Traditional web publishing won't cut it anymore-not in an age when digital experiences by users are so highly valued. That's one of the key findings of a report issued by Forrester Research. It's also a sentiment echoed by many industry experts who recognize the increased importance of creating and managing multichannel customer experiences and the transitioning of web content management (WCM) into digital experience (DX) management.
Today, it's not enough to simply offer content. "It has to be content that's managed and created in a way that considers the mindset and needs of the user-not just what they're looking for or how they got there, but what their next steps will be and how can we help them achieve these goals," says Carrie Baczewski, content strategist with Mint Advertising in Clinton, NJ. "(DX) management helps us be as relevant as possible to users."
DX management is a subset of the overall customer experience and a collection of processes and technology to manage a customer's complete and consistent digital experience across various channels, which can include websites, social media outlets, text messaging and mobile apps.
"Old fashioned web publishing no longer works because all the various channels aren't connected," says Steve Walker, senior director in the Global Content Solutions practice at Experis in Richmond, Va. "Publishers need to have the appropriate feedback to make the necessary adjustments quickly, but if they don't have complete visibility into their channel management, the appropriate adjustments can't be made."
Walker says WCM has evolved into providing additional tools to manage the digital experience-tools that include advanced analytics to robust marketing resources targeted to manage content that is provisioned to various channels. In fact, vendors often no longer call themselves "WCM" providers because "web" is no longer the key driver-today it's about a more complete and holistic experience, Walker insists.
Too frequently, web publishers look at their existing content and decide what to do with it based on their own vision, business goals and biases or on what technology platform or social network happens to be popular at the time. Instead, it's better to observe consumers, preferably in their own environment-at work, home or in a store-to learn how they digest content, says John Roa, founder/CEO of AKTA in Chicago.
"Web publishers need to understand that DX management isn't just about pushing content out. Giving users the kind of experience they expect is about making the content relevant, authoritative and useful," says Bob Egner, vice president of product management for EPiServer in Chicago.
Roa agrees, adding that, for today's user, "delivering a great experience is about delivering curated content that is incredibly useful, compelling and insightful."
Roa cites online coverage of the recent Boston Marathon tragedy as an example. What drove online readers to select one source over another were three factors: how well curated the content was (Boston.com covered little but the bombings and manhunt, while CNN.com offered a range of news, according to Roa), whether they could access it easily wherever they were, and how timely it was (real-time updates, frequency of in-depth reporting, etc.).
Stephen Powers, vice president and research director for Forrester Research, says web publishers need to formulate a careful plan to better manage digital experiences. "They need to figure out what their strategies are, how they'll interact with customers and what technologies they need," says Powers. "But don't overbuy the technology. DX technologies are not a substitute for customer experience strategy-you do the strategy first, then put in the technology to help you meet that strategy."
Additionally, web publishers need to set realistic goals for DX management. If you're aiming to be the authoritative source on a particular topic, for example, you'll need to provide a mix of curation with editorial content, says Oliver Wellington, co-founder of nRelate in New York City.
"Once you've set the goal for your site, you need to map that goal to the experience," Wellington says. "If the goal is to publish white papers or reports, the end goal is to enable the user to download the report."
It's also important also to "offer a mix of interactive experiences with editorial or content to keep (users) engaged on the site," says Wellington. "And ensure that stories are easily digestible for people reading at work or on mobile devices."
Ultimately, "The move to DX is a good thing, both for vendors creating content and users consuming that content," says Will Morgenweck, director of product marketing for DotNetNuke in San Mateo, Calif. "Creating more flexible, interactive and compelling experiences enables vendors to more efficiently target their messages, and customers get higher-value information."
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