Taking on special projects and paying down technical debt with Sourcing Journal

Sourcing Journal Media, a leader in B2B trade media, produces publications and events under the Sourcing Journal, Vamp and Rivet brands. They offer essential news, expert commentary and in-depth analysis, providing invaluable insights to their readers.

When Sourcing Journal approached Alpha Particle they wanted to catch up on some much needed updates to the site, better integrate their marketing platform to remove some manual work from their membership funnels, as well as develop some new features and UI.  They also wanted to modernize the Rivet 50 section of the site to allow the SJ editorial team to produce the yearly list of industry leaders directly within WordPress instead of having to dedicate development resources each time.

Rather than acting as a disconnected, outside agency, they felt more like a colleague who was invested in our success, responding in real time and when required in order to accomplish the deliverables to meet the deadlines. I look forward to continuing our relationship and building our business with Alpha Particle.

Edward Hertzman, CEO, Sourcing Journal Media

We worked closely with both the Sourcing Journal team as well as the technical team at Penske Media Corporation (their parent company) to define and scope the necessary improvements, develop them, and roll them out to production in a timely manner.

The Alpha Particle Approach

Much of our initial work was focused on the quick wins and smaller look and feel improvements that had been in the Sourcing Journal backlog for some time, but had yet to have been addressed by internal development resources. Tackling these items first allowed us to establish a workflow with both the SJ and PMC teams, as well as ensure our understanding of the existing codebase and processes that were keeping the site running.

These tasks involved things like upgrading the header, providing a clearer and more cohesive experience to logged in users vs logged out users, updating paywall language and functionality, and much more.

Only after we had made these improvements did we move on to the more complicated task of tightening up the integration between their email marketing and the WordPress site itself.

In a rapidly growing business, Alpha Particle offered the speed, agility, and attention that we required in order for us to respond to our readers’ and advertisers’ needs and wants. Their ability to handle both front- and back-end requests allowed us to offload a lot of our development and UX needs to them.

Edward Hertzman, CEO, Sourcing Journal Media

Systems Integration: WordPress + Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Sourcing Journal was using the Salesforce Marketing Cloud (formerly ExactTarget) to keep track of users who had opted-in with their email to receive a downloadable report. However, there was still some manual work involved with porting over metadata about a given user that would help Sourcing Journal make more informed decisions about how to best market to that user.

To improve upon this system, Sourcing Journal wanted to automate this entire process and ensure that all the existing user information was properly sent over to Marketing Cloud. This would allow the marketing team to operate as efficiently as possible.

This involved working with the PMC email marketing team, as well as stakeholders on the Sourcing Journal team, to ensure everyone had the information that they needed and that the data was being passed properly. In the end, the rollout of the expanded email functionality allowed the marketing team to engage their users more effectively and resulted in zero down time of the existing SJ marketing funnels.

Making Rivet 50 More Powerful and Flexible

The Rivet 50 index for 2019

Rivet’s Influential 50 is an index of the most creative and forward-thinking leaders driving the global jeanswear industry. Sourcing Journal puts together this list every year to highlight members of the industry that they feel have made an impact in the previous year. When this section of the site was initially developed, however, much of the logic was hardcoded, making it difficult for the Sourcing Journal team to produce the list for the next upcoming year without engaging a developer.

During the process of updating this piece of the codebase, we added a huge amount of power and flexibility, including the ability for the SJ editorial team to create new landing pages for each year of the Rivet 50. We also gave them the ability to upload their own category and country icons right from within WordPress, ensure members of each list were segmented and displayed properly, and much more. We were able to make a whole host of UX improvements such as adding additional and more clear linking between items, improving layout consistency, and simplifying the user experience overall.

Now that the refactor is live, the Rivet 50 lists can become an even greater asset for the Sourcing Journal brand as they can be curated and updated for each year.

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