SiteCore CMS (version 6.5 as of this writing) is targeted at highly-interactive marketing sites with fast-changing content & layouts, supplying an editor-friendly .NET-based framework, with an increasing focus on Web Engagement Management (definition, "5 Pillars" of WEM).
Sitecore is strongly and unapologetically linked with Microsoft technologies. It makes extensive use of .NET on the server side, and stays true to the Microsoft Office user interface for content creators, taking advantage of advanced Windows features whenever content creators are on Windows (which, frankly, is still the bulk of content creators). Sites can be set up for deployment (on site creation) to Microsoft Azure.
Note that Sitecore is not a particularly out of the box solution; a good deal of development is necessary before a site goes live. Some of this is similar to Drupal (e.g. Drupal sites need a theme, Sitecore sites need templates). But additional work must be done prior to going live with Sitecore; anecdotal information suggests Sitecore is more of a "toolkit" than a "ready-to-go solution".
N.B.: Though Sitecore strategically positions its products as tools for digital marketing, it packages the CMS features separately from it's "digital marketing system".
The main features of SiteCore are:
- Coding-free page layouts. The system permits both intermediate templates that establish basic site look & feel, plus the ability for expert content creators to create custom pages based on that template.
Demo video (See the "Sitecore MS Marketer & Business User" video):
The primary emphasis is to enable advanced end users the ability to create marketing landing pages without developer assistance. Note, then, that this also includes the ability to create forms.
- Flexible content editing. Editing can be done both in-line on an existing page, as well as in forms on new pages. Editing resembles the Office-style "ribbon" interface.
- Social media type functionality. Capabilities include blogs, wikis, forums, polls, surveys, web forms, email-a-friend, post-to-Twitter/Facebook, and others (including integration with other systems such as Teligent's Community Server).
- Multilingual sites. This extends to both localization of the Sitecore interface as well as creating content with multiple languages (as well as enabling third-party translators interfaces to perform translations).
- Media (digital asset) management. Drag/drop addition to the media library for text, video, images, PDFs, and documents, with support for metadata and alt tags.
- Multisite. A single installation can support multiple sites, but anecdotal murmurs suggest it is not very robust (despite recent addition of a "clone site" feature).
- Device-specific mobile presentation. Content creators can define how content is to be delivered to various mobile devices, from smartphone to tablet to RSS feeds. Device detection is available.
- Personalized content, and progressive profiling. Sitecore relies heavily on this being a key differentiator for its product. The product attempts to show "personalized content" to site visitors, personalized down to the individual visitor. Site owners first define a set of attributes appropriate for their customer segments (e.g. professional, consumer, buyer, etc.). As site visitors view site content, the CMS begins to build a profile for the user based on what the visitor views on the site. As the profile values becomes meaningful, the site can be configured to show segment-specific content in portions of the page (using conditions / actions to display targeted content, e.g. "If visitor has high 'professional' score, then display 'product from professional set' in this block.")
Various user experiences can be previewed in the content creation interface, simulating various conditions / actions. Anecdotal information suggests that customer use of this capability is still in its infancy, and that success in using it requires extensive analysis of the business, target visitors and ways to categorize them, creating content that matches these categories, then creating pages that utilize this. Because this is typically an activity performed by the site owner (vs. site builder), it often isn't completed, or is completed fairly generically (with limited results). While this capability sounds powerful, it remains to be seen how big of an actual business impact this will have on customers. Intuitively, it feels questionable this can scale to a site with millions of page views / month.
- Built-in SEO help, such as this type of assistance to help users complete basics needed for search engine discovery:
Digital marketing system
This extra-cost component of Sitecore provides:
- Built-in analytics. Sitecore provides its own analytics, presumably because it is optimizing reporting to the approach it wants to take in digital marketing (vs. generic analytics from Google, Omniture, etc.). These include a:
- A C-level dashboard for customer engagement, campaign performance ranking, and multi-channel results.
- Specific reporting on the results emerging from its personalization features
- Real-time personalization
- Campaign optimization
- Email marketing. Sitecore bundles its own email marketing engine, that provides:
- Campaign-based emails that can re-use content from the CMS, and which can use progressive profiling
- Ongoing lead nurturing (drip campaigns)
- A/B-multivariate testing within the email campaigns, with results tracking. Results include time of day and day of week analysis.
- Segmentation based on email interactions / clickthroughs
- CRM integration, including links to Salesforce & Oracle, plus email/mobile alerts to sales, daily lead reports, and sales priority reports.
Sitecore packages its technology into several bundles (that optionally include additional capabilities):
Language: .NET / C#
Online Demo: No demo per-se, but see links to videos above
Pricing/packaging: Per-server, per-user (editor), plus fixed-price bundled add-ons for the digital marketing system, and solution accelerators
Sales channel: Sold both through authorized channel partners (essentially Microsoft channel partners)