What our Head of Product Strategy, Janaka Fernando, does not know of Episerver's leading solutions is not worth knowing. Here's his take on the latest updates from Episerver and what it all means...

In the software business, a key way to fast track development is through acquisition, Episerver is no stranger to this and they have a track record of bringing in technologies to expand the product suite. Last year was no exception, the result of this, is a far more comprehensive solution which has brought particular focus into e-commerce.

These new technologies successfully integrated include:

  • Email marketing, campaign management and orchestration with Episerver Campaign
  • Machine learning and personalised recommendations with Episerver Perform and Reach
  • Improved social engagement with Episerver Social and UGC.

 

The Episerver CMS product has also made some considerable advances in new features and improvements to modules:

  • Workflow and governance measures with the new content approvals.
  • Notifications plays nicely with other integrated elements including Projects and Approvals.
  • A/B testing has matured nicely and become a naturally embedded part of the publishing process.
  • There is an extended set of conversion goals and the ability to create custom KPIs. 
  • Episerver Forms are now more easily exportable and secure.


Content Approvals

Target Audience: Mid-large content teams requiring governance processes

While Episerver’s built-in 2 states of publishing (Ready to Publish & Publish) are perfectly fine and usable for small teams, in larger organisations this may not be sufficient.

Content Approvals provide a multi-stage approvals process before content is “Ready to Publish”. As a result, users can view a workflow in greater detail. This allows for clearer communication across teams and helps to improve the process of publishing content.

To put this into context – this allows a Marketing supervisor to sign off on content before it gets sent for legal reviews and approvals, helping to reduce the amount of time spent on reviews and reworks.

Here’s a roundup of some of the main highlights:

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  • Notifications
You can easily see alerts marked for your attention by notifications being highlighted automatically
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  • Tasks

To manage the number of notifications you get, you can view a clean summary of all tasks requiring attention.


What else do you need to know about the new Content Approval?:

  • When setting up an approval sequence, administrators can request approvers to add a comment when confirming or declining a step.
  • Approval sequences can be created on Pages, Blocks or Media
  • There is now the capability for approvers to be both individuals or groups

 

A/B testing Improvements

Target Audience: Content or E-commerce marketers

A/B testing was released in 2017, providing a quick way for marketers to run tests on their pages. It is a simple process; changes can easily be made to existing content and tests can be set up by selecting ‘Start A/B test’.

This feature boasts efficiency while helping to deliver data insights for marketer’s this is a dream come true. 

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  • Multiple KPIs to choose from, including:
    • Add to Cart
      On Commerce websites, tracks if a product is added to the cart/basket.

    • Purchase Product
      On Commerce websites, tracks if a product has been purchased.

    • Average Order
      On Commerce websites, totals the values of all orders by customers in the tests and works out the highest average order value.

    • Site Stickiness
      Works out engagement on the website within a timeout period (1-60 minutes).

    • Landing page
      Click through conversions to a landing page.

    • Time on Page
      Increase engagement on page within a timeout period.
  • Multiple KPI goals can be applied to the same test 
  • Developer support for developing custom KPIs for greater flexibility from the tool

 

Episerver Forms

Target Audience: Marketers, Email Marketing

Since version 9, Episerver Forms is the go-to form builder within the CMS. It provides a more natural block driven method to building custom forms.

Revisiting some of the existing features of Episerver Forms, these are worth a mention:

  • Ability to build forms quickly in the CMS
  • Drag and drop forms into pages where needed
  • Personalise visitors based on previously filling out/not filling out a form
  • Create email auto-responders
  • Download and export form data

 

Episerver are continuously improving Episerver Forms based on feedback and requirements from the user community. Some of the more recent updates to this feature include:

  • Export to Excel

You can export form submission data directly to the Excel XLSX format.

  • Data encryption

If the encryption feature is enabled, only eligible users can view form submissions and export decrypted data.

  • Performance

The performance of Episerver Forms has been improved when updating existing records and viewing Form submissions. This is useful for multi-step forms.

 

Episerver Perform

Target Audience: Merchandisers and E-commerce marketers

Episerver Perform provides product recommendations based on machine learning algorithms. It is now out of beta for the Episerver Commerce integration.

In the new version of Episerver, tracking has been streamlined. Now there is a common set of tracking for both Perform recommendations and Personalised Find, plus this can be used with current beta products, Episerver Profile store and Episerver Advance.

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As part of the work we did for Eason, we collaborated with the Episerver team to provide extensions for the catalogue feed generation. This allowed us to customise what was displayed for the particular needs of the customer, as well as improve the time required to generate the feed.

 

Episerver User-Generated Content (UGC)

Target Audience: Marketers and social media managers

Episerver UGC is a content discovery tool that can retrieve content from popular social sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, Google) and embed the content into your website.

With content continuing to grow in both size and scale, Episerver UGC provides an intelligent retrieval tool to deliver better user experiences while browsing onsite.

A quick overview of this tool is shown here:

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  • Create reusable UGC widget blocks.
  • Drag and drop created blocks into desired pages and then social content will be displayed.

 

Episerver Social

Target Audience: Marketers and social media managers

Episerver released a Social API for managing user content on customer websites, which takes into consideration key areas such as ratings, reviews and comments.

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This also provides an API for moderation of content. The fact this is contained within an API enables the interface to be customised for our customer’s requirements. This is a huge added bonus as it allows content editors to easily select the tools they work with on a daily basis.

 

Episerver Campaign

Target Audience: Email campaign managers

Last, but not least on the product updates – email.

Episerver acquired the email marketing company Optivo last year to create a product now known as Campaign. Episerver Campaign provides rich, visual campaign management with flexibility at its core

 

A selection of highlights from this new product are listed below:

  • Template kit for visual creation of campaign content
  • Oversee marketing automation for campaigns including email, SMS and mobile push
  • Create welcome campaigns, reactivate customers, and reduce abandoned shopping carts
  • E-commerce emails that include personalised product recommendations.
  • Double opt in and high data security and compliance
  • Rich Campaign analytics

 

Further Upgrade Improvements

Episerver CMS 11 released:

  • Better support for rich clients using JavaScript frameworks like Angular or React
  • Internal Episerver data cache has been improved by 50%
  • Import/export refinements to make data exchange easier
  • Cleaner separation of assemblies allowing for easier integration with third parties for features such as Search and Forms. For example, the rich text WYSIWYG editor is now a separate add-on making it easier to upgrade TinyMCE or go with an alternative editor

 

Commerce 11 changes include:

  • Promotion engine support for 1000 active promotions with <100ms response time
  • The catalog import was rewritten to reduce memory requirements and improve performance

 

The Start of Something... 

Episerver are on a continuous path to improvement, across all their product suite. As premium partner of the year, we're always keeping in tune with the latest updates and we'll be making this a regular series throughout the year to keep our clients and technology partners up to date on what's happening in our Episerver world. We're just back from Episerver's flagship event, Ascend, hosted in Las Vegas - read the rundown here