January 19, 2016 by Hedgehog

4 Gotchas in the Implementation of Sitecore XP

Sitecore has a variety of features that are incredibly useful to marketers, so many so that it could almost feel overwhelming. When it comes to implementing these features in a digital strategy, Sitecore’s Marketing platform requires patience and a clear plan of attack. Marketers are empowered to take advantage of content targeting and personalization, email marketing campaigns, social media campaigns, behavioral analytics, content, media and print management, etc right out of the box. Naturally everyone wants to take advantage of these tools, RIGHT AWAY. While this is good news, many of the features require a bit of prerequisite work to function properly. Below are just a few examples of Sitecore features that require a solid foundation or some thought before using right out of the box.
  1. Marketers should demand that components be developed using Sitecore datasources. Too often, the need to optimize or personalize comes long after a website has been developed and deployed. Without components that use Datasources, your options for testing and personalizing are severely limited.
  2. A/B or multivariate testing in Sitecore relies on pre-defined goals and/or outcomes. If you are new to testing, a good starting point is to define an engagement value scale and develop website goals around them that align with your digital marketing goals. With one or more goals in place, you can begin to assess which test variant generates the most value. Without it, your test results will be flat-lined.
  3. By default, Sitecore's Experience Marketing features are defined directly on pages and/or media items, and they are triggered when those assets are loaded. While it is technically possible to trigger profiles, goals, etc. when a visitor clicks a button, you would typically define those profiles and goals on the page that the button leads to.
  4. Personalization is a broad topic that does not specifically relate to Profiles or Personas; Personalization is much broader and more nuanced than that. When people think of personalization in Sitecore it's usually under the context of Profiles and Personas, when those two things are only a small slice of what Personalization allows you to do. There are 118 rules in Personalization, and only 5 relate to Profiles and Personas. It's helpful to think of Personalization in layers; explicit targeting vs implicit targeting, for example.  Users can personalize between a certain set of dates, geolocation, outcomes based on anything from amount of money spent to item purchased, or 110 other options.

Finally, the most important thing that you can do to be successful with your digital strategy is to resist the urge to “play” with your new set of tools.  You should take the time to clearly understand your organizational and marketing goals and strictly align your digital goals to those.  The tools are there for you to create one off tests and one off targeted content elements.  We have found that setting this up without a clearly defined strategy and without all stakeholders agreeing to that strategy; these tools quickly become disorderly and significantly less effective.

Learn more about how you can optimize your Sitecore marketing features and avoid any "gotchas" by reaching out to our DMI team!

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