2011 was dominated by the trend of convergence; more than one WCM platform began the transition from digital content management tool to customer engagement and marketing platform by improving the analytic and personalization capabilities of its offerings.These efforts are a step in the right direction. Content will forever be the “meat” in the marketing sandwich, so building out from this center only makes good sense.However, even this new breed of Web CMSs have a long way to go before they singularly provide the tools and functionality that savvy, enterprise-scale marketing and IT teams are demanding right now. To meet those needs, the biggest trend of 2012 is likely to be the emergence of digital marketing platforms via the integration of existing enterprise software tools.

What are smart marketers looking for from an enterprise-scale digital marketing platform?According to a recent McKinsey study, they are looking for customer insights. That is, a deeper understanding of what content (information, experience, product or service) a customer is looking for, how they access and interact with that content, how their interaction is shaped by who they are, and what it takes to build deeper levels of loyalty and engagement with a particular brand or company.With that information in hand, marketers believe they can begin to tailor digital experiences that inspire engagement, loyalty and advocacy.

Building Blocks of a Digital Marketing Platform

With this in mind, what are the critical systems that a CMO and CTO should integrate to create a de facto digital marketing platform?At least four enterprise level systems come to mind that must be aligned and working together smoothly.These systems are:

  • Web Content Management (WCM)
  • Analytics
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Marketing Automation (MA)


Basic Digital Marketing Platform:
Converge & Align Existing Enterprise Systems


Without a doubt, there are other systems that could and likely should be added to this list. For example, Forrester suggests adding onsite search and commerce platforms to fill out the suite, though onsite search is often thought of as a function of WCM (even if a separate search tool is being used), and not all entities on the web have eCommerce as a primary business objective. So for now, let’s go with these as the anchor systems in our digital marketing platform.

How They Fit Together

Breaking the McKinsey article down further, we can look at how each system plays a critical part in understanding one or more aspects of a customer and their digital behavior:

WCM = What?

As you well know, your Web CMS collects and publishes your most valuable asset: content. As WCMs continue to evolve, one of the most promising developments is the ability to use a WCM as a content repository and sharing tool formobile, social and email channels.Understanding the kinds of content customers want allows you to create, curate, push and pull content directly to a particular audience via their channel of choice.

Learning Opportunities

Analytics = How?

Analytics provide insight into how your customers are engaging with your content. Any basic analytics platform can tell you how many customers visit your digital channels and the content they engage most with. A well implemented enterprise-level analytics platform will provide much more: it can help you analyze how customers behave in and across all of your digital channels. For example, with the right tools you can analyze the entire path that one or more customers take from mobile, social, email or web and provide insight into how your content, navigation and technology are helping or hindering them in accomplishing their educational or shopping goal.

CRM = Who?

Traditional CRM tools collect detailed demographic and transactional information about customers or prospects. More recently, enterprise-level CRM vendors are beginning to explore how social, web, and other data can be captured and leveraged to establish more personalized long-term customer relationships. When information in a CRM is combined with information about digital content and behavior, your digital channels can start to provide personalized content and experiences to customers that are uniquely tailored to a particular individual or audience.

Marketing Automation = Why?

Once you know which unique experiences and content most appeal to a particular customer in one or more digital channels, an MA system can be used to communicate directly with them about new products, services, content or experiences. What’s more, you can tailor that engagement to “why” they first engaged with your content and continue to maintain an ongoing relationship with your brand.

Integrating these different platforms presents a daunting challenge; however, the reward of deep customer insights -- and the ability to use that information to create meaningful digital customer experiences -- is immeasurable.Using the deceptively simple questions and systems above, you can create your own powerful digital marketing platform from the systems that are already available to you. With some luck and perseverance, you can deploy an enterprise-level digital marketing platform long before any one vendor -- or more importantly, a competitor -- can pull the same pieces together into a single solution or killer platform.

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