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What is Web Engagement Management (WEM)?

Some say WEM's the latest WCM marketing ploy. Some have never heard the phrase. We think Web Engagement Management (WEM) is an important change in the way people build and utilize web content management systems.

The Web as We Knew It

Step back with us for a second. Pre-blogging and before the social media explosion the Web was good stuff — but not nearly as central to information workers' and marketing managers' lives as it has become. But since we're talking WEM, it's the marketers who get our focus.

In many cases an organization's website started out as a stand-alone entity managed by marketing to act as simply another promotional channel. It had pretty pictures, fancy marketing words and maybe a product brochure or two to download. It talked at visitors, telling them what they ought to think and do.

Thankfully, the Web has been busy evolving. E-commerce has been here all along, forcing marketers to consider the Web a potentially vibrant channel. Personalization had a rough start in the late 90's, but has maintained a faint presence, mainly has a facilitator of e-commerce.

But the communication was still really one way — the marketers talked at you, not with you; content was static from a conversational perspective; feedback loops were largely patched together, if they existed at all; and customers' digital voices came through perhaps only via the odd web form or two.

The post Dot Com Bust years brought pain and suffering — and on the brighter side, the Cluetrain Manifesto. This book proclaimed the "end of business as usual" and that "markets are conversations." In 2005, lo, hark, we have Tim O'Reilly formalizing the term Web 2.0 and launching the conference. These events marked the beginning of web engagement.

A new Web was emerging. It was one overflowing with blogs, mashable, syndicated content feeds, comments and trackbacks, social networking and social media sentiment. People were conversing up a storm and spending a lot more time online. Expectations where shifting too. Formalities and firewalls were being dropped right and left. The tone of communications changed.

Sharp organizations reacted — listening,  participating and rebuilding their web presences to engage visitors, to give them a voice and a response. Sharp technology vendors reacted — building in new features and formulating what, in 2007, we called Web 2.0 Content Management.

We think we're entering a new phase now. Its mechanics are not the same — much of the technology and concepts have existed for some time. No, in our opinion, web engagement management is about process and technology convergence. It's about managing content, conversations, conversions and relevance in mostly the same place and at almost the same time.

WEM is an Evolution, Not a Revolution

Web engagement management involves real technology evolution, but is also a strategy or a framework for how an organization brings together its resources to optimize their digital presence. It is a natural evolution for how business must be conducted in today's world.

In 2007 we laid-out 6 principles of Web 2.0 Content Management:

  1. Be Informal; Embrace the Bottom-up Model
  2. Data is the Application
  3. Participation is Key
  4. The Interface Must be Rich, Yet Simple
  5. Content is Objects, Not Pages.
  6. The Web is a Multi-device, Evolving Platform

These are still good ideas and continue to inform our thinking on things Web. However, customers and visitors are demanding more from digital experiences today. They want to be remembered, to have the most relevant content delivered instantly and to have consistent brand experiences across devices. Marketers want technology to enable them, multiply their force and be easy to use. Sharp companies and technology providers are evolving to meet these needs.

Denise Schiffman (see blog), a respected marketing consultant and the author of ‘The Age of Engage’ said this:


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