Writing an Agile Scalable Marketing Future

It should be pretty clear by now that the process of marketing and creating content for customer experiences has changed. From the broad disruption of digital, to the more specific challenges of developing mobile experiences, to social and the puzzle that is still personalization -- is it any wonder that more than 75 percent of marketers feel like marketing has changed more in the last two years than it has in the last 50?

Marketing today must be incredibly agile -- and flexible -- to act and react to all the changes happening in the marketplace. In describing this new business reality, Forrester Vice President and principal analyst Craig le Clair explained that:

two things are vitally important: awareness and execution for being agile. You have to sense and be aware of what’s going on. And, you have to be able to act upon it quickly."

Ironically, the trend for many enterprise web content management (WCM a.k.a. CXM) products has moved in the exact opposite direction. Instead of becoming more agile and less unwieldy, enterprise solutions have now become -- in large part -- slower to implement, harder to change and customize, and more difficult to adapt to newer platforms. Some now take 18 to 24 months from purchase to live! That’s an eternity in today’s customer experience landscape.

They haven’t become less technical -- they have become more so. Many WCM vendors have moved to a message of content, marketing and creating a more optimal customer experience -- but it seems to be a story written by technical people in code.

Agile Is as Agile Does

One of the keys to ensuring that a product can adapt is in how it is architected and built. Companies like Spotify understand this methodology and focus on the idea that structures and product architecture are what enable front-end design features to thrive. As Peter Mahlen, a programmer at Spotify wrote in a blog post in April:

developer-facing quality is a completely different thing from end-user facing quality, and is usually more important.”

These issues have been discussed at some length in the world of WCM. There have been arguments about separating content from structure. There have been research studies that show how performance of content display really matters. And those within the web CMS community have even debated the true nature of CMS -- trying to determine whether “blog systems” are even qualified to call themselves CMSs.

The Story Needs to be Rewritten

Ultimately, it’s a balance. Marketers will become more adaptable to creating content-driven experiences by increasing their ability to move fast, while maintaining scalability, performance, extendibility and everything that goes with it.

This means that it’s not a technology story written by marketers, nor a marketing story written by technologists. It’s a new story written by both the marketer and the technologist.

It may end up being a suite of products that enable the marketer to integrate once -- or a best-of-breed (as you might expect, I’m biased here) solution that plugs in point solutions. Additionally, the technology and marketing story may be written by in-house teams or in concert with an agency.

Any marketer looking to change platforms for driving agile, content-driven experiences needs to develop a trusted partnership with technology expertise, and not continually look to route around it. While a strategy focused on apps and routing around IT may gain short-term speed, it risks losing the long-term benefits that can come from scalability and a holistic approach.

Simultaneously, technologists should be forcefully challenging every software solution provider with how they are going to make their business more agile, faster -- and provide for more flexibility for the new challenges such as mobile, social and personalization, without the need to get into development.

The Right Story for the Right Audience

And finally, we need to move beyond matching product size with company size. A big company doesn’t always need an enterprise WCMS, and a small company doesn’t always need a blogging solution. And sometimes a CMS replacement isn’t needed at all. As Digital Clarity Group says in their 8-Step Process to Selecting a CMS,

while everybody wants the latest technology modules and widgets, you should think about the main need for your WCMS. Sometimes the system may not need to change -- maybe just the content does.”

It’s very simple: if marketing changes as much in the next two years as it has in the last two -- it can’t take two years to implement your next WCMS. Otherwise the business will always be two years behind.

The story is about agility -- and it’s only partially written in code.

Title image by Minerva Studio (iStock Photography)