When it comes to building a website, most business owners start thinking about design, content and maybe the journey of their users. Some will even consider how their site will translate to mobile devices, or how it could be better optimised for international clientele. Thinking about the best system for managing the content on a website is usually completely overlooked, despite being one of the most fundamental aspects of the build.
Why is it so important? Well, behind every sleek, fast website you see online, there’s a high-functioning content management system, or CMS. Not only is the CMS the primary tool for creating, uploading and editing every piece of content on an entire site, it’s also responsible for keeping the site secure against hackers and should be capable of integrating with a host of marketing tools.
It isn’t even about how the CMS works now, either. When choosing your CMS, it’s essential to consider their support teams and what they provider’s focus is for the future; will they continue to release updates that will help your business grow, or will you be inundated with useless features?
Your developers are likely to have a good idea about the platform that would suit your business best, but there’s no harm in being informed about your options. Here, we’re going to look at one of the most popular content management systems, Sitecore.
What is Sitecore?
Sitecore is a comprehensive CMS, sometimes referred to as a ‘customer experience platform’ (CXP). Just like other content management systems, the primary function of Sitecore is to ensure that the back-end of your website can be easily organised and edited by your team, so that the front-end is easy to understand and use by your customers.
Specifically, Sitecore is known for being secure, flexible and scalable, making it appropriate for larger companies (think American Express, Toshiba and Easy Jet) and business that expect their needs to change and grow over the lifetime of their website.
The platform has been designed to offer a bespoke solution for each business and work with a range of tools to help you understand your website and its users better. Features like multilingual support, flexible user permissions for editing and publishing content and a comprehensive, well-organised admin interface make it particularly useful for websites that will have multiple teams working on it from several locations.
Here are some of the key features that make it stand out from competitors like Umbraco or SharePoint.
Easy integration with your existing tools
If you’re thinking about investing in this level of CMS, it’s likely that you already have some sort of digital systems in place. This might be an integrated customer relationship manager (CRM) or just a system for sending marketing emails out to your database.
While Sitecore does offer its own tools for managing this, one of the system’s major benefits is that it comfortably integrates with lots of other programs, like Mailchimp, LinkedIn and Salesforce. Rather than having to juggle multiple standalone tools for data analytics and customer interaction, Sitecore enables you to access all of the information you need in one place, streamlining your internal processes and ensuring you can deliver a consistent experience to your customers.
Although the up-front cost of Sitecore requires a good deal of confidence in your upcoming marketing activities, as a CMS it is designed to grow with your business. Its heavyweight capabilities mean that any future business requirements, like ecommerce, can be implemented with relative ease, which can save long-term costs if planned properly.
If it’s simply the cost that you are concerned about, you may want to work with a dedicated Sitecore hosting agency and pay only for what you use (with the added benefit of their expertise and support).
Empowers your marketing team
Sitecore’s code-free interface means that once the pages and modules of your site have been created, they can be easily edited and duplicated by marketers, rather than developers. Whether you need to duplicate pages, create lead generation forms or update your SEO, it can be done in-house or with the assistance of your Sitecore partner.
With a little training, your marketing team can also use Sitecore to automate certain processes to build engagement and improve conversion rates. For example, sending automatic updates to a customer that signs up to an event, or strategically-timed offers if an item is left in a visitor’s basket.
Straightforward A/B testing
In a similar vein, Sitecore enables your marketers to conduct A/B testing before deciding to change site code. A/B testing is one of the most effective ways of increasing online engagement and conversions and is paramount for optimising your customer journey.
Whether you want to test the effect of different header images or navigation wording, you can modify each element and monitor engagement before making a permanent update. Try it out on landing pages, data capture forms and CTA (call-to-action) buttons.
Due to the demographic of some of Sitecore’s users (i.e. multi-national enterprises), the design of the CMS has maintained a very high level of security. For example, almost every feature has the options to restrict access and editing privileges, in the form of security accounts and security domains. This means that you control which class of users can modify which pages, helping you to keep control of data no matter how large your site or company.
If you’re happy with your brochure-style website or only need some basic pages for lead-generation, Sitecore is almost certainly going to be over-engineered for you. However, if you’re planning a complex, ambitious new website and need a high-powered CMS to see your company into the future, Sitecore could be it.