Customer-EngagementChoosing a CMS to manage your website is difficult due to the huge number of vendors in the landscape. Focus on your use of the website to right size the product to your need.

We recently finished our evaluation of the applications for publishing content to a website. As in the past, we split this into two categories: Website Content Management (WCM) and Website Experience Management (WEM).

What is the difference?

WEM is a marketing owned, IT managed tool for organizations where the website is the key to revenue. They are easy for end users to manage day to day and have a great deal of automation and workflow/exception management built-in to ease IT customization. WEM products reach beyond the website to ensure that marketing has the campaign management tools it needs.

WCM is a marketing used, IT owned tool. This is the baseline entry model that can control publishing and editing of content on a website. In general these products require customization for every aspect of what marketing is going to do with the tool. This VL was dominated by open source products. These products are focused on the website and have very little ability to manage all aspects of a marketing campaign.

This split does not completely cover the segmentation that exists in the WEM/WCM market. Truth be told you could split this landscape into 10 categories and still not be able to fully evaluate the richness that exists in the space. Organizations should evaluate their total marketing goals and primary use for the website prior to making any decision on the products.

Overall, I was very pleased with the level of quality that exists across all of the products; all 26 products are viable as the basis for managing your website in today’s content driven world. Having said that, not all is rosy in the website management world. The products were very difficult to compare in general terms because none of them can do all use cases at a high level.

The largest concern is in the lack of innovation in the tools for classifying and managing content particularly in the commercial vendors. I find this bizarre given just how much focus there is on dynamic content presentation. The current emphasis on showing the right content to the right user seems like a huge potential risk for trademark infringement, exposure of customer data or a variety of bad scenarios. I would like to see more vendors focus on how to not showing specific content. In this multi-product world the lack of easy integration with enterprise ECM products is disappointing.

Vendors are currently focused on the tool’s marketing needs; dynamic content presentation, easy microsite creation, branding control and user analytics. Managing user experience on a website is difficult and organizations need as much help as they can get! If you need these Experience tools then you should focus on the vendors in the WEM VL.

The good news is that the WEM champions, Adobe, OpenText, SDL, SiteCore, EPiServer and CoreMedia, can deliver – just do not expect to do this on the cheap. WEM as an application is complex, the Champions can not only control the website but also have some CRM, ECM, and LMA function as well. In short WEM products should be treated as an enterprise application and the purchase, implementation, and maintenance should be handled as such.

All of the other participants in the VL can be a great partner for your WEM project, they just will require more integration and additional tools to control the more traditional marketing aspects (user analytics, email marketing, etc).

Too much marketing for your needs, or already have marketing products?

Look to the WCM VL for guidance. Two of the Champions, DNN and Drupal, have deep open source roots but have managed to stay current with the existing marketing-centric trends; this represents a shift in this market. Open source WCM products are really good and many of these products can be used without an outside web developer. These two products (DNN and Drupal) can compete with the traditional Champions; Ektron, OpenText, SiteCore, and the new entrant Bridgeline. In general the Champions have a wide set of content management tools that provide a variety of controls for dynamic presentation, social features as well as the basic marketing analytics that drive user segmentation. These products are really about how to control content from any source, including website visitors.

These two landscapes cover 26 products from 18 vendors – a mere fraction of the vendors that are out there. These are the products that the majority of Info-Tech Research Group’s members are using. There are many other viable options that can be evaluated using our advanced features. The most important aspect of your own evaluation of which product will work, is your use case; this determines the one or two features that you will need in the product to do well. The fit of the one or two key features for your use case is more important than the breadth of features.

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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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