WCM Plays Key Role in Digital Customer Experience
The following was written by David Aponovich, a senior analyst at Forrester Research serving application development and delivery professionals.
Who can forget the call to arms that marketers and other Web professionals were shouting a few years ago, when everyone thought they had this whole online thing solved. “Content is king!” they shouted, and for the most part, it was true. Content— mostly words, really—carried the marketing message. And the medium? That was primarily the good old-fashioned Web site.
Fast forward to today. What matters most is what you do with a multitude of content types across many digital channels, all of which keep expanding faster than marketers, Web developers, and online colleagues can harness and keep pace with.
If you work on the Web in 2013, your mantra is likely to be “Digital customer experience is king!”
Web technology is, fortunately, making success here possible. Enterprise marketing ecosystems are evolving to support creative ways of communicating your brand, company, and message via multichannel online experiences. No more generic marketing messages allowed. Today, interactions with and experiences for customers need to be personal, contextual, and multichannel. This is a big challenge to undertake correctly and efficiently.
Content, of course, has evolved, and today includes video assets, social messages, user-generated content, third-party content, email-based content, and more. As far as digital channels, you’re probably considering Web sites, microsites, landing pages, blogs, social sites, community sites, video channels, in-store kiosks…. Are you out of breath yet?
It’s likely that many different tools and technologies are helping your company make it all come together. But there’s a pivotal technology that’s rapidly maturing to meet much of this mandate: web content management software.
A recent report, “The Forrester Wave: Web Content Management for Digital Experience, Q2 2013.” shows that Web content management (WCM) has taken center stage in digital customer experience. Most of these systems that began in the “content is king” era are now broadly supporting organizations’ digital experience (DX) mandate.
WCM is a perennial priority of IT buyers. It has, however, become increasingly important in the rise of multichannel communication, commerce, and collaboration. In a 2013 Forrester Research survey of 233 digital technology professionals regarding their 24-month technology purchase and adoption plans, 34 percent considered WCM technology a priority for their organizations. This is second only to analytics tools (56 percent) and ahead of third-ranked CRM (30 percent).
The report also describes the strategic shifts by the vendors to address DX, and the current business reality in which buyers are struggling to source and put to strategic use the disparate but related parts of a digital marketing tools ecosystem. Some vendors in WCM have bought many pieces of the digital experience ecosystem and integrated them together; others have relied on an integration strategy with outside partners providing many of the tools and capabilities.
Overall, tools in this ecosystem generally address one of three categories that should be familiar to marketers and Web pros. Forrester refers to these categories—mandates, really—as “manage, engage, and measure.”
These solutions, outlined below, optimally work in concert to ensure a consistent approach to delivering multichannel experiences that can be measured and constantly improved upon to deliver better experiences for customers and results for businesses.
Solutions that enable nontechnical personnel to manage experiences. These solutions consist of tools and repositories that marketers and other nontechnical personnel use to create and manage structured and unstructured content for customer experiences. This includes WCM, digital asset management, product catalog management, workflow, campaign management, marketing resource management, and desktop authoring tools.
Engagement solutions that enable the delivery of interactive multichannel experiences. Vendors often tightly couple WCM and e-commerce solutions with management and delivery capabilities, enabling businesses to create content and deliver experiences in a single package. But other technologies enable experience delivery, including content targeting solutions such as search, personalization, and recommendations engines; tools to enable the development of presentations, such as integrated development environments; ad-serving systems; and identification and authorization management tools.
Measurement solutions that allow businesses to gauge the success of experiences. A/B and multivariate testing enable marketers and business users to test variations of experiences on certain demographics before rolling them out to a broader audience.Web analytics tools track Web site visitor behavior. Social analytics tools track how consumers engage with companies by monitoring social interactions. And dashboards present analytical data from which marketers can draw actionable insights.
WCM solutions address many of these areas as they approach answering the manage, engage, and measure puzzle. They doesn’t address all these issues—nor do we think they should. However, few software solutions in the marketer’s toolbox provide as much core, foundational technology as WCM. Buyers, as with vendors pushing their product development, have discovered the relevance of having flexible, feature-rich platforms that can help bring alive the ideal of managing, engaging and measuring (and optimizing) multichannel digital experiences.