The C2 Group
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The C2 Group

Three Things to Take Away from Episerver Ascend 2018

By Brian Oliver | Originally published at

Not able to make this year’s Ascend? That’s OK! We sent C2 Senior Advanced Developer Brian Oliver to Las Vegas and Episerver’s annual customer and partner conference for the first time. Here are Brian’s top three takeaways from the conference:

Episerver product roadmap comes into focus

OK, so maybe this first takeaway is actually several.

Episerver is continuously adding great new products and features on top of the base CMS offering. Some partners may call these “add-ons”, but the reality is many of the products can stand alone or be supported by other CMS platforms. Be aware, though, as some of these will require additional licenses. For the value they provide, however, and bundle pricing available through Episerver, they are well worth investigating:

  • The February 2018 release includes the first release of Episerver Insight, which lets you create user segments which can then be used as criteria for visitor groups to extend out-of-the-box personalization or as inputs to personalize omnichannel marketing campaigns.
  • Episerver Social API provides a seamless way to store content like product reviews and ratings.
  • Episerver UGC (User-Generated Content) provides support for aggregating user content from social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and more than a dozen additional sources.
  • Episerver Campaign gives you the ability to quickly create and run campaigns across web, social, email, and SMS. Campaign supports marketing automation and provides insight into campaign success and marketing effectiveness. It’s worth noting that this product does not replace your CRM or marketing automation platform!
  • Episerver Advance does away with manual content selection by using AI and machine learning to select content for each user based on their visitor profile, interest, or role. This surfaces the information most important to each user quickly to promote faster conversion.
  • Episerver Personalized Find is a personalization service that can be added to Episerver’s search solution, Find. Using (you guessed it!) machine learning, Personalized Find tailors product rankings and search results based on purchase history as well as browser and email behavior.
  • Episerver Perform uses artificial intelligence to personalize product recommendations on page. Recommendations are presented based on behavioral data and merchandising strategies in real time.
  • Episerver Reach is similar to Perform in that it tackles personalized product recommendations, but within email. Behavior triggers are used to automate personalized emails based on the actions of site visitors.
  • Episerver Personalization Suite encompasses four different products: Perform, Personalized Find, Reach, and Insight in one bundle.

The common thread here is improving user experiences. All of these “add-ons” or additional products help to get the user more involved in the site experience, and it’s really exciting to explore the possibilities.

A lot to digest? Feel free to reach out if you have questions on what products make sense for your customers and your organization.

Episerver CMS now has a headless option

In some ways, this looks like the coolest thing since sliced bread! Or, would that be hottest? Either way, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to create some portion of this for a single-page web app I’ve been writing. The documentation is here, and here.

The headless CMS supports retrieving content, as you would expect, using URLs of this form:


And, it will return a JSON object representing all the properties of that content. Nice!

But things get really interesting when you look at the “expand” parameter. You can pass in “expand=*” in the query string, and the resulting JSON will include all content reference and content area properties expanded. You’ll get the actual content instead of just the reference(s). And that’s only scratching the surface!

I’ve yet to do extensive trials of this feature, but there are two things to be aware of, and they are both unexpected package dependencies. First, you can’t install this NuGet package without also having Episerver Find installed. This means that you can’t use it on a site that uses the plain vanilla Episerver search. Second, you also have to install the AspNetIdentity integration to use this.

Perspective matters

Shawn Achor was one of Ascend’s keynote speakers, and he gave a fantastic presentation on the connection between happiness and success. What seems like a silly topic at first has some pretty important implications on our lives. In 2011, he gave a talk at TEDxBloomington.

He presented many of the same ideas, but during Ascend he had a lot more time to dive deeper into the content. It’s simple, but pretty amazing. For example, will we be happier once we pass that Episerver certification exam? Shawn points out in his TEDx talk that if happiness is on the other side of success, our brains will never get there. We reach one goal and then instantly move the goalpost. Instead, we can train our minds to focus on the positive in the present, thus enhancing our productivity and our ability to learn and prepare for the exam. As Shawn observes, “every measurable business outcome improves when our brains are at positive, compared to negative, neutral, or stressed.”

Editor’s note: C2 Senior Advanced Developer Brian Oliver DID pass his Episerver Commerce exam during Ascend 2018.



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