I’ve discussed Web Engagement here for CMSWire before and in my last article I scratched at the surface of defining what web engagement management (WEM) is. This was, of course, in defense of the phrase being sucked into the lexicon of marketing business-speak and its meaning and business value being forgotten. This time around I'm thinking about operations and looking at the specific capabilities that comprise WEM.

As a regular CMSWire reader, following on from some great articles here on the subject, you will know that, in a nutshell, web engagement is about relevancy. This implies leveraging the myriad of sources of audience information and content from multiple sources and bringing them together in a compelling experience -- to the device, website, social media community or digital channel of the consumers choosing.

To achieve that, you must understand that Web Engagement both conceptually and technically is more than Web Content Management. Though in all honesty, the lines here can be blurry, as there are a myriad of software vendors that can claim WEM capabilities. Clearly, if you are a digital marketer looking for the best tools and practices, this can be confusing, and I know of at least one organization that has deployed three different web analytics packages as each fulfills a different engagement function.

We are seeing campaign management and digital marketing requirements entering the Web CMS (WCM) selection process, often disconnected from a wider strategy. Now I'm not suggesting that having digital marketing requirements in a WCM RFP is necessarily bad, but like any requirements, we need to go into this with our eyes open -- understanding if what we are comparing is apples-to-apples, and ensuring that the project or business needs really call for this particular apple.

To that end, at the Gilbane Group Scott Liewehr and I are delving into the nitty gritty of web engagement, looking to unravel who exactly does what. Some of this great stuff is coming from WCM vendors, analytics vendors and some very nice niche players that we think our clients should look at as they build out their engagement strategy.

Our broader concern is that we heed the lessons of Enterprise CMS and big IT, and stay alert to the risk of implementing a system that ticks a lot of RFP boxes, does lots of things OK, but nothing really very well. We also don't want to drop the ball for niche player innovation, lest the engagement capabilities of an organization become constrained.

To start this rolling, in demystifying what we are describing as the Web Engagement Tier, we’ve taken a look from the practitioner’s perspective -- how as an organization do you judge your web engagement needs, strategy and capabilities?

During our research we have developed five main capability areas that we think organizations need to look at, and as we continue with our research we’ll associate a maturity model against each area.

We believe these 5 key areas are:

  1. Content Management
    Yes, content management, not web content management. This is the capability of an organization to manage and publish different kinds of assets to multiple visitor touch points. Not necessarily one system, but a joined up integrated process combining the disciplines of managing localization, governance, multiple sites, digital assets, publish to email etc.
  2. Social Media
    It's not just about an organization's presence on Youtube, Twitter or Facebook, but how that is leveraged and measured to form an integrated part of the audience experience.
  3. Visitor Insight
    Are you just counting visitors? Can you segment? Do you know who are your most valuable and engaged visitors? Having lots of visitors may just mean they like pictures of funny kittens. Having well-understood, engaged visitors is a business asset.
  4. Integrated Campaign Management
    In most organizations our websites are part of a greater digital communications machine and our audiences view us a single entity across multiple touch points. This capability is about how each of our digital marketing moving parts works together.
  5. Organizational Preparedness
    The discipline of customer engagement spans various parts of an organization that have often been traditionally in separate silos. From customer services, to the database marketing guys to the cool guys in the black rimmed glasses in the agency – your capability to engage relies on how joined up are these folks in delivering this multi-channel brand experience.

Remember this is a capability assessment, not a vendor maturity model or a magic err.. anything. It’s a way for people to think about implementing Web Engagement and the areas that may need focus.

We’ll no doubt tinker with the names as our investigations continue, but hopefully this can give you an insight into our thinking and help you as you look at your own web engagement projects.

If you'd like to join in the conversation, we're going to be holding a series of three live webinars entitled Demystifying Web Engagement Management: Why it’s Crucial to Your Business and How You Can Master It. These three events cover the same material, but are running in different timezones: