Is Web Engagement Management (WEM) a new on the ground reality, or just the latest turn of phrase to help build the sales pipeline? I think we’ve been here before -- but more importantly, how is your organization making its digital business decisions?

The phrase Web Engagement Management is new to me. I admit that when I first heard the phrase and read some of the Web CMS software vendor literature around this concept my first reaction was: “This is just another turn of phrase to sell more software to web content managers.” I felt much the same way watching Online Marketing Optimization become the buzz term du jour for web analytics vendors pitching to online marketers.

And I further admit that after reading the many articles about this subject over the last few weeks on CMSWire, I remain a bit skeptical about how this concept really changes the “on the ground” environment for managing digital channels.

Mind you, I don’t have any inherent issues with the goals of WEM as laid out in Brice’s kick off article (See: What is Web Engagement Management?), but this vision has pretty much always been the vision for the digital world. The tools and technology may have evolved -- but not the vision, nor the inherent issues that challenge the realization of this vision.

Recurring Issues in Web Channel Management

Unstable web channel organization structure and a lack of governance within the web channel strike me as two of the biggest roadblocks. Questions like “Where does the web channel organization live?” are still common. Reorganizations within the web channel are more common, and then you can add to this the fact that digital groups are still looked at as outsiders to the mainstream operations of many organizations -- especially those that are still driven by offline revenue.

I work with some organizations where the website is divided by lines of business, so that owners of one part of the site may prefer to sell ad space on their pages to outside vendors rather than provide links to the part of the site owned by another line of business -- simply because it won’t reflect well on their division’s quarterly revenue numbers. I work with other organizations where marketing, content and IT have little or no relationship, operating in silos where there is no recognition or understanding of each others’ goals.  Based on the conversations I have with folks throughout the digital world, I think these are fairly common scenarios.

Making this even more challenging is the participation of software vendors who want to sell their wares. Web CMS vendors focus on website managers and content managers; analytics vendors focus on marketers and web analysts; no one focuses on IT because the vendors know that’s a harder sell.

Looking at WEM Offerings in the Market

Fatwire is in the WCM space and their WEM suite consists of:

  • Content management
  • Web analytics
  • Multi-variate testing
  • Segmentation capability
  • Personalization
  • Targeted marketing
  • Integration with CRM

Omniture is in the analytics space and their marketing optimization suite consists of:

  • Content management
  • Web analytics
  • Multi-variate testing
  • Segmentation capability
  • Personalization
  • Targeted marketing
  • Integration with CRM

OK, so I’ll bet that Fatwire’s has a stronger content management offering than Omniture, and that Omniture has a stronger analytics offering than Fatwire, but I’m not here to quibble about features and functions. 

More to the point, vendors make money when they sell you the concept of a suite and integration that keeps you hooked or set up for an up-sell. Concepts like WEM and Online Marketing Optimization fit this description perfectly.

WEM by Any Name Needs Governance

The question that you have to answer has less to do with technology and more with how do you get along and hash out decisions with your colleagues in the other department or the other business unit.

What is your process for reconciling differences if content managers get offered a similar package as the marketing folks? Will your content folks battle it out with your marketing folks? The winner being whoever convinces IT which is easier to implement and maintain?

Do you have a governance model that enables you to transcend silos and organizational shuffles? Are there clearly articulated goals for the web channel that can help everyone get on the same page and make decisions with the organization’s best interests at heart? If there are not these processes in place, nor a governance model, working to establish such a framework should be where you want to start.

I know organizations where there is a strong sense of shared decision making and governance that is driven by a clear understanding of organizational goals. In these organizations, marketing and content groups drive the business and work together to complement their efforts and the IT group is a cooperative partner.

These organizations are not so hung up on terms. They are focused on accomplishing business objectives that they see as straightforward: earn revenue, reduce costs, make the online experience a good one for customers, prospects and visitors.

It's All About Good Digital Business Practices

Ultimately, I don’t think it matters whether you call good digital business practice WEM or Online Marketing Optimization. I think the objectives of each concept are fairly similar. I also think that the technology will continue to evolve rapidly, enabling you more flexibility in your content development, marketing and personalization efforts.

This leads to somewhat of a commoditization of technology -- so it is less critical about whether you buy software from one vendor or multiple vendors, and whether they are inherently WCM or analytics vendors or some other niche area. What is critical is that there is coordination within digital organizations for how to use the technology and that all are trying to achieve the same goal.