By Michael Snow on Jul 29, 2013
Guest Post by Stephen Schleifer, Senior Principal Product Manager, Strategy, Oracle WebCenter Sites
What’s Going On in Digital Experience? The Latest in Key Trends
As with many consumer-facing markets, digital experience tends to move pretty fast. Just as organizations begin to get a handle on how, where and when to best engage with their target audiences in the digital world, things begin to shift again as consumers change their online habits. However, there have been a number of trends that have been more or less constant over the past few years; some have grown steadily over time, others have been slow out of the gate, and then quickly reached a critical mass, but they have always been cornerstones of web experience management. While the following is far from representative of everything that’s going on in this dynamic market, let’s take a quick look and see what’s going on in a few key areas:
Mobile Gets Practical
Mobile is an example of a digital experience trend that went from ‘might do’ to ‘must do’ in the space of a year (hello, iPhone), and has continued to grow in importance ever since. However, whereas a couple of years ago organizations were still wondering how to best tackle the mobile experience (mobile web, mobile apps, mobile first etc.), we’re now at a place where organizations have a better understanding of each approach, and how to apply them to drive specific business outcomes, whether that be engagement, self-service or commerce.
When it comes to mobile site management, most customers we speak with are now viewing this as an integrated part of managing their overall online experience, while acknowledging that it comes with a distinct set of requirements that may need to be met separately, depending upon specific objectives. They want to maximize efficiencies by reusing content and integrating site authoring and publishing processes across web and mobile, and by leveraging responsive design to cut down on site development and speed time to market. However, they also want the flexibility of a web experience management solution that can provide as much support as possible for mobile-specific requirements when needed, from ease of mobile template customization, to device management.
Multi-channel Gets Back the Brand Site
Managing content and experiences across multiple channels has continued to be a tricky problem to solve. Basically, as more online channels have emerged – from brand sites, to micro and multi-lingual sites, to email campaigns, through to mobile and social– the more complex content management has become for online marketers. Meanwhile, against this backdrop of channel proliferation, the value and function of the brand site itself began to get called into question (remember the trend of companies dropping their .coms and moving to Facebook?).
What we’re seeing now is the reassertion of the importance of the brand site; the idea of the corporate .com as a center point of digital experience. The content that drives activity on other online touch points (email offers, social promotions, microsite landing pages) ultimately points back to the brand site, where all of these channels converge, thereby centralizing marketing processes such as lead capture or facilitating deeper brand engagement.
As a part of this effort, web marketers are looking to be able to access the content that is originating from other channels (regardless of where it is stored), from within the web experience management system authoring environment, and incorporate it within brand sites to produce a more unified, cross-channel experience.
Personalization Comes of Age
The drive to personalize digital experiences has been an interesting trend to watch; it’s perhaps the one that has experienced the most hype over time, but it has also been the slowest to take hold, as it has taken a number of years for solutions to get up to where the market needs them to be. Of course, personalization is a broad term, and it can encompass everything from targeting experiences to different customer segments, to making online search more relevant and intuitive through guided navigation, to providing tools that enable site visitors to tailor their own online experience.
One thing that is certain is that has finally reached the tipping point, where every organization we engage with has some sort of personalization initiative on their short list of digital experience priorities. That said, not all organizations want to jump in with both feet, especially when it comes to areas like content targeting. Some organizations are still choosing to start with smaller-scale experimentation, using specific pages or promotional sites as targeting test grounds. Others are taking a more committed approach and are implementing content targeting throughout the web and mobile sites. Meanwhile, a small, but growing amount are investing in fully automated, predictive solutions.
This latter area is where we expect to see the most interest and growth in the coming year. Web marketers are beginning to see the power of connecting the native targeting engines in web experience management systems to predictive solutions that can offset the labor associated with managing segmenting and targeting data through automation, while delivering higher success rates for metrics like click-throughs and conversions.