Who Will Buy This Web Engagement?

As the holidays approach, my SKY+ hard disk (PVR/Tivo thing) is brimming with movies ready for the onset of quality time with my young family. Perhaps our viewing pleasure as I recuperated from what I anticipate to be a fine lunch could be an old movie that I think will entertain the girls – the musical Oliver!. In it they sing “Who will buy”, something I have been hearing on blogs and twitter about Web Engagement.

OK, so as festive holiday themed posts go, this is tenuous. In fact, in a fit of self doubt I am now not even sure the film Oliver! is that well known outside the UK, so if you too would like to have the song playing on loop in your head as you read this, you can go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4gzmoUHrQ4

Anyway… let’s press on…

So, who will buy this web engagement?

To me this is like asking the question “who will buy customer satisfaction?”

Of course the answer is nobody can.

Everyone would want to wave a magic dollar bill, watch the world go fuzzy and instantly see service metrics hockey stick up and to the right – but of course the truth is as fanciful as buying “this wonderful morning”. The same is absolutely true of web engagement, being satisfied or being engaged is not something you can choose for someone else – they’ll decide.

If I look at this blog for example if I talk about WordPress or social media these pages become popular – but is being popular about WordPress the engagement objective of this blog? There are also people that end up this site looking for information about ‘The Yes Man’ book or film, I feel for them as it was an analogy I used in an early post – but I am not going to culture engagement with those folks. To me their clicks are just noise, to them my content is noise and please bounce on, sorry to have troubled you.

As I think I’ve probably mentioned once or twice before, we need to get smarter about understanding the level of engagement we have with our visitors beyond the crude counting of clicks or bounce rates. Our websites are not popularity contests.

I recently wrote about providing customer service over our websites and in that case the number of clicks and pages viewed in the session may actually be the symptom of a pissed off visitor, caught up in a maze of content, frustrated that they can’t get the answer they are looking for. Of course, it may not, it maybe your next customer eagerly consuming everything you’ve written on a subject. The point is, you don’t know and counting clicks won’t tell you.

Think about the decision process that went into the last page published on your website, was it in response to a need of the visitor, was it an act of vanity, was it because you’ve always done that, or that everyone else does that? What information do you have that help inform that decision?

But every conversation about engagement cannot be solely about just understanding the visitor, the reason why I get so excited about web engagement from a content management professionals perspective is that it drives organizations to look closely at the life blood of the web engagement thing – content.

Yes, yes, we’ve been wanging on about the core competencies of web content management; separation of content from presentation, the componentization of content, understanding the content through metadata, the democratization of content authoring, dynamic delivery etc etc… for a billion years. I really think that publishing to this multi-channel, multi-destination splinternet really brings these needs to light, maybe it flushes out those webpage or website publishing tools from content management.

I think to do this engagement thing properly start with a decent WCM and content management strategy before you start rushing to provide your visitor with a personalized view of your grubby, out of date under garments. Basically, if we understand web engagement as a business objective, then we can start describing the capability of the tools in a business context and get people to pay attention to the important conversations we have, like why WordPress is not a terribly good CMS…

Anyway, I should get back to my point – Who will buy this web engagement? You can’t – but will they buy the tools to execute a web engagement management strategy – absolutely.

By the way… analytics and content are just two of the five things that we at Gilbane think are important for folks to look at for web engagement, the rest are here.

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12 thoughts on “Who Will Buy This Web Engagement?

    1. That sounds like a challenge for future post – I missed an opportunity there for a much better Christmas theme – could have been the WEM Christmas list!

      You are right – it is tools plural and Jon Marks makes a great point about niche SaaS players that are emerging in his latest post and I kinda waffled on about it a bit here in September.

      Cheers James.


  1. So, for the sake of argument and debates about process and management overheads aside…

    If I was to say purchase EPiServer CMS6 (with R2 personalisation updates) and add in their Marketing Arena and Mail 5 modules. Then make good use of a well structured Google Analytics account and throw in some Radian 6 – would I have all the tools I needed for ‘web engagement’?

    Equally, if I chose an open source route such as an upcoming Drupal 7/DropCRM/commerce combo with Google Analytics and some Radian 6 would I be well set up for WEM?

    You may have missed the WEM Christmas list opportunity but you could do it as a ‘New Years Resolutions’ piece – “I resolve to engage with my web audience in 2011 by…” 🙂

    Who knows Ian – 2011 may be the year I finally buy-in to WEM – stranger things have happened 😉

    Hope you have a great and well deserved break



    1. Hi James,

      The dull, serious answer is of course – what are your specific requirements and lets work from there.

      I’d argue that some organizations would see tremendous improvements in visitor engagement if they started with a decent content management and content publishing strategy. This maybe with tools they already have, a bit of tweetdeck or some organizational changes. I think the point of my post was that a new suite of tools, however good, does not buy you engagement.

      But, yes – it is going to ultimately require a tool set (and specific product names aside) this is broadly what I am saying. That organizations need to divide up their web engagement requirements and then select tools that best fit them. However I am not convinced by this assumption that the WCM vendor is going to be the best supplier for your marketing insight requirements in every case. There are pros and cons to this approach and it really is requirements specific and I think that this is where analysts and consulting practitioners need to apply some focus, as I said in my last post:

      as an industry we understand the requirements, scope and how to compare content management solutions, but I think today WEM is slightly nebulous and we need to work on that. We need to figure out what the requirements are for ‘the thing between our content and our visitor’, what the market has to offer to satisfy them, how we measure the success of these solutions and how software buyers should compare them

      We need to create a defined market for these technologies – and this needs an educated buyer and an understood vendor landscape – I think this will also nurture and sustain exciting new niche tools that will add innovation to this space. I am also encouraged to see WCM vendors that are building out these capabilities and make them interoperable with other WEM technologies, GX Software with BlueConic and obviously Alterian are two examples.

      I see your passion for EPiServer is undimmed since we last spoke 🙂 thanks for your comment.



    1. Thanks Bart for your comment and for stopping by. Absolutely – the secret sauce – but I think maybe it’s my job to make the main ingredients to that sauce a little less secret!



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