by Allison Banko
Life Technologies is an American biotechnology company, but it serves 500,000 scientists around the globe. Its products and services bridge across the fields of scientific research, genetic analysis and applied sciences.
Digitally, the company strives to be a daily destination in the life sciences realm. Because Life Technologies operates in various countries, it has nine websites for its regional markets.
Localizing and optimizing site content for each of its regions has proved to be a hard-won task for the company. Each of the sites should be responding to local market conditions to stay relevant. The websites also call for centralized oversight stateside to ensure Life Technologies' high content standards and brand values are consistently being met.
But at the time, the team was using fragmented and complex technology solutions from various vendors to both manage and deliver site content.
Richard Milne, Global Director of E-commerce and Digital Marketing, Life Technologies, said that the team had managed to do some hard-coded regionalization, but systems just weren't set up to take that global content and localize it on a regional basis.
He explained the two options Life Technologies had with its existing processes:
"One, we have to either publish everything, which is a nightmare because we just couldn't respond quick enough for the different regions, or [the regional runners of the site] went off and published what they wanted, which [would] open up this world of chaos where everybody was publishing everything, everywhere."
Life Technologies' demand increases — especially in most of its Asian markets — ignited the team's need to address its website woes.
In 2013, the company experienced more than 100% growth in e-business from China. Additionally, Life Technologies invested in e-business in Japan and bought its principle dealer (KDR) and used it as the company's front office in Korea.
"That's where we project all the growth to come from — 70% of all the additional growth in our e-channels this year will come from the Asian region," Milne said.
Due to strict Internet policies, China has differing search engines and social media platforms from those most Americans are familiar with.
Instead of YouTube, they use Youku. Instead of Google, they search via Baidu. Life Technologies needed to take such regional nuances into account in order to optimize.
For this challenge, one single tool wasn't going to get the job done. What the company needed was an integrated solution.
Thus, the team opted to switch from those fragmented technologies via various vendors to a marketing cloud with the capability of providing its nine regional markets with localized languages, product content and pricing information.
The system was also able to optimize portions of the website based on differences in user behaviors relative to geographic region.
The marketing cloud also allowed for the team to establish approval workflows that governed content publishing to ensure brand standards were met on each of the nine sites, accelerating the posting of new content.
With the cloud-based system, Life Technologies' local teams would be armed to access site data and, in turn, react faster to optimize the user experience.
Step #1. Approach vendor and identify business goals
Life Technologies’ first step was to approach a vendor with a marketing cloud that was equipped with the tools it needed to foster the regionalization of website content.
"What this set of tools allowed us to do was properly exploit the different environments that exist within these different geographies," Milne said of the marketing cloud.
When the company found its match, the team then collaborated with the vendor to identify what Life Technologies wanted to accomplish with the marketing cloud from a business perspective. The team wanted to create a long term strategic plan for Life Technologies and to ensure the integration and interconnectivity that the company needed was being built in through the cloud's infrastructure.
From that conversation, the parties looked at what set of capabilities they'd need to apply to reach those business goals. This process took about eight to 10 weeks to complete.
"Out of that, we built ourselves a long-term road map that allowed us to understand how we went from A to B," Milne said. "After that, it was quite simple. It was just a question of filling in the gaps with various technology pieces that we needed."
Step #2. Build out local teams within regions to support the cloud
As Life Technologies was becoming more localized, the company had to start positioning dedicated employees in its regions for positions in the realm of:
- E-business resources
- Web development resources
"When you do that, you have to then empower those people to be able to do that job for that region," Milne explained. "But at the same time, you want to protect your corporate brand standards, your identity, your design standards and everything else."
To reach a happy medium, Life Technologies deployed workflows that existed within its core content management system. This achieved the balance of having central responsibility of those standards as well as rapid localization of the content that supported the different regional needs.
Milne said years before this marketing cloud effort when Life Technologies had the opportunity to enhance the size of its e-business team, the company made the decision that such hires would not be employed in America.
Instead, these individuals would be employed in Asia — its largest region of growth. At that time, Life Technologies added about 15 employees. Since then, the company's regional e-business teams have expanded to encompass about 50 people.
"I think our regional e-business teams already outnumber our global e-business teams," Milne said.
Step #3. Exercise the new content management process
As opposed to the previous, fragmented systems, regional teams can now all enter the same system for content management. They can publish the way they did before, but because it's hosted on the cloud, the brand team can monitor that content more easily.
"My team based in America [that] is responsible for the brand and standards of the site can review and look at all of the work that they're doing before it's pushed live to make sure that it's in compliance with the standards that we try to achieve around the world," Milne said.
With an integrated cloud system, Life Technologies has more control over site quality, ensuring that the content is correct, there aren't misspellings, and that links are working.
"Because we now have a stronger node structure, we can use those tools more forensically across the site, and make sure that the site is cleaner and is working better than it was before as a result of setting it up more cleanly than it was," Milne said.
Life Technologies' migration to a marketing cloud in efforts to localize and optimize its regional sites resulted a 25% increase in online traffic and a 6% increase in e-commerce orders for the biotechnology business.
Milne pinned these wins to the team's initial viewpoint when taking on the implementation of the platform. They looked at this effort initially through a business lens, then an IT lens — not the other way around. Building the business strategy far in advance is of utmost importance according to Milne.
"I have a content systems leader in my group and had it not been for [the content systems leader] being able to understand how all of these content systems worked together from a business perspective, we would never been able to execute on the IT stuff," Milne explained.
Life Technologies' forward thinking helped drive this effort in more ways than one. The company's site has nearly 13,000 pages of content and 25,000 products featured on its website. E-commerce is the future of how Life Technologies’ customers will interact with the business, Milne said.
Therefore, discovering a way for all of its sites to thrive was imperative (take a look at Life Technologies' refined sites for Australia, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, the U.K. and the U.S. in the Creative Samples section below).
"For people to be able to hunt through that stuff is very difficult," he said. "You need to be able to present that volume of content online so that people can consume it in the way they want and in the time they want."
Future goals for Life Technologies' content include optimizing for mobile, presenting it through rich media and video, further customizing its pieces and indexing it for search. These four strategic directions for the company moving forward are all supported with its newly implemented platform.
However, looking at the present, one of the team's biggest gains from the use of the marketing cloud is a clearer view of its funnel, and more importantly, Life Technologies' customers.
Due to the cloud's analytics tool, the team can better track traffic and user activity on its site. According to Milne, now the company can clearly see from the top to the bottom of its funnel.
"The ability to integrate different tools … has provided us with an understanding of our conversion metrics and an understanding of how people are accessing and using our site that we've never ever had before," Milne said. "And that integration is a huge step forward."
- Australia site
- Brazil site
- China site
- Japan site
- Korea site
- U.K. site
- U.S. site
Campaign TeamLife Technologies
Richard Milne, Global Director of E-commerce and Digital Marketing
Aaron Basey, Content Systems Lead, E-business
Lewis Choi, PMO, IT
Tim Sendera, Search Lead, IT
Jason Jell, Digital Marketing Lead, E-business
Robin Smith, Digital Marketing, E-business
Rebecca Monk, Digital Marketing, E-business
Gaston Gonzalez, System Architect, IT Adobe
Michael Pinard, Account Executive
Melinda Kersey, Account Manager
Jill Steinhour, Director Industry Strategy
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