As a marketer, you know that the primary source of leads is your website. You’ve been successful generating compelling content and optimizing it for SEO. You instrumented your website with marketing automation and lead scoring to gauge visitor and prospect interest. You’ve built highly tuned landing pages and used A/B testing to determine the best combinations of button size, button placement and call-to-action text.

Just as you’re getting ready to give yourself a firm pat on the back, your CMO stops by. She congratulates you for generating opportunities that can be traced back to your marketing programs. And then she assigns you a new project: deploying an online community to increase website engagement with both customers and prospects. Why? To increase loyalty and advocacy marketing amongst your existing customer base; and to increase engagement and accelerate the sales cycle with prospects.

My take: find a tool that helps you enhance your website and your online community simultaneously.  Avoid creating siloes out of your website and online community. two-siloes

As you begin to do your research on possible solutions, here’s what you’ll find:

  • You’ll pay an arm and a leg for the online community software (e.g. from Jive, Lithium, Telligent [now Zimbra] and others).
  • You’ll have to maintain two different systems for managing content and community: your Web Content Management System (CMS) and your new online community solution.
  • You’ll struggle to run marketing campaigns, because you’ll need to coordinate scheduling, promotions and results tracking across two systems.

The market offers best of breed CMS solutions, and separately, best of breed online community solutions. If you want a compelling online presence (via best of breed), you have to buy software from two vendors, install and maintain two disparate systems, maintain two data silos and figure out how to make the user experience similar (forget about “consistent!”).  Sounds easy right? For a marketer, not so much.

Best of breed is hard to integrate.

And it doesn’t end there. Next, you need to do the much harder job of figuring out how to integrate them on the back-end and integrate each of them into other systems you manage (e.g. CRM).

Is it possible to do the above? Sure, anything is possible with unlimited time, unlimited budget and infinite patience. You can integrate two disparate software systems from two different vendors and make them visually similar. You can also put lipstick on a pig.

So the question becomes – why do that?

Let me explain with an analogy…

When you go to a supermarket today, do you go to one building to shop and another building to talk to employees and other customers? Are stores built that way? Do we have “integration passageways” for customers to go in and out of each building? (Beam me up, Scotty.)

Of course not.

Why shouldn’t an organization have a single, fully integrated software system that helps them manage both content and communities online? Why shouldn’t a company offer their customers a fully integrated online experience, reflective of an in-person retail experience? Why shouldn’t a company be able to manage their content and community in a singular, holistic and effective manner?

Well, you should.  And you can.

There are tools available to you designed with a single, fully integrated software system that will help you manage both your website and online communities.  So my final question is – why not explore that possibility?

Final Answer- You should.