Friday, July 22, 2011

Optimizing the Online Experience: the Next Frontier for Modern Marketers

One day in June, Adobe announces a new “Digital Enterprise Platform for Customer Experience Management.” The very next day, Oracle announces that it has entered into an agreement to acquire FatWire Software, “a leading provider of Web experience management solutions.”

And just like that, the market for customer experience management, Web experience management and what FatWire likes to call “online engagement optimization” has just gotten much hotter. I prefer the term “online experience optimization” (“OEO”), a type of “extreme personalization” and a spin on the widely touted promise of the early World Wide Web: “mass customization.”

Whatever you call the strategy or paradigm, successful OEO requires that every company answer four key questions.
  1. Do you know what customers, competitors and competitors' customers are saying about your company online?
  2. Do you know whether or not your Web site is equally accessible, navigable, compelling and persuasive on an iPad, an iPhone or an Android tablet as it is on a PC?
  3. Do you know how customers, partners and prospects really perceive your company online?
  4. Do you have solid, defensible evidence for all that you know?
Complicating the answers to these questions is the need to follow and delight customers, partners and prospects, wherever they are and however they choose to interact. Especially online, given the continuing growth of mobility, social networking and new and different access devices.
Customers, partners and prospects are, in effect, the most important example of what my Constellation Research colleagues and I like to refer to as “the mobile, social cloud.” And the mobile, social cloud makes clear what many already know. Current processes and solutions for OEO, especially content creation, delivery and management, are inadequate, especially given the explosion in the number and types of networked access devices.

For users and buyers, effective OEO, like effective modern marketing, requires answering some key questions about content, conversation, consistency and conversion (as outlined in my blog post "The Four C's of Content Marketing" at And when looking at candidate vendors and solutions, those users and buyers should focus on four key criteria.
  • Completeness: can the vendor deliver solutions that address all of users' key challenges to OEO success, organically or via truly strategic alliances?
  • Continuity: can the vendor deliver solutions that “look and feel” like logical, operationally non-disruptive extensions and evolutions of previous offerings and incumbent tools?
  • Connectivity: can the vendor and its offerings “play well with others” in ways that let users maximize the business value and ROI of their incumbent and future investments, without requiring “heavy lifting” by IT experts?
  • Convincingness: can the vendor cash the checks its mouth is writing?

OEO is clearly not your parents' marketing. It isn't even last year's Web content management or user interface design. It's all of these, plus more. Fortunately, processes, best practices and solutions are emerging to enable OEO and extreme personalization without tears, fork lifts or teams of technologists. And I and my Constellation Research colleagues will be opining about these and related issues increasingly during the next few weeks and months. Stay tuned...

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