Kentico 1 on 1 - EMS with Brian McKeiver


In this edition of Kentico 1 on 1 I had a chance to talk Kentico EMS with MVP Brian McKeiver. Brian has a ton of experience with implementing EMS and I wanted to ask him a few questions about his experiences, what he likes about the product, and how people can get started with it. He gave some great examples and a lot of useful infomration for anyone getting started with this feature.

Hi Brian and thanks for talking with me. So just in case people don't know who you are, give us a quick introduction.

Sure. My name is Brian McKeiver and I'm co-owner of BizStream in Grand Rapids, MI and a Kentico MVP. I have done a lot of work with Kentico over the years and love it, especially the EMS features.

What kind of projects have you created with EMS?

Well, we have made quite a few because we have been using EMS for a few years now. There are two that stick out in my head as ways we have used EMS in our projects that are probably unique. The first is for a client that has an ecommerce site in a B2C situation. The ability to use marketing automation in EMS to create an abandoned shopping cart reminder for someone who puts something in the cart and leaves the site and never purchases it. Then three days later the process kicks off and reminds them of the 2-3 items in their cart. That seems like a pretty cool implementation.

The second one was actually an integration with a CRM system which again used marketing automation to watch for triggers on the site like a Contact Us submission or a Start a Project submission. Then from there it took the details and automatically pushed it to that CRM that we use and our customer uses.  That saved a ton of time and really integrated the two systems.

That was your Zoho connector you had a blog about, right?

Yeah. It made things a ton easier when we had that in place and the client was really happy with the solution.

(You can check out Brian’s Zoho CRM blog here)

What is your favorite feature of EMS?

Well, it’s kind of the same answer. It’s really marketing automation. But really, I could step back and say the Activity Tracking feature is one of my personal favorites. Just because I can look through the Activity Log and understand what a contact has done to get to the conversion we’re looking for. Specifically, if the conversion I’m looking for is filling out a Contact Us form that generates a lead in my website, I can go back and look at that they landed on a blog post, went to the home page. They visited the About Team section. And then that got them to click Contact Us and fill in the form. So finding the pattern a user goes through in Activity Management is very interesting to me.

Do you think you have enough activity tracking options? Do you think there could be more activities to track?

I think there are enough. It’s pretty much everything we need. There are over 20 built-in types. And where we’ve wanted to, we’ve added a few extra activity types. Especially for when we wanted to track disqus comment activity. We created a custom type, it gets triggered from the client side, and then saved on the server side that the user made a comment through disqus. That’s not natively in Kentico but we extended it to do that with the built-in activity types.

You can check out Brian's blog on integrating with disqus here.

What area do you think could be improved the most?

So, one area I think it could be better is the fact that when you’re doing a campaign in Kentico you have to navigate to a few different places to set it up right. The Email Campaign system is separate from the landing page which is separate from the campaign report. So I think one improvement could be creating a Campaigns app or module that brought all of those together in one wizard or one UI section. So I could say, Here’s my new trade show campaign. I want to make a landing page, an email campaign, and a marketing automation process. And I want to view the results of those three things together, in one report.

So grouping information and technology better?

Right, because the average marketer doesn’t know how to go into this section for this report and this section for this report. Making it easy to rollup that data into one section would be awesome in my opinion. And one other area that could be improved is the Email Template system. If that could be made with drag and drop people would use it without a developer being involved.

How would you recommend a company goes about starting to use EMS? Is there are particular piece that you find easy to implement that would get them off to a good start?

Turning on Activity Management and tracking contacts is something I recommend starting with. It’s the basis. It’s where you collect the data and sets you up with the core building block. And from there, you can create an A/B test, and even do Content Personalization. You can trigger Lead Scoring, trigger marketing automation processes based on activities.  So really, it’s turning on the basic building block of Contact Management along with Activity tracking.  From there, one of the simple benefits is maybe doing personalization of your home page slider based on that attribute.

So like targeting them right on the home page with a simple banner or slider that reads in their contact information.

Exactly. To personalize that when you know the user is interested in a particular area of your site or something.  Another place to start is Kentico’s Online Marketing videos. There are 6-8 short videos that introduce the concepts. I recommend those to all my new clients that use EMS and they seem to really like them.


As you can see, Brian has a ton of great knowledge on the EMS capabilities of Kentico. His team has done some interesting implementations and customizations and solved some tough business problems with very elegant solutions. I’d love to hear about other interesting projects developers have done with EMS and how people can get started off using it right. Let me know in the comments!

You can find all of the Online Marketing videos Brian mentioned here.

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Bryan Soltis

Hello. I am a Technical Evangelist here at Kentico and will be helping the technical community by providing guidance and best practices for all areas of the product. I might also do some karaoke. We'll see how it the night goes...