August 28, 2017
The Perfect World of Web Content Management Doesn’t Exist

In a perfect world, every organization would use a single content management system to manage all their content. Service and support, marketing, even the knowledge management team would use the same CMS. That CMS would provide all the features and functionality necessary to create great customer experiences. But that perfect world doesn't exist for most organizations. Even within a single department – like Marketing, for instance – you will often see more than one solution for managing content and experiences.

In our wrap-up interview with content strategist Robert Rose, we discuss the state of web content management today, and how Marketing can effectively approach this complex landscape. 

In case you missed it, read our full Q&A with Robert Rose here:

  1. Intelligent Content Delivery Q&A
  2. CMS Solutions and Intelligent Content Q&A

Content Management for Different Purposes 

There will always be reasons to use a different CMS, or to store content in a different repository altogether. Sometimes these reasons will be good, sometimes not. In Marketing's case, the reasons often make sense.

Robert Rose, founder and chief strategy officer for The Content Advisory, and an expert in web content management and content marketing said it's okay to have separate systems for content marketing. He said there are different tools for different jobs. For example, you need a robust Web CMS for your public website, but you need something easier to use and manage for your blog.

Why the difference? You can use the same CMS, but often with your blog, you want to develop a very journalistic experience that you can't do with your traditional CMS, Rose said. A similar story can be told for your Resources section. You may want to take advantage of new interfaces or social sharing. In this case, you would have a CMS for the bulk of your web experience, but a separate solution to manage your blog, and possibly another for Resources. The content is separate, but the brand experience is coordinated and seamless, so your visitors don't realize they are looking at separate web experiences. 

But there is a challenge in this approach that every organization must recognize. What happens when you want to integrate the content of your website and your blog (and any other content you develop) to provide a rich customer profile across your digital properties? How can you do that without a lot of manual effort, if at all?

The need to integrate content happens at some point in your marketing strategy. Often Rose said, when it comes up, Marketing gets told it might need to stop publishing for a period, and the panic sets in. Not producing new content for any period is impossible to do.

Before you get to that point, it helps to think about your content differently. What if you think about how you can structure and manage content for reuse, separating its creation and management from its delivery so that you can publish it to multiple channels, including channels which offer a different user experience? This approach to managing and delivering content enables you to track how customers are using your content across channels. It also enables you to personalize the experience for each customer without needing to create different versions of the content.

Rose said that it's fine to have content in another technology, but he said you shouldn't skimp on connecting those repositories together. You need to integrate them in a way that recognizes the user across systems.

We know this integration needs to happen across marketing systems to improve the customer experience. But the customer also deals with other parts of the organization – Sales, Support, Service – and these departments also need to understand how the customer interacts with content. For example, a customer has a problem with a product. Before they contact Support, they decide to review product materials on the website or search the blog. Maybe they download a white paper or product guide. If there's a knowledge base, they may even search that first to get their question answered.

When all self-service options fail, they call into Support. To service the customer faster and better, it would be good for Support to know that the customer already searched the knowledge base, or visited the website. It also helps for them to automatically see a list of products the customer purchased, all related product documentation and any other Support calls the customer performed recently, including what type of content helped resolve those problems.

This single view of the customer is hard for organizations who manage content in different places using different systems. The good news is, the technology challenge is resolvable, it's the processes and politics that are harder to resolve, especially when there are competing priorities across teams and departments.

Does the Web CMS Need to Evolve?

Every software solution goes evolves to keep up with the changing market and the needs of customers. The web content management system has typically followed the evolution from pure-play Web CMS to one of a web experience solution and then a customer (or digital) experience solution. These latter solutions are about much more than managing content; they also have built-in digital marketing capabilities, including personalization.

In their rush to support digital marketing, many CMS solutions haven't evolved their pure content management capabilities. According to Rose, there is a lot of innovation opportunity in the CMS industry. Rose sees these opportunities particularly around editorial calendar solutions, and content management capabilities for collaboration, workflow, and content integration. Structured content is another area where innovation needs to happen.

Where we see smaller, niche solutions that support content marketing, Rose believes web content management could adopt much of these capabilities to make them stronger at managing all types of content across the organization, particularly in Marketing, taking back some market share.

There are many who say the web content management system is a foundational system for Marketing. But there is an equal number who don't see this as true, suggesting it is simply another tool that slots into the marketing stack to support certain situations.

If you choose to adopt the foundational approach, then you need to think about structured content, content reuse and some of the editorial tools that are needed to manage content across digital properties.

If you choose to view the CMS as simply another tool in the stack with a specific purpose, you may be missing out on the ability to tie your content strategy together more cohesively. In either case, you need to think about how you will tie the CMS(s) into the customer profile, ensuring you can track the customer's content consumption across digital properties. 

The "Best Fit" Web Content Management Solution

Every CMS doesn't have to be a customer experience solution. It doesn't need to provide all the capabilities for creating and managing the end to end customer experience, but it needs to provide content management and delivery capabilities very well. It needs to support a single view of the customer across the company, and it needs to integrate with other systems to bring in data and features required to create personalized, contextual experiences.

There is no perfect web content management solution, but if you work hard to understand your customer needs and translate those needs into the best customer experience strategy and technology framework, then you will find the best web content management system for your needs.

Posted by Barb Mosher Zinck
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