As you know I have recently joined SDL and I have been delighted to find a new twist on the business of engagement that I write about on this blog, something we call Pervasive Engagement.

Ah hah! I can already hear the cynics pursing their lips and maybe clicking on the back button as you suspect that I’ve either over done it on a new brand of Kool Aid,  my transformation to the dark side is complete or perhaps here is another vendor trying to carve a new segment – but please hear me out.

I think the monicker ‘pervasive’ is interesting. It’s a difficult word, like the feedback I got when I used refer to persuasive content, that it kinda has a darker side – but content is all around us, it is pervasive, it is the fabric of our increasingly digital lives.

From Merriam-Webster:

Definition of PERVASIVE

: existing in or spreading through every part of something

We’ve struggled to describe this digital engagement thing. Its not ‘web’ exclusively as it covers email, mobile, etc so folks have questioned the WEM acronym, but ‘digital engagement’ doesn’t quite work.

I had an entertaining conversation with Laurence Hart (@piewords) on this subject on Twitter last year after I wrote Web Engagement – The-Emperors New Clothes? – (it’s a shame that search on Twitter is so poor, as I can’t find it) but I recall we were discussing how far down the TCP/IP stack one should go to describe it accurately – if it’s not Web, not Internet…

As I have discussed before, from my perspective I don’t think I can really call what I write about ‘customer engagement’ either as I think that’s a broader discipline as this could include the business of store loyalty cards, product placement in a store, big CRM etc etc.. Whilst it’s true, these are feeds into a digital engagement strategy and of course the folks you are engaging over these digital channels are often customers, but unless you are a 100% online business, it’s just part of the story – and in my mind, it’s a bigger thing than reformed WCM’ers can tackle.

I also think that when you talk about customer engagement, perhaps you are no longer talking about engaging with audiences that may call themselves something different (like citizens) or the subtly of acquiring and nurturing advocates that is beyond the ‘simple’ acquisition and execution of a customer sale. I wonder if when people see marketers use the word ‘customer’ they immediately assume it’s not for them.

I’ve digressed… back to pervasive..

I’ve talked about these different business practices as Russian dolls (in my previous post You say tomato, I say tomato, you say WEM, I say WEM..), in that these things fit within each other. Web experience is a part of web engagement, which in turn is part of the customer experience, that forms customer engagement.

It seems to me that our doll, our pervasive doll, sits around web engagement. It is about a digital multi-touch experience that has both a holistic digital view of the audience, but also a multi-channel execution capability to be wherever they are.

As a content management guy I believe that engagement starts with content and that these multi-touch, multi-purpose requirements will mean we need to deliver on the decade old promise of this industry, the value of good content management and delivery as we move away from the principle business objective of just publishing pages.

As I wrote in Who Will Buy This Web Engagement? :

Yes, yes, we’ve been wanging on about the core competencies of web content management; separation of content from presentation, the componentization of content, understanding the content through metadata, the democratization of content authoring, dynamic delivery etc etc… for a billion years. I really think that publishing to this multi-channel, multi-destination splinternet really brings these needs to light, maybe it flushes out those webpage or website publishing tools from content management.

I apologize for referring to lots of my own posts here, rather than the work of others, but I want to contextualize Pervasive Engagement into what I’ve written before, you know, look like there’s a plan here or something…

This isn’t a new segment, but I think it is worth exploring as it is more than just a different way  to describe web engagement. Perhaps the difference appears subtle and I certainly won’t stop talking about web engagement, but I hope to explore this pervasive idea in more detail in coming posts….

Image of Russian dolls by Rdoke reproduced under creative commons license