While 2012 was a memorable year for Web content management, 2013 will prove to be the year WCM makes its greatest impact, becoming the bedrock of the digital entity of any public institution, business or brand powerhouse. At least the ones that will remain relevant in the 21st century.

2012 was an exciting year, as marketers grappled with how the explosion of mobile devices had forever transformed the way people consumed content, bought products and formed impressions of individuals, brands and current events -- such as hurricane Sandy.

2012 was a tidal wave of frantic experimentation into what worked and didn't in this new social, mobile and cloud-y world, which pushed the limits of many legacy Web content management systems. Many of these experiments put mobile and social marketing efforts in silos rather than as a component of a company's overall digital marketing and business strategy.

And everyone who wasn't living under a rock was enraptured by the latest gadget, whether it was the iPhone 5, Galaxy S III, Microsoft Surface or Kindle Fire. Each new release sparked the fervor that hit only when a popular band came into town. Besides Rudolph's red nose, Santa likely found his way this Christmas using the glow from all the devices he delivered. There was also the onslaught of social networks where friends were found, lost and reunited, and many even plunged into taboo topics, including thoughts on politics, religion and gun control.

In the midst of this digital transformation, companies and public agencies realized they needed to be where the conversation was. Their websites were no longer to be treated as a form of static, one-way content broadcast. Websites had to be the hub for conversation, community and commerce. All websites needed to be born social, mobile and cloud-ready.

In 2013, the hot trends -- mobile, social, cloud and content relevance -- will continue to dominate the world of Web content management. The difference is the wonderment of 2012 will be replaced with a pragmatic focus on efforts that deliver on the bottom-line goals of businesses and the public sector. Web content management will be focused on measuring the impact of content, unifying and scaling up mobile and social efforts as part of an overall digital strategy, and making it easier for anyone within or outside the organization to contribute useful content.

From Mobile to Multi-Channel


The mass movement into mobile will shift gears in 2013 as marketers realize the need to make their mobile strategy a multi-channel strategy -- if they are ever going to nail the cross-channel/omni-channel experience. Creating new prefixes before "channel" has proven to be much easier than making sure a contextually relevant experience is delivered to every customer regardless of how many devices they’re juggling.

To succeed, savvy marketers will realize mobile, as well as tablets, need to be reunited with all the other channel siblings. Here, the opportunity is for Web content management to serve as the unified platform for a multi-channel content strategy that incorporates mobile experiences.

In order to accomplish this, Web content management systems must enable responsive design, touch UI and the ability to support not only mobile sites but also mobile application authoring. Mobile is such a critical channel that enterprises can’t afford to have it exist on its own island.

From Social Presence to Purpose

Just being seen at all the top social hangouts and most coveted ad spots won't cut it. Digital marketers will need to measure and tie their social marketing outreach across Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to actual transactions and engagement on their own brand sites. Web content management will not only need to enable marketers to see what is happening on their owned sites, but also tie this to insight from a visitor's social activities and past order history both online and offline.

The Web content management system of 2013 will need to go beyond managing a consistent brand experience to becoming fully ingrained into the entire customer journey, from interest to revenue and lifetime value. The Web CMS will be the central hub of all this activity.

Learning Opportunities

This focus on tying content and investments to purpose will force brand and demand marketing on websites closer together as the former looks to become more measurable, and the latter tries to cut through the email and coupon clutter. Web CMSs will need to seamlessly integrate with analytics, back-end systems like CRM and social profiles from third-party social tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. For every action, there must be a reaction that results in revenue.

From Cloud to Beyond

Web content management must enable hybrid architectures across on-premises and in the cloud to support all parts of a company's digital entity. Factors such as time-to-market, scaling to peak demand from marketing campaigns and data security will drive the need for systems that have the most flexible deployment models. Just as digital experiences are everywhere, so must the Web content management system of the 21st century.

From Clicks to (Relevant) Content and Community

Digital marketers and Web content managers will need to focus more on what happens past the first click as the digital space becomes ever more hot, flat and crowded. The explosions of ad spend and content elbowing for the same bucket of customer attention will drive the ultimate price of first-time visits through the roof. This will force marketers to fortify their chest of downstream content that creates the first and ongoing impressions that make visitors crave more and gives them a reason to return.

Alas, creating relevant content is hard, so some will jump-start this by amping up their community to power user-generated content. Because of this, more focus will be placed on Web CMSs to make it even easier for subject matter experts, whether within the company or in the community, to author content.

In fact, the entire model of Web content management will shift to enable social across all online interactions, particularly mobile. Be gone to silos that have traditionally left social interaction to branded social communities and the rest of the website isolated.

2013 will be the year organizations devoted to staying relevant in the 21st century will need to get serious about how they build out their brand's digital entity. Aggressive execution starts with a Web content management foundation that quickly ties data insights to action, fully supports mobile and social interactions and delivers relevant content to each visitor.

Image courtesy of Adchariyaphoto (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more of Loni's thoughts on content and community, check out Content and Community as a Corporate Asset