March 12, 2015
With the release of Sitecore 8, users and marketers are now trying to decide if they should upgrade. While Jim, Roundedcube's Development Manager, weighed in on the technical path of upgrading, there is another perspective to consider, the Sitecore managers, users, content editors, and marketers. Whatever their title is, they need to know what upgrading to Sitecore 8 would mean for their day-to-day work.
The Improved Features
One of the first changes to mention is the new names and titles of previously existing features. After becoming familiar with the new titles, learning what improvements were made to existing DMS features is the next step.
An integral part of a digital marketer’s Sitecore experience is the engagement analytics. This feature has been improved with new navigational tabs, which make finding and analyzing data much easier. Updated graphs, charts and visual tools to clearly see data have also been introduced and more insights on different variables.
Social Experience Manager
The social component has been a Sitecore add-on for years, but the existing functionality has been updated in Sitecore 8. The latest version of the social plugin allows more data to be collected and stored within Sitecore than ever before. This makes it much easier for a marketer to share a message from Sitecore to multiple platforms and in return receive more data back without having to leave Sitecore.
Testing has been a popular feature in DMS and Sitecore has improved this functionality in two ways. Sitecore 8 has made testing easier and more advanced, allowing new adopters to succeed while also allowing experienced testers to try advanced data analysis. One-click testing can be incorporated as part of the workflow to adding content, making each piece easy to adjust and improve. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the new features of A/B testing can be pushed to the limits and provide thousands of tests on a single page.
The New Features
After learning about the improvements to existing features, becoming knowledgeable about the new features will prepare you for when Sitecore 8 has been installed. Provided below are short descriptions of new features, but make sure to spend time doing in-depth research on the new tools most interesting to you.
The first new feature is the Experience Database (xDB), which allows marketers to see more comprehensive data from each customer in a single profile. This provides a marketer with information about each customer for the lifetime of their engagement on the site, revealing key interests and actions even sites that are not on Sitecore, which is explained next.
Federated Experience Manager
This new tool allows distribution of Sitecore content to external sites. Sounds magical to a marketer right? With this tool marketers can personalize content on a non-Sitecore site or App (that they have access to) and then also collect data on the user’s actions to be viewed in their xDB profile.
This new tool simulates visitor experiences and personalization. Any avid DMS user knows personalization and testing are both great tools but it has always been difficult to see the variations in action. This allows marketers to view each and every page and part of the site for every persona and audience that you are marketing to.
Another new feature for marketers is the introduction of Versioned Layouts. Gilbert’s Blog Post provides a more in-depth look into how these layouts function, but from a marketer’s perspective, the new tool gives the ability to create different layout definitions for each language version of an item. For example, if you wanted to promote 20% off in French and 50% off in Russian you could now create this using presentation details and versioned layouts.
Included in the improved engagement analytics is a new tool to display the path that users take on the site. Entrance, exit and user actions are displayed in a web like pattern making it visually easier to follow the places users go while roaming the site. If the display of the path analyzer isn’t for you, the same data is available in different formats.
As you can see, Sitecore 8 has been full of improvements. While upgrading can seem overwhelming, it may be the right fit for your organization. Make sure to consider your technical options as well as the roles your marketers and content authors have in the use of your Sitecore platform.
Have any questions about the improved or new features listed? Let us know your thoughts on the new Sitecore 8 Experience Marketing features in the comments below!
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