Web Engagement Management (WEM) is a strategy for how an organization brings together its human and technology resources to optimize its digital presence. In the article What is Web Engagement Management (WEM)? we outlined 5 core WEM components. But we just skimmed the surface. Here's more on what we think is at the center of WEM.

1. Content Optimization

The content you have on your website is there to serve your audience. These are customers and potential customers and their needs are as varied as they are. So you spend a great deal of time trying to figure out what content you need to deliver, where to put it, how to write it and how people navigate, search or browse through it to find what they're after.

Content is many things, including:

  • Text
  • Images
  • Video
  • Blog entries
  • Comments
  • Activity Streams
  • Documents

These are the tools for the content optimization job:

  1. Analytics
    An obvious tool, maybe not so obvious how to best leverage it. Your content management system either offers native web analytic capabilities or it integrates third party analytics. In some cases, it will do both.

  2. Personalization
    Keeping track of a user's activity on your website provides the ability to personalize their experience on return visits. Personalization can be based on a specific user or a specific audience. It's rare that a WCM doesn't provide some personalization capabilities.

    Personalization can also come from integration between your CRM system and your WCM. By providing users the ability to give you basic information about them (via download forms, subscriptions, etc), you are able to both feed your CRM system and/or match this profile data with what is in your CRM system. This gives you a wider view of the user and the ability to offer a more personalized version of your website. You can even turn anonymous users into known users using this approach.

  3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    Search Engine Optimization is still an important focus for most people -- your content must be findable. Most Web CMS products include the ability to improve SEO through things like friendly URLs, auto-generated metadata, and automatic internal linking.

  4. Multi-variate Testing
    There are different ways to test your website to see if it's providing the right content in the right way and to the right audience. And testing doesn't have to be done only before you go live. A/B testing and multi-variate testing are both popular testing methods to help optimize your content.

    For some background on multi-variate testing, see our article How To: Getting Started with Google's Website Optimizer.

2. Multi-channel Management

Your website is only one way your customers and potential customers can engage with your organization. Others include:

  • Mobile apps and interfaces
  • External social networking sites and communities
  • Offline channels -- like your call center

Know the Channels and Devices

It is important to identify all the channels and devices through which your customers interact with you and your brand. Once you have this information, you can make informed decisions on how to manage your brand across those various channels and devices.

What is important to realize is that a consistent/optimized experience means more than consistent messaging -- it's also about the personalization, the representation of the relationship. You need to understand not only what channels and devices are used, but how (e.g., what tasks may be performed) and then optimize and standardize the experiences.

In some cases, your web content management system can help by providing content and personalization capabilities. It should also be able to support different user experiences via mobile devices. In other cases -- like social networking sites -- you manage them separately, but should look for ways to use or integrate content and intelligence from your Web CMS, share and compare analytics information, and provide a consistent message.

Two-Way Communications

Multi-channel management is also about establishing clear lines of communication and conversations with your audiences. It is critical to not only provide users a means to learn more about your brand via web content and corporate messaging, but also by interacting with them in social networks, call centers, and other web-based communication tools like instant messaging and email.

Maintain a Single View Across Channels

And to top it all off, you need to have a single view of your users across all these channels. So if a user interacts with you on a social network and then visits your website via their iPhone, you need to know know that. Understanding and tracking how a particular user interacts with your brand, helps you provide more personalized communications.

The challenges here are not to be sniffed at, we know.

3. Conversational Engagement

Conversational engagement is all about how you choose to connect with your audience. It's no longer sufficient to talk at your website users -- you need to provide them conversational capabilities. There are four key ways you can do this:

  1. Web CMS Provided Tools
    In some cases your WCM will provide "Web 2.0" and conversational tools out of the box. These include rich user profiles, forums, blogs, a commenting framework, trackback support, Facebook integration, content syndication such as RSS feeds, etc. User generated content, community features and micro-blogging are also popular features that your WCM may need to support.
  2. Separate Social Software Solution
    You may choose to go with a separate solution for supporting communities and other social media capabilities. However, you should be able to integrate the two solutions together in some way that helps provide a single view of a particular user or customer.
  3. External Social Networks
    You also need to develop a plan for engaging in communities and on social networks that you do not own. These external social networks are as important a part of your overall WEM strategy as anything you do on your own. The difference is the integration with your content management system.
  4. Social Media Monitoring & Sentiment Analysis
    The conversation doesn't stop just because you can't hear it. And you can never be everywhere, nor can you expect that new channels will cease to emerge.

    The drag net is social media monitoring and sentiment analysis. In many cases today, these tools are offered as point solutions. But look for increasing levels of native support and/or data stream integration with other platforms.

Monitoring and Analysis

Following on from point number four above, monitoring and analysis tools help you follow, analyze and respond in a timely fashion to relevant buzz. We're talking about social media monitoring of both internal communities and external social networking sites.

Why do you need to do this? It's about understanding your community's sentiment.

  • Track what content people are following, talking about, tagging, commenting on
  • What type of user generated content is created
  • What are different roles visitors or customers play in your communities
  • Who are the influencers and the advocates of your brand
  • Monitoring what people are saying about you, good and bad
  • Be ready to manage problems before they become major issues

It is important to note that you don't implement these technologies just because you think they are needed -- your WEM strategy should help analyze the options and make a sound plan for what you implement, how it's implemented and how you manage it.

4. Demand Generation

Marketing has changed. You now communicate, market and brand in many new ways. Demand generation in the WEM model is about building awareness, building relationships, constructing personalized lead funnels, understanding when those leads are sales ready and building engagement or re-engagement triggers into your digital presence.

There are many ways an organization generates demand:

  • Brand building and awareness campaigns
  • Content marketing and thought leadership
  • CPM, PPC and search engine advertising
  • Direct email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Physical events and conferences

The integration of these activities with an intelligent web content management system can benefit an organization greatly. Monitoring online activity on your own website, including your communities and on external websites can help pull together information about users who are looking for whatever you are selling. It can also help generate much more targeted, personalized experiences based on this information gathered.

5. Sales & Relationship Automation

The other part of the marketing equation is getting those qualified, active leads into the hands of your sales team at the right time. In this case the need for two-way integration with CRM systems is critical.

Lead information can easily flow from your digital channels into a CRM system. That's not new. What's happening with WEM is that the CRM is helping to keep the digital channels better informed and more personal.

Additionally, the digital channels are providing intelligent feedback to the CRM users, for example by letting Sally in sales know that lead Y has just downloaded a PDF from the corp website after a month of laying dormant. Sally can now subscribe to engagement triggers, set in the digital channels.

Beyond a ramp up in WCM/CRM communications, there's a new vocabulary emerging in the sales and marketing space: Social CRM.

Social CRM is not a replacement for traditional CRM systems -- it's an augmentation, focusing on building the relationship with prospects and customers. It deals with the relationships that can be built by spending time engaging with users on social networks, monitoring what's being said about the brand, and proactively dealing with issues that may arise.

Pulling It All Together via Your Web CMS

Each Web Engagement Management pillar can include a number of tools and technologies. In some cases these either come as an integral part of a web content management system or are tightly integrated with it. In other cases, the integration may be loose, but the relationship can be defined.

See related: WEM Perspectives -- Geeks Are Essential to Your Engagement Strategy.

There are a number of vendors that offer most or all of these capabilities as part of a single solution. At the core of these solutions is the Web CMS, but there are also tools for social media, demand generation and integrated sales automation with CRM systems.

Over the course of May we will take a look at some of these solutions in detail. If you are looking for a single vendor who can provide a complete package, it's still early days, so that might be a bit optimistic. But these reviews will be a great resource to help guide your decisions.