Choosing a Content Management System (CMS) for B2B Software Companies
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Choosing a Content Management System (CMS) for B2B Software Companies

Author: Rolf Kraus | Categories: CMS, High Tech, Demand Generation, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, Sitecore CMS

Thinking about Customer Engagement

As digital channels have become the foundation for supporting the customer journey, the web channel remains the cornerstone of that foundation. The web channel remains the primary way B2B companies support activities of the customer journey that cover software marketing, sales, and support. These activities of the journey include:

  • Demand Generation: Creating demand for the product and brand through marketing activities.
  • Pre-sales Engagement: Empowering prospects to evaluate products and services prior to purchase.
  • Sales Facilitation: Facilitating the close of the sale through e-commerce or deal support.
  • Post-sales Support: Supporting the customer experience while using the product.
  • Upsell: Driving customer lifetime value (LTV) by increasing the license value and duration.

The activities of the journey align people around a common way to see and understand various types of engagement that occur with organization, while enabling more productive discussions around and planning for the support of these engagements digitally.

Digital Marketing

Fig. 1 – edynamic’s customer journey framework for high technology companies

In addition to the customer journey, a B2B software company typically has two ‘customer’ types they engage—the end user and the partner channel. Though there are similarities between these two audiences across the customer journey, delivering an effective experience requires that we target each audience with a relevant and actionable content.

Choosing a CMS

We facilitate many CMS selections for our clients each year. Our approach considers several inputs to information for the selection criteria—including budget, business user experience, system integration points and not the least of which, are capabilities that support the desired visitor experience.

In this series of blogs we will consider and discuss the capabilities required to support a modern visitor experience on B2B software companies’ websites for each of the activities within the customer journey and for each of the audience groups.

We will discuss how each of the required website capabilities is mapped to functionality found within a CMS, while we consider how a leading CMS software vendor, Sitecore, can deliver these capabilities on your website. In this first blog, we explore what capabilities are needed to drive demand generation using your website and what specific functionality Sitecore CMS has to support these capabilities.

Demand Generation

Demand generation is a buzzword that has become popular with digital marketers with the introduction of ‘marketing automation’—the likes of Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot and others in this space. Demand generation, or DG, has not typically been associated with the web channel, outside of landing page functionality that is typically part of marketing automation platforms.

We see it differently, where the web channel, supported by a CMS, has an equally important role to play in overall DG activities. In this section, we will identify what DG capabilities should be delivered by a CMS and how the CMS must complement those capabilities already delivered by marketing automation platforms (MAPs) that support the email channel.

DG starts from ‘top of the funnel’ activities through the point where a lead is qualified and handed to the sales organization. Demand generation includes a broad set of activities that affects the awareness, search and evaluation phases of the customer journey. The following table outlines common DG activities, along with the web capabilities needed to deliver them:

Activities

Capabilities

Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO
  • Keyword management: Ability to manage and examine keyword usage within the website
  • Metadata management: Ability to manage the metadata used in the website and individual pages
Search engine marketing (SEM)
SEM
  • Referrer tracking: Ability to personalize the experience based on the referring advertisement
Social media marketing
Blogs
  • Blog management: Create blogs on-demand as part of the corporate website, landing pages or microsites
Social content syndication
  • Social content publishing: Create content once that is published on multiple social channels
Content marketing
Thought leadership marketing
  • Content targeting: Ability to present relevant content to the website visitor based on behavior or profile
  • Document repository: Ability to upload, manage or even pull documents from SharePoint that are surfaced on the website
  • Taxonomy management: Ability to define a taxonomy to tag content for purposes of personalization and automatic page placement
Webinars
  • Multimedia repository: Ability to upload and manage PDFs and videos
  • Video platform integration: Ability to seamlessly work with video platforms like Brightcove and Ooyala
  • Registration integration: Ability to quickly integrate the website or landing page with webinar platform like Go-to-Webinar
Content find-ability
  • Advanced search: Simplify the search experience for a large number of documents through faceted search
Device independence
  • Cross-device experience: Deliver content across devices in an appropriate manner through device awareness
Landing pages and micro-sites
  • Launch landing pages and micro-sites: Ability to quickly create and launch landing pages and micro-sites that leverage the branding and content of the corporate website
Software trials and demos
Software trials
  • Binary file management and downloads: Ability to upload and manage binary files, like software installers
  • Content delivery network (CDN) integration: Ability to transparently integrate with common file CDNs like Amazon CloudFront
Software demos
  • Request forms: Ability to create forms that enable visitors to request demonstrations of software
Lead management
Lead capture
  • Lead capture forms: Ability to create forms that enable the capture of initial and progressive profile information about leads
  • Marketing automation integration: Ability to integrate lead capture forms and website personalization engines with existing marketing automation platforms (MAPs)
Lead scoring
  • Engagement analytics: Leverage website engagement analytics to inform the lead scoring and ranking algorithms
Lead routing
  • Lead capture forms: Ability to create forms that enable the capture of initial and progressive profile information about leads
Optimization
Analytics
  • Engagement analytics: Leverage website engagement analytics to inform the lead scoring and ranking algorithms
Page testing and optimization
  • Multivariate and A/B testing: Ability to compare the performance of two or more permutations of web page experience to determine the optimal

Aligning Capabilities to CMS Functionality

Though many CMS platforms deliver some of the capabilities identified in the table above, Sitecore actually delivers all through its CMS platform, native modules and partner modules. Having the richness of capabilities within a single platform ecosystem enables marketers to get more done with less effort, training and cost when compared to alternatives.

Sitecore CMS delivers these capabilities through the following functionality, which are not intended as an exhaustive list, but rather looking at specific functionality that supports the needs of demand generation through the web channel.

Sitecore CMS Functionality

Sitecore CMS (Content Management System) functionality provides the content management and web presentation capabilities.

Functionality

Sitecore

Document repository
  • Sitecore media library: Sitecore provides a robust way to upload, tag, manage and retrieve virtually any file-based asset, whether it is a document (e.g. PDF, Word, etc.), multimedia asset (e.g. image, video, sound, etc.) or binaries files (e.g. code, zip, etc.).
  • SharePoint integration: Sitecore’s media library integrates with Microsoft SharePoint. The life cycle of documents, like white papers, technical notes and the like, can be managed with SharePoint, while eventually making them available for publishing on the web through Sitecore.
  • Content delivery network (CDN) integration: Though the media library provides business users with an easy-to-use interface to manage file-based assets, on high traffic websites with large files, a CDN should be considered to provide good download experience anywhere in the world for any file.
  • Video platform integration: The media library can also be integrated with video platforms (e.g. Brightcove, Ooyala) to provide good video experience.
Multimedia repository
Binary file management and downloads
Advanced search
  • Faceted search: Organizations with hundreds or even thousands of documents (e.g. white papers, technical notes, product descriptions, etc.) can provide web visitors a way to quickly filter search results using facet search. With Sitecore 7, all content can be available through faceted search, where marketers have complete control over the tagging of the content, which is later exposed through the search facets.
  • Personalized search experience: Sitecore’s personalization capabilities, coming from the DMS (discussed later), can be integrated with search to provide web visitors with a personalized search experience—more quickly getting them to the information they want.
Cross-device experience
  • Device awareness: Sitecore is aware of devices that access the website, and along with a responsive design, can deliver the experience that combines the best of responsive with adaptive capabilities, again giving the business user much more control of what and how content is shown across different devices.
  • Image resampling: One of the power capabilities of Sitecore is its ability to automatically ‘resample’ rather just ‘resize’ images that are requested for a specific size. This important when many different devices, requiring high-quality images need them in different sizes.
Launch landing pages and microsites
  • Multisite management: Sitecore enables marketers to easily create and publish landing pages or micro-sites that reuse the existing page structures, design elements and content available on other pages.

Sitecore DMS Functionality

Sitecore DMS (Digital Marketing Suite) functionality provides analytics, personalization and email marketing capabilities which complement the core CMS functionality. Sitecore DMS is tightly integrated into the overall platform, providing business users with seamless experience using both content management and marketing functions.

Functionality

Sitecore

Referrer tracking
  • Analytics: Sitecore provides deep analytics capabilities built into the platform, including the ability to identify referrers. This information can be used to personalize the experience based on where people originated.
Content targeting
  • Rules engine: Sitecore provides a powerful rules engine to control any aspect of the customer experience. The rules can act on both behavior and profile information around web visitors.
  • Persona patterns: Sitecore enables marketers to define specific personas (that may come to the website) that can be recognized in real time with predefined patterns. Sitecore can present content specific to personas when they are recognized.
Engagement analytics
  • Engagement analytics: Getting beyond ‘web analytics’, Sitecore can measure the level of engagement visitors have with your website, based on type and depth of engagement.
Multivariate and A/B testing
  • Test and experience optimization: Sitecore includes the ability to test multiple experiences for the same page (e.g. change the hero shot or tagline) across many visits to measure which experience delivers the deepest engagement and helps reach your goals (e.g. sign-up for the webinar).

Module Functionality

Sitecore CMS is easily extended by both Sitecore and third-parties with Sitecore Modules. Modules are available both as commercial and open source versions (referred to as ‘shared source’) that are available by Sitecore and their partners, like edynamic. The modules, once installed, become seamless extensions of Sitecore that make them appear and work as part of the core CMS.

Capabilities

Sitecore Modules

Provider (License)

Keyword management Sitecore SEO Module Sitecore (Shared source)
Metadata management Meta-Tags Sitecore (Shared source)
MetaTag Manager Third-party (Shared source)
Blog management Weblog Third-party (Shared source)
Social content syndication Social Connected Module Sitecore (Shared source)http://sdn.sitecore.net/Products/Social%20Connected%20Module/Social%20Connected%201,-d-,3.aspx
Video platform integration Ooyala Sitecore Plug-in Third-party (Commercial)
Brightcove Video Cloud Connect Third-party (Commercial)http://www.brightcove.com/en/partners/sitecore
Registration integrationRequest formsLead capture forms Webforms for Marketers Sitecore (Commercial)http://sdn.sitecore.net/Products/Web%20Forms%20for%20Marketers.aspx
Marketing automation integration Sitecore CMS Connector Third-party (Commercial)http://appcloud.eloqua.com/apps/sitecore-cms-edynamic
Content delivery network (CDN) integration Sitecore CDN Connector Third-party (Shared Source)

There are many more Sitecore modules then were discussed here, which can be found at the Sitecore Marketplace (http://marketplace.sitecore.net/), a one-stop-shop for all commercial and shared source modules. The modules referred to above are found within the marketplace, partner websites or Sitecore’s Developer Network portal (http://sdn.sitecore.net/).

What’s Next?

We focused on capabilities needed for demand generation—but we realize there are many more across other platforms. Moving forward in the next blog of this series, we will discuss the pre-sales engagement activities that support the evaluation phases of the customer journey.