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Episerver's Ascend '15: A Look into the Future of Content Delivery

Episerver, the content management system vendor, is boldly emerging from a recent merger with Ektron. They recently demonstrated their audacity by bringing together six hundred clients, partners, and staff in Las Vegas for Episerver Ascend. Billed as “The Digital Transformation Conference”, attendees were given the opportunity to network, participate in hands-on lab sessions, and sit in on a variety of talks from industry experts and analysts.

From the opening keynote, Episerver’s focus was evident: the future of content delivery lies in harnessing context to create engaging experiences. Contextual content is certainly not a new theme, but it is one that is often a side thought for content technology vendors. Episerver is working to integrate this concept more wholistically into its Digital Experience Cloud. Its system is geared up to provide marketers with a host of tools to tailor experiences and curate content for their site visitors.

A crucial problem with most websites today is that they deliver static experiences; they treat all visitors the same.

A crucial problem with most websites today is that they deliver static experiences; they treat all visitors the same. Visitors are most certainly not the same but traditional content delivery methods don’t afford us the ability to effectively tune their experiences.

The meat and potatoes of most sites today, even those built on top of modern content management systems like Episerver, are delivering static content blocks embedded in pages. Platforms like Microsoft’s ASP.NET allow for dynmicity in our websites, ultimately providing some level of interactivity to our visitors, but don’t buy us much in regard to engagement. We’re still treating all uses the same; we’re just delivering different shades of sameness.

A more contemporary feature of most mid-scale to enterprise content management systems revolves around the manual targeting of content. With these features, a marketer must define the criteria by which specific content will be displayed to a visitor. More sophisticated systems allow a marketer to define personas for their visitors to target content to those that fit a particular mold. These features provide marketer with powerful curation capabilities but require an abundance of time to configure and are little more than interfaces by which a marketer can program a dynamic website. They still deliver static experiences to fixed sets of users.

Just imagine what we could achieve if we actually knew something about every visitor that came to our site. Better yet, what if they just told us what they were interested in? Here’s the good news: they do tell us. Every single one of them.

How to Select a New Content Management System

In navigating your website, a visitor is telling you much about the type of content that they’re interested in. Their behavior - the act of visiting various content items within your site - is expressing a set of preferences. So, what if we could boil down that behavior into some kind of profile? And what if we could use that profile as criteria to extract interesting content from a delivery engine?

Every document in your website has a fingerprint. That fingerprint tells a story about what the document contains and how it is organized. The search engine supporting your website is fundamentally aware of these fingerprints and wholly capable of retrieving content based on them.

If we aggregate the fingerprints of content, which a user has expressed interest in, we can represent their behavior in a form that is consumable by a search engine. By using these fingerprints as inputs we can make quick, intelligent, suggestions to keep our visitors engaged (think: "You might be interested in..."). What's more is that this model evolves over time. As a user continues to engage, even across repeat visits, their behavior may reveal additional interests which we can target.

The beauty of this kind of technology is that, when applied appropriately, it adds a level of intelligence to content delivery that looks like magic to the end user. Episerver is prepared to provide the tools. With a talented implementation partner to wield them, your website can harness the holy grail of engagement: automated, personalized experiences for every individual visitor.

Carl Ashby, Software Engineer Team Lead
Meet Carl Ashby, Software Engineer Team Lead

Carl has over 10 years of industry experience and eight years specializing in web application design and development.

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