By Oliver Jaeger, firstname.lastname@example.org
According to a recent report from Gleanster Research, 62% of retail marketers feel that changing consumer preferences and channel proliferation are the top two challenges they face when it comes to improving their customer’s online experience. Unfortunately, 74% of these retail marketers indicated that they don’t have any type of five-year plan to address these challenges. As Gleanster noted, without a long-term plan marketers end up with a “fragmented and disconnected array of technologies to address emerging channels like social, mobile, tablets and Web personalization.”
The research indicates that retail marketers adopt new technologies and point solutions to stay current. But using a mixture of outdated technologies, including proprietary systems, is exactly what can lead to this type of fragmentation, which ends up creating a poor customer experience.
There are two ways to address the fragmentation issue. First, take a holistic approach when designing a comprehensive marketing strategy. Ask yourself: Are all marketing activities being coordinated across all departments? Is all online content being leveraged across multiple channels? Are marketing messages consistent on the website, in collateral, and in social media outlets? Providing this type of consistency across all channels will help improve the customer’s overall experience.
Second, position your Web content management system (WCM) as the central hub for all digital marketing activities. When properly implemented, an advanced WCM can manage multiple online marketing channels, simplify content creation and editing, and promote a consistent look and feel across all of your company’s websites and campaigns.
When examining WCM options, here are five areas to consider:
1. Create compelling content
The days of simply cobbling together random pieces of product information to post on a website have long since passed. Competition for eyeballs is fierce and in order to secure customer loyalty the content must be visually stimulating, refreshed regularly and informative. Having a WCM solution at the heart of your IT infrastructure is the best way to accomplish these marketing goals. As Gleanster notes: “Top performers ranked integration as a top five value driver for maximizing the success of WCM initiatives — but for retail organizations, integration with e-commerce platforms is a must.”
2. Coordinate online campaigns
In the past, marketing executives would simply initiate a direct mail campaign and reinforce the information on the website. However, in today’s competitive business environment, there are more and more channels to help support online campaigns including social media, personalized e-mails and landing pages, and webinars. It’s easy to forget that successful marketing campaigns need to be created, launched, analyzed and adjusted across all these channels A WCM as the central hub simplifies these activities for a faster time to market and engaging content that translates into successful campaigns.
3. Maintain consistency
One common challenge is maintaining a consistent look and feel throughout the website. This may sound basic, but when you have many content creators supported by multiple IT staff, possibly located in other countries, it’s easy to lose that consistent look and feel. Not only does it look bad when you go to a landing page for a promotion and then go to another page on the website and see different fonts or colors for the same promotion, such inconsistency also reflects poorly on the company. An advanced WCM makes it easy to create new content in real-time with minimal support from the IT department.
4. Support mobile technologies
Mobile technologies have radically changed the world we live in. Smartphones, tablets and other handheld devices have become a huge part of the e-commerce experience. Yet, according to Gleanster: “Three out of five retail organizations indicated they currently support a separate mobile website that is disconnected from the main enterprise website.” This is inefficient and, worse, may cause resentment from mobile customers who might get a different experience than if they were viewing the site on their desktop computer. When you select a WCM system make sure it can support multiple approaches to mobile, including native apps, hybrid apps and responsive design.
5. Simplify integration
One of the top challenges companies face is integrating existing content and legacy systems with state-of-the-art WCM and e-commerce technologies. What problems can this cause? As Gleanster commented: “It’s all too common to see separate e-commerce and website properties that have disconnected user navigation and an inconsistent look and feel, making it difficult or uncomfortable for consumers to navigate between Web properties. These days, consumers have little patience for poor user experiences.” And, of course, it’s also important to make sure that your WCM system integrates easily into your e-commerce platform, so content creators and non-technical staff can manage and make updates to the e-commerce site.
Improving the customer experience
Optimizing the customer’s digital experience should be one of the top priorities for every retail marketing executive. It takes far more time, money and effort to secure a new customer than it does to secure a returning customer. One of the best ways to build a great digital experience is to use advanced WCM technology that can easily integrate with an e-commerce platform. Implementing this type of technology will not only improve the customer experience, it will also help generate a consistent stream of revenue.
Oliver Jaeger is VP global marketing and communications for e-Spirit Inc. in North America. He can be reached at email@example.com.