Web Content Management (WCM) was the darling technology of the late 1990s. It was positioned as a tool to help IT overcome the complexities of hand-coding web pages and publishing them to the web. The use case for WCM has changed. It is now a marketing tool.

WCM enables marketers to effectively create content and push it to the web. More importantly, WCM solutions allows marketers to create and test content and to monitor how users interact with a web presence. This interaction is key for enabling things like prospect conversion and upsell. In some cases, the website can be customized on-the-fly to appeal to particular customer/prospect desires or expectations.

Of course, with increased complexity comes increased maintenance. IT and marketing professionals must work closely to ensure that the WCM solution is delivering to expectations. The key challenges with WCM typically aren’t related to traditional IT issues. Info-Tech data indicates that enterprises have a good handle on concerns like the usability or the adequacy of various tools. The real concerns include working with marketing to actually discovery up-sell opportunities and convert prospects. These are traditionally marketing issues but they go right to the heart of WCM success.

Recent changes in web user behavior is also forcing people to rethink their WCM and web marketing strategies. Social and mobile are particularly thorny issues. Social content, for example, can give marketers unique tells about a user’s preferences and interests. Mobile, meanwhile, presents challenges for both content delivery and user profiling since a mobile device can provide insights on user location and preferences.

These emerging issues speak to the need for integration. WCM is no longer a completely stand-alone system. IT professionals must consider integration with different tools for customer management, lead management, and social media management.

For more information on WCM, see Info-Tech’s recently published Develop a Web Content Management Strategy. Info-Tech also offers two Vendor Landscapes on the topic: VL: Web Content Management and VL: Web Experience Management.

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Websites have evolved into strong tools for marketing strategy. Web Experience Management (WEM)  vendors are offering products that ensure marketing alignment and offer multi-channel support to maintain a coherent and on-going relationship with all customers. Some vendors have expanded their multi-channel offering to include print materials and even call center support, in addition to web, social, mobile, and email channels.

WEM solutions are placing websites at the center of customer experience. From the very onset of the customer relationship information is being gathered on the customer based on their interactions with the organization. This can be coupled with information about the customer, their personal interests or needs, which is garnered through the creation of a profile either on the website or imported through the use of social site logins (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). All of this data can be used deliver highly targeted content to individuals.

Ektron and Autonomy both have a search-based approach for content delivery for their websites. Their search engines are intuitive and sophisticated as they utilize personas to help define search results and provide personalized content. Autonomy also has the ability to deliver search results based on concepts and ideas, rather than just keywords, as Autonomy IDOL uses advanced pattern matching and probabilistic modeling to understand content, including audio and video content.

The provisioning of customized content increases the likelihood that website visitors will be engaged with what they are presented with and become both a customer and a fan of the organization. Turning customers into fans is big business for organizations and can lead to the generation of more customers as they endorse the organization through expressing their positive sentiments and experiences on social media sites.

Interestingly, some vendors have the ability to monitor the comments that people are making about the organization or product and determine whether general feelings are negative or positive. Autonomy’s solution looks for patterns of characters and is able to determine slang in 150 languages, including Klingon! It also lets you train the program, so that if it perceives a positive comment as negative, you can go in and change the way it reads the comment.

Our look into the WEM marketplace has revealed that Sitecore, Adobe, and OpenText are offering top level solutions. Sitecore’s Digital Marketing System (DMS) delivers solid multi-channel support, complete with prescriptive analytics to help your campaigns reach greater success.

Adobe is a leader in this space due to their strong campaign management, which includes the ability to rapidly launch new campaigns. This is done through the ability to import static HTML landing pages made by 3rd party developers, which are made immediately editable. In addition, Adobe’s recent release of CQ Cloud enables the quick provisioning of micro-sites and is a bonus for IT admin who need to manage Cloud usage by marketing.

OpenText Web Experience Management is also a strong contender for this space, with solid content management ability and advanced analytics and search capabilities. For an in depth look at the WEM market and insights in the solutions available look at Info-Tech’s Vendor Landscape: Web Experience Management

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