Three major components of today's customer experience management efforts are the three "C's": Content, Community and Commerce. It goes without saying that all three are important for success in today's world of online commerce, but all too many implementations are ineffective because they ignore an unspoken, and perhaps the most important "C", the Convergence of each of these key areas.

Where each of the primary C's overlap, there is great opportunity for synergies to be created that drive customer behavior, increase conversions and build brand confidence. In order to properly achieve these overlap synergies, it is important to understand the context of the overlap and how to properly leverage each in a unique manner to enhance customer experience.

Convergence 1: Content and Community

You've gone to the effort to build a network of fans of your brand and they eagerly await updates. Integrating the process by which your organization creates content with the process of interacting with this eager community is critical to keep timely and appropriate information flowing to this audience. Those responsible for community management are the companies’ eyes and ears and should be an integral part of driving the content creation process. If you already have a content management system, develop workflows that support review and approval by community managers and also allow these folks on the front lines to assist with creating new content ideas.

Convergence 2: Content and Commerce

This convergence goes beyond having appropriate product catalog information. Content in this sense includes user-generated content and any variety of content that can support a user's journey from their first click on your site to the Buy button. Traditional approaches such as customer reviews and ratings should certainly be a part of this effort as should discussion around how these are treated as content types across the company and not just on the site.

Remember that content generated primarily for site use, a user review for example, could also be repurposed. All too often companies put a firewall between inbound site content and marketing that leads to missed opportunities to leverage great things that are being said about a company or product.

Convergence 3: Community and Commerce

This convergence has incredible potential and, as social networks continue to expand their offerings, expect this potential to increase exponentially. A few ideas:

  • Properly embedded Twitter searches can help consumers see recent (and nearly real-time) commentary from a wide audience. If you have a unique product or exciting brand that generates a lot of buzz, why not take advantage of chatter?
  • Integration with Facebook's social graph can enable very unique approaches to personalization that include comments from a consumer's personal network. As the experience gap between online shopping and going shopping with friends continues to diminish, leveraging these capabilities will continue to increase conversions.
  • Local commerce possibilities will continue to grow as the proliferation of location-aware devices continues. For a brand that sells through a variety of retailers, leveraging location-specific information on your site, especially in a mobile application, can help drive customers to retailers.

With constantly evolving technical capabilities in the social networking world, the possibilities for commerce applications are growing rapidly. Make sure you have a team of commerce savvy and social network aware individuals exploring these new areas and new social networking avenues (such as Google+).

Convergence 4: Content, Community and Commerce

The Holy Grail of convergence. The intersection of all three C's requires a solid understanding of the needs of the market, the desires of the consumer fan base, the requirements these bring to bear on a commerce platform and an organization's current capabilities along with a sense of what is needed to take things to the next level. Close collaboration is needed between marketing, technology, content management and community management staff in order to have the highest chance of success.

This may seem obvious to many, but all too often the obvious is overlooked while focusing on the "bright and shiny" aspect of only one of the three Cs. Whatever direction your company takes, understand the choices and, with apologies to Indiana Jones, make sure to choose wisely.

Summing Things Up

If taking advantage of the convergent areas between content, community and commerce are important to your organization (hint: they should be), it is important to place a priority on making sure convergence is also an organizational focus and not just something that happens somewhere in cyberspace.

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