By Christie Flanagan on Apr 26, 2013
Today’s guest blog post was written by Stephen Schleifer. Stephen is Senior Principal Product Manager for Oracle’s Web Content Management (WCM) solution, Oracle WebCenter Sites.
It’s no secret that the WCM market has gone through a series of rapid changes over the past five years or so, in part because the business objectives driving the use of these systems evolved (from content publishing to online experience), and in part due to the changing nature and role of corporate websites, or brand sites. We are now living in a multichannel world -- with the rise of social networks, increased use of campaign marketing (including social media, email marketing and promotional microsites), and of course, the fact that more people are accessing the web via mobile devices than ever before. All of this has amounted to added complexity for web marketers to manage their brand and message across all these channels, but it has also changed the perception of what role a brand site, and by way of it, a WCM system, is supposed to play in online marketing.
While most still agree that a brand site is an important place for customers to acquire information about a company’s products and services, others propose that as more traffic and leads are generated through alternate channels that they should become the main focus of online marketing and customer engagement efforts.
I would argue that it’s not an either/or proposition, but instead what’s needed more often than not is a more blended approach, and in fact, your brand site should serve as the centralized point of your online marketing strategy. Why? Because it’s the one place where all these channels tend to converge -- it’s the glue that holds your brand and message together across all these diverse customer touch points. Linking these channels back to your brand site is also important because it’s the place where you control the message, and it’s ultimately where you can engage customers in more dynamic ways, as the experience you create there is entirely of your own making.
WCM systems are the technology set that provides the tools for marketers to manage corporate web sites, and they are unique in their ability to support a wide variety of cross-channel online marketing value propositions; these include:
– Extending the reach of / re-purposing content between brand sites and social media: For example, by enabling site visitors to engage in interactions around site content and then extend the reach of that content by sharing it to their walls. Or by repurposing content on your site such as articles, blog posts or promotional offers for publishing on social media pages. Conversely, many organizations are choosing to host promotional or educational video on social video sites such as YouTube, but then integrate those videos within the context of brand site pages as streaming content. All this can be facilitated by a WCM system.
– Seamlessly adapting brand site content for delivery though the mobile channel: Mobile has been a difficult channel for marketers to master, but we’re at the point where technologies like HTML-5 and approaches like responsive design where effective mobile web experience has become a reality, as you can now design once for your branding site, and have those templates instantly adapted and optimized for mobile delivery. While this is not the only effective approach to mobile web (depending on your business objectives, you may indeed want to develop mobile templates or mobile-specific sites), most WCM systems are now flexible enough to support multiple approaches.
– Integrating websites with email marketing for cross-channel marketing automation: Bringing together WCM and email marketing makes a lot of sense, because the better the two work together, the more consistent, targeted and effective your online campaigns will be. Both systems leverage content such as text and images that will need to be duplicated or adapted across channels for web landing pages, email blasts, etc. -- the more you can centralize the management of that content for more effective cross-channel publishing, the more you can be sure that your branding and message will be consistent and clear to your customer. Both systems also require some level of personalization to ensure that the various customer segments in a campaign are spoken to with a relevant message – and whether it’s being featured in an email or somewhere on your site, that message must remain the same. Integrating the customer segment data that is being captured in your WCM system with that in your marketing campaign system (not to mention CRM) is key to be able to provide a unified profile across these customer-facing touch points, and in turn can help to ensure more effective targeting.
Whatever role you decide is best for your corporate website to play in your online marketing mix, there is no escaping that it continues to be as relevant as ever in today’s multi-channel world. Think of it as a kind of digital hub for online experience, and your WCM system is the backbone for creating and managing engaging, cross-channel experiences.