While reminiscing about a recent trip to London, England I was reminded of my travels on the Underground. With every step onto or off the commuter train I was instructed by the overhead loud speaker to pay close attention to the small opening in front of me. Any misstep could have caused harm or hindered my journey onward.  

shutterstock_107474726.jpg

There have been a number of conversations about the importance of marketing automation tools and WEM’s function in helping organizations elevate brand identity and distinguish themselves from all the noise and other distractions. A larger customer experience ecosystem begins to emerge where both technologies play critical roles in helping organizations understand a 3-D view of their customer and deliver optimized online experiences.

As marketing programs and campaigns become more sophisticated, we need to be "mindful" of some of the hand-off points and gaps between these complimentary technologies.

As with all hot new buzzwords "marketing automation" is not a new concept and has been around for some time. Marketing Automation is the process of creating and defining programs and campaigns that engage customers across multiple, interactive touch points.

Following specific rules of engagement (e.g. scoring) the intent is to generate demand, nurture and convert only those leads that are qualified. Reporting and accountability are essential at every touch point and are used by marketing departments to justify each dollar spent.

WEM solutions support all online marketing initiatives by providing marketers (such as content authors, web designers and graphic designers) with simplified tools for creating and managing all your corporate web properties. It delivers dynamic, interactive, personalized and contextualized web content to customers regardless of the channel they arrive from.

Inherent in these tools are enterprise social capabilities that allow for ongoing collaborative discussions that facilitate expert communities of knowledge. Finally, web and social analytics tools collect and measure real-time, click stream data in the context of the published "live" site.

What if you could have both technologies working together harmoniously? A fully integrated marketing platform that exchanged customer related information, supported all marketing related activities, and managed your corporate brand content from one central point of access?

The goal of marketing automation and WEM is to integrate marketing processes that collect data and content from multiple locations toward developing meaningful customer relationships that begin and continue well after the initial sales cycle is complete. Consumers do not want to feel as though they are being marketed at -- they want to feel the content they uncover is part of their organic efforts.

Let’s look at some of the gaps between the two technologies:

1. The Focus on Content Marketing Sourced for the Web

According to Forrester’s report "The Rise of Content Marketing: Invest In Content Development and Management for Success," 58 percent of marketers consider their website to be the most important channel when creating interactive marketing content, second to social media (15%). Marketers will continue to evolve and enhance the online experience by creating great and meaningful content for their sites.

It’s no surprise that companies that invest in WEM solutions report greater online success in delivering and managing all corporate content. Marketing automation solutions need to leverage not only the creation of new content for websites but all the other technical features in WEM.

For example, WEM systems can determine how content is consumed and from what device; gather analytics on customer behavior, geo-location, previous interactions and social media participation. This type of data can be used by marketing automation solutions to influence how subsequent follow-up conversations get started and remain open.

2. CMO and CIO Alignment

A consistent trend I’m seeing is how marketers are solving their own business problems with little or no IT intervention. End users are self-provisioning solutions, in the cloud or on premises, and using marketing spend to do so.

WEM solutions traditionally owned, built and secured by IT are now sharing ownership with marketing. But a three dimensional view of the customer can only be achieved when information can be gathered from all corporate data stores -- whether managed by IT or marketing.

According the Aberdeen Group report "Enhancing Customer Experience through CIO and CMO Alignment,"companies with CIO and CMO alignment achieve a 10.1 percent higher annual year-over-year growth in ROMI, compared with 5.6 percent of their peers. “This shows that partnering with peers in IT helps marketers better analyze customer information and launch campaigns that deliver quantifiable results by addressing changing customer needs.”

3. Omni-Channel Consistency

Marketers are faced with the challenge of providing a consistent online experience across all delivery touch points -- namely mobile devices. The same challenge is replicated by a marketing automation tool that needs to maintain a dialogue via the same context of the interaction.

WEM solutions offer native support to many social media features (e.g. blogs, wikis, discussion threads) and packaged integration into many social networking sites. Harnessing WEM’s targeted listening capabilities will enhance how marketing automation tools evaluate customer engagement and influence lead scoring.

4. Cross-enterprise Information Processing

Customers are engaged with a number of different systems stored across the enterprise -- ERP, CRM, e-Commerce, WEM and CMS. The proper application of a Business Process Management system can capture content and metadata from multiple corporate locations and help facilitate marketing automation systems to properly respond to customer inquiries.

5. Capturing Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI)

Marketing wisdom tell us that if you cannot measure effectiveness, you cannot measure its change. Without a common set of metrics, as provided by both systems, all marketing efforts are at risk and offer no opportunity for correction and improvement.

According to the Aberdeen report "CEM: Using the Power of Analytics to Optimize Customer Delight," “analytical tools are a critical component for providing businesses with the intelligence that can be used to create both contextual and potential prospect / customer conversations.” One of the common questions I hear from customers is "how do we collect data from disparate systems, which utilize different metrics, and standardize it within one meaningful report?"

Rather than selling products or services to your customers, ensure that both your WEM and marketing automation system’s primary goal is to help customers find the information they need. Identifying and addressing these gaps is the first step in achieving a complete customer view that elevates your brand to one that generates loyalty, advocacy and satisfaction.

My advice -- Don’t try and close all the gaps at once. Start small but think big. Start by integrating "progressive profiling" in your WEM system so that it passes information to your marketing automation tool. This will provide incremental insights into what prospects are looking to understand and qualify how likely they will be to purchase.

Image courtesy of dutourdumonde (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Read more from this month's focus on Better Web Experiences with Marketing Automation