes:
  • Data mining around companies interested in Sitecore context marketing - perhaps a chance at some sales. They did ask for country so, data could be accessible to local sales representatives. Perhaps Sitecore sees a high/low interest for marketing in region X, and should invest in conferences there.
  • Contact confirmation - it's only natural to share an email, so if another user were to click the campaign with my contact ID and entered fresh details, a new experience profile could be created.
With that all aside, I enjoyed the book and wanted to discuss a few of the points that interested me the most.

Understanding the digital consumer

The first point that really jumped out at me from chapter 1, was this graph. The second most important factor which can influence customer opinions was "Offer a consistent experience regardless of how I shop". This is particularly relevant to Sitecore because one of the key selling points is the ability to give users, the same experience no matter the channel. Secondly, the greatest difference between the millennials and all other age groups was on "Offer different ways to purchase (website, mobile app, and so on)". Although this wasn't in the higher ranking answers, it does show how important catering to these different channels can be to the younger demographics. The least popular factor "Use marketing that is specifically tailored for me", is never really going to rank well in this question set, people are also quite afraid of the ramifications of this so might be put off.
This leads quite nicely into the next graph, which shows what survey respondents preferred method of contact was. It's no surprise that email ranks so highly (and telephone so lowly). What really stands out here is the high response that millennials have to social media as their preferred method of contact. This factor is an argument that should influence an investment into social media strategies and perhaps integration with your system (Facebook message e-commerce receipts maybe?).

Context marketing case study

One case study mentioned in the book which was a bit different from the usual ones I see was for USA Soccer. "Its primary touchpoint with customers is its website, ussoccer.com", "Website visitors include casual fans who check in on teams every now and again, all the way up to die‐hard fans who follow teams around the country.", "Other groups of visitors include elite players, coaches, and referees". This is an interesting dilemma, where previously the outcome would be a bloated website with too much information, for too many audiences (and not optimised for any one group). "By leveraging personalization capabilities, U.S. Soccer provides each website visitor with a unique and engaging experience". This is a prime example of how Sitecore can be used to tailor experiences for multiple distinct audiences, all off of the same website and same content. The great thing about building this sort of website is how easy it is to get started and take your first bite into Sitecore's marketing offerings. It's actually best to start small with this sort of thing, maybe as simple as personalising a banner or image slider to particular browsing patterns.

Disconnected data

Another concept introduced in the book is around the term disconnected data. Effectively this happens when you require manual intervention for key marketing flows. The example given was a consumer researching cars, who emailed several dealerships to find out more information. They eventually made their purchase, but two weeks later they finally got a reply from one of the dealerships they queried. That contact form simply sat in a database of emails (potential leads), instead of being linked to a CRM containing the full picture on who the user is. Imagine if that dealership was using Sitecore. An experience profile would know what vehicles they were browsing (for how long as well) and could likely profile what sort of customer they were. This could all be used with automated marketing via Sitecore's engagement plans, where the customer would receive an email (mot popular contact method from the survey graph earlier) that day which was personalised to the vehicle types they had been browsing. That could have easily been a conversion, and all automatically by Sitecore.

A don't when investing in context marketing technology

Don’t invest in technology that adds another application or data silo. This is a good point, because too many systems (silos) is not going to deliver a clean, easy to use and integrated experience. It will likely lead to large investment in integration activities and more training for the end users of the applications. This related well to one of the cautions Gartner made about Adobe's CMS offering in their 2015 report: "Gartner has heard of a few organisations using other WCM products in addition to Adobe, because of implementation costs being higher than expected with Adobe.". With Sitecore you know that you are getting a fully integrated suite of products (which includes the engagement plans, email experience marketing, print experience marketing, and optimised and personalised websites). Of course there is no such caution when it comes to Sitecore, in fact one of the strengths was listed as "Sitecore has incorporated into the product some highly valuable features, such as engagement analytics, a/b testing (or split testing) and data management platform capability."

Wrap-up

I have only just discussed the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the great information laid out in Context Marketing for Dummies (Sitecore edition). It really is a good read, and for the great price of free you'd be silly not to download your copy today.

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