Forrester Research released its Forrester Wave: Web Content Management Systems Q1, 2015 yesterday. It reviewed the usual suspects, Adobe, Sitecore, SDL, Opentext…. Adobe market presence and marketing strategy dominates, despite its cost. Sitecore gets high marks for the improving integration of its various tools. SDL is singled out for its globalization strengths, thanks in part to its industry leading language translation and BluePrinting technology to facilitate multi-channel, multi-market and multi-language scalability.
What stood out to me was not the software features and benefits, but was the common refrain that customers are finding it hard to find the right partner. This theme was addressed across almost all the vendors. This comes at a time when every agency, global IT SI, and management consulting firm touts their expertise. The problem isn’t always finding a partner that can set up the software, its finding a partner that can help the customer get ongoing value out of what is usually a significant investment.
In the report, the lead author, Ted Schadler, labels web content management (WCM) as the “backbone of digital experience delivery.” I couldn’t agree more. WCM is the technology side of content marketing, an integral part of digital transformation and what Forrester calls, “The bedrock of your business technology agenda.” This means that when selecting a partner, it’s not enough to find someone who can implement the technology. WCM is a tool to help deliver the differentiated customer experiences, which directly impact business results, from improved conversions and revenue to operational efficiencies and improved programmatic ROI. Finding the right partner, means asking the right questions first and determining what you need for business success.
The first step in a successful deployment of a WCM solution is to make sure you understand your audiences, the content archetypes that are relevant for them and be able to create models for content interaction that satisfy the customer while simultaneously driving the behavior the company wants; be it acquisition, retention, or lifetime value. Customer expectations continue to rise. Static one-size-fits-all content is no longer sufficient. Experiences must be contextually relevant.
Next, a WCM deployment will only perform as well as the content strategy that drives the experience. According to a recent study, over 50% of all web content is never seen by a human being. And an even more telling statistic is that the vast majority of content never gets sunset until the next web re-design. This leads to compliance problems, support issues and very confusing customer experiences. So one of the first questions to ask a prospective partner is how good are your content strategy credentials, how do you approach content lifecycle management and taxonomy, let alone being able to help craft a content strategy that is applicable across channels, devices and platforms.
So if I were looking for a WCM partner, I’d think beyond the plumbing and find a service provider that will work to ensure my brand delivers contextually relevant customer experiences that drive tangible, measureable and repeatable business outcomes. After all, its outcomes that count, not just outputs.