There’s an old saying that goes “learn from the past, prepare for the future and live in the present.” This is typically good advice -- and as the new year kicks off, and as marketers start to plan for 2013, we would do well to heed this advice.

Creating content experiences for consumers is becoming an increasingly important part of a marketing strategy. Yet many marketers are not preparing for this future -- and instead are still working toward replacing web content management strategies with new systems that are certainly capable of managing content, but not in creating relevant, impactful experiences for their audiences.

Learning From Our Past

As marketers, we can learn from the buzz, and subsequent lack of action that surrounded content optimization for testing and targeting that peaked in the 2010 time frame.

Back in September of that year, a marketing conversion management solution, Maxymiser, conducted a study of marketing managers and their Web content.A huge majority (almost 80%) agreed that testing content for conversion optimization is a critical aspect of designing a web site strategy.And, nearly half of them said that content optimization was the number one priority for their Web site. And yet according to Web Analytics vendor Webtrends, only a quarter of them (27%) said that they actually did it.

Content targeting and testing to optimize conversions is hugely popular -- and yet most marketers didn't create strategies to actually include it as part of their process.

Preparing For The Future

As audiences become further and further segmented, and delivering contextual experiences becomes more and more important, the future of delivering relevant experiences becomes more important.

In fact Forrester just released their 2013 Customer Experience Predictions -- and they reference an IBM study of 1,700 CEO’s, 66% of them consider customer engagement a key source of business value. Additionally, almost three quarters of these same CEO’s are investing in customer insights.

Yet Forrester also states that most organizations have not fully prepared to develop true customer experience management strategies.Most are still “dabbling” in delivering relevant digital experiences to users.

This is the key preparation that marketers can make. If, as Forrester reported, CXM strategies “surged” in 2012 -- then 2013 will be when savvy organizations truly prepare their teams to deploy experience driven content strategies.

Below are three best practices to prepare for this reality:

Learning Opportunities

  • Focus on the ease of use to create multi-channel experiences
  • Distinguish systems by their ability to change to YOUR contextual content delivery needs.
  • Ensure every system on your sort list look at content from a content and context perspective, rather than a page and publishing perspective

Organizations need to first “learn” about their personas -- and that this truly empowers the organization to become more customer-centric and deliver contextualized, relevant experiences.

Live In The Present

The reality of most business strategy is that we have short term goals that support a long-term strategy.Revenue goals, hiring plans, technology and changing consumer expectations mean that today’s marketing strategy has to be more agile than ever.

That’s where a strategy of developing flexible, contextual content delivery really can help a marketer live in the present, while preparing for the future.As my colleague Sonja Wraith said in her latest blog post 7 Tips To Start Targeting The Right Way “the hard part nowadays is not so much the technicalities, but figuring out your customer journeys”. 

Don’t forget the past, and Don’t ignore the X -- it’s the future of marketing success.

Editor's Note: Interested in reading more of Tjeerd's thoughts on the customer experience? Go no further: Real-Time Context is the Heart of Customer Experience Management