Web Engagement Management (WEM) is a heavily exploited topic by most Web Content Management (WCM) vendors. But can they truly deliver WEM solutions? Do they know what it takes, and do they truly deliver the technology to achieve it?

Look at Web Content Management (WCM) vendors’ websites, and you’ll probably come across the term multiple times: Web Engagement Management (WEM). Others use the phrase Web Experience Management (luckily also abbreviated as WEM) or similar terms, but the core of all these messages is the same. It’s about moving away from a one-way information push to interacting with your audiences and providing relevant information, ideally tailored to each specific individual.

In theory, this is a great thing happening. In an era of information overload, we all prefer relevant information we can use, rather than receiving dozens of emails taking us to irrelevant landing pages and other pieces of information that we have to sift through, trying to find what we need.

Web Engagement: What is It Really?

But what really is Web Engagement, where does it fit in the bigger picture, and above all, how do you progress on the road from “mass blast” to true engagement?

Two recent posts already contain a lot of valuable information on the subject of WEM: “What is Web Engagement Management (WEM)?” and “The 5 Pillars of Web Engagement Management.”

These posts talk about WEM spanning your website, including personalization, SEO, multivariate testing, social media and interacting with people across multiple devices.We can all most likely relate to these aspects in terms of WEM, but the underlying question is the most difficult to answer. How do we maintain a single view across channels so we really understand our target audiences?

Knowing that we need to have web analytics in place, monitor what people do with the emails they receive from us, even perform social media monitoring is all great, but how does that build a holistic customer view? Currently, it probably doesn’t, but companies who get this right can see as much as a 400 percent increase in revenue.

Customer Engagement -- Tough

If you think about WEM, you must consider it as a subset of a larger subject: Customer Engagement Management. Customers engage with your brand, products and services not only through the web, but perhaps also through your call center, your brick and mortar stores, or in any number of other ways. All customer interactions potentially leave behind a very interesting trail of information. Retailers, for example, could collect customer information through loyalty cards, while a telecommunications provider can learn about their customers through their calling behavior. If you’re a utilities company, customers tell you about themselves by the patterns of their energy consumption, and if you’re in travel, customers’ past bookings and travel behavior is extremely valuable information. This means a lot of data from your CRM system, helpdesk tool, transaction system, etc., need to be considered alongside online data coming from email, social and web statistics to realize improved customer engagement.

You end up with the need to combine information from a variety of sources into a single customer view, and that can be a very tough job.

Customer Engagement -- Tougher

Most engagement stories talk about the need for a single view across channels in one-liners, as if it was just an arbitrary thing to do. But actually, this is a big topic, and for many companies, a major stumbling block.

Historically, this has been the domain of Marketing Service Providers (MSPs), companies used to dealing with huge quantities of customer data. MSPs have specialized skills and understand how to process data, cleanse it, and intelligently combine data from various sources into a data-model that makes sense. We now need to apply all those years of expertise in the realm of the web. If MSPs have made a living from this type of work for many years, you can imagine there’s much more to it than initially meets the eye. You are likely to need specialized skills in this area to make your data really work for you and to make sure you marry it up in the right way.

Customer Engagement -- Toughest

Once you have intelligently combined data from various sources in support of your WEM strategy, how do you make any sense of it and turn it into customer intelligence and actionable insight?

There’s, without a doubt, tremendous hidden value in this data, but again, you need expertise to extract it. You also need the tools to do creative “train-of-thought”analysis, rather than having a set of static reports.

The saying “you don’t know what you don’t know” really applies here. If you don’t know what patterns or hidden segments you’re looking for, you don’t know what reports you’ll need. And the requirements are very likely to be highly dynamic, changing over time. Companies with a strong pedigree in analytics can provide the tools and expertise needed to solve this problem.

What Next?

Don’t be discouraged by all the work ahead. Because certain companies have been doing this for many years in the “traditional” marketing space, they have the expertise to help apply this in the realm of the web, email and social too. Once they have helped you turn the individual streams of data you capture into a single customer view, you’ll have an incredibly strong foundation from which you can start to engage with your audiences. You will have a true understanding of the individual, rather than having to target large groups of people whom you only have a gut feeling or best guess what they like or might be interested in.

Think beyond just email and websites when you address the topic of WEM. Think about the entire customer journey, the touch points you have with your audiences, and the sort of data and intelligence you capture in the various departments of your company, in your sales channels and throughout the various stages of the customer life cycle.Then bring this data together in a marketing database using companies that specialize in this area.

In order to populate your marketing database, ensure the various sources of information you need are really available and that you “own” them. If you have captured web analytical data, but you’re not allowed access because it’s through a SaaS offering, then you can’t bring it into your marketing database, and your plans will fall apart.

Work with companies that provide you with a flexible marketing database, rather than a monolithic data warehouse, so you can play with the data, experiment and uncover hidden patterns and segments.

Finally, start small, don’t try to do it all at once, but think about what could bring real added value. Once you have reached that point, you’ll suddenly become extremely competitive, as you truly understand the behavior and desires of your audiences, whereas your competitors continue to broadcast highly irrelevant information. Apply your insights through sending small, yet highly targeted email campaigns, building optimized landing pages for those campaigns and by supplying highly personalized web experiences for customers visiting your website(s).Those that do this successfully will see a significant increase in customer engagement, as well as revenue, leaving the competition struggling to keep up.

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