How to Consolidate Your Digital Ecosystem

Without a defined strategy in place, many companies end up creating multiple websites on varied platforms or infrastructures as a reaction to short-term business goals or changing consumer needs. These websites tend to fall short on delivering optimal digital experiences to their target audiences and are challenging to maintain.

A unified ecosystem is essential for cross-channel experiences that generate income and interest while strengthening brand loyalty and deepening relationships with multiple stakeholders.

Benefits of Consolidating Your Digital Ecosystem

Value Promotion

A unified experience elevates and promotes the breadth and depth of your products and services. (It’s also easier to manage all your products in a single database.) Marketing campaigns around one brand are simply more effective.

There’s no potential for consumer confusion and no misunderstanding about where to send them, making marketing and promotion much simpler and more straightforward, and you can promote the same value-added services across all customers, touchpoints and locations.


Economies of Scale

Unified commerce connects all customer-facing and back-end processes through a single platform, so your entire business is built on a stable foundation that can adapt and evolve as your needs change.

This saves time and resources by eliminating the need to manage various providers and allowing for the capture of unified data insights across multiple touchpoints. It’s much easier to break into new markets, grow into new channels and integrate emerging technologies, such as mobile wallets or infinite aisles, that help you extend your business across all channels and regions.

Interlinked Content

In essence, website unification combines a collection of disparate websites into a powerful communication tool. With a single experience, content cascades much more quickly within your organization. Authors can be more creative with system tools, quickly creating and publishing on-brand content. Affiliates can keep their content updated or provide content to customer-facing teams to engage consumers through various channels.

An added benefit: Consumers expect transparency and a one-of-a-kind, meaningful relationship with your brand. Consistency in your language and messaging can go a long way toward building lasting consumer trust.


Data Visibility

Unification enables businesses to integrate data from multiple systems into one easy-to-access location, giving them a clearer picture of their customers by eliminating silos. This facilitates informed decision-making and improves efficiency and customer experience as well.

Creating a Cohesive Digital Ecosystem

Bringing all your properties onto a single platform within a single domain is a fairly straightforward task.

You select one system and migrate all websites (and microsites) onto it without any outlying requirements or exceptions. All aspects — technology, data, experience, etc. — are shared and easily managed.

A Step-by-Step Guide:

  • Create Unified Journeys:

    Digital strategists recommend drafting core personas that represent your target consumers (and relevant internal audiences). Each persona has a unique path through the user experience and conversion funnel, but the objective here is to find the similarities and create seamless journeys based upon them.

    If a specific persona has no overlap with the others, it may be necessary to create a distinct area of the site for those unique users.

  • Determine the Dominant Domain: In many cases, the property with the most content and highest SEO authority will be the obvious choice. However, this may not make sense from a brand perspective or may not align with stakeholders’ aims, so the dominant domain will depend on the specific needs and objectives of your organization.

  • Develop a Content & SEO Strategy: The days of ranking websites based on how many times a particular keyword is used are gone — duplicated content can now lead to SEO penalties. Content strategists and information architects must keep this in mind during consolidation to avoid redundancies.

    You’ll want to start with a content assessment across all your sites that includes an inventory and audit of all existing pages. You’ll then conduct a content rationalization exercise to determine whether to keep/remove/merge the existing pages and uncover any gaps that should be filled with new content.

  • Consolidate the Information Architecture: Once you have the universe of content defined, information architects and user experience professionals may conduct interviews, card-sorting exercises and sitemap workshops with stakeholders to inform the new navigational hierarchy. They’ll then design a consolidated view that optimizes the user experience, improves SEO rankings and achieves business goals.

  • Create a Content Migration Strategy: Subject matter experts will go through the process of mapping existing and new content into the consolidated structure. Your technology team can then determine the migration approach: automated, manual or a hybrid of the two.

  • Implement a URL-Redirect Strategy: Ensure that all URLs being sunset redirect to new pages on the dominant domain. This entails reviewing links and developing a 301 and 404 redirect plan. This is also an excellent time to address any URL-related issues, such as broken or dead links.

  • Conduct Governance and Content Management Training: The final step is to craft the updated brand messaging and create a style guide for content and design for everyone to follow. You’ll also want to make sure content authors understand the importance of tagging content appropriately and facilitating cross-linking.

Stakeholder Reluctance (& How to Address it)

Some of your stakeholders may be hesitant to support consolidation. The reasons are varied but they can include:

  • The loss of divisional or business unit (BU) identity.

  • The loss of autonomy or control over decisions.

  • Technical considerations, such as platform requirements or contracts.

  • Legal concerns around a business model that involves franchisees or other third parties.

You can mitigate hesitancy by socializing the concept of consolidation early on, soliciting the opinions of your stakeholders and truly listening to and understanding their concerns. You may need to carefully manage the process and engage various departments, technology partners and creative agencies and make them feel part of the decision-making.

The Bottom Line

Your customers’ expectations are changing at breakneck speed, challenging your company’s ability to meet them, much less exceed them. A unification strategy integrates business and digital initiatives to help you bridge that gap and be prepared to take on the future.