Kentico 10 is here
The end of year 2016 marks the next chapter in Kentico’s history. Just a couple of weeks ago at their annual Kentico 404 conference, they announced a brand new Kentico Cloud offering—a cloud-first headless CMS and customer engagement platform. We are very proud and excited about what is ahead for Kentico and the new Kentico Cloud. But, there is another important product release scheduled for this month—Kentico 10 is out! Let me tell you what it’s all about. An expansion of MVC and Continuous Integration represents just the tip of the iceberg.
When we were talking to customers this time last year in Sydney, we noticed a lot of them had difficulty benefitting from the more advanced EMS features. As we dug deeper, we noticed the same problem in other regions around the world and found out it’s not actually a Kentico-specific problem and that our partners working with other leading WCM solutions had the same issues.
Through the research we conducted, we found out, that no matter which of the three major roles you talk to (developer, editor, or marketer) on the highest level they’re all struggling with one of the following:
They do not experience an increase in productivity or…
CMS fails to provide enough context for businesses to achieve their goals, or…
CMS doesn’t scale as needed or it comes with high costs of ownership
Let’s take a closer look at these, one by one.
When it comes to productivity there are a few things to note:
- According to a report from Gleanster, a whopping 75% of organizations indicate that the reduction of content management costs is the main reason to implement WCM solutions.
- Employees demand better tools to get the job done and this has an impact on employee retention. Let’s be honest, how long will you be able to keep someone in today’s talented marketplace, if you force them to use bad tools, right?
- If you lose, let’s say, 15 minutes a day because of bad tools, you’re looking at wasting approx. 65 hrs. or eight days a year. Now, how many on your team are losing these 65 hours?
Responsive Images Management
Talking about losing time, I often struggle when I need to publish content that is supposed to contain an image asset. It always takes me forever to find the right image and then make sure it looks good wherever it’s going to be displayed. As it turned out it takes, on average, anywhere between 10-15 minutes for content authors to get the right image for the content, and to optimize it for a device, delivery channel, layout, viewport, retina display, and so on.
So, we were thinking that there must be a better solution. There must be a way that Kentico 10 can help users off-load the vast amount of boring, stereotypical, repetitive work to free them up so they can focus on creative and strategic tasks.
And that’s why Kentico 10 comes with the Responsive Images Management that allows you to predefine specific image variants that are then leveraged automatically every time a new image is uploaded. As you can see in the video (note: no audio available) below, you select the image you want to use, upload it as an attachment and the system automatically generates different variants for you without any additional work. Of course, what variants exactly are going to be generated depends on how you define variant profiles. This feature alone has the potential to save you 10 minutes on average on every image, which is your 65 hours right there!
Email Campaigns and Subscribers Management
And I can think of another scenario that many of us are struggling with.
You guys have heard about the Kentico 10 Beta program, right? I hope so. For those that haven’t, the Beta program basically allows you to try the newest version of Kentico way before it’s released. The other day, as part of the Kentico 10 Beta campaign, I needed to send out an ad-hoc email to all the people that signed up for the Kentico 10 Beta program. The thing is, it’s never the same group of people because people come and go, depending on what is included in each beta release. There are typically four of them a year. Anyway, so unlike with the newsletters, the target audience is changing quite often.
Unfortunately, right now, the only option I have is to create a new newsletter every time I need to target a specific group of people which obviously takes too much time and comes with a lot of unnecessary overheads.
As you can see in the video below, to address this problem, Kentico 10 offers two types of emails. When you go to the Email Marketing app you can see the Newsletters, that you already know, and new Email campaigns. BTW, we refer to both as Email feeds. So, when creating a new Email feed, you have two options:
- You have your classic newsletter emails that are sent out regularly at predefined times while the target audience is not changing too often.
- And then there is a new type of email feed called Email campaign which allows you to create an ad-hoc email stream without the overheads of a newsletter.
Also, in Kentico 10 the only subscribers are contacts and contact groups, so you do not need to manage subscribers in multiple locations. To increase the visibility of important information, each contact has an email marketing status assigned which allows marketers to see instantly who is receiving marketing emails, who has opted out, or contacts that are not deliverable at all.
Alright, so that takes care of productivity challenges. Let’s move to the next problem—the lack of context. The three areas marketers are struggling with the most these days are:
- Converting contacts/leads to customers
- Increasing revenue derived from existing customers
- Proving the ROI of marketing activities
These three challenges have the common factor: the lack of contextually relevant information. Let me explain by using a real-world example for you.
Cross-site Contact Profile
I’ve just bought my first apartment. It’s completely remodeled but needs a new kitchen installed. I’ve found a business in CR that does everything I need—they have a design studio, an online store, and provide installation services. I went online the other day, talked to guys from the studio, explained what I wanted, picked everything I needed, submitted an order, and also scheduled installation. Everything was great. But then, this morning, I went to add something to my order, and despite the fact that I told this company in the form I’ve submitted that I want to have an urban style kitchen, they always show me all those country style cabinets and stuff.
That’s because they don’t share relevant context across web properties they manage because it’s not easy. And that’s why Kentico 10 comes with the cross-site contact profiles that enable cross-site personalization and lead scoring activities.
In the video below you can see a brand-new contact profile that provides a centralized view of all the important information of a specific contact, including the information on whether the specific contact is receiving marketing emails, what campaign brought this visitor to your website, what online forms they submitted, and all the activities they performed across all the web properties managed on the same Kentico instance.
We believe it takes a fair bit of tweaking marketing campaigns, through failing and learning, for marketers to achieve their goals in the three areas we talked about earlier. Unfortunately, many marketing tools won’t let you make changes to a running campaign, so when you finally start learning something new and you want to tweak the campaign based on your findings, you are forced to conclude the campaign first. That means you lose data collected up to this point, you need to create a new campaign, and wait for a month or two for new data. And you just hope this time the campaign won’t need another ‘restart’. Because we see this is a serious problem, we decided to address it in Kentico 10.
First, in the video below, you can see the list of campaigns and the most important information for each campaign (e.g. campaign status, traffic, number of conversions, …). When you open the campaign detail you can see basic campaign info at the top, with the campaign objective report underneath. While looking at the campaign in the Conversions mode you can see a list of all conversions tracked as part of the campaign, and for each conversion you can also see how many of these conversions have been completed through different channels (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, …). That way you can see which channel is the most effective in getting visitors to perform a specific type of conversion.
When you go back and switch to Campaign journey mode, you’ll be able to see how your visitors navigated through the campaign. It gives you a better idea how many visitors entered each step of the campaign and completed the conversion, and how many of them you lost at specific steps of the campaign. Very useful actionable information.
Now, in the next video, you can see how you can edit any part of a running campaign, on-the-fly, without terminating a running campaign and losing any data. You can see how easy it is to add additional content to campaign inventory, add promotions through a new or existing email campaign, and set up Campaign report support. This is where you select what conversions to track and what is the ideal sequence of steps visitors should take in the campaign (aka campaign journey). To demonstrate how changes you make to a running campaign are reflected instantly, I’ve changed the campaign goal from 600 to 400 online form submissions. Once changes are saved, you can see the campaign report reflecting this change immediately (going from 80.2% goal completion to 120.3%). This way we allow marketers to experiment, learn from the experiments, and rapidly reflect it in their running campaigns without shredding important data collected before.
Power BI: Email Marketing Reports
In the past, we were talking about the abundance of data and how it is difficult for marketers to make sense of it. And I’m proud to announce that by leveraging our strategic relationship with Microsoft, we’re using advanced Power BI capabilities to surface email marketing insights from Kentico to both Kentico and non-Kentico users using the device and platform agnostic Power BI: Email Marketing Dashboards.
In the following video, you can see several different reports we have made available—email campaign, email delivery, email opens, email click, and link performance analysis reports. All the reports are highly interactive. Each graph on the report acts like a filter, and so as you click on the report, the data displayed by the rest of the report is automatically filtered based on your selection.
Scalability and Performance
The last area we focused on with Kentico 10 was scalability and performance. There we identified two key challenges:
- The digital strategy of WCM users is maturing and requires running a WCM solution powerful enough to work with the larger than ever data sets.
- Solutions able to scale big are, plain and simple, too expensive. For example, you will most likely pay $20-30-40k a year for the leading marketing platform for as little as 10,000 named contacts in your DB.
That’s why we are changing the dynamics of the game by making Kentico 10 the most scalable Kentico release in its history, with OM scalability being significantly higher than Kentico 9 or any of the previous versions. With more than 100M contacts and 1B activities, we successfully tested Kentico 10. There is no project too big for Kentico 10.
And Kentico 10 is not just about scalability, but because our goal is to make you even more productive and productivity goes together with performance, we cut down on waiting time by 50% which makes Kentico 10 load faster, respond faster, and much slicker overall, which makes you more productive in the end.
To Sum It Up
With Kentico 10, we have focused on empowering business users to be more productive and efficient in achieving their goals. And while for years now, we offered a full enterprise feature set, supported enterprise organizations, and offered enterprise 24x7 support, with Kentico 10 we now deliver the enterprise scalability to allow customers with projects of any size take advantage of Kentico EMS.
Posted: Thursday 01 December 2016