American Marketer


Customer engagement in a multichannel world: Don’t reinvent the wheel

April 21, 2011

Loren Weinberg


By Loren Weinberg

No one will argue with the assertion that deeper engagement with prospects and customers will drive sales, satisfaction and customer loyalty.

The competition for your customers’ time and attention gets greater with each passing day.

Organizations must find a way to provide relevant interactions for customers, and to harness new capabilities in the online medium for driving positive ongoing relationships with buyers and constituents.

The challenges are great, and they go far beyond the now-traditional issues of creating valuable content and managing deployment of content to Web sites.

Engaging idea

Marketers need to manage user-generated content and other social features, rich media, gadgets for end-user personalization, delivery to multiple online endpoints including thousands of mobile device types, and provide a relevant, engaging and optimized experience for site visitors that will keep them happy, loyal and purchasing.

Sound daunting? It is.

But marketers can succeed in this new world with the right tools and supporting processes that help them use their existing content and Web experience management efforts to deliver true online engagement optimization for their audiences, in which they are building an ongoing, positive relationship with their constituents, across channels of interaction.

Web content management solves the challenges of content creation, management, globalization, and delivery – and these are foundational elements of effective online engagement optimization.

But today’s challenges go well beyond simply managing content and sites on a large scale.

Online engagement optimization requires comprehensive management of the site visitor’s experience. This includes social interactions, customization of site content, targeting content so that it is contextually relevant for visitors, and analyzing and optimizing the online experience.

The goal is to provide a rich and engaging experience for the site visitor across all channels of interaction.

Over the next few years, the number of people accessing the Web from mobile devices will overtake the number accessing the Web from traditional browsers.

The mobile Web promises to extend the engagement capabilities offered by traditional Web sites to every customer’s mobile phone, and thereby increase the touch points and frequency with which an organization can interact with customers and constituents.

This means that marketers need solutions that empower them to deliver an online experience that it is consistently compelling for visitors regardless of what type of device they are using to access the site.

Reinventing the wheel in the form of separately managed Web sites or applications for every mobile device type is not only costly and complex with the ever-changing and evolving set of devices out there, but it is also becoming impossible.

Organizations have found that this leads to duplication of effort and an inconsistent customer experience across channels.

In addition, key requirements for an engaging Web site, including support for social computing, integration with external social networks, and use of video and rich media, are critical tools for engagement via the mobile Web as well.

Thus, marketers must be able to deploy these important capabilities no matter what Internet-enabled device type a visitor is using.

This is where online engagement optimization comes in.

Web insight

The solution is to build on the Web experience management capabilities that are used to provide a compelling experience for visitors to your traditional Web site, and extend this capability to mobile devices.

With this expanded approach you can manage the mobile mediums as a specialized extension to the traditional Web presence. You can manage content centrally, and deploy consistent experiences across traditional and mobile Web end points. Voilà – one significant layer of complexity removed.

With this type of a solution, we can also leverage the best practice we as an industry learned in evolving our static Web sites to dynamic, rich, targeted, interactive and optimized Web experiences to achieve the same sort of results for the mobile Web channel.

To be sure, every company and every marketer is likely to need a different mix of the abilities and technologies discussed here.

However, all marketers need effective methods for building upon successful traditional Web initiatives and extending the Web infrastructure to the mobile medium.

Using the right solutions to achieve these goals promises to avoid the pain and cost of separately managed mobile Web applications and sites, and deliver significant, sustained success for marketers and customer experience managers in the form of better, deeper customer engagement.

Loren Weinberg is senior vice president of marketing and product management at FatWire Software, Mineola, NY. Reach her at