Digitalization to drive customer processes

SSAB is a global company specializing in advanced high-strength steel products and design solutions in the construction sector. Since the acquisition of Finnish Ruukki in 2014 the company operates under three brands: SSAB, Tibnor and Ruukki Construction.


The public web pages are the main channels to present SSAB's new structure and product offering. With around 2.5 million visitors per year, they are considered to be business critical. The digitization of many of SSAB's marketing functions has become a great success. It shows what can be done to create the best customer experience. As a specialized, global steel company with a vision to help create a stronger, lighter and more sustainable world, SSAB has taken advantage of the benefits of digitization of marketing processes and information flows. The new purchase process for B2B companies (as well as legislation related to public companies) increases the importance of having really effective tools and channels to digitize as many of these information flows as possible.


SSAB's global website consists of 30 local sites/language versions launched in 2015 and 2016. The new site is built on Sitecore 8.1, in a 10-server solution. It is fully responsive and utilizes every opportunity for personalized content and customer dialogue using the Sitecore Experience Platform.

New opportunities with digitalization

SSAB is a global company specializing in advanced, high-strength steel products as well as construction solutions for the building industry. Since acquiring the Finnish company Ruukki in 2014, SSAB operates its business under three brands: SSAB, Tibnor and Ruukki Construction. Mergers of large corporations always create challenges. Product ranges need to be harmonized along with all other business processes. And everything must be presented in a uniform way that gives the customer the impression that one plus one equals three.
Digitalization drives business
SSAB’s most important channel for presenting their new structure, offers and range of products is the website, which is seen as business critical, having around 2.5 million annual visitors. The key to successful business is often the ability to provide the best customer experience – to match the right customer with the right offer just when he or she really needs it. To do this, you have to understand your customers and provide them with the right tools to meet their needs. By finding the smartest way to digitally organize and present your assets, and help your customers through their daily work, you can gain their loyalty.
Digitalization drives profitability
SSAB has achieved big success by digitalizing significant parts of their marketing process and is a good example of how you create a good customer experience. As a specialized, global steel company with a vision to help create a stronger, lighter, and more sustainable world, SSAB has taken advantage of the benefits of digitalization for marketing processes and the flow of information. The new purchase process for B2B companies (along with laws governing publicly traded firms) is increasing the importance of having effective tools and channels for an efficient information flow.

A new global site

SSAB’s global website is comprised of 30 local sites in different languages that have been released or will be released during 2016. The new site is built in Sitecore 8.1. It is fully responsive and takes advantage of all available possibilities to create personalized content and customer dialogue using Sitecore’s Experience Platform. This case present a number of the main functionalities that today’s technology can make possible with a reasonable effort. But regardless of the choice of technology, a lot depends on common sense and understanding the information and mechanisms that drive the customer decision process forward.
Putting the customer journey in focus
SSAB’s new site has been optimized and customized to the needs of customers, and the content is built on customer interviews, research results and user tests. Based on these, the new site offers a complete and integrated product portfolio. 80 percent of all online visitors to SSAB are looking for product information. To make the information easy to find, the new site contains a Steel Selector to enable comprehensive product searches as well as comparisons and options for specific purposes.
Improving habits
The ability to find accurate contact information is another critical need. Nothing irritates a potential customer more than when contact information is wrong. If the vendor hasn’t even managed to keep that up-to-date, how can you expect a successful collaboration? Does this problem sound familiar? SSAB cleverly solves it by sending a monthly reminder email with published details to the responsible local representatives, who in turn can update the necessary information.

Relevance, relevance, relevance

Nobody surfs the web anymore for their own amusement. Everyone is looking for information and wants to find it as soon as possible. It goes without saying that any company wanting to sell their products must provide information in a relevant way. For example: When visitors arrive at your website from a Google search, you have 2.6 seconds to convince them that they are in the right place and that you have a solution for their needs. Otherwise, they will jump back to the search and pick the next option. Capturing searching visitors requires a website that fulfills a number of basic criteria.
1. Clarity
Your site should clearly show visitors where they have landed and what you can offer them. Make sure the design and content of your landing page match your company’s profile and the areas that are important to highlight.
2. Adaptive design
Mobile devices are now involved in 70 percent of all purchase processes and websites need to function equally well on different types of platforms (computers, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches). It’s also important to prioritize the type of information you highlight on different platforms. People visiting your site on a phone are probably more interested in finding a contact person than they are in reading white papers. Prioritize by focusing on the type of information you think customers are looking for on different platforms.
3. Personalized content
Relevant content corresponds to the visitors’ needs, gives them the sense that they are in the right place and demonstrates that you understand your customers’ challenges. You can create relevant content fairly easily by personalizing the information on your website. Personalization means using the information you have on a visitor to present the most relevant content. Starting points include the visitor’s location, the search that brought that person to your website, the time of day, what he or she did on a previous visit to your site, etc.

Responsive with personalized content

SSAB’s website is fully responsive to work with laptops, tablets or smartphones. To create a relevant experience, SSAB employs Sitecore’s personalization module. This makes it possible to present different content for different target groups, including industrial designers, architects and consultants, as well as to provide the right information to people searching for solutions for different industries. The personalized content is based on a variety of factors, including questions the customer has answered, as well as saved information on the pages he or she read during earlier visits to the website. The goal has been to integrate product data, digital publications, newsletters, invitations, marketing automation, personalization and CRM into a seamless solution.

Accurate product information is the foundation

In most industrial businesses, product information is a mess. Data is spread out across the organization in a variety of databases and spreadsheets, and nobody has central control over the accuracy of the information. Meanwhile, customers assume the information they receive from a potential supplier is correct and up-to- date. In some cases, this is even a legal requirement. The solution to this challenge is a centralized product database, or Product Information Management (PIM) system, where responsible parties can collect and update the data. Information from the PIM system can then be exported to where it is needed – the website, fact sheets, manuals, etc.
The new purchase process
The digital media landscape has drastically altered the purchase process for both consumer goods and producer goods. The internet has given today’s buyers endless possibilities to identify and evaluate possible solutions, find suppliers with the right profile and make crucial decisions. Researchers claim that today’s B2B buyers manage up to 70 percent of the purchase process on their own, without any personal interaction with prospective suppliers. That means your website has an extremely important role to play when customers are choosing who they want to contact. In addition to reflecting the same competency and quality an able salesperson would demonstrate in a personal meeting, your site also needs functionality that makes things easier for the potential customer, such as helping the customer find the right product and compare characteristics of different products. Of course, offering product comparisons requires accurate product data. It pays off big – the value for an average order increases by 17 percent.
Accurate product information creates smart functionality for customers
As a foundation for information on their website, SSAB developed a comprehensive product database/PIM with complete and up-to-date details for the approximately 500 product groups that are part of the new joint product range. Product managers update information and the quality control department can review it in the same place. With guaranteed accuracy in the database, the information presented on the website and elsewhere will always be correct.
Steel Selector for options and comparisons
One of the most important features of SSAB’s site is the brand new Steel Selector. The Steel Selector makes it simple to find the right product for the application and compare characteristics between products. The feature sorts through thousands of parameters for hundreds of different products with incredible speed, and presents the results in a user-friendly interface. All data comes directly from the product database/PIM. The goal is to help the customer select the right product, in some cases by demonstrating that an alternative product (often thinner/more durable) can offer a lower total cost.
Automated fact sheet generation
Accurate information makes it possible to dynamically and automatically generate product fact sheets. This takes place through the PXM module in Sitecore, which is connected to an InDesign server with templates that control the design and ensure that the fact sheets are always updated with the information from the product database/PIM. The product fact sheets are generated in the right language with the corresponding local contact information – so everything is legally accurate.

Converting to leads - and to customers

The goal of most websites is to convert a visitor – i.e. guide the visitor through a decision process that results in an active choice. With e-commerce, this means placing an order. But for most B2B sites, it means that the potential customer registers on the website or requests a contact.
Driving registration with value
People are always skeptical when it comes to handing over contact information such as their email address. To draw in potential customers to register on your site, you need to offer them something of value. For example, this can be a subscription to a newsletter with information of interest to them, or the chance to automatically receive software updates or statistics.
Automating leads management for personal follow-up
All serious leads have commercial value, whether today or sometime in the future. Around 90 percent of all contacts from your site are gathering information for a future decision process and aren’t currently interested in making a purchase. Your salespeople shouldn’t invest time in these contacts, but instead focus on the companies at the very top – the hot leads that want to discuss business right now. All other contacts should instead be handled and nurtured as cost-effectively as possible until the time comes when they become hot leads and are worth personal contact. The tool to do this is called marketing automation.
Marketing automation
Marketing automation is an IT-based process for automatically taking care of your leads, for example through a planned series of automated emails based on their interest areas. The value of a lead can be ranked by assigning points for different activities. Both cold and hot leads can be collected in the company’s CRM system, which sends them to salespeople once a potential customer has become “hot” enough for personal follow-up. When a salesperson is assigned a lead for follow-up, he or she also receives the potential customer’s entire history and can see exactly what that customer has ordered and which pages he or she has visited on the site. Hot leads. Wants to purchase now. Warm leads. Wants to purchase soon. Cold leads. Interested for the future.

Marketing automation drives conversion

SSAB generates sales leads by gathering, maintaining and evaluating data on every visitor to the website. That information is based on the pages each individual visits as well as the type of actions they carry out. The entire evaluation takes place directly within the web platform. Once a lead is qualified, it is forwarded to the CRM system and the appropriate salesperson for follow-up. Marketing automation also allows SSAB to continuously work on existing customers, with the goal of cross-selling additional products and/or up-selling to more high-value alternatives or more comprehensive solutions. Customer and marketing managers work directly in Salesforce to actively nurture groups of potential customers via Sitecore’s email function. When the recipient of a campaign email clicks a link, SSAB can follow that person’s actions on the website, collect data and personalize the content he or she sees. The information is then connected to the campaign for evaluation and follow-up on an individual level.

All business is local

When the internet first appeared in the beginning of the 1990s, most websites were global in scope and in English. That doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s obvious that your salesperson in a certain country needs to be able to speak the local language, and the same is true for your website. At least, if you’re serious about your presence in the local market. Adapting your site’s local language to search criteria is also a precondition for functional SEO. Potential customers are searching for information in their local languages, and they expect to be able to find it. In this area, there’s unexploited potential and possibility to stick out. Today’s average website for larger companies is available in six languages, while research shows that you often need at least fourteen languages to cover basic market demands.
A difficult job – but not anymore
You’re probably thinking that this sounds extremely time consuming. Just setting up your primary languages often seems like a big, complicated project – maintaining websites in fourteen different languages is more like a nightmare. But automation has made things significantly simpler today. Many translation companies have developed modules that can be integrated with most common CMS platforms, where content updates can be automatically exported, translated, re-imported and published.
Responsibility and information structure
If you combine automated support with a smart information structure and local responsibility, creating a local website suddenly becomes a completely reasonable proposition. Different countries will also be able to share languages and certain centrally produced content. In most cases, it won’t work to turn over all responsibility to your company’s local representatives since they often lack sufficient resources. It makes more sense to define global content that can be developed centrally and then translated and published in languages shared among a number of countries, in addition to defining local content that is created and published in each respective country.

Automated Management of translations

SSAB will publish around 30 different country versions of their website in a number of languages. Responsibility for the content of the local sites is clearly divided between the central and local organizations. Web integration with LanguageWire takes care of translating centrally produced content. New text items are exported automatically, translated, approved and then automatically re-imported and published in the new language. Local content for respective countries receives high priority because it offers the greatest impact for SEO. For maximum effect, the content needs to be adapted for mobile devices and simple to share on places like social media. ”I believe we have made industry history when we created a global website in such a short time with an incredibly large scope. The new website provides true value for our customers and stakeholders. It has been remarkable to build a product database, transfer static product leaflets to dynamically generated information, as well as fully renew the content, design and functionality of the website. This was only possible through full commitment from the management, sales, product lines, IT and our digital partner.” Kimmo Kanerva,  Head of Digital Marketing SSAB

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