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A Fair Review of the Top Web CMS Platforms - Episerver

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Episerver CMS

Epi

Episerver Inc. (Parent Company: Accel-KKR) Founded: 1994
Head Office: Nashua, NH URL: www.episerver.com
CEO & Tenure: Mark Duffell, since 2015 Platform Type: ASP .NET
License Model: Proprietary On-Premise and SaaS
Starting Price: On-Premise – $40,000 / SaaS – $50,000 (requires quotation process) Current Version: CMS 11
Online Demo: Yes Trial Version: No
Customer Training: Yes Certification Training: Yes
Integration Partners: USA – 37, Canada – 6 Professional Services: Managed Services
License Renewals: Episerver can support renewal plans or conversion to another one of Episerver’s offerings with various renewal processes including (1) renewal of Maintenance and Support for on-premise licenses, service on Episerver Find, Hosting and Managed services as well as cloud services, (2) contracts with no auto-renewal clause in which Episerver reaches out 90 days in advance with a renewal quote and (3) auto-renew customers who will receive an invoice prior to the expiration of term.
Support: Email or online ticketing and phone support is offered Monday – Friday. Premium Support is 24x7x365. Also offers Developer Support Subscription and Marketing Campaign and Cloud support. Episerver World’s online community has more than 30,000 members and is focused on support for Developers and Marketers.

Introduction

Episerver connects digital commerce and digital marketing to help organizations create unique digital experiences for their customers, with measurable business results. The Episerver Digital Experience Cloud combines content, commerce, multi-channel marketing and predictive analytics in a single platform to work full-circle for businesses online – from intelligent optimization and lead-generation through to conversion and repeat business – with ease-of-use.

Episerver has offices in the US, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, UAE, South Africa, Australia, Singapore, and Vietnam with more than 8,800 customers in over 30 countries.

In Q1 2018, Episerver launched Episerver Insight and released an enhanced headless API. The Episerver Digital Experience Cloud has seen several major investments over the last 12 months, including the introduction of omnichannel campaign management, real-time personalization capabilities, enhanced user-generated content, distributed order management & more.

Executive Interview

Top 10 Features

  • Automatic Landing Pages
  • Enterprise Search
  • Marketing Automation
  • Asset Management
  • Pre-Built Templates
  • Persona Management
  • Multi-Site Management
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Website Analytics
  • Multi-language
Complete List of Features

Key Modules & Connectors

  • Episerver E-commerce
  • Digital Experience Hub
  • Episerver Marketing
  • Episerver Social
  • Episerver Personalization
  • HubSpot & Marketo Connectors
  • Salesforce & Dynamics Connector
  • IBM Marketing Cloud Connector

Strengths

  • Episerver's core content model is more page-based.
  • Episerver's vision is heavily intertwined with Azure's cloud platform to support new capabilities such as machine learning.
  • Episerver's marketing features follow a modular, add-on approach.
  • A single platform that brings together content, commerce and marketing very smartly in the cloud.
  • Episerver has taken a slightly different approach from having hundreds of integration partners, to a more selective strategy with a smaller number of experienced partners.
  • Episerver’s ease of use and intuitive UI, coupled with their rich list of features, makes it a favorite amongst .NET editors and developers. 
  • Very few vendors offer a seamless content and commerce platform, which sets Episerver apart in this review.
  • Although they are fairly late in offering a packaged cloud service, their Digital Experience Cloud is impressive, with a full stack wrapped up in a pay as you go service model. Worth a deep-dive if cloud is at the top of your mid-market WCM requirements.

Weaknesses

  • Developer Intensive.
  • Relatively late in building packaged cloud offerings.

Differentiators

  • Individualized content using hundreds of algorithms for a personalized experience.
  • Episerver offers an all-in-one product with CMS, E-Commerce and digital marketing features. 
  • There are many add-ons available, and you will likely need to install some basic add-ons for even the simplest website.
  • Active developer forum that makes finding support and tips from others easy. 
  • Episerver has a very customizable system architecture that supports multi-site architecture and web farms.

GDPR Initiatives

Episerver has made GDPR compliance a priority as it relates to both software development and managed services. Episerver solutions are created with compliance by design from the ground up. Customers deploying Episerver Digital Experience Cloud are uniquely positioned to achieve full compliance. Utilizing Episerver's fully managed cloud service shifts much of the responsibility to adapt stricter standards for dealing with customer data from company to vendor. More GDPR Information 

Roadmap

The future roadmap is very much about maintaining that momentum they have built in the last few years which is about customer adoption, helping their customers to get the most out of the product and to Episerver, that means taking a product that they doubled the size of in the last year and making sure that it really works for customers and helps them to get the value from it that they need. Their Digital Experience Cloud offering is really gaining momentum and just recently, they announced the release of Episerver’s content recommendation engine, Episerver Advance, which was preceded by Episerver Insight, their visitor intelligence hub offering analytics and a visual representation of customer journeys, which became the culmination point for what they have been working in the past few years to truly round out the personalization and analytics offered to their customers to provide the most value for them.

Beyond that, it will be about maturing the platform and helping customers adopt more of it so they can meet their goals. They know a lot of the technology companies tend to just keep rolling out the next thing and while it’s important to keep up, they don’t want their platform to become too large and unattainable for their customers from a true value perspective.

Additional Video Interviews

Industry Recognition

Sitecore Gardner Magic Quadrant
Image above from Gartner 2017 WCM MQ Report.
Sitecore ForresterWave
Image above from Forrester Wave's Web CMS, 2017.

Customer Comments

Why did you choose Episerver when you were in the market for a new CMS platform?
We took a look at a lot of different CMS platforms as we were narrowing it down, we were really looking at usability for our marketing department, making sure that the tools are easy to use out of the box, I don’t have to buy a bunch of expensive add-ons, I don’t really have to go-to-market and find more things, I really wanted something that was all encompassing with everything we needed in one place. The next thing is, we wanted a platform that had a really good managed cloud experience so we decided to move forward with the DXC (digital experience cloud) platform because I didn’t really want to hire security professionals, I didn’t want to have to manage servers, and all those weird compliance check-boxes somebody else can just take care of. So that was great, helped me keep my team really lean and move forward with something that’s going to make a lot of sense for us.

How does Episerver support you in your unique business needs of being in both the B2C and B2B space?
That offering for B2C is obviously for our customers and excited to roll out some personalization for them on our website depending on the time of day they’re visiting us, whether they’re a first time visitor and a variety of other things that we’re going to do to really drive not only a really cool customer experience but put together things we know people are going to want, like the right offers, the right deals so we’re really excited to utilize that personalization engine and drive that forward. From a B2B perspective, we are a franchisor so we sell franchisees on our technology and being in a space where we’re not quite as big as the big three (in the market), but we’re not quite small, we’re not a mom and pop shop, we’re over 80 restaurants now so we really use not only our food but also our technology as a selling point.
— Tony Ellis, Toppers Pizza

Integration Partner Comments

Luminos Labs is exclusively an Episerver partner and we are very focused on the digital commerce aspect of things and what’s exciting is you really see Episerver making good on the promises as far as their roadmap is concerned. All these products are coming online, piece by piece, and I think that was really smart, to take it a chunk at a time, and pull it together but in the background everything is integrated. So you can come up with some personalization in perform, and use that same data someplace else, its impressive. In general, when you think about some of the bets they’ve made, Episerver Perform for instance, AI driven product recommendation.

One of the biggest problems that we’ve seen is year after year after year, people are buying into these big experience platforms, no matter what company we’re talking about behind the technology the experience platform itself is like a box of Lego. You pour it out on the table and ask ‘what do I do with this?’, so Episerver says ‘hey, here is a case study that makes a lot of sense, product recommendations you can show a lot of results from that, throw some AI behind it and get it to work and be very practical about it and go to market that way.’ And it was a big hit, no surprise when people are using it and they’re getting results so I think 2018 is going to be really exciting with them. I love to hear that part of their strategy for this year is to say ‘we’re not going to add a lot of new features, we’re going to work on perfecting the features we have and helping people adopt them.
— Jake DiMare, Luminos Labs
 

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Gary Eisenstein

Gary Eisenstein

Gary has been working in the IT industry for over 24-years and is a Principle Analyst at CMS-Connected. If you would like to receive additional advice or consultation on how to evolve your digital transformation journey, Gary can be reached at gary.eisenstein@cms-connected.com.