Thoughts on Implementing Online Marketing - Part 1


Kentico offers many features for Online Marketing, but a lot of times, you may be considering: which feature to use, if it is the most effective one to use, and whether it will cause any performance issues on the website. In this series of articles, I’ll discuss a few things based on real life examples and, hopefully, these scenarios can help you make decisions.

Development with Online Marketing in Mind

There seems to be a communication gap between marketing and the developer (IT or vendors) in many cases. The marketing department wants to manage more things on their own but the developers always want to have more control so that marketing won’t break anything. To make things more complicated, both sides do not speak the same language. Marketing wants to focus on usability, but developers are always functionality driven.

When it comes to Kentico CMS, a common issue related to this gap is that marketing bought the software for the EMS features such as A/B Testing and Content Personalization. In order to use those features, the website has to be developed using the Portal Engine (PE) development model or Mix-mode (PE and ASPX). However, the developers somehow didn’t realize, or ignored, that requirement and went with the development methods they are most comfortable with, pure ASPX or MVC. The results are, of course, not so good for the marketing team. Marketing cannot use the features they wanted to use and the website has to be re-developed.

Developers may argue that one of the main reasons for them to go with the ASPX is they have direct access to the code behind. They can still have that if they go with PE or Mix-mode development module, and here is a break down on how.

Portal Engine – because there is no access to the code behind, the code has to be placed in the custom Web Parts then get added to the portal template to be executed. Marketing can use Web Parts or Widgets for A/B Testing or Personalization, but I would suggest Widgets over Web Parts. The reason for this is that sometimes you may have multiple landing pages, using the same template and web part configuration for marketing purposes would affect all those pages. If Widgets are used, the testing and conditions are happening at the page level, not the template level.

Mix-Mode – with this development mode, developers have direct access to the code. They need to be sure to setup web part zones or a widget zone on the templates, so when marketing uses these templates to build pages, they can archive the same experience as a PE. I would recommend Widgets over Web Parts for the same reason as above.

In addition, developers will need to implement custom actions and conversions for custom functionalities such as transactions with external systems. Also, make sure that any relevant data collected from custom functions are mapped to the contact fields.

The final thought here is that a website is a major tool for the marketing team to drive the business. Developers should consider how marketing can use the functionalities first and work around that. In the case of custom applications (e.g., CRMs, transaction, external data connection) co-existing with a CMS website, make those applications as separate projects or custom Web Parts, so marketing can still use the Online Marketing features they paid for.

How Should We Start Using Online Marketing Features?

I have seen in a few client cases that they have been asking if their Online Marketing features are turned on and where they can see how those features like A/B Testing, Content Personalization or scoring are working. Of course, these clients didn’t have a good understanding of what Online Marketing was about, as they thought it was some kind of switch to turn on and all the Online Marketing features would work on their own.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the only data you can get by just turning on something would be Web Analytics and contact activities. This data can help you understand what’s going on on your website, but you will have to use this data to plan your marketing strategy and implement the marketing features.

For those who are new to Online Marketing, don’t try to do too many things at once. Start with one or two simple features to get a good understanding of how it works, what you can control and manage, and what kind of experience you can deliver to your client.

One of the simpler marketing features to start with is Email Marketing. Many clients have used third-party Email Marketing tools before, so using it in Kentico is not hard to begin with. Simply start by setting up Email Marketing campaigns for visitors to subscribe to and send them periodic information like a third-party tool does. But because Kentico Email Marketing is integrated with other Online Marketing features, you can do more than with standalone tools once you gain more experience with the feature. Based on Web Analytics and contact activities data, you can segment the subscribers to deliver more personalized emails. You can even use Kentico macros to repurpose some of the CMS content you have without re-writing it manually.

Another feature to try while you are learning Online Marketing is Content Personalization. For example, on your homepage, you have a banner displaying a generic message. But for someone that searched for certain keywords or filled out a form, displaying the same message would be a waste of page space. In this case, set up a personal variant based on a condition and display a more targeted or convincing message that will lead to higher client conversion. You can start with a homepage with a couple of conditions, and as you get more data, you can manage more conditions on the homepage and set up different experiences for sectional landing pages as well. You can deliver a generic message for general visitors, a convincing message for prospects, and cross-sell/up-sell messages for existing clients, all in the same place, to create more personalized experiences for your visitors.

A final thought here is that Online Marketing is more strategy, planning, and implementation than just an on-off switch. If you are new to Online Marketing, start with a feature that’s simple to understand, implement, and manage. Once you get more experience and resources, you can do more with these or other features.

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Rui Wang

Senior Solution Architect for Kentico located in US.