Episerver's James Norwood Weighs In On Personalization
Over a month ago, I was fortunate to interview James Norwood, Executive Vice President of Strategy and CMO at Episerver, on the company’s recent acquisitions of Peerius, a provider of intelligent omnichannel personalization in the cloud, and Optivo, a provider of omnichannel campaign management and customer intelligence solutions. The company didn’t waste any time putting these new technologies to use, and last week they introduced three additions to their Omnichannel Personalization Suite: Perform, Advance, and Insight.
Once again, I reached out to James Norwood to discuss Episerver’s newly announced offerings and what they mean for the future of personalization and omnichannel. Before digging deep into his great talking points, I would like to touch upon the new capabilities.
Episerver Perform, Episerver’s intelligent personalization platform, incorporates a full suite of commerce and content personalization tools, including behavioral ranking, product recommendations for web and email, and automatic triggers and actions. The product is designed to, ultimately, bolster conversions and average order value as well as customer satisfaction. What I liked about this addition is that the platform utilizes a system of machine learning algorithms to learn and predict which products and offers are most likely to interest each customer and offer the best recommendations. You might say that it’s becoming almost mainstream but the difference from the many other platforms is that Episerver Perform ensures that shopping for infrequent purchases such as gifts do not come around as irrelevant product recommendation after your purchase. As I mentioned in one of my recent articles on personalization, we still keep seeing very popular sites like Facebook making predictive assumptions based on one-off shopping experiences. Here are some capabilities of Episerver Perform:
Intelligent product recommendations: Easily enable personalized product recommendations throughout your website or mobile site.
Optimized category pages: Wherever you display your products, Episerver will optimize the ranking for every visitor, including behavioral data and merchandising strategies.
Personalized product emails: Include personalized product recommendations in any email, including cart abandonment and retargeting emails.
Behavioral triggers: Quickly detect onsite behaviors and immediately act upon them through automated personalized emails. Use targeted discounts, repurchase activators, and high product interest accelerators to immediately increase conversions.
In my opinion, the trigger feature is a great help for merchandisers to eliminate one of the most common issues, which is abandoned shopping carts. The technology understands why visitors have dropped out before checking out the items in the cart, from there, it develops interaction flow according to the situation.
According to the company, the platform has already helped organizations increase sales between 5-7 percent and customers that shop with Episerver Perform have an average order value (AOV) that is 35-65 percent higher than those that do not.
Episerver Advance is Episerver's new content personalization solution and can be combined with the predictive analytics capabilities of Episerver's Digital Experience Cloud, to stimulate customer engagement. What I like about this addition, though, is that the platform can detect price changes, product availability, and stock information, so users would be informed accurately, in real time, and in detail. I found this feature very beneficial, especially, for merchandisers. Advance taps into Episerver’s search relevance engine, Episerver Find, to display content automatically selected for each visitor based on visitor profile, interest, or work role. Here are the capabilities of Episerver Advance:
For content marketing: Relevant content suggestions are presented on the first visit and through repeat visits.
For articles and news: To keep visitors engaged and on the site, it provides content suggestions that are relevant to topics, and optimized for popularity and newness.
For intranets and portals: Enhances content discovery and reduces time spent on information search as it displays information and documents that are relevant to each employee.
The Episerver Insight is a Big Data Management platform, and its API enables organizations to capture, ingest and process information from sources as wide as digital interactions, CRM and ERP systems, loyalty data, as well as secondary data such as store location, competitive analysis, and census and social enrichment. As a result, Episerver Insight provides a foundation for running algorithmic analytics. According to the company, with this platform, organizations can pull up any customer to see why they became a customer. The platform also enables users to detect the similarities in the behavior of their big spenders so they can improve their business tactics. Here are some capabilities of Episerver Insight:
A complete history for every visitor, including email and name for identified visitors.
A deeper understanding of your audience using Episerver’s real-time data discovery engine.
Fully integrated cloud solution – no installation or management required.
Along with Episerver Advance, Perform, and Insight, Episerver also launched other new products, capabilities and extensions:
Episerver Social: Episerver Social is the cloud micro-service to manage and deliver community-generated content. Due to its micro-services architecture, Episerver Social offers storage, management, and delivery of social ratings, reviews, comments, activity streams, and groups. According to Episerver, people are 63% more likely to buy from a site that features reviews. The platform is available to order for all DXC Service customers, for both Episerver CMS and Episerver Commerce.
Content Approval: A built-in feature for Episerver CMS and Episerver Commerce and streamlines workflow to make it easy for cross-team collaboration.
LivePerson Connector: LiveEngage is a chat capability for websites that gives Episerver customers a way to communicate directly with website visitors through a chat window. It is a cloud-based service provided by LivePerson. It has a back-end agent interface incorporated with usage statistics and sentiment analysis.
James Norwood Weighs In On Personalization
What are the differentiators of the new offerings?
Norwood: “Each product offers something unique, and when used together, they provide a broad range of capabilities to execute continuous omnichannel journey engagement. Episerver Perform, which uses machine learning algorithms, is able to analyze behavioral cues within distinct customer journeys to more accurately learn and predict which products and offers are most likely to interest customers beyond their lifetime purchase history. Episerver Advance provides email and event triggering to maximize customer engagement, click-through rates and conversions. When deployed with the Digital Experience Cloud, Advance can customize remarketing emails based on customer behavior. And these new products are made even more powerful by our big data management platform Episerver Insight, which collects, aggregates and processes data from a wide variety of sources, ranging from CRM systems to loyalty programs to store location.”
What do the new capabilities mean for the future of personalization and omnichannel?
Norwood: “Our newest products bring together existing capabilities to both expand opportunities for continuous omnichannel one-to-one engagement and simplify the processes required to execute it. Episerver Perform and Advance make use of the underlying capabilities of the Episerver Insight big data management platform to provide a rich foundation for performing predictive analytics and real-time decisioning. These products will allow marketers and brands to automatically adapt content to users’ behavior across devices, offering them recommendations and contextualized content based on their location, preferences, and even the weather, and most importantly supporting their personal journey through the sales funnel, from initial browsing to final conversion. And with the machine learning capabilities of Perform and big data capabilities of Insight to help automate the process, marketers and brands can offer highly customized content and contextualized experiences without all of the heavy lifting typical of personalization.”
What are the next capabilities we should expect to see from Episerver in the near future? (e.g. voice-activated interactions, natural language processing tools, etc.)
Norwood: “We are currently building out our omnichannel campaign management solution by making significant investments in event-triggering, visual segmentation and targeting, and cross-channel orchestration workflow. As we further incorporate and leverage these capabilities, you can expect to see customized and programmatic campaigns that use data-driven approaches within the web, social, mobile, contact center, print, apps and more and that adapt to specific customer behavior in real time.”
To support an omnichannel content strategy, organizations need agile technology capabilities that simplify global campaigns, improve the customer experience, and increase productivity for the marketing, development, sales, and designer teams. Therefore, the web content management system (WCM) is no longer just for getting the content out, it now plays an influential role in the brand experience. It’s exciting to see that the WCM vendors like Episerver have seen the revolution in the space and started beefing up their platforms in order to help organizations keep up with their customers’ evolving needs.