marketing

The Agile, Enterprise Digital Marketing Platform: What Really Matters

The Agile, Enterprise Digital Marketing Platform: What Really Matters

Jerry Hill

Digital marketing has forever changed the way the world does business. Whether it be a news story, rumor, meme or online conversation, consumers expect their favorite brands to immediately respond to current events on all appropriate channels available at their fingertips.

With this expectation in mind, it’s critical for marketers to move at the speed of consumer expectations or be left in the dust of your competitors winning top of mind. In order to do so, marketers need the flexibility to listen, respond and adjust to these demands.

But marketing is more than just utilizing social media channels to speak to consumers directly. It’s about being results focused, content-centric and data-driven. Through the use of a high performing but flexible platform, brands are able to create an always-relevant web experience that caters to their audience.

It’s when a platform slows down a marketing team that makes staying relevant a mammoth task.

Whether you’re looking for a out of the box digital marketing platform that’s ready to go at a moment’s notice or a large custom-built platform that caters to your company’s needs, we know that the research can be daunting and the options can be overwhelming. Although research will show that there are benefits to both types, we have a fine-tuned system for selecting enterprise digital marketing platforms.

So, if you’re in the market for an enterprise digital marketing platform, we suggest considering a platform that possesses four key attributes (SIRF):

1. Speed
2. Insightfulness
3. Reliability
4. Flexibility

Most digital marketing platforms scatter the above words throughout their sales copy — but only a select few truly implement these philosophies in a way that benefits customers.

Knowing that, how do you begin to separate the performers from the pretenders? Well, we’ve got you covered and provided our perspective on how to know if a digital marketing platform is the real deal on all four fronts.

1. Speed

Being fast means removing obstacles.

An ambitious brand is constantly evolving, and mechanisms must be in place to facilitate rapid, low-overhead change. Without speed on your side, tasks like A/B testing, content previewing, and real-time marketing become difficult — leaving your content publishers frustrated instead of productive.  

To identify if the platform you’re considering is speedy enough, here are the key areas to evaluate:

Simplicity

Complexity hinders productivity and increases errors. Simple, elegant solutions without a ton of moving parts that need configuration or integration enables teams to focus on the “value add.”

Continuous Deployment

Manually doing anything is slower and more prone to error than automation. Deployments, testing, data migration, and other routine operations must be automated so overhead drops to a minimum. Here, the goal is to focus on the value-add and not operation constraints.

Real-time Previews

Marketers and content creators need to move swiftly. Being able to see content and page changes in real-time is crucial to facilitating a seamless content creation process.

No Publish Delays

CMS solutions from the previous generation tended to focus on statically rendering content to a production location when published. In-flight changes were only in the preview environments. This model creates significant delays in publishing large quantities of content changes, especially product catalog (PIMS) integrations. It also increases the overhead of the environment infrastructure required to support the system. Both fight against speed and reliability.

Next generation CMS systems on the other hand, use a “content as a service” model with versioning. This creates a content datastore with live and preview versions of documents living side by side. With this newer model, publishing is an instantaneous and server usage is reduced by around half.

2. Insightfulness

A digital marketing platform shouldn’t just allow your marketing team to act. It should enable them to act, with knowledge.

Being insightful means enabling the big decisions through data — the absence of which just leads marketers and their superiors into making decisions based on gut feelings alone.

Here are the hallmarks of an insightful marketing solution:

Analytics

Without analytics, there is no way to know how users are interacting with your system — if at all.

Whether projecting traffic volumes for capacity planning, rolling out new languages and regions, or determining the best device support for your market, you must have the analytical data to make the final call.

A/B Testing

At first, nobody really knows what will resonate with users. The correct approach is to let them tell you through experimentation. With A/B testing, brands can perform continuous optimization to learn about their audiences and increase conversions as a result.

Content Trends Analysis

This is a new capability that not all tools provide.

When content and display are separated, we can categorize content with metadata and tags to describe it. Based on these descriptions, an intelligent system can track how users interact with individual content items and create aggregated reports. This data can be used to create new experiments for optimization.

Trends analysis combined with A/B testing is a real market differentiator. Do people look at museums or parks more on rainy days? We could guess — or we could look at the data and get real numbers.

3. Reliability

Failure is bound to happen, but a strong digital marketing platform should handle it gracefully.

By definition, being reliable means minimizing failure rates. But a solid platform would also prevent failures from cascading into outages or other scenarios that impact customers when things do eventually go wrong.

To find a reliable digital marketing platform, check for the following features:

Automated Testing

Regression testing is one of the single “longest poles” in rapid release cycles.

In order to release frequently with low incidence of errors, automation is the only real solution. With automated testing, deployments that include full testing can be moved between regions rapidly with lower risk than with manual testing.

Monitoring and Alerts

Things will go wrong: whether it’s a server crash, a lack of memory, or something else. Finding out before the system degrades and impacts customers is the goal, as it leads to corrective action that’s proactive — not reactive.

Redundancy

It should go without saying that single-points of failure have to be avoided. Every layer of architecture must be redundant.

4. Flexibility

Out-of-the-box capabilities are important, as is architectural flexibility when it comes to meeting unforeseen needs.

But being flexible means providing tools and playing nice with other tools, too. The objective here is to accomplish current goals and be malleable enough to meet the requirements of future projects. In other words, a strong digital marketing platform needs to be as future-proof as possible.

Here’s how to spot such a platform:

Separation of Content and Display

When content and markup (HTML) are separate items, they can be quickly recombined to create new capabilities with reduced overhead.

On the other hand, if content is hard-coded into a page, it must be copied to other pages which slowly creates large amounts of maintenance overhead to keep everything in sync.

Personalization

Having the flexibility to tailor marketing messages to different audiences is not optional in today’s market — particularly since 75 percent of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a retailer that remembers their name and recommends options based on past purchases.

Without personalization in place, you’re failing to deliver what a growing number of consumers expect by default.

Easy Bulk Content Operations

Over time, CMS systems gather large amounts of content in production. It becomes very costly to maintain a system without the ability to synchronize test regions, perform replication, backup and recovery, or simply having the ability to massage content in bulk over time with new or enhanced metadata.

Powerful Integration Support

The true power of any marketing system lies within its ability to play nice with other software. A strong marketing system should be able to integrate with: identity management systems, SSO, CRM, marketing automation systems, analytics, and other data management systems.

Extensible

Requirements change, vendors go out of business, and new tools emerge every day. In a constantly changing landscape, you need a system you can extend to help future-proof your brand.

Dig Deep to Identify the Best Platform For You

It’s no longer enough for a digital marketing platform to tout itself as fast, reliable, flexible, and insightful. Those words have to mean something deeper, as your marketing platform needs to be something you can count on and something that enables you to deliver a better digital experience.

To gauge that depth, questions like, “How are those attributes manifested?” and “How do those attributes benefit customers on a daily basis?”, need to be asked when evaluating tools and technology to be successful.

No one said it was going to be easy to find the perfect digital marketing solution, but we promise the results will be worth it. We know from experience that there’s a lot of work that goes into researching and implementing a new digital marketing platform, so let us help you make the right move. Whether you’ve already picked your platform and need help implementing or if you’re looking to start fresh, we’re here to help.