The Website as We Know It is Expiring. Organizations are realizing that they need to look beyond the traditional website to provide visitors and customers with consistent and engaging experiences across a variety of touchpoints, such as social networks, mobile phones and traditional laptops and computers. Consistency is not enough in today’s always connected world, however; consumers expect a high degree of personalization when they interact with brands online. As such, your content management strategy must evolve. Communications must be contextualized to take into account individual visitor context such as end device, historical preferences, physical location and time of day.
There is no doubt that the Web has become profoundly important for organizations -- to not only engage with their customers online, but also drive their business more effectively. Herein lies the double challenge: as customers choose an ever broader variety of devices and social networks to interact with companies, companies must in turn integrate a growing IT-ecosystem to connect their business to each of these touchpoints if they want to reach their customers. For years, the integration and interaction touchpoint was the corporate website: organizations focused on mashing-up their services and information on this single point of entry, and consumers rewarded them with coming to their site. As a result, a lot of business intelligence and integration effort has been invested into the assembly of Web pages.
It's a Multi-Touchpoint World
In the age of the Splinternet, as Forrester coined, the website is not enough. Although the exponentially increasing number of devices can display a regular website, companies must view each channel as touchpoints, and take into consideration the user’s intent and their experience on the specific device. The information presented, as well as the interaction patterns, must adapt accordingly, as the user’s context determines how the content and its presentation are perceived. The bar has been raised, and static websites where users have to do the work to find relevant information are no longer adequate. Consumers expect guidance, recommendations, responsiveness, and in the end, relevance.
As mentioned before, companies have made significant investments to develop and implement business intelligence to assemble and mashup websites accordingly. That might have been adequate in the past, but it ignores some key changes in consumer behavior and expectations:
- Users do not only use one channel to interact with the brands in their lives. On any given day, someone might use a website, smart phone, call a support line or even go to a brick and mortar store to get information on products and services. Regardless of the channel, they expect a consistent experience.
- Device selection is often an indicator of intention. Using a different device means a different motivation and need for the user -- simply adapting the rendering of the same information is not sufficient.
- Conversations around content, products and services are no longer limited to your own website. People are talking about the brands they interact with on support sites, social networks and industry blogs. It is not about “allowing” conversation, but rather listening to it and integrating it into your business.
Enter the Web Business Hub
How can organizations master this challenge of multi-touchpoint complexity and generate real ROI from their online strategies? It requires a paradigm shift: rather than focusing on building a website, companies must view it as serving your customers’ needs on the Web -- however they access it. Many content management approaches are not able to support this level of complexity. The business logic to process the relevant response must be independent of the presentation format, and has to be in real-time to be able to take the user’s context into account.
In addition, to truly understand the context, it is not enough to just track and analyze a visitor’s current behavior on the Web -- companies need to consider leveraging the insight contained in their IT ecosystem, including CRM and ERP systems, loyalty programs and user-generated content, to get a more comprehensive perspective. This requires a different approach to implementing your Web strategy, moving from a website assembly line to more of a Web business hub that integrates with the relevant ecosystem and reaches out to the customers on any device, site or network.
Pick Tools That Let You Focus on Business Strategy
In conclusion, contextualization and adaptive reach to a variety of touchpoints are powerful tools to engage customers and make the Web meaningful for an organization’s business, and are crucial to meet the evolving expectations and web access behavior of consumers. When selecting their tools, companies must make sure they are able to master the technical complexity involved, so they can then concentrate on their online business strategy and their customer’s needs.
Decoupling the processing of content in context from its presentation prepares organizations to reuse business intelligence across channels and touchpoints -- including the integration of their software ecosystem. As a result, companies can provide their customers better services, more relevant information and an improved experience -- resulting in an overall competitive advantage.
Editor's Note: You might also be interested in:
- Web Optimization: Web Management Requires Minimalism
- Content and Site Optimization: Guidance from the Field