In mid-2017, AkzoNobel determined it would divest its B2B specialty chemicals unit at the start of 2018, thus creating a new business entity with very different needs. In preparation for the change, company stakeholders sought a separately managed CMS that would empower the new division to continuously improve the user experience based on visitor behavior and analytics.
A fresh start
With just three months to launch a new web presence, Jouke Eijssen, Director of Digital Marketing and E-Commerce, and Anna Nicklin, Global Digital Communications Manager, faced the difficult decision to either continue to build their digital business on the platform used by the larger AkzoNobel group or to forge their own path with a chemical-specific solution for improved marketing communication, branding, and storytelling via the website.
"Our existing platform had limited capabilities and minimal flexibility," recounted Jouke. "It could provide a place to host our product information in a somewhat logical way now, but we were sure it would not have the functionality we need to support the growth of our business moving forward."
With a geographically widespread content team of 15 non-digital employees, a new, easy to use solution would also ensure increased efficiency and time savings for busy editors. The team began evaluating new solutions immediately, with the hope of swiftly and successfully launching 14 new websites on one unified platform in just three months.
A perfect match
Jouke and Anna selected Episerver Digital Experience Cloud Service with Episerver CMS and Episerver Find based on time to market, ease of use, and the platform's digital marketing capabilities.
"We are confident the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud will enable us to streamline the presentation of our products online and offer our customers an enhanced experience," says Jouke. "The option to easily add desirable extensions including a commerce catalog and inRiver PIM integration ensures the solution will grow with our business over time and safeguards our investment."
Based on the new, all-encompassing website and content strategy, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals consolidated 37 business websites down to 14 focused, customer-centric websites, migrating over 600 content items from three previously used platforms with the help of Valtech, an Episerver Premium partner. The new B2B sites are hosted on Azure and are fully managed by Episerver in the cloud.
"With such a tight deadline and limited in-house IT or development resources, a cloud solution was especially attractive," notes Jouke. "There was no up-front cost. We pay a monthly fee and Episerver manages everything else - including continuous deployments of the latest features."
The new websites are built to promote lead generation and to nurture existing customers by inherently funneling the right traffic to the right pages. Phase two of the project will include the addition of a portal, with localized and personalized product content for known customers.
In 2018, the company will also look to add a new corporate website with rich content and campaign functionality, and begin planning for a small ecommerce initiative to gauge customers' interest in buying specialty chemicals online.
Since launching all 14 websites in late September 2017, ahead of the company's three-month deadline, AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals has seen a noticeable increase in conversions. Organic traffic is also up, with requests coming from countries the digital team didn't even know they conducted business in.
"All things considered, what we really aimed for - and believe we have achieved - is a solution that supports our new content strategy and content governance model, provides our marketing team with the means to effectively manage content themselves, and enables us to adapt and make constant improvements based on performance," says Anna. "The increased efficiency for content editors alone proves what a worthwhile investment the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud is for us."