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The Federated Experience Manager: Eliminating Gaps in the User’s Journey

As marketers we’ve all preached how important a unified and connected view of the customer is. While we’ve developed plugins and work-arounds that connect data from disparate systems and get us close to having a full view of the customer and their journey, there were still gaps and blind spots that we were hitting. So we must admit, that up until recently, we haven’t really been practicing what we are preaching. Enter the Federated Experience Manager (FXM).

I first got a glimpse of the Federated Experience Manager (FXM) at Sitecore Symposium in September 2014, and have seen some working demos of the FXM in subsequent months. For those of you who haven't seen (or heard) about the FXM, it is what I (and many others) have dubbed "a game changer in the marketplace." In essence, the FXM enables you to track goal conversions, user behavior and serve up personalized and tailored content through websites that you own, but have not been implemented onto Sitecore yet. In order to leverage the FXM, you obviously need to have made an investment in Sitecore for at least one site, but once you have that all squared away, the world (aka your outlying sites) is your oyster.

I could go on and on about why I think the Sitecore FXM is amazing, but instead of rambling, I decided that it would be more helpful to outline some of the key benefits that can be seen from leveraging the FXM.

Build a Better Business Case

Let's be honest, re-platforming a website onto Sitecore takes time, commitment, resources, and it may cost you a few bucks. Often times you need to leverage a wicked smart Experience Technology Company with a proven track record, such as Verndale, to do the heavy implementation lifting for you. After one site gets settled in Sitecore, executives sometimes have a hard time understanding the true value of platforms and justifying spend for more sites. After one re-platforming onto Sitecore, they think that is enough. Executives who think like that are missing out - that's for sure. By leveraging the FXM functionality, you can start to identify how users are moving through various sites in your digital ecosystem and make the case for the importance of consistent analytics tracking, personalization and testing across all sites.

Provide Enhanced Omni-Channel Reporting

The FXM is an analyst's dream come true. Well, maybe not quite, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. One of the biggest benefits of Sitecore 8 overall, and what the FXM contributes to, is this idea of one view of the customer. Often times with disparate systems and disjointed user journeys that involve multiple sites and channels, we are only able to see a portion of who the user is. By leveraging the FXM and tracking goals across multiple sites, especially those not on Sitecore, you can provide much more in-depth and comprehensive reporting and start to better understand who a user is, what is motivating them, what their interests are, etc.

Expand the Reach of Your Tailored, One-on-One Dialog

We so often preach this idea of having a continuously tailored conversation with each individual user. While that may be the impossible dream, the FXM is certainly a step in the right direction to getting there. Since you will have better quality user data (see above bullet), and a better understanding of what moves these users through the funnel, you can use the FXM to deliver consistent and tailored messaging to users across your sites and digital ecosystem. For example say a user comes to your site via a particular call-to-action from Facebook. Using the FXM, you can deliver a consistent, relevant message to the user based on what they saw through Facebook simply by using an out-of-the-box rule. Or if a user clicks off to a microsite or portal page that hasn't yet been implemented onto Sitecore, with the FXM you are able to personalize portions of that page, ensuring a consistent experience for the user across multiple touch points. Think retargeting … but cooler.

Acceleration through the Maturity Model

One trend we have seen in the market is that people are getting stuck in the middle of the customer experience maturity model - right around the optimize and nurture phases. By leveraging the FXM and tracking multi-channel touch points, collecting enhanced data and personalizing and testing content across the user journey - wherever that may be - you are empowering your agency to move through the maturity model and get even closer to building those lifelong, brand advocates we are all hoping for.

Sitecore 8.0 – The Marketer's Release

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