Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What Ektron Marketing Optimization Means To Your Bottom Line

Admit it. You often find yourself amazed at what you see during a software demonstration. You’re likely seeing things that you haven’t seen before or in some cases, weren’t aware that doing them was even possible. And while the core web content management (WCM) capabilities are a good place to start and are usually a modest, if not substantial improvement from your current system, it’s when we get into the really cutting edge stuff that your interest is highest.

If you’ve followed my writing for a while, you’ll know that I strongly endorse test driving an application thoroughly before investing in it. It’s really the only way to validate all the things you see in a flashy demo. Selfishly though, we recommend an evaluation because Ektron has a really deep solution and sometimes the things that differentiate us become most apparent when you take time to peel back the layers.

But that aside, every software vendor has a slick demo – without one, we’re dead in the water, right? If we can’t make the product do crazy cool things, how could you expect it to stand up to your unique requirements? And in the case of WCM, often the glitziest portion of the demo revolves around marketing optimization. But, it’s here that you need to exercise the most caution.

But it worked when the guy showed it.

One of the reasons Ektron strongly encourages in-depth software evaluations is so that clients can really understand what it takes to configure the software, customize it, and build with it. What you see in a demonstration may be something that took a few days to build or the result of a team of 10 working round the clock for six months. You’ll never know without digging deeper.

When it comes to marketing optimization, most WCM tools have some flavor of conversion optimization built in. With Ektron, it centers on our Content Targeting and Personalization toolset. These tools allow business users to configure rules and conditions around what content should be displayed given some pre-defined criteria.

For example:
  • If a visitor searches ‘baseball bats’ in Google, when they land on the sporting goods store’s site, Ektron will display a promo for the latest Louisville Sluggers (a major bat manufacturer).
  • If a visitor comes directly from a competitor’s site to yours, Ektron can display a ‘Product Comparison’ matrix so that they can easily find your corresponding product.
  • If a user receives a newsletter from Marketo, Eloqua, or whomever you may use for email marketing, Ektron can personalize content so that even though they’re visiting the same URL as someone that’s just browsing the site, the experience is tailored to them because they arrived from the newsletter.
It’s this kind of personalization that is changing the web (for the better), yet most WCM packages don’t have any level of support for it yet. And the ones that do are typically extremely complex to use. That’s where Ektron stands out.

Ektron’s Content Targeting allows a user to leverage “drag and drop” tools to build a page and configure rules for the different content objects (you can see an example of how this works). Other WCM tools have tuning engines, dials, and other instruments that might look easy to use, but are terribly difficult and time consuming to configure. And that’s why most users that select these other tools, never even end up using those features.

Ok, so how does this help me increase conversions?

Analytics are a great thing. The web is one of the few instances in business where analytics can pretty concretely tell the story. Think about what a conversion costs and what a conversion is worth to you. If you’re like most organizations, a 2% to 4% conversion rate is ideal, but in actuality, you’re likely not even achieving those rates. So let’s say that you’re achieving a 2% conversion rate – what would doubling that mean to your bottom line?

Think about it. If instead of being greeted with the same generic banner on each visit, you were personalizing content based on the context of that user’s visit, isn’t that going to drastically increase their likelihood to venture further into your website? And when they click on the banner and we now know what they searched to find the site, and which URLs they’ve viewed on your site, being able to personalize that experience is going to help increase the potential conversion, won't it? Of course it will.

Take our sporting goods customer example above. On most websites, regardless of how that user finds the site, they’re greeted with a generic banner (or rotating slides or whatever). They have to search the navigation to find the item they’re looking for. Then, they might have to click in a few levels deep to get to the product level, and eventually they’ll get to the product they’re looking for.

With an Ektron built site, you can leverage the information you’re gathering during a user’s visit to constantly personalize the experience specifically for that user. It’s not only going to lead to increased conversions, but it’s going to lead to a better user experience and a happier customer. And because you’ll be able to track these patterns (and pass this data to your CRM), it will help you discover improvements in the overall information architecture that can improve upon the site’s overall usability. Plus, it's really, really easy, and that's what makes Ektron's offering in this area a leader.

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