Shifting Focus From Content to Customer
Doug Heise, product marketing director at CoreMedia Corp., which offers a suite of WCM solutions, believes that the shift involves building experiences that are engaging across multiple touch points, including mobile. He says, "It's really about moving from ‘how do I monetize my content?' to ‘how do I monetize my relationship with my customer?'" Heise explains, "News may be a commodity, but relationships aren't."
Heise cites the example of CoreMedia client BILD, a German weekly newsmagazine. "They're experimenting with this through advertising sponsor sites, direct payment models, and subscriptions to special orders," he says. Another example might be O'Reilly Media, Inc.'s MAKE, a magazine that builds relationships with fans of the DIY lifestyle through its print publication, its makezine.com website and community forum, and its annual Maker Faire festival. By surrounding customers with opportunities to interact, both online and offline, MAKE has the opportunity to capture and capitalize on ever-deepening information about subscribers, and it can use that knowledge to shape and innovate content to its users needs.
Liewehr agrees with the shift in focus, though he characterizes it as a caution about the risks of heightened user expectations. He says, "Ten years
ago, personalization meant collecting everything we knew about a specific user and putting it back in front of them, sort of proof of ‘I know you,'" citing websites that put a person's name in the header with a greeting. The problem is that as the user's interactions on a website go deeper, much of that personalization goes by the wayside simply because the company's WCM is not set up to capture those deeper interactions.
"Personalization can heighten a user's expectation that I'll know what they need, when in fact I may only know their name. Then I've set myself up to disappoint them," Liewehr says. "It's a mind shift from thinking about content as the center of the universe to making the customer the center of the world."
Heise says that CoreMedia is addressing that challenge of meaningful personalization through its highly configurable, object-oriented model of adaptive personalization. "We don't use fixed page structures; we create dynamic, evolving profiles on-the-fly," Heise says. Clues for context may come from an IP address, a customer-created profile, or social adapter links on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Social Networks and Context
Across the board, WCM vendors and their clients are excited about the possibilities represented by the incorporation of social network engagement into the overall interaction framework. Whether it's the Facebook Like button on a feature story on a publisher website or the ability to share a search result via LinkedIn, users are now bringing their networks along with them as a matter of course. "Social media as a category is going away," Liewehr says. "Now the web is social."
Matt Dertinger is VP and user interface architect for Campbell Ewald Advertising (CE), a collaborative marketing communications company. CE selected Magnolia CMS, an open source content management system, for its client Navy.com, which incorporates links into interest-specific Facebook communities, as well as to channels on YouTube, Myspace, Flickr, and Twitter. Dertinger says, "Social media is huge for us, and we're looking for ways to better integrate the information from the different communities we are managing."
Citing the sensitive nature of the decision to join the Navy, Dertinger says, "There's something inherently honest about social media." The members of each Facebook community, which include Women Redefined, US Navy Athletes, and US Navy Life, provide each other unbiased, credible feedback. Dertinger says that the longer-term goal is to use those interactions to further personalize the content that is presented on Navy.com.
Liewehr thinks the untapped promise of social media lies in "sniffing out" relationships between products that are uncovered via interactions on a third-party site. "Say a person ‘likes' something on my site," he says. "Now my company has direct access to that person's Facebook profile. Now the customer goes out and ‘likes' something on another site. Why can't I then show them products related to the [thing] they liked on the third-party site?" Over time, social network integration into WCM may make that possible.