Independent Entrepreneurial Marketing Research (IEMR) is a research and business strategy firm that has been serving the telecommunications and information technology fields for nearly two decades.
The Japanese firm carved out a niche by conducting marketing research for clients and creating custom reports, as well as publishing broad industry reports that clients can purchase from the IEMR website. Today, they have research partnerships in over 15 countries and over 2.5 million panelists across 60 countries.
IEMR executives decided it was time to add a blog to their website since the website itself was a key component of their business, housing all the research their clients purchased from them. A blog, they reasoned, would attract their target audience and generate more sales. In the process of vetting potential tech partners, however, they came to rethink (and ultimately rebuild) their entire website.
IEMR consulted several technology vendors, including Net Solutions, to determine the costs involved in upgrading the website once again. As part of their consultation, Net Solutions gave them an honest assessment. Net Solutions believed it was time to build a completely new website since the original site began as monolithic code written in ASP—with some bits even integrating with PHP and an Access database.
Although IEMR had upgraded the site from time to time in the past, the platform had developed many issues that negatively impacted customer experience and created headaches for their staff. Based on Net Solutions’ input, IEMR decided to rebuild and replace the existing website with a comprehensive CMS-powered solution. This would allow them to completely rethink their approach and deliver a seamless customer experience, unencumbered by the older platform’s limitations and its outdated technologies.
Since IEMR had used ASP in the past, they decided to stay in the Microsoft ecosystem, choosing to use Sitecore as their Digital Experience Platform/CMS. Additionally, they understood that the world was shifting toward mobile devices, so it was key for the new site to function correctly on devices with a variety of form factors.
IEMR issued a formal RFP, inviting Net Solutions (and other agencies) to make a bid. Based on Net Solutions’ helpful assessment, strong proposal, and reference checks that produced glowing endorsements from past clients, Net Solutions emerged as the clear winner.
Net Solutions designed the new website to accommodate multiple user “classes,” giving each set of users access to additional rights and features as their engagement with IEMR went from being a prospect to different levels of a paying customer.
The different permission classes included:
Regular users: Visitors could access the site without logging in. They could read the publicly available content like the blog, and they could see which reports were available without accessing them. This helped drive traffic to the website and gave visitors a taste of IEMR’s offerings.
Clients: Users who had ordered at least one report Once they placed an order, they gained access to a personalized Member’s Area and received suggestions on subjects related to their interests.
Subscribers: Users who had signed up for full access to IEMR’s reports and paid a regular subscription fee, allowing them to access all of IEMR’s published studies from any device.
Publishers: Partners who licensed IEMR to sell their reports on the platform. The new website gave publishers access to a comprehensive overview of reports sold, licensing fees earned, and more. The new website also made it easy for them to add or remove any reports they owned.
Staff permissions used a tiered access system, similar to the customer classes covered above. The base-level staff members could only edit the content on the site, while the highest level could manage users and publications, view various reports, and edit sensitive web content, such as press releases and testimonials.
Net Solutions followed an Agile methodology for the engagement, formulating the team around the known and proposed requirements. Their Business Analyst (BA) worked closely with IEMR’s team to understand those requirements, translating them for various user personas.
The BA then created wireframes that demonstrated the website’s functionality and the associated customer journeys. Net Solutions’ UI designer then used these wireframes to create a fully responsive user interface that looked beautiful on mobile devices of all shapes and sizes.
Net Solutions developed the website on top of Sitecore, and it included:
Since IEMR executives prioritized subscription services as a revenue source, they had Net Solutions develop a microsite that used each client’s purchase history to perform automated CRM functions. These functions enabled IEMR to suggest relevant reports based on a user’s purchase history, upsell the subscription service to non-subscribers, and keep existing subscribers engaged.
IEMR had more than a decade’s worth of publications in their archives, which Net Solutions seamlessly imported into the new site—making them available to customers on the day of the launch. The library also included publications from research partners.
To ensure fast search capabilities, Net Solutions implemented Apache Lucene to speed up searches on this extensive dataset of reports.
We really appreciated Net Solutions’ hard work. The website really is head and shoulders above most of our competitors.
The new site was well received by IEMR’s customers, as demonstrated by an increase in sales and customer retention. Ultimately, the improved functionality, increased speed, and overall superior customer experience led to tangible results.
As the number of publications increased and the client base grew, IEMR faced a unique problem. How would they ensure that individual users would not purchase reports and distribute them publicly after purchase?
Net Solutions brainstormed with the client team and ended up combining the capability of BionBeta with the tracking features of Sitecore. The new solution allowed IEMR to track the distribution of their publications and maintain control over their intellectual property.
IEMR contracted Net Solutions to build a new website from the ground up.
The new platform featured:
The new website provided a superior user experience, leading to increased sales and greater customer retention.