Sitecore Symposium 2018 – Day 2 Recap

Like all conferences the Sitecore keynote kicked off the official start of Symposium. Mark Frost, CEO of Sitecore, leaned into the theme of this year’s Sitecore Symposium: Elevate the Experience. Experience matters more than your product and your brand.


As Mark put it onstage: Customers are buying experiences and not products. He continued and said that elevating brand experiences is no longer a nice to have, but a must have.

In case you do not understand the importance or significance of this change in the consumer, here are some stats to back it up.

  • 88% of customers will pay more for a better brand experience
  • Only 1% feel that brands are consistently meeting a good experience

Experience is not just important, it is vital to the survival of your business. I know there are a lot of B2B folks out there that think this doesn’t apply to them. Just remember everyone is a consumer.

Mark laid out the 3 pillars of the new release of the Sitecore Experience Cloud. Empower developers, advance the art of personalization and expand the relationship with Salesforce. What this means in short is to enable people to create experiences using Sitecore, while removing barriers from technology. Developers can use JavaScript to create Sitecore experiences with all of the features available to .NET developers through JSS (including personalization, A/B testing, etc.). Marketers get an assist from the release of Sitecore Cortex, which is machine learning to optimize SEO, identify predictive outcomes and more. Lastly, a deeper integration with Salesforce enables marketers to not only use more data across both systems, but also assets.

Next, Mark announced the acquisition of Stylelabs. Stylelabs offers a DAM and PIM that will be integrated into the Sitecore platform. For the first time at Symposium, Sitecore is supporting a charitable cause, SickKids. Sitecore is matching donations and there is a 3-minute bike challenge at Symposium to raise money for the cause. Sitecore is also supporting #MoveTheDial for women in technology by spotlighting women at the Symposium and sponsoring a global summit later in the year.

Paige O’Neill, CMO of Sitecore, was next to take the stage. What I enjoyed most about her spot is a couple of things. First, she is big believer in telling stories in marketing and excels in this area. Second, she had actual customers solving real problems with Sitecore on stage and interviewed them. It is clear to me that her goal, as stated, is to bring these stories to life throughout Sitecore. Her interview of these companies provided not only insight into how customers are using Sitecore but highlighted the business challenges and change taking place. Below I will just use bullets to highlight some things I found interesting in the interview to keep this post a bit shorter.

Volvo – Interview with Rowan Holloway

  • 96 different country sites – yeah you read that right
  • Using 4 different Sitecore instances
  • Consumer shift to not wanting to have to think about their car. Easier to use Uber, etc
  • Launch of care subscription service which includes everything (insurance, maintenance and the kitchen sink)
  • Expect that by 2025 one-third of all sales will be a subscription sale

Key insights

  • Understand your customer. What are their pains, desires and goals
  • Always improve
  • Think and act fast

Cycling Sports Group – Interview with Brian Immel

  • $30 billion dollar industry that has slow growth
  • Most bikes are sold through dealers and not online – a bit shocking in today’s market
  • Low barriers to entry
  • Crowded market
  • Confusing sales process for consumers, often resulting in lost sales (what bike to choose?)
  • Created an app using data from Sitecore machine learning to reduce the complexity of the sales process by recommending a bike
  • Finds the closest resellers that has the bike you selected in stock
  • Sends a QR code so that the reseller does not try to sell a different bike
  • App is built on Sitecore JSS that shares data

SickKids – Interview with Heather Clark

Let me say that this is an amazing organization that is helping kids. Their marketing and videos are fantastic, check them out and support them if you can.

  • Need to a build a new hospital for the kids ($1.3 billion dollars)
  • To raise the money they needed to overhaul the brand
  • Became a global technology company and leading technology company for non-profits
  • First year was spent on rebranding the organization

Next was a campaign to activate more monthly donors in 3 phases

  • Seed the need - show the why
  • SickKids vs Limits - show who you are helping
  • SickKids vs 5000 - sign up 5,000 new monthly donors
  • Results: 6,500 new monthly donors in the 6-week timeframe

Sitecore used to revamp the monthly donor onboarding and content

  • Deliver personalized, relevant exclusive content
  • 3-month onboarding journey
  • 12-month donor journey showcasing how the money is being spent
  • Omnichannel welcome package (physical and digital)


  • 53 media stories
  • 13 million media impressions
  • Industry news coverage


  • Provide consistent messaging – clearly define what you want someone to do
  • Business intelligence and strategy need to go hand-in-hand
  • Keep the proven and test the unknown – ok to fail

The fallacy of “Impossible”

This was right after the keynote ended and presented by Mick Ebeling of Not Impossible Labs. Their work is inspiring, and I highly recommend looking it up. The takeaways from his presentation are the power of storytelling in marketing and that doing good is good business. Think of the businesses with causes: Bombas, TOMS, Warby Parker and more. These businesses have great stories, do good and are successful, thriving businesses.

Breakout Sessions

I followed the marketing track on breakout sessions. The theme in marketing is clear: experiences. We have a lot of data available to us as marketers, but we are not using that data to our advantage. Businesses are shifting their spend from goods to services.

Another key takeaway is how few businesses are utilizing personalization. The tools are available but getting started is a key barrier to improving the experience of the consumer.

Daymond John’s 5 Shark Points

This was the presentation that closed the 2nd day of Symposium. I have followed Daymond John’s career before Shark Tank but hearing his story in person was great. To try to keep this short I will just relay his 5 Shark Points. Read his books to learn more about his career.

Set a goal – you become what you think about all the time
Homework – do your research and analytics
Amor – love what you do and who you do it for
Remember you are personally the brand - Put yourself in 2 – 5 words.
Keep Swimming – don’t give up

Interesting Stats

  • Over 1,000 brands are at Symposium
  • 3,000 attendees from 53 countries
  • 5 breakout tracks with 100 sessions
  • Partner pavilion with 50 sponsors
  • 15,000 certified Sitecore developers
  • Sitecore delivers 200 million digital experiences per year
  • 22,000 global Sitecore developers

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