Sitecore is a global leader in experience management systems. The Sitecore Experience Platform (XP) is a powerful, robust and scalable content management system (CMS).
What is Sitecore used for? Content editors and marketers use Sitecore XP’s editing and digital marketing capabilities to create exciting websites.
Sitecore has advanced capabilities that:
- Enable editors to produce content at ease
- Allow marketers to use that content to enhance the digital experience
- Create dynamic digital experiences
- Make Sitecore the best CMS
- The Experience Editor
- Workflows and Security
- Sitecore Personalisation
- A/B and Multivariate Testing
- Campaigns, Goals, and Events
- Marketing Automation
- Email Experience Manager
- Marketing Taxonomies
- Content Profiling
- Publishing Service
Of all the Sitecore features, the Experience Editor should be the most commonly used editing tool. This Sitecore feature has a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) interface that makes creating and editing pages simple.
Pages are configured to accept specific content. The ‘Add Here’ function helps editors identify areas on the page that content can be added to. The benefits of using the Experience Editor are:
- Easily create content: Edit text and images in real-time using the WYSIWYG feature
- Optimise: Test and personalise content
- Advanced editing: Use the navigation ribbon to create new pages, view and validate HTML mark-up, set publishing restrictions, and more
The Expandable navigation ribbon in the Experience Editor
If the content structure is known, creating a page in the Sitecore Experience Editor takes less than a minute!
Workflows moderate content. They allow editors to create one or more workflows based on business requirements.
- Content Team A produces content for Section A of the website, which is approved by Approver A
- Content Team B produces content for Section B of the website, which is approved by Approver B
- Workflow A and Workflow B are created in Sitecore to reflect the content teams. This ensures the right content is being sent for review to the right content team
Workflows consist of three elements:
1. States (assigned to Workflows): The various stages of content creation
Example of workflow states: (a workflow must have at least three states)
- Draft: Content in progress
- Awaiting Approval: Submitted content for review
- Published/Approved: Approved content that has been published
2. Commands (assigned to States): Moves content from one state to another.
Example of workflow commands:
- Submit: Submits content to next workflow state
- Approve: Approves content and makes it ready for publishing
- Reject: Rejects content and reverts it to ‘Draft’ state
3. Actions (assigned to Commands): Triggered actions when they're in a particular workflow state.
Example of workflow actions:
- Auto publish: Approved content is automatically published
- Email: Sends an email to configured recipients informing them whether content has been submitted, rejected or approved
- Auto-submit: Auto-submits item to another workflow state
Content is visible in the Workbox where approvers can select workflows to see workflow states so they can approve/reject accordingly.
Published content assigned to a workflow is auto-versioned when a user ‘Locks and Edits’ a piece of content. For instance, if version 1 is already published, when ‘Lock and Edit’ is selected version 2 is automatically created.
Selecting the ‘History’ tab displays an item’s workflow history.
Users can create Users, Roles, and Domains.
- User: An individual Sitecore use. For example, John Smith
- Role: A collection of users. Roles enable administrators to assign access rights to a group of users instead of to an individual user. For example, Author
- Domain: A collection of security accounts. For example, extranet
Assigning security permissions to roles helps safeguard against users accessing content they’re not meant to.
Security permissions to items are assigned in the Security Editor and viewed in the Access Viewer. Each item in the content tree displays the access rights roles are assigned with.
Security Access Viewer
Versioning allows users to create new versions of content. There are two types of versioning:
1. Numbered versions: Items in the same language are versioned.
- Version 1: (Original page) is created promoting the 'Joys of Summer’
- Version 2: Content is changed by user to reflect the ‘Joys of Autumn’
- Version 3: Content is changed by user to reflect the ‘Joys of Winter’
- Version 4: Content is changed by user to reflect the ‘Joys of Spring’
- Roll back to Version 1 for Summer
2. Language versions: Items in different languages are versioned,
For example, users can create a specific language versions of a page (French) and populate it with French content.
With Sitecore versioning, users can see the differences between versions and which editors created them. This is especially useful for keeping track of who created which content, and when.
Personalisation is the process of delivering the right content, to the right people at the right time. Users can assign rules to deliver an enriched user experience.
There are 18 categories (or conditions). Each condition has its own set of rules that can be assigned to personalisation.
List of conditions:
- IP Geolocation
- Item hierarchy
- Item information
- Item version
- Marketing Automation
- Sitecore query
- xDB (Experience Database)
Personalisation in 6 easy steps:
- Open a page in the Experience Editor
- Select a component
- Choose the 'personalise' icon
- Create a new Condition
- Add rules/s
- Assign personalised content
The Rule Set Editor
Users can configure the following tests:
- Page tests: Also called A/B Tests or Split Tests, these test two or more variants of a page
- Component tests (Multivariate): Tests multiple combinations of page elements at once. For example, a Call-to-Action (CTA) can be tested against an alternative CTA (with a different message) to see the visitor engagement of each
Experience Optimisation enables users to create A/B and MV tests. Users can configure traffic allocation, duration and confidence levels.
The dashboard also suggests tests on pages so conversion and engagement are maximised .
A/B and MV test result
Campaigns can either be created in the Campaign Creator feature or in the Marketing Control Panel. Each method generates a unique marketing campaign link. There are two ways users can track campaigns:
- Item association: Campaigns assigned to specific pages
- Campaign tracking codes: A unique marketing campaign link generated, appended to a URL and triggered when the page is visited
Goals are a Sitecore feature that measure the effectiveness of actions throughout the user journey. Goals are created in the Marketing Control Panel and assigned Engagement Value Points (EVP).
When goals are triggered, analytics calculates the average engagement value per visit. Results are presented as the Value Per Visit metric in Sitecore Analytics. This allows users to identify the most engaging website pages.
Events, like goals, can be tracked on actions like downloads, searches, video play/pause, registration and more. Events are triggered in goals and campaigns when visitors achieve digital objectives.
Marketing automation is the process of nurturing website visitors. Marketers can configure automation campaigns to deliver real-time, automated responses triggered by actions visitors complete during user journeys.
- Trigger: A customer abandons their shopping cart
- Automation: An automated email is sent to remind the customer they’re cart is abandoned. The email may even offer a discount for completing the purchase. This is marketing automation process was triggered
- Action: Customer completes purchase
- Automation: An automated ‘thank you’ email is sent
The marketing automation feature is an integrated system available from the main dashboard.
Triggers and actions are configured in the Marketing Automation drag-and-drop interface. This allows for quick and easy use, ensuring automation campaigns are created efficiently.
Creating a marketing automation campaign
The Email Experience Manager (EXM) is a powerful tool that enables users to:
- Create Regular or Automated Email Campaigns
- Construct an email from a designed template
- Create recipient lists
- Personalise email communications
- Monitor the activity of recipients
The EXM analytics dashboard gives users greater insights into recipient behaviour like click-through rates, open rates and more.
Taxonomies categorise marketing activities in a hierarchical structure so that activity is tracked in greater detail.
There are four taxonomy types:
- Channels: Email, social etc.
- Campaign Groups: Categorise campaigns into groups
- Assets: Consumable content like PDFS, videos etc.
- Venues: Location based - like events
Users can also create custom taxonomies to suit business needs.
Marketing taxonomies are available in the Marketing Control Panel
Content profiling is the process of tagging content with defined profiles to track visitor behaviour during user journeys.
It helps users gain a better understanding of how website content is consumed.
The content profiling elements are:
- Profiles: Categories
- Profile Keys: Describe the attributes of the profiles
- Profile Cards: Used to identify and segment contacts and are assigned to relevant content
- Personas: Fictional characters that represent customer types
- Pattern Cards: Used to map profile values to specific types of visitors. Pattern Cards are used to implement personalisation
How it works
- Values are assigned to Profiles Keys
- These values are then used to assign Profile Card and Pattern Card Values against the Profile Keys based on relevance
- Profile Cards are assigned to relevant content
- As visitors navigate through the website Pattern matches are made based on the accrued value of the profiled pages
Assigning Profile cards to content
Sitecore Analytics provides great insights on the patterns website visitors are matching. This allows users to have a better understanding of visitor behaviour and and the type of content being consumed.
Forms is an advanced Sitecore feature accessible in the Forms application. From version 9.1 it is the default form builder, replacing Web Forms for Marketers.
In Forms, users can:
- Create simple and complex forms, including multi-step forms
- Assign save actions like ‘Send an Email’ when the visitor clicks ‘Submit’
- Configure prefill values on form fields
- See how visitors interact with the form
Create forms using drag and drop
Cortex is an advanced marketing feature that uses AI and machine learning to drive digital strategy and marketing outcomes.
Cortex key features
- Cortex uses ‘Contextual Intelligence’ to gain greater insights about visitor behaviour
- Its machine learning capabilities can perform automated personalisation so that enhanced visitor engagement is achieved
- Based on visitor data, Cortex can detect opportunities like new customer segments and increased sales potential
- Cortex eliminates the ‘big data’ issue by processing data in real-time – quickly
Sitecore Experience Commerce is a powerful ecommerce platform. It has everything to create secure, seamless and personalised online shopping experiences.
Experience Commerce has many key features:
- Shopping cart
Users can configure shops using seven essential tools:
- Merchandising: Creates and manages Catalogues, Categories, and Sellable Items.
- Inventory: Organises sellable items and controls their availability for different channels
- Pricing: Manages pricing
- Promotions: Can be qualified using Date/time, Catalogue, Shop, or Customer Order History
- Orders: Enables users to view essential information on customer orders
- Customers: Stores all essential customer information
- Relationship Definitions: Establishes relationships between sellable items for cross and up sells
Sitecore Experience Commerce dashboard
Read about why Experience Commerce 9 is the full e-commerce package.
Sitecore Analytics has three advanced reporting tools presented in dashboards and radial views:
1. Experience Analytics
The Experience Analytics dashboard is split into four metrics:
Each category has its own set of sub-metrics which are presented as line graphs, bar charts and pie charts.
Reporting, Experience Analytics
2. Experience Profile
The Experience Profile is a detailed view of website activity.
It lists website contacts that when clicked upon display in-depth information about a visitor’s website activity,
For example, triggered campaigns and goals, pattern matches and whether visitors are part of a marketing automation campaign.
Data is accessible through tabs in each visitor’s profile. From here users can see useful information:
- Overview: Displays an overview of the visit
- Activity: Visits, Outcomes, Campaigns, Channels, Goals, Marketing Automation Campaigns, Keywords
- Profiling: Pattern matches
- Details: Contact details of identifiable website visitor
To comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Sitecore can also anonymise visitors should they wish.
The Experience Profile
3. Path Analyser
The Path Analyser tracks paths website visitors take during user journeys.
Its unique interface presents maps in three basic elements:
- Path: Visitor’s entire visit
- Tree: Route structure of Path Analyser map
- Node: Sequences of pages in a path
Maps are viewed in Radial, Vertical, Horizontal, Table and Dashboard views. All maps display a vast array of metrics that allow users to understand paths visitors take. Users can also create custom paths based on entry points and journeys.
Reporting, Path Analyser
The Publishing Service reduces the time it takes to publish a large amount of items (pages, images, etc.).
The dashboard improves the user experience by displaying the state of items in the publishing system:
- Active jobs: Items being published
- Queued jobs: Items in the publishing queue
- Recent jobs: Items recently published
Users can also 'Publish all items' listed on in the publishing queue.
Sitecore Publishing Service dashboard
Available in Sitecore 10, Horizon is the successor to the Experience Editor. It offers advanced page editing capabilities that enable editors to swap between sites and languages. This includes switching to SXA websites. Other improvements include a Field Editor and a Content View, that makes life a lot easier for editors.
With the release of Sitecore 10, content editors, marketers and developers have more features to deliver effective customer experiences.
- Improved personalisation
- Docker technology support
- Improved EXM
- Content Hub enhancements
- New Marketing Automation rules
- Better editing capabilities
- Salesforce integration
- Easier anonymisation
- AI video support
- Analytics filtering