You say tomato, I say tomato, you say WEM, I say WEM..

When you say WEM, do you say Web Experience Management or Web Engagement Management?  What does it mean and does it matter and what about CEM? Well, in this  post I want to explore that, in direct response to a couple of things – firstly I promised in my latest post over at the Gilbane blog to tackle it and secondly Irina Guseva asked the question over Twitter and I needed more than 140 characters…

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In Introducing the Web Engagement Capability Model over at the Gilbane blog I said:

I am using the term ‘engagement’, not ‘experience’ – in my opinion the experience is a vital element of engagement, but it’s not the broader topic – maybe more on that in a later post.

I define engaging over the web as an objective, it’s the process of getting someone from an unknown visitor, to a lead, customer, advocate, educated citizen or whatever your reason is for having a website.

It’s something that could happen over a series of visits and it might pull in other bits of the digital marketing arsenal, like social media, email, pay-per-click etc. etc. I think a web engagement strategy is the plan and Web Engagement Management is the orchestration of all of that.

I think the experience is a fundamental part of the engagement strategy – how we make each web visit compelling and relevant and on that my Gilbane colleague Mary Laplante put this really well in her paper “Engage Me!” that we published in 2008:

If engagement is the outcome, then web experience management (WEM) is the practice… Web experience management is a business practice that formalizes an organization’s approach to relating to its audiences through web-based channels.

So, Web Experience Management is specifically focused on optimizing the website visit – although clearly to do that you need to reach outside just delivering dynamic content, you need to understand your visitors and bring to bear all of the moving parts of your web engagement strategy.

Tweeting back to Irina, I suggested that comparing the two is like saying a good conversation (experience) is the same as a friendship (engagement). I am not completely happy with that analogy, but I think it makes the point and one is clearly a critical part of the other.

So where do both of these terms sit with CEM – the ‘C’ is customer, although we have the same confusion of terms in that some folks talk about ‘E’ for experience and some ‘engagement’.

Personally,  as I  peg out my little claim of coverage as an analyst  – right now I am shying away from leaving my web comfort blanket and talking about customer anything. Although it’s intensely interesting and relevant, I think customer engagement is the broader subject and like Russian dolls it’s the one that everything slots into, the same way that web experience sits in web engagement, they both sit inside customer experience/engagement.

For example, if I am talking to a supermarket, or any business where their customer engagement is in large part down to the experience of personal interaction or bricks and mortar stores, I’m going to run out of road. There’s plenty of overlap – but customer engagement involves loyalty schemes, vouchers, call centres, customer relationship management etc etc.. and while I think these are all essential feeds to the web experience, of delivering a coherent, consistent cross channel customer experience, right now – I’ll leave the detail of covering those for others.

I’d recommend reading this on Customer Experience Management, a pretty good Wikipedia entry that I think demonstrates the holistic nature of the discipline.

The image of Fred Astaire is from Wikipedia and probably only OK to reproduce in the US, if I understand copyright notice correctly…

Introducing the Web Engagement Capability Model

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4 thoughts on “You say tomato, I say tomato, you say WEM, I say WEM..

  1. Ian….

    Well done sir. I have to say that when I saw this headline appear in my twitter stream (I’m not sure why that sounds vaguely disturbing) that I wasn’t quite bought in….

    I came in with a healthy dose of skepticism… However, I think I’m now sold… I think one step further that maybe Gilbane could undertake would be to group the activities surrounded by each….

    So, for example, if I’m reading your p.o.v. on this correctly, “Engagement” is the bucket where I’d put a Content Marketing Strategy Effort – and “Experience” is where I’d put Information Architecture…

    1. Robert,

      Delighted that you stopped by, despite the tweeted headline and took the time to comment!

      I completely agree, grouping activities is next and your examples fit the model. We’ve started along that road, to a certain extent, with our capability model and I’ll continue to talk about the ‘Engagement Tier’ where the tools live. The ultimate aim would be to chart a course for our clients who are looking at how to achieve their digital marketing and communication objectives, their requirements and areas of focus/investment.

      As an aside, be interested to get your view – there is also the definition of ‘web’ to talk about in this context – I think we generally refer to ‘web’ as the broader digital experience when we refer to ‘engagement’ – but that a ‘web experience’ is a much more defined website activity. Something to ponder…

      Thanks again for your contribution,


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