A new B2B site for the Industrial Automation experts
OMRON Corporation is a world leader in technology designed to solve social issues and improve lives. With a global revenue of over $8 billion and 36,000 employees worldwide, OMRON supports a range of industries with advanced technologies and innovative solutions, ranging from automation and electronic components to social infrastructure systems, healthcare and environmental solutions.
OMRON Automation Americas identified a need to modernize its approach to digital marketing, with a new website being central to its future plans. Dept teamed up with OMRON to design and build a brand-new, fully responsive site using an enterprise-grade customer experience platform.
“We are excited to launch our new company website to our customers, investors, partners, media and visitors who are seeking to learn more about Omron’s products and services,” says Robb Black, President and CEO of OMRON Automation Americas. “We believe this new site will provide a more worthwhile experience for our visitors as we placed significant emphasis on personalization and self-service.”
Design & UX Discovery
To kick off the project, Dept ran a series of discovery workshops at OMRON’s U.S. headquarters in Chicago. The purpose was to get a better understanding of the current user experience and to identify any particular pain points.
The workshops explored OMRON’s business model to help us understand the overall objectives and the ideal ways to measure success. We also discussed the current lead generation processes, pinpointed areas where marketing automation could add efficiency, and decided which of the current components and templates we would prioritize for the new site.
During the discovery phase, we unearthed some common issues that were negatively impacting the customer experience. Hotjar analysis also indicated that the information architecture of the site was impeding users from finding the information they were looking for.
The brand was already strong, so there was no need to reinvent it, but we identified the need to increase brand recognition. Dept’s aim was to make the brand more visible and strengthen its identity with the introduction of animations, rich media and ambient videos.
ENHANCING SEARCH TO IMPROVE CONVERSION
One of the main issues we discovered during our initial analysis of the site was the management of discontinued products on the site. If a user searched for a discontinued product, the results would come up empty. The results page would then direct the searcher to an area that was only visible to logged-in users. In order to acquire a login, the user would need to request an account, but this would only be approved if the user was listed as an official distributor of the product. This was not an ideal customer experience, and it was preventing potential revenue-generating opportunities.
During the design phase, it was decided to keep discontinued products live. This would mean that these products would still show up on the results page when searched for, and there would be no requirement for the searcher to log in. The discontinued product page informs the user that the product is no longer available and suggests suitable alternative products.
From a UX perspective, a more visible and well-defined search bar has been designed to make it quick and easy for anyone to find products and information. This results in fewer clicks and less time spent on the homepage. Dept built a faceted search to enhance the general search, enabling users to narrow down their search to category, price, product options and custom fields. All of this has improved the customer experience and helped customers find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.
Improving search engine optimization (SEO) was a key objective for this project. Previously, some of the product pages did not have enough content to improve search rankings and quality scores, meaning that OMRON’s search engine rank was impacted. Combined with poor conversion rates on the site, this meant that OMRON was missing out on potential revenue.
The new site offers users the information they are looking for in fewer clicks while providing value-added content for those who visit the site just to browse. Each product page now has the ability to showcase images and videos, provide access to datasheets, and display a strong call to action to request a quote.
Personalization of the OmronNow portal
Dept developed a digital measurement framework for OMRON to provide vital analysis that looked beyond page level views and helped steer the development of personalized, custom dashboards. By analysing data – such as the number of users accessing certain information types, social shares, search queries and acquisition channels – Dept was able to successfully identify and segment the user journey.
The online portal is a key section of the OMRON site. The portal’s structure is personalized, and the sign-up process and collected data enables users to be segmented. Once a user has been verified, the portal can be changed to provide a more tailored version. Users can self-identify as a distributor, a system integrator, an employee, an end user or a member of the press, with relevant content served to them based on their user type.
With the new portal, OMRON also has the ability to tailor the navigation, page-level and component-level content based on the different user groups identified above. The information collected during the registration process can be used to help support and optimize marketing automation activities and processes.
A DECOUPLED TECHNICAL SOLUTION
ARCHITECTURE & SOLUTION DESIGN
The first architectural challenge was to find a way to bring together the technologies that OMRON was already working with so that it didn’t become cost prohibitive to change them later or require a full re-implementation of the framework. We designed a series of microservices for different responsibilities, including customer, product, content, layout, marketing automation, search and data. In addition, we introduced an experience service that could act as the conductor for the orchestra of microservices to facilitate inter-relationships between systems and consolidate the domain models for different responsibilities into presentation models for the channels.
We wanted to produce a dev-ops implementation as automated as the industrial automation products themselves, so we used Amazon ECR / ECS to handle deployments of services and provision infrastructure on demand with code. TeamCity was responsible for pushing versioned images to ECR so that Octopus could pull them and deploy them to version-specific docker containers.
We used .NET Core running on Linux to get all the benefits of a modern development framework and the performance of the Linux operating system. We have RESTful contracts and internally use Refit to generate RESTful clients from interfaces that ensure we honor the API specifications between versions.
We followed semantic versioning to help us properly increment a patch version for enhancements and bug fixes, increment a minor version when adding endpoints or marking endpoints for deprecation, or increment a major version for breaking changes.
WEB: THE PILOT CHANNEL
Instead of building yet another DXA application (YADA), we wanted to ensure that OMRON was decoupled from any technology provider, including their CMS. This would allow them to get much more longevity from their implementation and to manage their own roadmap. We decided to use React on Node with Express for the web channel and enabled server-side rendering with hydration.
The application consumes the RESTful endpoints from the framework APIs, particularly the Experience API. It can produce a context for each API interaction that includes information about the user, the globalization, the request, etc. This information is used internally within the APIs and the providers that expose OMRON’s underlying technology platforms, so that we can customize the response accordingly. This facilitates personalization and localization, and it can be used as a means of abstraction if there is a need to interrogate different systems based on the context of the interaction.
The web implementation is a best-practice, responsive, modular framework that builds upon years of experience creating template-based content managed experiences. This has provided OMRON with a huge increase in control and flexibility to provide market-structured content to their customers efficiently and effectively.
OMRON previously had a basic search implementation based on SI4T, but we decided to make some dramatic improvements in alignment with our overall architectural approach. We used Elasticsearch as the underlying technology but followed the provider model to ensure that the framework API for search encapsulated it behind intuitive endpoints tailored to the OMRON business requirements.
We designed a genericized search document that supported concepts like globalization, authorization, and classification. In addition, the document had elements of polymorphism for type specific fields and logic.
We implemented a very simple SDL Tridion Sites 9 deployer extension that would take our serialized page (composition) or component presentation (fragment), determine whether they should be included in search, and POST them to the APIs for indexing or updating (or deletion if being unpublished). So to adhere to CMS best practice the business logic and complexity was encapsulated in the Search API enforcing SOLID principals.
Elasticsearch allowed us to have an effective search algorithm and complex aggregations for faceted navigation and filtering, all with exceptional performance. Internally we can take advantage of all the features of this wonderful product but expose it in a much simpler business-centric way.
MANAGING CONTENT WITH SDL TRIDION SITES 9
We developed the CMS providers (layout and content) against SDL Web 8.5. Instead of DXA we decided to write custom TBB serializers to achieve our desired domain model right from rendering. It is very simple to implement a wrapper around the .NET CIL to consume the serialized page / component presentations, deserialize them to our domain models, resolve links, and then cache them for high availability.
During the final phase of development, we upgraded the implementation from SDL Web 8.5 to SDL Tridion Sites 9 and migrated from our AWS hosting to the SDL Cloud within a week. This was an excellent demonstration of the development velocity achievable using the framework and provider abstractions.
By removing any dependency on DXA, the content editors are free to organize the SDL Tridion items however they see fit and align them with how they want to use the product. They can also take advantage of new features such as page regions without having to having to customize DXA or wait for DXA to implement them.
Our Content and Layout APIs are highly performant middleware that help us to obtain our domain models based on the context, while the Experience API acts as a proxy for the channels to delegate route interception, enrichment and model transformation. This allows it to remain lightweight and unburdened by anything beyond presentation logic.
A SOLUTION FOR THE FUTURE
The site has successfully been rolled out to four markets (USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil), in four languages. Within two months of launch, the site has seen exceptional results:
- Over 800 leads received
- Over 600 Account Registrations
- Avg. number of page views per session almost doubled
- Bounce rate improved over 20%
- Avg. session duration improved by over 20 seconds
- Average position in search is over 10 position higher
- Organic Search traffic to new site up over 15%
- Almost 20% increase in traffic from Google
- Increase from 14% to 23% in mobile visitors
- New site load time is over four seconds faster
The robust technical architecture, combined with the design and UX improvements, has created a high quality site that is prepared for OMRON’s future digital roadmap.