Have you ever bought a piece of technology that was supposed to simplify your life – like a smartphone or universal remote – and found yourself so overwhelmed by the options that you ended up using just a fraction of its capability or, worse, not using it at all?
It happens to smart people all the time – and smart businesses too. As a Sitecore Platinum Partner, we get called in on ‘Rescue Missions’ for clients who purchased Sitecore for its advanced personalization and powerful optimization capabilities, but then spend most of their time just managing basic site updates and maybe a feature enhancement here and there, without bandwidth to do more strategic work.
When we encounter this scenario, we have three goals we want to help our clients achieve:
- Focus on ROI: Sitecore was designed to drive quantifiable marketing returns on investment. We find opportunities to make use of those features that offer the most payoff.
- Accelerate day-to-day marketing operations: Make simple tasks simple so the team can invest more of their time on high-value work like optimizing user experience.
- Get the technology out of the way: It’s about making the tools do the work for the marketer, not asking the marketer do more things.
Consolidate and simplify: Infinite possibilities from plug-and-play parts
Most of our clients are large enterprises with extensive digital ecosystems that include both public-facing and internal-facing sites such as marketing sites, intranets, extranets, campaigns, portals and more. Our general recommendation is to migrate all digital properties to one Sitecore instance.
Sitecore is powerful enough to handle the load and flexible enough for each property to have its own customizations. Then, we recommend a single set of tools to manage all those digital experiences at scale. We use the analogy of Legos, which come in a limited set of shapes, sizes and colors. However, you can use them to build anything you want. Sitecore’s Experience Accelerator or SXA follows a similar paradigm, as do frameworks like Brainjocks Score; they’re fundamentally a set of Legos that are designed to work together and be re-used for multiple purposes. Whether you use one of those frameworks or spin up your own component library, the idea is the same.
A consistent approach to achieve creative, customized results
Every new engagement we take on follows the same basic steps:
- We start with the foundational strategy questions: Who are our audiences, what do they need, and how can we serve them? The answers to those questions form the basis for content strategy, which in turns drives the user experience.
- Then our UX and creative teams work with our strategists and developers to identify patterns in the content strategy. Maybe your content strategy requires news releases, staff bios, and professional whitepapers. To us, those could all be variants of a single presentation element called an “article”.
- With plan in hand, we can start building. We can build configurable components to account for a wide variety of options, including use of media, sidebar content, styling details and so on.
Some of you marketers are probably thinking: Templates. Rigidity. Loss of creativity. Constraint. We get it – in fact, our process is designed to unleash creativity.. Our clients have found that when you start with a set of components, you eliminate the need to re-create the basics every time, which frees you up to be more creative in your content and presentation.
Mini case studies
CHS, Inc. is a Fortune 100 company that does business across every link in the food supply chain, from agriculture to transportation to food science to chemicals to insurance. Their digital ecosystem includes sites for B2B, B2C, microsites and a corporate intranet – all of which now operate on a single instance of Sitecore.
The digital marketing team at CHS uses a combination of “global” and “local” components to manage the sites. Global components can be used on any site, while local components are created to serve a specific use case on a specific site. This allows a content author to write a news release and tag it for publication to certain sites based on appropriate business rules. Create once, and instantly publish everywhere.
Masterbrand is the largest cabinet manufacturer in North America. Before Sitecore, each of their nine brands had its own marketing team and its own technology stack, all doing their own thing.
We created a solution that allowed each brand’s marketing team to maintain their autonomy, while giving them a framework on which to build, all on one instance of Sitecore. Components could be styled differently for each site by the content manager with zero development or code deployments.
Final thoughts: Think big and build holistically to maximize efficiency
Everyone wants to get to a point where they can make the most of all the cool, advanced features in Sitecore, but you need a solid foundation in place before you do so. Our approach is how you get there.
- Look past the project at hand: You might be responsible for only one site in a larger ecosystem, but consider all the other digital experiences that could share content and features with you. If you build out that roadmap holistically, you’ll find that you speed time to market for everyone, and get more bang out of each budget buck.
- Think through workflows before building: Before you start writing code you need to work out your future state governance model: in short, where’s the content, where’s the data, who touches it and what can they do with it? Solving for this upfront will save many operational headaches later.
- Look for a simple, efficient and lightweight solution: This saves time and money both on the original implementation and on ongoing maintenance and enhancements. Think of ways to automate publication and distribution of content across multiple digital properties, regardless of presentation or styling.