Research shows that nearly 90% of brands made plans to prioritize their digital experiences this year. In today’s era, this is a broad term that can encompass a range of tools and technologies.
While almost every company realizes the importance of digitization, the same report showed that most are falling short. In fact, around 60% of customers admit that a digital experience does little to influence their buying decision.
This is where software like Sitecore can make all the difference.
This advanced software platform makes it easy for companies to create experiences that not only attract and inspire, but actually convert. Today, we’re sharing how it began, how it works, and how you can start using it today.
20 Years in the Making: A Brief Sitecore History
It might be on the cutting edge today, but Sitecore is far from new. This software actually began way back in 1998, in Denmark. At that time, it was known as Pentia A/S.
Five alumni from the University of Copenhagen created Pentia A/S. In short, it was a systems integration company that used Microsoft technologies to build websites for clients. While almost anyone can use a wizard to create a basic website today, web development companies were still relatively new before the dawn of the Digital Age.
Back then, teams had utilize the expertise of either a programmer or a developer to create a finished product. After two years, two of the founding members of Pentia A/S devised a way to automate much of that work.
The result was Sitecore, one of the first web content management systems of its kind. In that initial year, the company largely catered to IT companies. However, over the 20 years that have followed, the focus has shifted a little.
Today, Sitecore is a robust customer experience management software solution. It’s gone from a tech-focused web development company into more of a marketing initiative. It continues to expand its offerings, thanks to a series of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) acquisitions that occurred mostly in the first half of 2021.
The Technical Details to Know
Now that we’ve briefly covered how it came into existence, what is Sitecore, technically? How does it work and what kind of value does it offer the modern marketer?
The software is built on three major products. These include:
- Sitecore Experience Platform (XP)
- Sitecore Experience Manager (XM)
- Sitecore Experience Commerce (XC)
Of these, the Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) is the core service provided. This offering combines the Sitecore Experience Manager (XM) with the software’s proprietary Experience Database (xDB).
The entire Sitecore platform is built using these logical entities, as well as a variety of different cloud services. Let’s take a closer look at how each entity works.
Sitecore Experience Manager
The Sitecore Experience Manager (XM) acts as the core web content management (WCM) portion of the greater Sitecore Experience Platform (XP). This is the entity that allows users to create, manage, personalize, and publish their digital experience content. It’s built on a .NET content management system (CMS) that is both secure and reliable.
A few of the main functions that users can perform using XM include:
- Scale content using drag-and-drop capabilities
- Edit and preview content before publishing
- Develop an optimized user experience across all channels (e.g. mobile and voice)
- Design in-session content to create personalized experiences
One of the greatest benefits of Sitecore XM is that it’s a global solution. This means that marketers can create one experience, and then deliver it across thousands of sites, and in multiple languages. Plus, they can do so using just one single platform rather than a multitude of disparate software solutions.
Sitecore Experience Platform
The Sitecore Experience Platform takes the XM experience, and makes it more robust. This platform combines XM with two important entities:
- Sitecore Experience Database (xDB)
- Sitecore xConnect (out-of-the-box APIs and services)
The Sitecore xDB allows the software to store and process all of your customer experience data. This includes data not captured by Sitecore, such as inputs from your CRM system. Think of this database as the “hub” of your Sitecore operation, or the place where you can get a 360-degree view of each customer’s journey.
As the xDB captures this data, it creates what’s known as a Sitecore Experience Profile, or xProfile, for each person. These profiles become richer and more complete with time, as your number of interactions increases. Before long, you can more clearly understand the following points about your target customers
- Who they are
- What they buy
- Where they live
- The content they click on
- How long they browse your site
Sitecore xConnect covers all of the services that sit between the xDB and a client, device, or interface. It allows users to read, write, or search experience data gathered and stored in the xDB.
Sitecore Experience Commerce
Sitecore Experience Commerce allows users to deliver optimized, personalized content. With this cloud-enabled platform, they can customize nearly every aspect of the end-to-end online shopping experience. This includes touchpoints that occur before, during, and after any given transaction.
Applicable in B2B, B2C, and even B2X environments, Sitecore XC is highly configurable and is built to sync with a company’s existing tech ecosystem. The result is an e-commerce storefront like no other. Using Sitecore XC, marketing teams can:
- Create API-first commerce strategies
- Create omnichannel buyer experiences for any user profile
- Automate and streamline in-house, back-office tasks (e.g. inventory management and fulfillment)
Why Should Marketers Invest in Sitecore?
Are you at the helm of a marketing team, and looking for a way to revolutionize your outreach approach? Today, buyers are more discerning than ever before, and they’re loyal to brands that can deliver a quick, easy, and painless shopping experience.
While Sitecore is designed to help you manage your digital content, it doesn’t stop there. Without any extensive customization, you can enjoy a range of out-of-the-box features that can make your efforts more effective. Using the software, you can:
- Track and analyze customer experience data
- Cater your digital content to appeal to your target audience
- Optimize your content to appeal to a certain market
- Create time-sensitive offers to boost conversions
- Built personalized marketing campaigns
- Leverage social media to boost campaign visibility
It’s no secret that dynamic, relevant content builds customer engagement. If you’re investing in high-quality campaign materials but still not seeing the sales uptick you expected, then a lack of customization could be to blame.
Instead of spinning your wheels trying to do this manually, a platform like Sitecore makes it much easier.
Multichannel Marketing Optimization
A major advantage of Sitecore is that it simplifies the multichannel outreach effort. Instead of creating individual campaigns for your print marketing and e-mail marketing audience, you can deliver a single experience that impacts everyone.