Marketing is broken.

We organize our marketing teams around channels: digital, email, social media, mobile, retail and other areas. Each team is assigned a budget, and their success measured. In our effort to be organized and effective, we create teams that end up competing for business against each other, fighting over the same customers to show growth in their channel.

And here’s the basic problem with the channel approach: Customers don’t organize around channels.

Customers see products, brands and services holistically. They don’t care about our internal walls, legacy processes and poorly integrated technologies. Today’s customer journey weaves its way through myriad digital and offline touch points.

Rather than forming these marketing silos, we need to break down the walls between them. By doing this, we can dramatically improve the customer experience, and provide a huge opportunity to drive additional revenue and improve customer loyalty.


Forming a United Front


So, how do we start breaking down silos? Two important tools needed to make this change are Web Experience Management (WEM) and marketing automation. Marketing automation systems like Marketo, HubSpot and Eloqua play an important role in the buying process, helping marketers build a long-term relationship with a prospect throughout the customer lifecycle.

There are three primary components to modern marketing automation systems:

  1. A marketing database that stores all your marketing data, customer interactions, and behaviors. Most marketing automation products can be synchronized with a CRM like
  2. A message delivery engine for the creation, management and automation of marketing activities and conversations, typically via channels like email and social media.
  3. Marketing analytics to measure and optimize marketing’s impact on revenue generation.

The most common use case for marketing automation systems is to manage the lead process, using techniques like lead scoring and lead nurturing to deepen the relationship with prospects and accelerate their pace through the sales process. Marketing automation systems provide a detailed picture of a prospect or customer by providing a single view into their behavior across a variety of channels.

Unfortunately, marketing automation systems don’t provide much value in digital channels beyond the conversion point, typically a landing page. While marketing automation systems build up a deep corpus of knowledge about customers and prospects, that knowledge is gone the minute a website visitor lands directly on your website. It’s a form of selective amnesia. The prospect you've learned a great deal about in your marketing database is treated just like someone who is visiting your site for the very first time.

That’s not very personal, is it? To benefit from all of that information and provide a personalized experience, we must combine marketing automation with Web Experience Management.

Providing Meaningful Web Experiences

For the uninitiated, WEM is a new approach that orchestrates content, context and channel to deliver meaningful customer experiences that deliver business results. WEM is about delivering the right content in the right channel to the right people at the right time.

Context is often the most complex piece to get right. It requires the ability to understand and interpret customer behavior and intent. Often companies start simple, perhaps offering targeted promotions based on the location of a website visitor.

But the most useful customer context lies inside of the marketing automation system, which knows everything you've captured about a customer. The marketing automation system has captured the prospect’s demographic and firmographic data, the marketing campaigns they've responded to, how often they visit your website, and much more.

By combining marketing automation with WEM, you can apply the same list segmentation and personalization techniques that work well for email campaigns on your website. For example, a B2B marketer might show dynamic content on the homepage that aligns with the visitor stage in the sales cycle to improve the conversion rate.

A B2C marketer might re-market dynamic content based on customer behavior in other channels like email or social media. All of the rich customer data from the marketing automation database -- think industry, activities, behavior, prior purchases, etc. are available to make the website more meaningful for each website visitor.

By breaking up the marketing automation silos, you can free up the data and use it to deliver the right content to your customers based on the attributes that give you insight into their intent. Once you can match your content to the intent of your customer, you've achieved WEM nirvana.

By eliminating silos, we can deliver a unified customer experience. To achieve this goal, we must redefine marketing in terms of customers, not channels. By integrating technologies like WEM and marketing automation, we can put the customer first.

Image courtesy of Creativa (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Read more of Tom's thoughts on Web Experience Management in WEM: Adding Social Networks to Your Cross-Channel Marketing Mix