The new enterprise digital marketing imperative: change as a strategy

Digital marketers today feel intense pressure to deliver exceptional customer experiences, so when new digital channels emerge such as mobile, marketers scramble to catch up. For enterprise marketers, catching up often means multi-year projects replacing critical systems in the digital marketing stack--such as content management and e-commerce--that aren’t evolving with the times. While precious time ticks by, these companies lose their edge, and lose out on revenue opportunities.

Savvy marketers need to make more strategic choices to avoid this scenario. That means building a digital marketing infrastructure that closely aligns technology with evolving customer expectations. As a content management vendor, we find this is rarely the case. More often than not marketers looking for a new content management solution come to us with a feature checklist that must be met, and little more. Placing such an emphasis on features alone is short sighted. Marketers must seek out features that support their immediate business needs, and a lot of out-of-the-box functionality is important, yes. But of equal importance is the need to ensure they have a digital marketing infrastructure that supports their overall readiness and ability to quickly adapt to the rapidly evolving marketing landscape.

Change as a Strategy

Agility has become the new marketing imperative. When selecting mission-critical digital marketing systems such as a CMS, marketers would be wise to consider ‘change’ as a strategy that ensures future success. Huge marketing suites such as Adobe’s offer one-size-fits-all integrated solutions for all digital marketing tools. These suites are feature-rich to be sure, and there are many benefits to this approach. However that tight integration, previously considered a good strategy, is the very thing that limits business agility.

Case in point: when new channels, apps or devices emerge, all-in-one marketing suites can’t evolve or replace one system in the integrated stack without affecting all other systems. The down side? Time. Tightly integrated or “coupled” digital marketing suites need lots of time before changing direction as all systems in the suite must be changed. Whereas front-end “decoupled” point solutions can withstand quick change. This is a critical point as the front-end is where the customer experience happens, and therefore agility is not just nice to have, it’s needed. All-in-one coupled suites are heavily weighed down by their own strategy, making it difficult to turn on a dime.

Content as a Service

Best-of-breed CMS vendors like e-Spirit offer a “Headless” or content-as-a-service approach to content management. Content-as-a-service means the front-end (aka the head), where content presented to the customer is separate from the back-end where content is stored and delivered. This way, e-tailers for example can use a best-of-breed e-commerce system for the head, and a best-of-breed content management system to manage the structured content. They have the luxury of combining multiple best-of-breed tools together similar to the integrated suite approach, but without the inflexibility. The result is superior functionality with greater flexibility and agility that marketers are clamoring for to help them achieve a competitive edge and maximize revenues.

Agility is Critical

The market changes at such a swift pace that it’s often difficult to see it coming. New requirements, channels, and must-have features such as A/B testing or real-time personalization emerge at the most inconvenient of times--in the middle of a website redesign or when launching a new mobile app to name only a few. The best you can do is be prepared to meet those changes head on and with speed. That’s when agility comes in really handy. It helps you adapt swiftly without derailing important projects, or worse, turning six month projects into 12+ month projects.

Agility is arguably more important than any individual feature on a CMS feature checklist, yet you have to have the best features too. The questions each marketer must ask are: What is going to give you a competitive edge? Which approach--the huge marketing suite or decoupled content-as-a-service--is right for your organization? And is that approach just good for now, or will it future-proof your organization for years to come.