Canada: How Enterprise Portals Help You Manage Digital Messaging And Learn About Your Customers

Last Updated: June 16 2014
Article by Michael Aldor

The problem: Inconsistent, scattered digital messaging

In the current digital landscape, every company is challenged with obtaining consistency in their messaging while understanding the profile of their customers. This is not an easy problem to solve. Your website, industry blogs and message boards, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are all places where your digital messaging may reside.

Let me illustrate the challenge with an example. A client of our technology consulting practice has an independent network of stores / dealers who are very attuned to their local communities. These stores and dealers provide services that meet the needs of their local areas and they have special pricing on products and services their communities need.

The retailers / dealers used independent websites and social media to highlight these specials to their community. The challenge was that messages to the end customer were delivered in a one-off, inconsistent manner. How would the customer know where to get the next special that mattered to them? Would they visit the corporate website? Follow the company on Twitter? Would they get the local special but not the head office specials by visiting the local store's website?
The other challenge with these varying messages was that the marketing department couldn't keep track of how best to engage customers. Single messages on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were delivered independently in a shotgun approach; marketing was unable to learn what was effective nor whether they were reaching the target audience.

The answer: An enterprise portal framework

There is an answer to control this digital content 'wild west'. While not a silver bullet, an enterprise-class portal framework will bring your organization a lot closer to controlling your messaging and learning about your customers. The challenge of executing your digital content strategy will remain, but a portal framework provides the foundation and flexibility to create a custom digital experience for your audience.

So what can an enterprise portal framework do?

An enterprise portal framework combines information from multiple sources and delivers personalized, targeted messaging to the viewer. All enterprise portal frameworks have the following features. Leveraging these capabilities will solve the digital problem outlined above.

Learn more about your end customers
Enterprise portals have sign-in capabilities, allowing customers / stakeholders to register themselves. User registration allows your marketing team to gain more insight into stakeholder segments, including who views the site and when and if messages targeted to certain groups are being looked at by those groups.

Some advanced portal features allow the use of LinkedIn, Google and Facebook logins so that individual customers do not have to create yet another account. Furthermore, your organization can leverage those social media sites to learn about your customers' demographic information and habits.

Leverage content from multiple sources
Have you ever seen a video for a product or service and wondered if it is available at the store location nearest you? A portal can help your organization provide this service. A portal allows integration of multiple streams of content personalized to an audience. Enterprise portals have a concept called portlets. These portlets are built to talk to each other through the portal framework. This enables different content from different digital media to talk to each other and provide an enhanced user experience.

Portlets can, for example, direct a user who finds a video about one of your products on YouTube to your webpage, where they will see local pricing for that product / service and quantity remaining at the store closest to them. The same technology can be used on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social mediums.

What this means is that content from social media and your back-end systems could communicate through the portlets to provide a customer experience that concludes with a call to action and makes the purchase easier.

Allow your local experts to author content
A portal provides web-based content management, content authoring and content review capabilities. This allows your local experts to write messages on your corporate platform with peer / marketing review and approval as necessary.
This also allows your local network to leverage social media and drive customers to the portal. Local personnel input store specials or articles on new products and services for local consumption, special pricing is put in to your back-end systems and local customers are then informed through a targeted social media campaign.

Customers seeing the social media blast are driven to the portal to view more information and some will sign up to receive more information. This will help your marketing team learn more about local areas and trends in different markets. The authoring capabilities also help keep messaging consistent and leverage other features of a portal to provide an enhanced customer experience.

In other words, local authors drive demand while the corporate level data-mines the results to develop future campaigns and offerings to properly segmented markets.

Advanced content security management
Another feature enterprise portals offer is the ability to restrict information based on user profiles. Several of our clients have taken advantage of this by providing special marketing content and pricing to dealers based on region, customer category and role. Securing content can involve very complex combinations and portal frameworks are able to help with these challenges.

A portal is powerful, but you still need a digital content strategy

Enterprise portal frameworks are powerful tools that can help your business manage information and provide a clear message to your customers. Note, however, that these frameworks are only toolkits to enable your organization to better reach your clients. In the end, you need a strategy to best marry portal capabilities with customer and marketing needs in order to reach organizational objectives.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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