Kentico CMS / EMS 8 is slated to be released in just a few short months (official release date is set to end of Q1/2014). But with early preview builds in the wild, some great feedback is coming in from the Kentico community for those who have taken a first look at it. I myself have been reviewing the latest builds for a bit now. I am truly impressed with this update, and I want to share with you what you can expect in the new release of Kentico Enterprise Marketing Solution.
Keep reading to find out about what’s new for the on-line marketing tools that Kentico EMS gives you. Side note one: they are no particular order other than the order I discovered them in. Side note two: All content of this blog post is from the Milestone 2 Beta version of Kentico 8 and is subject to change before the final gold version is released.
1. Re-Designed User Interface for Admins including Personalized Dashboards
Say good-bye to words like CMSDesk and CMSSiteManager! Yes that should be a bit of a shocker. There is now just Administration. I like this change because its more a well known term than CMSDesk. Now I can just tell my customers to go login to the Kentico Admin section and no one will be confused.
The screen shot below is what the Dashboard looks like when someone in the role of Marketing Manager first logs in. It gives the user easy access to common tasks that he or she might have to perform. The Dashboard system is easily personalizable by Role.
You can add / remove applications from any Dashboard quickly via the new Role management screens:
Clicking on the Kentico logo is much like the start menu button in other apps. This brings up the main navigation that is all new and completely re-envisioned.
And yes as you can see above, the ability to search applications is an incredibly quick and easy way to find what you are looking for. It works much like Windows 8 Search Everywhere functionality, as soon as you start typing the list gets narrowed down to your search term.
Kudos to the entire Kentico team for making this sweeping change to the entire application. I really think it makes Kentico even easier to use and navigate if you are Content Editor, Developer, or Digital Marketer.
2. Persona Based Personalization
Personas in Kentico EMS are really like profiles of your website visitors. The system is similar to how you can use macros to conditionally show content on your web pages, but without the need to keep repeating a set of macro code or configuration. The main use for Personas in Kentico EMS 8 will be for content personalization and recommendation. The functionality is similar to Contact Groups, but a little bit more integrated into the Document & Pages application. (Yes, I almost typed in CMSDesk Content Tree here. Old habits will die hard I suppose).
The new system also ties somewhat to the Lead Scoring system in Kentico EMS. A website visitor or contact can also be moved in and out of certain Personas automatically based on a point threshold or Score Limit as you can see below.
Also included in the new Persona system is the ability to preview a Document in Documents & Pages by a Persona. You won’t need 4 new browser instances, you can just use the new preview functionality. This is close to the mobile device previews that existed in v7.
3. Newsletter subscriptions by Personas
As I mentioned before Personas are similar to Contact Groups, but they are also treated as Subscribers when it comes to the Newsletters functionality of Kentico EMS 8. Nothing earth shattering here, but it definitely adds to the value of utilizing Personas because there are many ways you can use them in the system.
4. Strands Recommendations
Kentico EMS E-commerce users will be happy to see this one. Version 8 includes a brand new functionality for recommending products that can be used in cross selling and up-selling scenarios. The screen shot below shows the results of the new functionality as it appears to website visitors that are looking at a product page for the iPod shuffle. In this example the bottom section of the page is generated by the Strands Recommendor service. This feature is now an out of the box integration with Kentico EMS 8. The service accepts visitor behavior (think activity tracking types like page view, purchase made, rating a product) and provides recommendations back to your site such as “Most popular products”, “Who bought this also bought”, “Based on what’s in your cart”.
You will also be able to define a product catalog that can be uploaded to Strands.
This is a very compelling set of functionality for any e-commerce shop utilizing the Kentico EMS platform not only because it can be placed on the product detail page or shopping cart page, but the same content recommendations can be placed inside of email templates that you use. A very nice tool for email marketing campaigns.
5. Macro based Rules for Lead Scoring and Segmentation
In version 7 of Kentico EMS you could easily perform Lead Scoring on any website visitor’s Attributes (think job title, or organization name) or Activity (page visit, poll submission, form submission). Version 8 adds a third choice for controlling how you can score your visitors, Macro Conditions. This is a pretty welcome addition because it opens up the possibilities even further.
In the screen shot below I have set up a Rule underneath my Score that assigns 3 points to any contact that has at least 3 products in their wishlist.
6. Additional Built in Macro Conditions & Activity Types
I also saw a few new additions to the out of the box functionality with what you can track and do with Kentico EMS. You can now easily check any permission for a contact in any condition with “Current user has permission”. This will be useful for Kentico developers. You can also more specifically track on-line form submissions with the “Custom table form submit” activity type. This is more useful for digital marketers who might want to add this into to their scoring rule logic, or use it as a trigger in a marketing automation process.
7. Data.com Integration Updated
Kentico EMS has had the ability to sync Contact attributes with Data.com from its inception. 8.0 updates this integration to better fit the licensing model of the service. You still have the ability to manually update attributes on the Data.com tab of any Contact in the system, as well as use a marketing automation process to automatically sync many Contacts. For full details check out this post by Vita Janecek on DevNet.
8. Enhanced A/B Test Management & Reporting
A/B Testing is a very powerful feature of Kentico EMS. Most of my clients A/B Tests to optimize the content of their landing pages. However, I’ll be honest interpreting the fine details of the results was a bit of challenge because sometimes it was hard to figure out if you were in the right location or not in the old CMSDesk to see the results. That is now fixed in Kentico 8. A/B Tests have been promoted to a full application in the new main navigation.
There is also a new option for Cumulative vs. Day wise reporting on each test. You also have the ability to change which success metric you wish to see the results by: Conversion Rate, Conversion Value, Average Conversion Value, and Conversion Count .
There you have it, my list of 8 updates coming soon in Kentico EMS 8. If you want to read more on the next release of Kentico there are a good set of articles out there. I would start with fellow Kentico MVP, Jeroen Furst's, Top 8 Content Management Features for Version 8. Then check out Ilesh Mistry’s Sneak Peak of Kentico Version 8, and his Deep Dive of Kentico Version 8.
Also I would like to give a big thanks to Vita Janecek and Thom Robbins for lending a hand with some of the information on this post. Hope you enjoyed it and are excited as I am for the gold release of Kentico CMS 8.0.