Thursday Feb 21, 2013

DO MORE WITH ORACLE WEBCENTER

DO MORE WITH ORACLE WEBCENTER

Whether you’ve established a content infrastructure and you’re ready to build solutions on top; or if you have tactical needs to solve specific business problems, Oracle WebCenter provides out of the box applications and a feature-rich foundation to meet your needs.

The more you plug into key applications and use cases, the more value your content infrastructure provides to the enterprise. Extend your reach, your ROI, and your value to your organization. Set the stage for future innovation.


Enable Employees, Partners, and Customers to Do More With Oracle WebCenter

Did you know that, in addition to enterprise content management, Oracle WebCenter also includes comprehensive portal, composite application, collaboration, and Web experience management capabilities?

Does Oracle power your portal solution for intranets, self-service portals or community websites? If so, did you know that Oracle WebCenter now also includes comprehensive content, web experience management and social computing capabilities?

Are you providing your customers with engaging online experiences using Oracle? If so, you probably realize that there’s more to exceptional customer engagement than just Web experience management. You must also empower your business by engaging and enabling employees and partners to deliver on customers’ expectations.

Now you can do more with WebCenter than ever before by creating advanced customer facing web solutions to improve customer loyalty and sales by delivering contextual and targeted multi-channel experiences to users across mobile, social and web channels. And you can manage the entire content lifecycle of not just the content in your portals but across your entire company as well.

Join us for this On Demand Series of 3 Webcasts and learn how you can provide a new level of engagement.

Learn how to Do More with Oracle WebCenter:

  • Do More with Oracle WebCenter – Expand Beyond Content Management
  • Do More with Oracle WebCenter - Expand Beyond Web Experience Management
  • Do More with Oracle WebCenter: Expand Beyond Portals

Learn more about how WebCenter:

  • Drives task-specific application data and content to a single screen for executing specific business processes
  • Enables mixed internal and external environments where content can be securely shared and filtered with employees, partners, and customers, based upon role-based security
  • Offers Web experience management, driving contextually relevant, social, and interactive online experiences across multiple channels
  • Provides social features that enable sharing, activity feeds, collaboration, expertise location, and best-practices communities
  • Drives sales and loyalty with an engaging cross-channel online experience
  • Enables self-service extranets, intranets and custom application dashboards
  • Enhances productivity with social collaboration
  • Optimizes information access with content management
  • Enables the social business by coordinating collaboration inside and outside the enterprise
  • Improves the online experience by delivering targeted multi-channel customer experiences
  • Manages the complete content lifecycle across all websites, applications and social tools on a strategic enterprise content management platform

What businesses sometimes forget, is that to truly engage your customers, you must also first enable and engage your partners and employees.

Do More with WebCenter, the user engagement platform for social business.

Watch Now: Do More with Oracle WebCenter Series




Thursday Feb 14, 2013

Importance of Page-Fragment Caching in Enabling High Performance Websites

Today's guest blog post is from Mariam Tariq, Senior Director of Product Management  for Oracle WebCenter Sites. Mariam has worked in the technology space for over 15 years with a focus in web content management, social marketing, and mobility. She has also held roles in product management, strategy and engineering at Zenprise, Interwoven, and Scientific Atlanta. Mariam holds BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley.

For most organizations, the online channel is a significant customer touch point which continues to grow in importance year after year.  Delivering a highly responsive website with no downtime ensures there is neither revenue loss nor poor customer experience.  A caching subsystem is a central part of the website delivery system needed to achieve high performance.

While page-level caching is essential for performance, further caching at a fragment level  enables dynamic delivery of the website such that pages can be assembled at runtime when incoming requests are received.  This is especially critical to delivering targeted websites where different users see different content on a page based on his/her visitor attributes such as location, time of day, or registered preferences. It is much more efficient to recompute only the fragments of the page that are different rather than the entire page, as typically only small amounts of data on a page will change.

Oracle WebCenter Sites is a Web Content Management system capable of this type of high scale dynamic delivery. In WebCenter Sites, efficient dynamic delivery is made possible by keeping track of changes to individual web components and dependencies between them. This is followed by just-in-time page assembly and caching of discrete fragments at the edge of the network.  As a result, even when data is managed in traditional relational databases, the page delivery model scales to serve a very high throughput site with a reasonably small hardware footprint.

WebCenter Sites provides two layers of caching known as double-buffered caching: Sites Server cache and Satellite Server cache.  Sites Servers are the core servers that can publish to Satellite Servers. Satellite Servers are remote servers that provide distributed caching and are first to receive the client requests. A typical deployment topology is shown below. If the requested page is not in the Satellite Server cache, it is requested from WebCenter Sites. If WebCenter Sites does not have the page in its cache, it regenerates it and sends it to Satellite Server.  


Figure: Typical WebCenter Sites Deployment Topology

Furthermore, WebCenter Sites communicates asset dependency information to all Sites and Satellite Server nodes. So when individual assets on a page change, each cluster node (in a Sites or Satellite Server cluster) is able to determine where that asset is used and which page fragments should be invalidated. Caching is therefore not limited to only page level. WebCenter Sites caching includes multiple layers of different kinds of cache, each tooled for a specific delivery scenario:  assets, page fragments, and even database queries.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) can be used with WebCenter Sites to further increase performance. WebCenter Sites complements CDNs by caching authenticated content not typically cachable by CDNs.  In addition, WebCenter Sites Satellites are an added availability layer that can provide a back up to the CDN as well as act as an additional barrier for intrusion attacks.  For companies with moderate traffic, WebCenter Sites provides a cost effective solution for caching in lieu of using a CDN.

To summarize,  granular caching at a fragment-level ensures a high performing website with reduced cost and hardware footprint. To meet and anticipate performance needs, such a caching strategy should considered when implementing a website.

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On Demand Webcast: How Brands Can Survive Digital Darwinism

This is the age of Digital Darwinism – where society and technology evolve faster than your ability to adapt. How well poised is your brand to survive and thrive in this new environment? Watch this webcast to hear Altimeter Group digital analyst and futurist, Brian Solis, discuss the rise of connected consumerism and learn how brands can survive Digital Darwinism by better understanding customer expectations, disruptive technology, and the new opportunities that arise from them. 

Wednesday Feb 13, 2013

Exa Strength Web Performance

Today's guest post is from Kelly Goetsch. Kelly is a Senior Product Manager for Oracle's vertically-integrated hardware and software stack, Exalogic. Kelly came to Oracle through the ATG acquisition, where he spent over six years as a Senior Architect with ATG's Professional Services organization. He spent his last three years at ATG with Walmart Global eCommerce, serving as their chief ATG consultant. Kelly has published numerous white papers on topics including Exalogic, distributed computing, large-scale eCommerce deployment architectures, performance tuning, and maximum availability. He holds a M.S. in M.I.S. and a B.S. in Entrepreneurship from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Over the past decade, online customer experience has evolved from requiring a single application supporting a single channel to an ecosystem of related applications, middleware, and core technology supporting an increasingly converged set of all physical and virtual channels. For some Oracle customers, the web is the sole channel. For those that have a physical presence, many trips to a store now begin with online research. Even most post-sales service is being moved online. Here's how customers are beginning to interact with their brands:

The Increasingly Complex Customer Journey

Customers are no longer satisfied dealing with siloed organizations. Customers want a seamless interaction across all channels. As a result of these changes, many purchases today, even those that take place in-store, are driven by the online channel. In fact, a 2011 study showed that 48% of all retail sales are either online purchases or web-influenced purchases.

Oracle technology can power the entire online customer experience ecosystem, from marketing driven sites to eCommerce sites and self-service portals.  Oracle WebCenter Sites often plays a key role in delivering the online customer experience due to its exceptional ability to deliver content effectively to different customers on different devices. 

As a result of these additional touch points and the increasing traffic on each channel, the traffic that WebCenter Sites needs to support has grown exponentially while customers are increasingly expecting that pages load instantaneously. 

Oracle WebCenter Sites on Exalogic Benchmarking Results

So what's the solution? Oracle's engineered systems – Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata – are supercharged platforms comprised of hardware and software that are designed for these ever-increasing workloads. Oracle Exalogic runs the app and middle tiers whereas Oracle Exadata runs the database tier. Oracle's engineered systems contain all of the storage, x86-based compute power, networking equipment, virtualization, management software, and unique optimizations for Oracle WebCenter Sites to ensure that Oracle WebCenter Sites runs exceptionally well. Since Oracle owns all layers of the stack, from storage to networking to Oracle WebCenter Sites, Oracle has been able to vertically optimize the entire hardware and software stack to work better together. As a result of all this engineering, uncached pages are delivered 11.6x faster on Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata when compared to an equivalent commodity-based system. Publishing is 3.7x faster. Cached pages are served 2.2x more efficiently per core. It's these numbers, along with all of the other benefits of running engineered systems that has our customers adopting these systems in droves. 

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White Paper: Exalogic and Exadata - The Optimal Platform for Oracle WebCenter Sites

Exalogic and Exadata should be considered whenever a new Oracle WebCenter Sites environment is built that requires the utmost in performance and scalability, whether for a new implementation, a hardware refresh, or an upgrade of Oracle WebCenter Sites. Exalogic and Exadata bring increased topline revenue, reduced total cost of ownership, and faster time-to-market, all of which act together to provide the best return on investment and make Exalogic and Exadata the best platform on which to deploy Oracle WebCenter Sites. To learn more about Oracle WebCenter Sites on Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata, download this white paper

Tuesday Feb 12, 2013

The High Consequences of Poorly Performing Websites

I recently returned from a wonderful trip to the Dominican Republic for a destination wedding where the skies were sunny, the temps were in the eighties, and the hotel internet connection was slow and unreliable. From the point of view of those traveling with me, the lousy connection was probably a good thing -- it prevented me from checking in on work emails frequently and worrying too much about what was going on back in the office. At the same time, however, it did leave me frustrated over the few online tasks I’d wanted to accomplish while away that had to be delayed until I returned to the U.S. where greater bandwidth and reliability awaited.

It's hard to get worked up about poor web performance in paradise.

Offline in Playa del Macao, Dominican Republic.

This experience got me thinking about not only how much we’ve come to rely on the online channel in our everyday lives, but also how important high performance is when it comes to the online customer experience. After all, the slow page load times and time-outs I experienced at the resort were enough to make me drop my entire online agenda while on vacation.

The simple matter is that it’s not enough to make your web presence available and hope for the best. All site visitors are naturally impatient and rightly so. As a result, you need to make sure that your web presence is finely tuned and super fast and super responsive. Even small dips in performance can have high consequences for your business and consumers expect web pages to load at increasingly faster speeds. For example:

  • Shopzilla decreased their average page load time from 6 second to 1.2 seconds resulting in a 25% page view increase and 12% revenue increase1
  • A 1-second delay in page-load time can result in 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions2
  • Amazon discovered that 1 ms of latency would cost them 1% in sales3
  • Google found that an extra ½ second in time for a search page to load resulted in a 20% drop in traffic3
  • Tablet users expect websites to load in under three seconds; smart phone users expect pages to load in less than four seconds4

Many of you may be familiar with these statistics already, but it’s important to note that high online performance is not only the concern of online behemoths like Google and Amazon. It should be your concern too. That’s why we’ll spend this week on the WebCenter blog taking a closer look at how to deliver high performance websites.

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Are you an existing Oracle WebCenter Sites customer?

Find documentation, downloads, video tutorials, forums and more on Oracle’s web experience management solution. Just visit Oracle WebCenter Sites on the Oracle Technology Network.

Monday Feb 11, 2013

Oracle Forums: Learn How to Transform Your Online Customer Experience

Your customers expect a brand experience that is engaging, consistent, and connected across Web, mobile, and social channels. To deliver on these expectations, you must transform your online customer experience into one that is personalized and relevant, social and interactive, and optimized for multichannel delivery.

Attend one of Oracle's Forums to learn how Oracle’s Web experience management solution can help you develop a connected and engaging online customer experience that drives sales and loyalty. You’ll learn:

  • Why the online channel is an ideal place to begin connecting customer touch points
  • How personalization and targeting improve the effectiveness of online customer experience initiatives
  • How to get social by creating an interactive online customer experience that builds community engagement
  • How to optimize the online customer experience for anytime, anywhere engagement

Upcoming Forums

Oracle Forum Philadelphia - Sponsored by Deloitte and Avio Consulting

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Sullivan's Steakhouse, 700 West Dekalb Pike, King of Prussia, PA 19406, USA
Click Here to Register

Oracle Forum Bangkok

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, 952 Rama IV Rd., Bangkok, Thailand
Click Here to Register

Oracle Forum New York City - Sponsored by Deloitte

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
The Muse Hotel, 130 West 46th Street, New York, NY, 10036, USA
Click Here to Register

Oracle Forum Stockholm - Sponsored by LBi

Thursday, March 14th, 2013
8:30 AM – 11:00 AM
Friends Arena, Råsta Strandväg 1, Stockholm, Solna, Sweden
Click Here to Register

Friday Jan 18, 2013

Online Customer Journey: The Service and Recommendation Experiences

We wrap up our week of focusing on the online customer journey by looking at the final two stages – the service experience and the recommendation experience.

The Service Experience

Once you’ve successfully converted site visitors into paying customers, you’ll want to assure that it’s easy for customers to continue doing business with you and help them get the most out of their investment in your products or services. Oftentimes, in industries like financial services, healthcare, or even government, you’ll want to provide your customers, patients, or constituents with both a public online presence where they can find information and engage with your organization early in the customer journey, and also an online self-service presence that enables your customers to access secure services where they can conduct financial transactions, look up personal health information or take advantage of government services. In cases like this, the combination of Oracle WebCenter Sites and Oracle WebCenter Portal is ideally suited to helping you meet both of these objectives and ultimately deliver an online experience that is unified, consistent and seamless as those visiting your web presence evolve from prospects into active customers.

The whole idea of incorporating a self-service aspect into a company’s online engagement strategy is definitely one that is picking up steam as companies looks at new ways to service their customers efficiently and effectively online. And not only is online self-service a means for driving greater efficiencies, the vast majority of customers – 75% -- prefer to use online support if it’s available and reliable.

The Recommendation Experience

The final phase that you should consider in your online marketing strategy is the recommendation phase, whereby satisfied customers become advocates for your brand and recommend it to others. The opinions that people share about their experiences with a product or brand are a highly valued source of information relied upon by prospective customers as they contemplate a purchasing decision. In fact, 70% of consumers trust the opinions of other online users, making it one of the most trusted types of information that potential buyers consider, second only to the opinions of people they know.1

You can tap into the influence your satisfied customers can have over prospective customers by making it easy for them to share their experiences with their social networks, and to contribute helpful comments, ratings or reviews of your products and services. The ability to share and contribute socially on your web presence should be given component of your web presence. You can encourage social sharing and the contribution of user-generated content by enabling social login on your web presence, whereby customers can login into your site quickly and easily using their familiar social networking profiles. Such capabilities are available to you when you use Oracle WebCenter Sites for web experience management.

This concludes our series of posts on the online customer journey. Remember that developing an effective online experience that supports the customer life cycle is critical to driving sales and earning long term loyalty.

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Are you providing your customers with engaging online experiences using Oracle? If so, you probably realize that there's more to exceptional customer engagement than just web experience management. You must also empower your business by engaging and enabling employees and partners to deliver on customers' expectations. Join us for this Webcast and learn how to meet your engagement goals by doing more with Oracle WebCenter for portals and enterprise content management. View now.

1 Neilsen, “Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages,” 2011

Thursday Jan 17, 2013

Online Customer Journey: The Selection and Purchase Experiences

Today we continue our examination of the online customer experience journey by taking at look at the next two stages – product selection and purchasing.

The Selection Experience

Once you’ve successfully engaged prospective customers with a relevant and interactive experience, and gotten them to consider your organization as a possible solution for their needs, you can continue to guide and influence their selection process by making it easier for them to search for and discover suitable solutions for their needs. Depending on your business model, there are numerous approaches that aid the online selection process including the incorporation of faceted search and guided navigation, segmentation and targeting, or even endorsements from other customers in the form of comments, ratings or reviews on the web presence.

If you’re a business that has a large product catalog, integrating faceted search into the web experience can be an effective way for potential customers to dynamically explore your site and find relevant and desired items more quickly and easily. During the product selection process, site visitors want the ability to navigate based on their own unique preferences and to view content and search results that are most relevant to them. Often, the search experience on a website frustrates potential buyers or provides them with too many irrelevant results to wade through. A solution such as Oracle Endeca Guided Search can be integrated with your WebCenter Sites deployment to optimize the search capabilities on your web presence, so you can deliver more precise, more relevant, and more complete results that help guide and influence product selection, leading to increased conversion rates and customer satisfaction.

Another way in which you can aid the selection process on your web presence is by using the segmentation and targeting tools in Oracle WebCenter Sites to deliver a more relevant and personalized online experience. As potential customers browse through your site, you can use explicit criteria, implicit criteria or a combination of both, to deliver the most relevant information to those customers aiding their selection process. For an organization with a broad set of solutions that are specialized for buyers with distinct needs (financial services or insurance are good examples), segmentation and targeting can be used to narrow the number of solutions being featured to those that are most relevant to a particular visitor, making the experience on your site more efficient and effective.

And finally, don’t overlook the power of peer influence when it comes to the selection process. 75% of consumers put a high degree of trust into the opinions fellow consumers have posted online.1 By incorporating user-generated content (UGC) features into your web presence such as comments, ratings and reviews, you can tap into the extremely persuasive powers of other online consumers to help influence the behavior of your site visitors and make their selection process easier. With Oracle WebCenter Sites, robust tools for UGC deployment, moderation and management are available out-of-the box.

The Purchase Experience

If your business model includes an ecommerce component, speeding and simplifying the purchase process is the next step in the online customer experience journey. A streamlined and efficient online purchase process is vital to preventing shopping cart abandonment. The purchase process can even become another opportunity for engaging customers and influencing them to purchase more or related products; it can also be structured to incentivize customers to take action now through the offer of various promotions.

Websites span the spectrum from marketing-driven to commerce-driven, including a variety that are in between and combine marketing and commerce to varying degrees for different purposes.

Oracle’s ATG Web Commerce is a top ranked commerce solution that enables you to deliver an engaging and efficient online buying experience. When combined with Oracle WebCenter Sites, these solutions bring together best-in-class web experience management and ecommerce capabilities, assuring that your site visitors have a personalized, interactive, and multichannel experience as make their way through the customer journey, researching, selecting, and making purchases.

Please visit the WebCenter blog tomorrow as we wrap up our journey through the online customer experience. To learn more about how Oracle empowers people and powers brands to deliver engaging experiences that drive business results, also check out our Executive Strategy Brief on Customer Experience.

1 Neilsen, “Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages,” 2011

Wednesday Jan 16, 2013

The Online Customer Journey: The Research Experience

Yesterday, we began taking a look at the online customer journey and the primary stages of it that should be carefully considered as you develop your online strategy. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the first stage in which potential customers begin to research solutions to fulfill a need or solve a problem, and what that means in terms of how you should approach your online presence.

While social networking sites have become frequent online destinations for people today, company sponsored brand websites still play a central and critical role in the online customer journey. In fact, brand websites remain a preferred source for information gathering during the purchase process, second only to search engines in popularity.1 Not only is the brand website a preferred source for information, it is also a highly trusted one. Nearly 60% of online consumers trust the information they find on company websites, a percentage that far exceeds that of all other forms of paid advertising.2


Since the brand website is such a highly preferred and trusted destination during the customer journey, you’ll want to assure that it delivers a truly engaging experience as your site visitors research your products and services. At this stage in the customer lifecycle, you want to focus on informing, educating, and developing interactive relationships with prospective customers so that they’ll seriously consider your brand as a solution that addresses their needs.

Part of this engagement equation will depend on your content strategy, in other words, you’ll need to assure that you have the right mix of thought leadership, product/service information, videos, testimonials or other marketing content to address the needs of prospective customers at this stage of their journey. The other part of the engagement equation involves web experience management (WEM) technology, and how you leverage it to drive relevancy and promote interaction across online channels using the content you’ve developed. From my perspective, there are three key ways in which WEM can help your business facilitate the research phase of the customer journey and deliver content in more meaningful ways to promote engagement with your brand:

Relevant and Personalized Online Experiences

Today, it’s no longer acceptable to deliver a one-size-fits-all online customer experience. Instead, you must demonstrate that you know your customers by providing them with a relevant and personalized online experience that takes their preferences, behavior and past history with your brand into account. More relevant online experiences can lead to greater site stickiness, more repeat visits and higher conversion rates. They can help prospective customers more easily find and understand how your products and solutions can help them meet their particular objectives. A WEM solution can provide you with easy to use segmentation and targeting capabilities that will empower you to deliver a more personalized online experience using your marketing content.



Social and Interactive Online Experiences

Customers expect their online experience with your brand to be as social and interactive as their experiences on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. To fulfill these expectations, you must provide your customers with plenty of opportunities to interact socially with your brand. This means incorporating user-generated content capabilities such as ratings, reviews, or comments into your web presence and integrating with social networks to facilitate participation on your site using social login and to promote social sharing of information from your site. To achieve this, make sure that you use a WEM solution that allows you to easily incorporate social computing features into your online experience drive engagement and foster community, while also providing robust moderation and management capabilities so you can assure that all user-generated content benefits both your community and your business.

Optimized Experiences for Mobile

The online experience is an increasingly mobile experience due to the ubiquity of phones and tablets. To meet the needs of mobile customers, you must optimize your web presence for anytime, anywhere delivery to the thousands of different mobile device types that are available. Your WEM solution should help simplify mobile delivery by enabling you to centrally manage both your traditional site and mobile site using the same content, navigation and authoring interface.

Today’s customers expect an experience is both relevant and interactive across web, mobile and social channels. By focusing on creating experiences that demonstrate how well you know your customers, that promote social interactivity, and that allow for anytime, anywhere access across web, mobile and social channels, you’ll engage prospective customers during the early phases of the customer life cycle, thereby unlocking the door to greater sales and loyalty for your business.

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You can learn more about Oracle’s web experience management solution, Oracle WebCenter Sites, by downloading this free white paper, “Creating a Successful and Meaningful Customer Experience on the Web.” Return to the Oracle WebCenter blog later this week as we look at other stages in the online customer journey.

1 Fleishman-Hillard, "2012 Digital Influence Index: Understanding the Role of Internet in the Lives of Consumers" conducted by Harris Interactive,, Jan 31, 2012

2 Neilsen, “Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages,” 2011

Thursday Dec 20, 2012

Optimizing the Online Experience with Oracle WebCenter & Oracle Real-Time Decisions

Earlier in the week, we took a closer look at two different approaches to segmentation and targeting, manual and automated. While manual segmentation and targeting gives marketers a great deal of control, this approach can become time consuming and complicated when dealing with high volumes of segments and content. In these situations, automated segmentation, which relies on predictive intelligence, may be an appropriate choice for optimizing your online customer experience.

Oracle’s web experience management solution, WebCenter Sites, already includes robust capabilities for marketer managed segmentation and targeting, however, a whole new level of optimization can be achieved by combining WebCenter Sites with Oracle’s decision management solution, Real-Time Decisions. Using the power of statistical data models and historical and real-time analytics, Real-Time Decisions automates what would otherwise be the manual task of sifting through volumes of customer data, determining likely and potential customer segments, and determining the best content to present to a given site visitor. As customer interactions take place, Real-Time Decisions continuously refines its data models, automatically adjusting and learning over time to achieve the optimal content selection for each site visitor.

Marketers have multiple levels of control when using Real-Time Decisions. They can opt for full automation and let Real-Time Decisions handle all of the decision making. In this case, Real-Time Decisions infers segmentation and uses automation to make decisions about what content to display to the site visitor. Or, marketers can opt for a more controlled approach and specify performance goals that will help steer the Real-Time Decisions model in the direction of desired business objectives such as maximizing revenue or maximizing conversions.

Together, Oracle WebCenter Sites and Oracle Real-Time Decisions provide marketers with the ability to determine the best approach for realizing their segmentation and targeting objectives, whether that means managing the process manually or by instituting some level of automation. Download this white paper to learn more about how WebCenter Sites and Real-Time Decisions combine to create a truly powerful solution for optimizing the online customer experience to meet your business objectives.

Wednesday Dec 19, 2012

Defining Your Online Segmentation and Targeting Strategy

A lot of times, companies will put online segmentation and targeting on the back burner because they don’t know where to start. Often, I’ve heard web managers say that their segments aren’t well understood yet, so they can’t really deliver personalized online experiences that are meaningful. This lack of complete understanding means that they don't really bother to try. But, I don’t think you necessarily need to have an elaborate segmentation and targeting strategy already in place to start delivering a more relevant online customer experience. Sometimes it helps to think of how segmentation and targeting might solve some of the challenges your sites visitors are currently experiencing on your web presence, rather than doing nothing and waiting until a fully baked segmentation strategy lands in your inbox. 

For example, perhaps you have a broad and varied service offering that makes it difficult for site visitors to easily find the solutions that are most relevant for them.  How can segmentation and targeting help solve this problem?  Or maybe it’s like the airline I described in Monday’s post where the special deals featured on the home page are only relevant to site visitors from a couple of cities.  Couldn’t segmentation and targeting help them to highlight offers on their home page that are relevant to a larger share of their site visitors?


Your early segmentation and targeting efforts do not need to be complicated.  There are simple ways to start delivering a more relevant online customer experience, even if you’re dealing with anonymous site visitors.  These include targeting content to site visitors based on:

  • Referral: Deliver targeted content to your site visitors that is based on where they came from or the search term they used to find your site
  • Behavior:  Deliver content to your site visitors that is related or similar to content they’ve clicked on already
  • Location:  Deliver content your site visitors that is most relevant for their geographic location (this would solve that pesky airline home page problem described above)

So as you can see, there really are some very simple ways in which you can start improving your online customer experience using very basic segmentation and targeting methods. 

One thing to keep in mind as you start to define you segmentation and targeting strategy is that there are many different types of attributes or combinations of attributes upon which you can base your segmentation and targeting strategy.  In addition to referral, behavior and location, other attributes that you should consider are:

  • Profile Information:  What profile information do you know about this customer already?  Perhaps they provided some information on their interests and preferences when they first registered with your site.
  • Time:  What time is it and how does that impact what my site visitors are looking for or trying to do?
  • Demographics: What are my site visitors’ ages, incomes or ethnicities?

Which attributes you select to include in your segmentation strategy will depend on your unique business needs and objectives.  Attributes such as behavior or referral may not be the most important targeting criteria depending on your situation. For example, if you’re a newspaper you might know that certain visitors are sports fans based on their profile information.  You can create a segment for sports fans and target sports related content to that segment of your readership online.  Or perhaps, a reader is browsing stories that are related to politics; you can use that visitor’s behavior to assign him or her to a segment for those interested in politics. From there you can recommend more stories to that visitor based on their interest in politics. For an airline, the visitor’s location may be a more important attribute. By detecting the visitor’s location, you can assign them to an appropriate segment and then target special flights and offers to them based on their likely departure airport.

As you can see, there are many practical ways that you can start improving the experience your customers receive on your web presence using fairly basic segmentation and targeting techniques. If you want to learn more about segmentation and targeting using Oracle’s web experience management solution, check out this helpful video that demonstrates these powerful capabilities in Oracle WebCenter Sites.

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On Demand Webcast Featuring Brian Solis of Altimeter Group

Trends such as the mobile web, social media, gamification and real-time are changing customer behavior and expectations. In this new environment, many businesses will struggle. Some will fall by the wayside, while others learn to adapt and thrive. Watch this on demand webcast with Altimeter Group digital analyst and author, Brian Solis, and discover what your organization needs to know about how to compete in the new era of Digital Darwinism. View now.

Tuesday Dec 18, 2012

Segmentation and Targeting: Your Tools for Personalizing the Online Customer Experience

In order to deliver the kind of personalized and engaging online experiences that customers expect today, look to segmentation and targeting.  Segmentation is the practice of dividing your site visitors into distinct groups based on shared characteristics or behavior – for example, a segment may consist of site visitors who have visited pages related to certain product type, or they may consist of visitors within the same age group or geographic area.  The idea is that those within a segment are more likely to have common needs, problems or interests that can be served by your business. Targeting is the process by which the most relevant content, whether an article promotion or other piece of content, is delivered to your visitors based on their segment membership.

Segmentation and targeting are used to drive greater engagement on your web presence by delivering content to your site visitors that is tailored to their interests, behavior or other attributes.  You may have a number of different goals for your segmentation and targeting efforts:

  • Up-sell or cross-sell to your customers
  • Conduct A/B testing on your offers and creative
  • Offer discounts, promotions or other incentives for the time and duration that you specify
  • Make is easier to find relevant information about products and services
  • Create premium content model
There are two different approaches you can take toward segmentation and targeting for you online customer experience initiatives.

The first is more of a manual process, in which marketers manage the process of determining which segments to create and which content to target to those segments. The benefit of this approach is that it gives marketers a high level of control over the whole process which works well when you have a thorough understanding of your segments and which content is most likely to serve their needs.  Tools for marketer managed segmentation and targeting are often built right in to your WEM platform, as they are with Oracle WebCenter Sites. The downside is that the more segments and content that you have, the more time consuming and complicated in can be to manage manually.

The second approach relies on predictive intelligence to automate the segmentation and targeting process.  This allows optimization of the process to occur in real time. This approach helps reduce the burden of manual segmentation and targeting and can result in new insights into segments that you may never have thought of on your own.  It also provides you with the capability to quickly test new offers and promotions on your site.  Predictive segmentation and targeting can be achieved by using Oracle WebCenter Sites and Oracle Real-Time Decisions together.

*****

Get a taste for how Oracle WebCenter Sites and Oracle Real-Time Decisions combine to deliver powerful capabilities for predictive segmentation and targeting by watching this on demand webcast introducing Oracle WebCenter Sites 11g or by reading IDC’s take on the latest release of Oracle’s web experience management solution.  Be sure to return to the Oracle WebCenter blog on Thursday for a closer look at how to optimize the online customer experience using these two products together.

Monday Dec 17, 2012

Why It Is So Important to Know Your Customer

Over the years, I endured enough delayed flights, air turbulence and misadventures in airport security clearance to watch my expectations for the air travel experience fall to abysmally low levels. The extent of my loyalty to any one carrier had more to do with the proximity of the airport parking garage to their particular gate than to any effort on the airline’s part to actually earn and retain my business. That all changed one day when I found myself at the airport hoping to catch a return flight home a few hours earlier than expected, using an airline I had flown with for the first time just that week.  

When you travel regularly for business, being able to catch a return flight home that’s even an hour or two earlier than originally scheduled is a big deal. It can mean the difference between having a normal evening with your family and having to sneak in like a cat burglar after everyone is fast asleep. And so I found myself on this particular day hoping to catch an earlier flight home. I approached the gate agent and was told that I could go on standby for their next flight out. Then I asked how much it was going to cost to change the flight, knowing full well that I wouldn’t get reimbursed by my company for any change fees.

“Oh, there’s no charge to fly on standby,” the gate agent told me.

I made a funny look. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This airline was going to let my fly on standby, at no additional charge, even though I was a new customer with no status or points. It had been years since I’d seen an airline pass up a short term revenue generating opportunity in favor of a long term loyalty generating one.  At that moment, this particular airline gained my loyal business.


Since then, this airline has had the opportunity to learn a lot about me. They know where I live, where I fly from, where I usually fly to, and where I like to sit on the plane. In general, I’ve found their customer service to be quite good whether at the airport, via call center and even through social channels. They email me occasionally, and when they do, they demonstrate that they know me by promoting deals for flights from where I live to places that I’d be interested in visiting. And that’s part of why I’m always so puzzled when I visit their website.

Does this company with the great service, customer friendly policies, and clean planes demonstrate that they know me at all when I visit their website? The answer is no. Even when I log in using my loyalty program credentials, it’s pretty obvious that they’re presenting the same old home page and same old offers to every single one of their site visitors. I mean, those promotional offers that they’re featuring so prominently  -- they’re for flights that originate thousands of miles from where I live! There’s no way I’d ever book one of those flights and I’m sure I’m not the only one of their customers to feel that way.

My reason for recounting this story is not to pick on the one customer experience flaw I've noticed with this particular airline, in fact, they do so many things right that I’ll continue to fly with them. But I did want to illustrate just how glaringly obvious it is to customers today when a touch point they have with a brand is impersonal, unconnected and out of sync. As someone who’s spent a number of years in the web experience management and online marketing space, it particularly peeves me when that out of sync touch point is a brand’s website, perhaps because I know how important it is to make a customer’s online experience relevant and how many powerful tools are available for making a relevant experience a reality.



The fact is, delivering a one-size-fits-all online customer experience is no longer acceptable or particularly effective in today’s world. Today’s savvy customers expect you to know who they are and to understand their preferences, behavior and relationship with your brand. Not only do they expect you to know about them, but they also expect you to demonstrate this knowledge across all of their touch points with your brand in a consistent and compelling fashion, whether it be on your traditional website, your mobile web presence or through various social channels.

Delivering the kind of personalized online experiences that customers want can have tremendous business benefits. This is not just about generating feelings of goodwill and higher customer satisfaction ratings either. More relevant and personalized online experiences boost the effectiveness of online marketing initiatives and the statistics prove this out. Personalized web experiences can help increase online conversion rates by 70% -- that’s a huge number.1  And more than three quarters of consumers indicate that they’ve made additional online purchases based on personalized product recommendations.2

Now if only this airline would get on board with delivering a more personalized online customer experience. I’d certainly be happier and more likely to spring for one of their promotional offers. And by targeting relevant offers on their home page to appropriate segments of their site visitors, I bet they’d be happier and generating additional revenue too.

 *****

If you're interested in hearing more perspectives on the benefits of demonstrating that you know your customers by delivering a more personalized experience, check out this white paper on creating a successful and meaningful customer experience on the web.  Also catch the video below on the business value of CX in attracting new customers featuring Oracle's VP of Customer Experience Strategy, Brian Curran.

1 Search Engine Watch 2 Marketing Charts

Friday Nov 09, 2012

Leading Analyst Firm Positions Oracle in Leaders Quadrant for Web Content Management

Gartner, Inc. has named Oracle a Leader in its latest “Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management.” Gartner’s Magic Quadrants position vendors within a particular quadrant based on their completeness of vision and their ability to execute on that vision. According to Gartner, “WCM plays an increasingly important role in business performance. It has become the central point of coordination for initiatives involving the enterprise's online presence, and these initiatives have become more sophisticated and more important to enterprises' business strategies. Thus, WCM is key for organizations wishing to execute a strategy of OCO (online channel optimization) that embraces areas such as customer experience management, e-commerce, digital marketing, multichannel marketing and website consolidation.”

Gartner continued, “Leaders should drive market transformation. Leaders have the highest combined scores for Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision. They are doing well and are prepared for the future with a clear vision and a thorough appreciation of the broader context of OCO. They have strong channel partners, a presence in multiple regions, consistent financial performance, broad platform support and good customer support. In addition, they dominate in one or more technologies or vertical markets. Leaders are aware of the ecosystem in which their offerings need to fit. Leaders can: demonstrate enterprise deployments’ offer integration with other business applications and content repositories; provide a vertical-process or horizontal-solution focus.”

Oracle WebCenter, the engagement platform powering exceptional experiences for customers, employees and partners, connects people and information by bringing together the most complete portfolio of portal, Web experience management, content, social, and collaboration technologies into a single integrated product suite. Oracle WebCenter also provides the foundation for Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Fusion Applications to deliver a next-generation user experience.  To see the latest reports, webcasts and demonstrations about Oracle's web experience management solution, Oracle WebCenter Sites, please visit our Connected Customer Experience Resource Center.



Wednesday Nov 07, 2012

What Do Your Customers Want in an Online Experience?

In a time where customers have an increasing number of choices and an increasing level of control over their relationships with brands, what matters most is engagement. In order to engage your customers online, you need to provide them with a relevant, interactive and multichannel experience.  Check out this video to see the kind of engaging online experience that Oracle WebCenter can power for your customers.

Want to learn more?  Visit our Connected Customer Experience Resource Center to:

  • See a demonstration of how easy it is for marketers and other non–technical business users to create and manage online experiences like the one above with Oracle WebCenter Sites
  • Hear Ancestry.com describe how they use Oracle WebCenter Sites to deliver an online experience that converts site visitors into customers and keeps them coming back to learn more about their family histories
  • Hear what analysts are saying about the exciting new and enhanced web experience management capabilities in Oracle WebCenter Sites 11g

Monday Nov 05, 2012

You Can Deliver an Engaging Online Experience Across All Phases of the Customer Journey


Engage. Empower. Extend.

Today’s customers have higher expectations and more choices than ever before.  To succeed in this environment, organizations must deliver an engaging online experience that is personalized, interactive and consistent across all phases of the customer journey. This requires a new approach that connects and optimizes all customer touch points as they research, select and transact with your brand.  Oracle WebCenter Sites combines with other customer experience applications such as Oracle ATG Commerce, Oracle Endeca, Oracle Real-Time Decisions and Siebel CRM to deliver a connected customer experience across your websites and campaigns.

Attend this Webcast to learn how Oracle WebCenter:

  • Works with Oracle ATG Commerce and Oracle Endeca to deliver consistent and engaging browsing, shopping and search experiences across all of your customer facing websites
  • Enables you to optimize the performance of your online initiatives through integration with Oracle Real-Time Decisions for automated targeting and segmentation
  • Connects with Siebel CRM to maintain a single view of the customer and integrate campaigns across channels


Register now for the Webcast.

About

Oracle WebCenter is the center of engagement for business—powering exceptional experiences for customers, partners, and employees. It connects people, process, and information with the most complete portfolio of portal, Web experience management, content, imaging and collaboration technologies.

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