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The WCM Industry from the Front Lines

March 29, 2018

The WCM Industry from the Front Lines

Jim Panagas
Mar 28, 2018

Recently, EContent Magazine published an article titled “The State of Web Content Management 2018.” It was based on the input of industry analysts as well as some leading vendors. To complement that article, we thought it would be interesting to speak with practitioners who are working on the front lines, implementing WCM solutions on a daily basis. To ensure that we got a balanced view, we spoke with practitioners from a variety of geographies around the globe: Brian McKeiver of BizStream, based in the USA; Jonathan Healey of NetConstruct and Ben Rudman of MMT Digital, both based in the UK; and Elizabeth Gibbons of Zeroseven, headquartered in Australia.  

Picking the Right Solution

So, let’s begin with the basic question: In 2018, how do companies determine the right CMS solution for their business? Should they go open-source or commercial? Premise or cloud-based? There is a dizzying array of solutions already on the market, and new ones continue to emerge, particularly in the cloud space.

“It has less to do with the particular platform that you choose,” says Brian McKeiver of Michigan-based BizStream, “and more with how you plan to use the platform.” He continues, “Focus on your requirements, integration points, and preferred technology stack first, and think about the brand of CMS second.”

Jonathan Healey of the UK’s NetConstruct adds that one should look at additional factors such as scalability and support, while Ben Rudman of London’s MMT Digital points to the importance of the people who will actually be installing the solution hands-on. “One of the first things you should do,” he recommends, “is arrange meetings with the short list of implementation partners.”

Elizabeth Gibbons of Zeroseven in Australia has a slightly different take on this question. From her point of view, it was critical from the start to look past today and think about the client’s needs one year, three years, or five years down the road. In other words, pick a forward-looking solution. “The best CMS,” she says, “is the one that meets the client’s needs both in the present and the future.”  

Factoring Analyst and End-user Reviews into Your Decision

There’s certainly no shortage of WCM vendors in 2018. And there’s also no shortage of opinions as to which solutions are the most viable. They come in the form of analyst reviews as well as end-user commentary. So how much should these reviews influence your purchase decision?

“I would definitely put some stock into the opinions of analysts such as Gartner and user review platforms such as TrustRadius,” says McKeiver, “but I would put just as much stock in the implementers that actually install these platforms.” Rudman regarded these reviews as “part of the wider research” that companies need to do when searching for an appropriate CMS solution.

Perhaps Gibbons summed it up best: “There are a lot of considerations and specifics to every implementation. What might matter to one client could be completely irrelevant to another. Choosing the right CMS isn’t as easy as reading an Amazon review.”  

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Time to stop drowning and start riding the Big Data wave

March 21, 2018

By / Bart Omlo / In Insight /

Big Data is everything, marketing practitioners from agencies around the world agree. But it isn’t easy to stay abreast of it all and many feel overwhelmed by data, data, everywhere. Don’t be engulfed by the Big Data wave, says Bart Omlo – who brings together comments from senior marketers on how companies are adjusting their strategies and using the latest technology to keep up with the ever-increasing data flow.

Many questions remain around big data. Are companies using it, interpreting it and actioning it? And, crucially, are they seeing the value from it? A study from Econsultancy found that the majority of marketers are actually poor at acting on insights derived from customer data.

But why, with gold dust at their fingertips, are they not able to leverage its power to deliver exceptional customer experiences?

There’s just so much of it.

Marketers are drowning in the stuff. The various martech platforms and content management systems deliver such a wave of powerful insights that it’s hard to prioritise. So they are turning to AI and machine learning to help make sense of it all and to fine-tune and automate it. After all, identifying user behaviour is still a key part of building customer engagement. But this solution is just another meal for the monster as it’s a cyclical process: using customer data drives the user experience, which in turn generates even more data to analyse, turn into insights and respond to with an even greater customer experience.

While the use of Big Data – especially actionable data – may depend on organisational size and sector, it’s always BIG. And it’s part of a digital marketer’s everyday life (or nightmare). Despite it being the best thing to come their way since the dawn of sales, getting Big Data to really work is not for the faint-hearted.

So, at the recent Kentico Roadshows in London and Amsterdam, we asked the experts – all senior agency marketing practitioners in leading agencies across Europe – for their views on data and riding the Big Data wave. Here’s what they said:

Henry France, Distinction, explained:

The main challenge is knowing what to do with Big Data. The hype around it has motivated people to invest in systems that measure everything possible. But it’s not an end in itself; it’s a tool that provides valuable insights, especially into customers.

It is also used to drive emerging technologies such as chatbots, said Jonathan Healey at NetConstruct:

Don’t underestimate the power of Big Data. It is pervasive — and, if you’re implementing websites, it’s ALL about Big Data. But once you have overcome the technical and managerial challenges, it can form the foundation for powerful marketing — especially personalisation with better relevancy and authenticity, which is one of the key goals for today’s marketers.

Marc Vieleers at EXLRT said:

Strike out for relevancy when riding the Big Data wave

Companies are all drowning in data. The ones keeping their heads above water and starting to do a confident front crawl are the ones that can extract the right data using interoperable business systems to help.

It’s a serious challenge, especially for those managing content, explained Marco Willemsen, Frontis:

We also have to work out where we’re going to store this unfathomable amount of data and how — a key topic as GDPR approaches.

Diana Erskine at Reading Room asked if it’s time to employ a data analyst who can break it all down and home in on what best serves us.

So, Big Data is a powerful source of marketing intelligence that enables critical decisions to be made that can dramatically improve sales through unprecedented personalised customer experiences. Yet marketers often still feel they are drowning in it.

The way we collect data in the coming years is set to change with the introduction of GDPR. And we may well see less personal data coming in. But the quality of the data will likely be much higher and therefore more actionable and effective. So companies need to get to grips with Big Data now (especially as AI and digital assistants fuel further growth) so they know which data to focus on in the future — the kind that builds close relationships with engaged customers.

Yes, Big Data is BIG, both in challenge and reward. So don’t give in to the overwhelm. Analyse. Streamline. You won’t regret it.

Have an opinion on this article? Please join in the discussion: the GMA is a community of data driven marketers and YOUR opinion counts.

This topic, GDPR and much more will be under discussion at our MINT Data Driven Marketing Summit on Wednesday April 18 in central London. GMA readers can get £100 off the ticket price. Book NOW to hear top-level speakers share their knowledge about GDPR, innovation and the new data economy.

Author: Bart Omlo
Senior VP Sales EMEA & Latin America at Kentico | www.kentico.com

Bart Omlo has more than 15 years’ experience in the web content management and online marketing industry. As former CEO of a Dutch web agency and member of the European JBoye CMS Expert Group, he has a broad vision on the changing world of internet technology and how businesses can benefit from it.

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Technology versus Creativity

March 16, 2018

By Jim Panagas

When you stop and think about it, the marketing industry has undergone some radical changes in recent years. Marketing messages are being delivered in automated fashion through a myriad of devices and channels including smartphones, tablets, elevator- and gas station-TV, smart home appliances, automobile dashboards, social media—the list is long and it’s only going to get longer.

Not only has the distribution of marketing messages become totally managed through marketing automation and CMS technologies, but also analytics have advanced in leaps and bounds as well. Marketers now have much more intelligence on their target audience. They know when and where you receive their messages...how long you spend with them...what actions you may have taken as a result...and what types of content you prefer. Armed with that information, they are able to design a digital journey that should not only be to your liking but very likely connect you with the products and services that you’re actually looking for.

The New Marketing Department:  Changing Job Titles and Descriptions

Today’s marketing industry is not only marked by a rapid and pervasive adoption of technology, but also by a redefinition of job titles and descriptions. CMOs have become the champions of revenue generation. The VP of Marketing is more focused on analytics than ever before. And a new generation of content marketers has emerged to feed the insatiable appetite companies now have for fresh marketing content.

So, who are these content marketers? And how are they different from copywriters?

Copywriters used to be hired to write copy for all sorts of traditional marketing vehicles, from brochures, data sheets, and newsletters to direct mail, websites, and event signage. The common thread was the quality of the writing had to be extraordinarily high. Copy had to be meaningful and compelling. It had to stop people in their tracks and entice them to read on. In short, it was designed to meaningfully engage people.

That being the case, people took years to progress from writer to senior writer to manager or director. But then the digital age got here, and the language began to change. Suddenly, it was all about “content” and literally overnight job descriptions changed from “copywriter” to “content marketer.”

Content Marketers versus Copywriters

Content Marketers tend to be more technology focused. They are typically tasked with running marketing automation and CMS platforms on a daily basis. Yes, they produce content and populate these marketing platforms with it, but the content isn’t the be-all and end-all that it used to be. It isn’t the center of their universe.

Copywriters, conversely, tend to hang on every word, every headline, every caption—even the way that the copy interacts with the graphics on a printed sheet or a web page.  Content marketers, by contrast, are focused on a broader canvas. Their responsibility is to marshal that content through a digital landscape of possibilities. It’s more about getting content to the right device or platform at the right time, in the right format and being able to track that content every step of the way.

Where copywriters are more focused on the writing rather than the technology, the inverse may be true for content marketers. That’s just the reality of how the industry has shaken out.

Quality of Content 

So, at the end of the day, has the industry gotten it right? Do we have the right types of people with the right skillsets working in marketing? And are we regularly delivering compelling and memorable messages to our target audience?

There may be an opportunity for some fine-tuning. It seems that, for marketing, the pendulum has swung away from creativity...and toward technology. That’s why we occasionally have misfires where messages don’t seem to connect with the audience or elicit the desired response—confounding corporate management.

It may make some sense for the pendulum to swing back to the center. Yes, we need to continue to embrace technology in all of its forms as it comes racing at us in the marketing profession. But we also need to apply a high level of creativity and critical thinking to our messaging. We need to give our messaging the same care and attention that we give to the finished products and services that we’re promoting. After all, regardless of what device or channel that we’re aiming for, our messages are being read by human beings. We need to take great care to talk to them, engage them, and ultimately win their hearts and minds.

Creativity and Critical Thinking

Technology has brought marketing into the 21st century. But let’s not forget about the creativity and critical thinking that made marketing so memorable and effective in the first place—there’s still room for that in the mix. One possible solution is to have both content marketers andcopywriters at work in the marketing bullpen. With the right balance, we might just end up with the best of both worlds:  widely distributed yet very high-quality content that people actually enjoy reading. And in that kind of scenario, everybody wins.

About the Author: Jim Panagas is the Director of PR & Analyst Relations for Kentico Software, a leading provider of CMS technology. He’s a seasoned marketing and communications professional who has been working in the high-tech industry for more than 20 years. His current assignment is educating the market about digital experience platforms including Kentico EMS and Kentico Cloud.

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