Cleve Gibbon

content management, content modelling, digital ecosystems, technology evangelist.

Towards a Marketing Content Hub

Last month industry experts met to discuss the state of content management. Janus Boye facilitated CEOs, CTOs, market analysts, and subject matter experts unpack the term content. What we discovered, with the help of Theresa Regli, was the undeniable rise of the marketing content hub.

Content

Content is communication. As an industry, we struggle to communicate effectively at scale across multiple:

  • Audiences
  • Languages
  • Markets
  • Channels
  • Devices
  • Technologies

Traditionally, we view content through two important lenses:

  • Copy as text
  • Assets as images, documents, videos, sound, etc.

In doing so, this gives us to very simple formula for defining what content is:

  • Content = Copy + Assets

About Copy

In the early days of the web, communication was heavy on copy. A web site migration was a lift and shift of company documents onto the web. The resultant was walls of text positioned copy was king.

As we learnt to write more effectively for the web, websites applied the “less is more rule” to copy. Web pages became easier to read. Whitespace was celebrated. The amount of web copy reduced and the use of assets increased.

About Assets

Today, people are engaging more and more with videos, sound and images than ever before.  The use of assets in marketing communicationsis on the rise:

  • YouTube uploads 300 hours of video every minute.
  • Netflix is 15% of the total downstream bandwidth for the entire internet.
  • Instagram has over 100 million post per day.

Copy remains important but so are assets. Assets are a critical part of any customer experience. Great experiences need both copy and assets.

Managing Content

So, what does this mean for the systems responsible for managing content? Technology enables content authors to effectively manage copy and assets. Interestingly, vendors have also divided their technology solutions along similar content lines. A CMS predominantly manages copy where a DAM focuses on the asset part of the content equation.

Content Management Systems

A CMS is better equipped to manage copy than assets. The majority of CMS solutions target the web. A Web CMS (WCMS) creates copy through a web authoring interface and publishes for desktop, tablet and mobile consumption. The popularity of WCMS increased in line with the ubiquitous spread of the web. Although WCMS solutions purport to be channel agnostic, the web remains the channel of choice them.

WCMS capture copy, mix-in assets, and publish web pages. The strategy is clear. Build just enough asset management capability within the WCMS to enable authors to assemble web site content. WCMS vendors chose to integrate with enterprise DAMs, some made strategic partnership, whilst others built their own web-based DAMs. But for WCMS, treatment of content was:

  • Copy First, Assets Second

Digital Asset Management

Assets are fundamentally different from copy. Assets have different properties, life cycles, audiences, and use cases. As a result, a DAM solution does not manage assets in the same way that a WCMS manages copy.

DAM solutions need to track asset usage with rights management software. Approval processes tend to be more rigorous. The storage and streaming of assets are critical and differentiated by asset types (e.g. video vs sound). Assets need to be channel agnostic and accessible across the enterprise so that same video can be re-purposed at a market level.

DAM solutions are purchased by marketing departments that share assets across e-commerce, outbound communications, social channels, point of sale systems, and of course web sites. However, pure play DAMs no longer meet the needs to marketing departments that need more accessible and available assets at scale to create great experiences. A DAM solutions view on content is:

  • Assets first, Copy second

Marketing Content Hub

Useful and usable content is intelligent. This requires both copy and assets to be:

  • Raw; enables content to be produced in one channel and consumer in another.
  • Self-Describing; enables machines to ask content questions and get meaningful answers back.
  • Modular; enables applications to disassemble and re-assemble content on demand

A marketing content hub treats copy and assets as equals. The hub is based upon a content model that is well-structured and meaningful. The content hub enables marketing to gain fast accessible to highly available copy and assets at scale. The marketing content hub sits at the centre of the content universe, co-ordinating and collaborating with traditional systems of record such as DAM, WCMS, PIM, eCommerce, Point of Sal, and ERP.

Marketing Content Hub

Simple?  Not quite.  It never is when there is revenue on the table.

The above shows DAM vendors moving into the marketing content hub space. WCMS vendors are also trying to keep their products relevant. by adding more sophisticated asset management capabilities to their solutions. Drupal’s Content Hub syndicates content between Drupal sites and Sitecore recently acquired Stylelabs into its WCMS offering.

The marketing content hub is a vendor solution for providing content at a service back into the business. It is just one part of the content engine, but an important part none the less.

Online CXM Solutions – CMS In The Middle

A recently published Forrester Wave report on Web Content Management for Online Customer Experience evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of some of the leading WCM vendors, observing that:

  1. The WCM market is growing rapidly to accommodate Customer Experience Management needs (CXM).
  2. The most effective way to do this is for WCM to integrate with a large array of CXM technologies.

What is an Online CXM Solution?

online-cxm-solutions

A set of solutions that enable the management and delivery of dynamic, targeted, consistent content, offers, products, and services interactions across digitally enabled consumer touchpoints – Forrester Wave

WCM, Analytics and Commerce are converging. Marketing Automation, Search and Customer Service Management are the latest technologies making up the online CXM ecosystem.  Forrester clearly positions WCM as a key technology that all the others within the CXM ecosystem need to better integrate with.

Earlier this year I gave a presentation on Building a Marketing Technology Platform to Engage with Global Brands at the Adobe Solutions Partner Conference in Barcelona.  It too positioned content management at the centre of any progressive marketing technology platform.

cms-in-the-middleWhy is the CMS in the middle?  Well, people engage with companies through relevant and useful content.  The CMS ties all this together. However, delivering enchanting online customer experiences still presents mind numbing content challenges.  Mind numbing! Today, creating, managing and publishing up-to-date, engaging and relevant content is too much like hard work.  Yet the key to customer loyalty is by making CXM seriously low effort.   That makes CMS both front and centre in online CXM solutions.

Strategy needs Execution (and vice-versa)

Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. – Sun Tzu

If you fast forward to the end of the presentation I had time for one question.  It came from Ed Van Siclen, VP of Technology and Partner Solutions at Adobe, who asked the following about the CMS-In-The-Middle slide above:

What drops into the middle next?

Ed, six months on here’s my evolution of that slide:
cs-in-the-middle

Content Strategy is the glaring omission.  Content strategy is required both to guide and course correct execution (and execution to validate the strategy).  Whilst all these tectonic shifts are taking place within marketing technology and online CXM solutions, similar kinds and possible even more disruptive forces are at play within the content strategy community.

Aligning both content strategy and online CXM execution is like walking through treacle. Maddening difficult but align them we must. Content strategists are the ones with both hands in your client’s content. Shaping it.  Adapting it.  Managing it. Everyday.  They are an ideal source of requirements (e.g. a content audit tool) for CXM solution professionals.  They are also the early adopters / refuters / seeders for future CXM technologies.

Make, Manage, Mobilise and Measure CXM Solutions

Forrester broke CXM Solutions down into three categories:

  1. Process-based solutions enable businesses users to create experiences (Make).
  2. Delivery solutions bring interactive experiences to customers. (Manage & Mobilise).
  3. Customer intelligence solutions enable businesses to gauge the success of experiences (Measure).

Rob Tarkoff, SVP of Digital Enterprise Solutions, another Adobe guy, described by Ed as wickedly smart, first recognised that we need to:

Make, Manage, Measure and Mobilise CXM solutions.

Forrester’s second category, Delivery, combines both Manage and Mobilise, but these are really two very distinct activities.  Manage focuses upon the curation, staging and governance of content, where Mobilise is more about the execution of planned and ready-to-go marketing activities.  It is not uncommon for Manage and Mobilise to have different yet collaborating teams of people.

So, what lies ahead?

There are number of players in the CXM market at the moment:

  • ECM vendors (Microsoft, IBM, Oracle)
  • CXM Stack Providers (Adobe, Autonomy, IBM)
  • WCM Specialists (Sitecore, Clickability)
  • Open source offerings (Alfresco, Drupal)

Yet, no one player or product has all the online CXM pieces.  Truth be told, neither should there be.  Would you put/transfer all their technology eggs into one vendor basket?  Unlikely.  Instead, the practical route to an online CXM solution lies through integration.

At the moment, the key areas of integration activity are with CRM, Web Analytics and Digital Asset Management.   Which makes sense when you consider that the focus at the moment is to Make, Manage and Measure customer experiences across the enterprise.  When that’s figured out, the Mobilise (Execution) piece and its smart connections with rich marketing automation solutions will be next interesting story to play out.

Baked in Analytics

The old adage, you can’t control what you can’t measure, resonates loud and clear with marketers. If you don’t measure, you just don’t know, and businesses today cannot afford to be ignorant of their customer needs.

Technology has played a vital role in removing barriers to online measurement. Web analytics enable marketers to better measure and monitor digital campaigns. However, as marketing strives to reach more diverse audiences at the moments that most influence their decisions, the challenge is for businesses to have immediate access to ‘A’ class data (automated, accurate, aggregated, accessible, auditable, available) at every digital touchpoint along the consumer decision journey. That challenge is made even more difficult by the disconnect between those responsible for creating campaign content and those interested in measuring digital success. So what steps are being taken to close this gap?

Read the rest of this entry »

What is a Marketing Technology Platform

Last month I gave a presentation on building a marketing technology platform. A few people have been in touch to share their ideas around customer engagement platforms and marketing automation. It comes as no surprise that there are numerous marketing technology platforms already in use today. But where are they and how are they being used?

What is a marketing technology platform?

Marketing technology are tools that make life simpler for marketers to market. They automate difficult, time-consuming and repetitive manual tasks to surface customer insight. Built by technologists, used by marketers. Marketing technology should aim to remove or significantly reduce the need for IT involvement. In short, to keep marketing in marketing.

Read the rest of this entry »

From Web Sites to Digital Solutions

Web sites are easy

When I start a new project, particularly with a new customer, I pay close attention to how they use the term web site. Customers arrive wanting a web site. They walk out with a digital solution. The web site is the easy bit. The hard part is defining, creating and rolling out a digital solution specifically for them.

marauders-mapSo what is a digital solution? For me, its a dynamic map that continually adapts as you journey through a project. A bit like Harry Potter’s Marauders Map. Sometimes it actually feels like we’re using the map to guide our customers through the project pitfalls but without the protection of the invisibility cloak. So to be clear, a digital solution takes a customer from what they want to what they need. And for me, this is the key differentiators between happy and unhappy customers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Get In Touch

About Cleve Gibbon



I'm Cleve Gibbon, CTO at Cognifide where we are passionate about digital content.

My sort of up-to-date cv tells you my past, linked in shows you my professional network and on twitter you can find out what I'm currently doing.

This year I plan attend a number of events. Hopefully I'll see you there. I'm easy to find as I'm always laughing. Find out more about me and get in touch!
Cleve GooglePlus