Let’s wrap up our “Playing in the Sandbox” posts with a big Part 3. In it we’re discussing two more menus found in Sitefinity 7.0. These, however, are not custom modules. They are powerful features integrated into Sitefinity CMS.
Essentially, these two menus give you two additional services on top of running your website: they let you market with emails, and build online sales into your site. They are the Ecommerce and Marketing Menus.
The Ecommerce Menu
Ecommerce is an add-on for Sitefinity CMS Professional Edition and up. The same module format we discussed in Part 2 is used in the Ecommerce section – but it’s used in a collective sense here. You enter items for order management, taxes, shipping methods, product types and so on. In other words, you set up an array of elements & attributes which you can then apply to whatever Products you create.
Separating out products & attributes like this allows for faster product deployment. You spend a little time up front setting up the elements & attributes. Then later on, and when it’s time to add a new product? Just select from your options and hit Publish. Simple and quick.
The CMS even saves you an extra step, by letting you select a product type from its “Create” button. See for yourself here:
Once the Products are entered & loaded with the appropriate elements, you can render them all into a nice Online Shop like this one.
But wait! If you have products to sell, then you must promote them. You’ll need a marketing vehicle. Sitefinity has you covered here too…with the Marketing menu.
The Marketing Menu
The Marketing module is available in all Sitefinity Editions. Marketing existed in Sitefinity 6.x, but it was concentrated on Google Analytics integration. That’s still there, of course. But 7.0 has much more to offer. Mostly in terms of email marketing.
Sitefinity 7.0 now lets you create & send out email campaigns directly from the CMS! The Marketing menu stores templates, mailing lists, emails and reports – everything you’d need to run email marketing campaigns. Look out Constant Contact!
In fact, the setup reminds me a lot of Campaign Monitor, one of the other email service providers we’ve worked with. (Good provider too. Check them out: www.campaignmonitor.com)
But Sitefinity’s Marketing menu does one better: As you see above, there are separate menus for Mailing Lists and Subscribers. The CMS has separated them out. While this makes it easy to assign a subscriber to multiple lists, it also lets you drill down to the individual level. View reports on one subscriber only if you want to. Collect sales data. Qualify leads.
What does all this mean? It means you have a built-in marketing channel right here.
Build website –> Populate website with products to sell –> Market products to customers. In one software platform.
The other big new thing under Marketing is Personalization. Create user segments and assign them specific actions or website views.
Take a look at these example descriptions:
Filtering by IP address. Changing what a visitor sees on your site, according to their own purchase history. This is advanced site modulation–and all it takes is a few clicks to setup. Right now, Sitefinity 7.0 lists 13 characteristics to choose from, along with an IS/IS NOT switch. More options can be added with customization.
(We’ll come back to this topic very soon. Personalization is power…power to sharpen the user’s experience into exactly what they want to see.)
Built-In Sales and Marketing–What Will Sitefinity Do Next?
That’s about it for our “Playing in the Sitefinity 7.0 Sandbox” series. What do you think so far? Have you come across an area about which you want to know more? If so, please comment or email us with your questions.