2011 was dominated by the trend of convergence; more than one WCM platform began the transition from digital content management tool to customer engagement and marketing platform by improving the analytic and personalization capabilities of its offerings. These efforts are a step in the right direction. Content will forever be the “meat” in the marketing sandwich, so building out from this center only makes good sense. However, even this new breed of Web CMSs have a long way to go before they singularly provide the tools and functionality that savvy, enterprise-scale marketing and IT teams are demanding right now. To meet those needs, the biggest trend of 2012 is likely to be the emergence of digital marketing platforms via the integration of existing enterprise software tools.

What are smart marketers looking for from an enterprise-scale digital marketing platform? According to a recent McKinsey study, they are looking for customer insights. That is, a deeper understanding of what content (information, experience, product or service) a customer is looking for, how they access and interact with that content, how their interaction is shaped by who they are, and what it takes to build deeper levels of loyalty and engagement with a particular brand or company. With that information in hand, marketers believe they can begin to tailor digital experiences that inspire engagement, loyalty and advocacy.

Building Blocks of a Digital Marketing Platform

With this in mind, what are the critical systems that a CMO and CTO should integrate to create a de facto digital marketing platform? At least four enterprise level systems come to mind that must be aligned and working together smoothly. These systems are:

  • Web Content Management (WCM)
  • Analytics
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Marketing Automation (MA)


Basic Digital Marketing Platform:
Converge & Align Existing Enterprise Systems


Without a doubt, there are other systems that could and likely should be added to this list. For example, Forrester suggests adding onsite search and commerce platforms to fill out the suite, though onsite search is often thought of as a function of WCM (even if a separate search tool is being used), and not all entities on the web have eCommerce as a primary business objective. So for now, let’s go with these as the anchor systems in our digital marketing platform.

How They Fit Together

Breaking the McKinsey article down further, we can look at how each system plays a critical part in understanding one or more aspects of a customer and their digital behavior:

WCM = What?

As you well know, your Web CMS collects and publishes your most valuable asset: content. As WCMs continue to evolve, one of the most promising developments is the ability to use a WCM as a content repository and sharing tool for mobile, social and email channels. Understanding the kinds of content customers want allows you to create, curate, push and pull content directly to a particular audience via their channel of choice.