The Marriage of Marketing and Content

Marketing may as well be considered another planet, as far as some enterprise departments are concerned -- aligning their business processes with marketing seems to be a neverending struggle. But marketing initiatives simply can't remain in a silo forever -- not if they're to be fully effective. That's why, as customers demand a richer, more-contextual experience, marketing projects often turn to enterprise content management (ECM), according to a new report from Forrester Research.

Craig Le Clair, a Forrester analyst and an author of the new report, emphasizes the importance of aligning ECM with marketing projects. In particular, he says, there needs to be a greater understanding between the departments of technology and marketing in order to create a solid enterprise infrastructure -- or what his firm calls a persuasive content architecture. (The report adopts that phrase as its title: "The Persuasive Content Architecture.")

"Customer experience expectations rise each year as customers want faster responses to requests, more conversational interactions, and more relevant content," write Le Clair and co-author Stephen Powers, a fellow Forrester analyst. "Marketers now find themselves under pressure to better manage content associated with their outbound (whether interactive or print) and inbound customer interactions." Expectations for rich customer experiences lead to increasingly complex ECM initiatives. According to the report, however, ECM is often pushed to the side by IT management, and is viewed as little more than a "quick fix" to a problem. The analysts write that, as marketing teams rely more heavily on ECM to aid in contextual technology tasks, a gap exists between knowledge management teams and marketing departments. "IT and marketing still find themselves thinking differently and speaking different languages," the analysts write. 

Another worrisome matter on the ECM front is the poor integration of inbound and outbound marketing channels. As an example, Le Clair points to the differing experiences a customer might have: Content read online might fail to jibe with material received by mail, and both potentially conflict with information gleaned while speaking with a contact center agent. The initiatives must be on the same page, Le Clair says, or poor customer experiences will result. Emerging technologies such as service-oriented architecture (SOA) are helping to integrate channels within the enterprise -- thereby enabling the creation of consistent and rich content that leads to seamless customer experiences. 

"I think from a CRM standpoint, looking beyond just the operational CRM functions [to] how that information is used in customer communications is really important," Le Clair says, adding that customer data is really at the heart of all of the channels. When integrated successfully, relevant patterns can provide valuable customer analysis. Above everything, Forrester recommends establishing a persuasive content architecture (PCA) to align IT and marketing and to solidify the customer experience. Le Clair and Powers speculate that, as the need for multichannel marketing integration grows, vendors and providers within the ecosystem will develop relevant offerings:

  • ECM vendors will move beyond Web support, offering integrated capabilities for inbound and outbound channel support;
  • document object model providers will continue to gain marketing expertise and will offer software that is more focused on multichannel support;
  • providers of data protection services may acquire strategic marketing components to support greater functionality in marketing asset management, the management of databases and customer lists, and campaign management technology to support the goal of recruiting or retaining customers; and
  • enterprise marketing software providers will deliver more content and extend their comprehensive suites.

Le Clair and Powers say that a PCA can help technology personnel to better understand the collaboration of ECM and marketing technologies, and they recommend keeping the following three points in mind before developing an architectural plan:

  1. Remember that ECM and marketing technologies need each other. Rising demands will require integrated solutions.
  2. Accept that ECM will improve the multichannel customer experience.
  3. Understand marketing’s business context when making ECM decisions. Try to see the marketing project from an enterprisewide persepctive.

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