There’s a perception in the marketing industry that managing websites is one of Dante’s circles of hell. Indeed, brands and can no longer look at just managing their company websites and a few social media channels – they need to manage and curate web experiences for customers who now expect to be able to find, engage, collaborate and converse with brands online from many devices, platforms and channels.
The real headache for companies is keeping up with this pace of change from a web infrastructure point of view. All too often disparate systems manage websites, the content, analytics and social media, and are implemented as and when they were needed. From a pure management point of view, this can be hell, but even worse, from a customer point of view it can be inconsistent and messy.
We’re now in an era where content is not only easier for marketers to manage, it’s becoming one of the most important areas of marketing given that customer journeys often start and finish online. Most websites were created at a time before social media, iPads and second screening – which means many companies are seeing the need to re-platform to a newer, more intuitive solution.
Here are our top five reasons for why re-platforming now can provide a better web experience for customers and a more agile, insight-driven digital strategy for marketers
The traditional marketing funnel needs a re-think. Customers no longer move down a linear path from awareness to purchase. Brands need to give their consumers the best possible experience whatever channel they land on during their path to purchase.
This means content needs to work for web, mobile, email and even print. And this can’t be a one-size fits all approach; content must be dynamic and contextually relevant, consumers are sophisticated and expect different things on different channels and they’ll be very unforgiving of brands that don’t understand that. Channels also need to be two way, customers want to engage via channels of their choosing, so brands must allow for feedback and interaction. Any web content management programme must embrace every channel and have the ability to capture insights from each data source to help them deliver relevant content to each customer touch point whether that’s via a website, mobile app or call centre.
PCs are not the only fruit
We know that consumers no longer just use a PC or laptop to view content, engage with brands and make purchases. Research also shows that customers react and engage with content and brands in different ways depending what device they are using. For example conversion rates for advertising on tablets are 20% higher than on desktop PCs. Rather than see this as a challenge, re-platforming allows brands to tailor their customer experience dependent on device, serving up contextually relevant content that fits both the device and the likely mindset and even location of the end user.
Marketers intuitively recognise the value of social media they just struggle to prove it. This challenge has led to many companies not integrating social fully into both their marketing campaigns and physical teams. But, by keeping social in a silo, brands not only miss out on the deep insights that social data can provide, they also risk focusing on the numbers rather than the meaning. A million Facebook Likes, for example, are relatively meaningless unless a brand understands what those displays of advocacy actually mean. Many will be worthless, some will be incentivised and some will be driven by fierce loyalty. Being able to identify which is which and act accordingly is critical in ensuring social media campaigns deliver ROI.
Communities are also playing a more important role in the recommendation and decision making process. Re-platforming allows brands to build-in the functionality to allow customers to use social channels to interact and engage with likeminded people and even collaborate on product design (such as designing your own pair of trainers). Interacting with customers on social communities such as blogs and forums is also a powerful way to enhance brand loyalty and as a result drive revenue. Brands can then put in place the analytical tools to understand those interactions and deliver content accordingly.
Agility is a key differentiator
We hear a lot about being in the era of ‘big data’. The truth is, we’ve had big data for a long time, what we haven’t had until now is the ability to quickly capture and identify trends and insights from the vast amounts of data that flow through companies’ on-line and off-line channels. Agility has replaced data as the differentiator. Whether it’s quickly identifying buying trends and delivering products and offers accordingly to being able to test different on-line campaign treatments and rapidly understand which approach is more successful, agility sets firms apart from their competitors and any re-platforming programme has to ensure assets can be delivered and altered in near-real time.
Head in the clouds
Finally, firms should embrace the cloud. Adobe Experience Manager, which is a part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, brings together all the elements needed to be able to create, deliver, manage and measure rich brand experiences on the web. And being cloud-based this means that websites, online campaigns, digital assets, adverts, personalised experiences can be updated instantly according to the insight that the real time analysis delivers.
In terms of delivery, re-platforming to a cloud-based solution also means companies have the capacity to dial up servers and other necessary infrastructure during busy periods and scale back when times are quiet. For retail brands and other firms that have seasonal peaks, this sort of flexibility makes sense from both a CAPEX and OPEX point of view as there’s no over-buying of capacity upfront or costly renting of last-minute solutions to service a surge in demand. A cloud-based solution also lessens the burden on IT departments in that they do not have to go through long and painful deployment and implementation processes – no major physical infrastructure is needed, just literally plug and play. Marketing can handle the rest.
Now is really the time to ditch the legacy systems and re-platform to a more agile and all-encompassing solution designed specifically to help marketers and brands survive and thrive in this data-driven, socially minded era of marketing and commerce.