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Nov 20, 2019

CMS Debt Series: 5 Signs Your CMS is Causing Astronomical Opportunity Cost

Welcome—or welcome back!—to Contentstack’s three-part series on CMS debt. In this series, we’re breaking down all the ways that doing business with the wrong CMS can have a detrimental impact on your success. In this installment, we’re going to examine the opportunities that companies miss out on when they’re stuck with an outdated or rigid traditional CMS that limits their ability to take advantage of new opportunities and compete in a quickly-evolving market.5 Signs Your CMS is Costing You Big Business Opportunities “Opportunity cost” is the phrase used to represent the benefits that are lost when a business chooses to integrate technology that doesn’t end up meeting their unique needs. Because it isn’t a cost that’s immediately tied to money, opportunity cost isn’t accounted for in financial reports. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t very real and that plenty of businesses are struggling under its strain. As the heart of the customer experience, content is one of your most important business assets. And as the “hub” that ties all of these assets together, your content management system (CMS) plays a vital role in determining which opportunities you will and won’t be able to pursue. Keep reading to learn about the signs you should look out for to determine whether your CMS is empowering or limiting your business success—and what to do if it’s the latter. It’s Near Impossible to Keep Up to Date Like plenty of other software platforms, traditional, monolithic CMSes (yes, there are several types of CMS—which we’ll get to soon!) are often purpose-built and can be cumbersome to change. This is unfortunate because the businesses that use them must change. Whether you need to make a branding update, add new pages, expand a product line, or implement a full facelift courtesy of a merger—the CMS upon which your website is built should be agile enough to make these changes easily. If difficulty making these and other relatively simple changes is holding you back from taking advantage of partnerships and cutting-edge campaigns, it’s time for a CMS upgrade.IT Has to Get Involved in Every Little Thing Modern CMS tools empower marketers to manage their content without technical intervention. Not-so-modern CMS tools force marketers to rely on IT any time they need to make any little content update. The result is costly downtime, (understandable) frustration for both parties, and the inability to move with agility even when an exciting new opportunity arises. Your Security Alarms are Constantly Going Off If your IT team is spending more time maintaining than innovating, your business has already suffered from a cyberattack, or your CMS vendor is no longer supporting the software you’re using—updating your CMS needs to become your top priority before your system goes down or gets taken down. There’s nothing like going offline unexpectedly to force you to miss out on new opportunities and get dropped from existing ones!You’re Using Multiple Tools to Manage Your Content Are your essential content assets scattered among several platforms? How many tools are you using to get your content created, optimized, designed, and distributed to all the right channels? How many tools do you wish you were using instead? Your CMS platform should serve as a single source of truth from which to manage all your content assets from creation through distribution and effectively wield them to take advantage of new business opportunities. There’s No Functionality for Personalization or Distributing Across Channels Speaking of effectively using content assets—are you able to deliver relevant content that speaks to various audiences on each of their preferred channels? If you didn’t even know that was possible, chances are you’re using a monolithic CMS that isn’t equipped to help you meet modern consumer demands. By 2030—which is alarmingly soon in business years—each person is expected to use as many as 15 different internet-enabled devices every day. And, these omniplatform and omnichannel consumers expect to experience relevant content everywhere. Even today, nearly 80 percent of consumers only engage with brands that provide personalized offers. On the upside, 78 percent of shoppers do say relevant content makes them more likely to complete a purchase! If you continue to work with a CMS that doesn’t empower you to create and distribute relevant content everywhere your audience is, the cost of missed opportunities is going to become astronomical in the coming years. So, did any of those signs seem familiar to you? If so, and if you don’t make an effort to move on to a better CMS soon, your outdated tech is going to “help” you rack up astronomical costs in missed opportunities. The Opportunity Cost of Sticking With the Wrong CMS While the cost of lost opportunities might not be as obvious or easy to track as traditional financial expenditures, there’s no doubt that it can harm your business. These are some of the opportunities that your legacy CMS could be causing you to miss out on: The opportunity to create, optimize, and distribute omnichannel experiences that speak to a whole new generation of consumersThe opportunity to deliver the personalization that consumers craveThe opportunity to develop a productive workplace culture that attracts and retains top talentThe opportunity to beat your competitors to market, win a significant share, and establish yourself as a leader in your industryThe opportunity to save a ton on salary dollars and prevent fines when it comes to CMS security and maintenanceThe opportunity to develop a reputation as a “first-mover” by deploying your apps and content on emerging platforms What are “pacesetters” doing to take back these opportunities? They’re ditching their monolithic content management platforms for headless CMS. Adopt Headless CMS to Save on Opportunity Costs While replacing your CMS certainly comes with its costs—so do missed opportunities. With the former, if you do it right, you pay for it once, and it’s over. With the latter, you keep losing money on those missed opportunities every single day you choose to ignore your aging technology. If you’re ready to save some money on maintenance and make money from new audiences and opportunities, here’s what you need to know. Traditional, monolithic CMSes (think WordPress and Squarespace) were the original content management and delivery tools. They use an all-in-one, or “coupled,” system with a singular codebase that pulls in everything needed to manage and publish content to a website. But when digital experiences developed beyond websites to multiple channels and devices, new technology was created to keep up: the headless CMS. A headless CMS “decouples” all the technology that goes into managing content. Instead, all the tools it takes to create, store, optimize, and distribute content are held together using application programming interfaces (APIs). This modular architecture allows for the content to be created once then re-optimized and re-distributed in the way that’s most relevant to the channel and audience. (For a more comprehensive look at the different types of CMS, download a free copy of the Ultimate Guide to CMS Vol. 2: Content Management Systems Pros and Cons here.)  Contentstack’s headless CMS is uniquely positioned to help your company overcome all five signs of missed business opportunities: It’s user-friendly enough for anyone to keep up-to-date, we strive to ensure that marketing folks can perform all their important content tasks free from IT intervention, our security authentications are enterprise-grade, our stream-lined features empower you to keep all your content assets safe on one platform, and our Experience Extensions enable you to take advantage of best-in-class integrations including CRM platforms, localization services, AI tools, A/B testing applications, personalization engines, and more. Avoid the astronomical opportunity cost of working with the wrong CMS altogether with our tips on selecting the right CMS—or jump right in and see the right CMS at work when you take Contentstack for a test drive today.

Nov 13, 2019

How Content Localization Can Benefit Your Company in a Global Market

You’ve played telephone, right? One person comes up with a phrase, whispers it to the next person, that person whispers it to the next person, and so on. In the end, the phrase has gone through so many iterations that it often no longer resembles the original phrase. Content translation presents similar challenges. Simply translating words to a new language fails to consider the different contexts and cultures, and continued translation can result in content that no longer resembles the original content. Content localization, on the other hand, is an extension of content personalization. It includes translation, but also adjusting content to the culture of the new target audience to create value for them. Let’s explore how content localization extends beyond translation to drive engagement with a global audience. What’s The Difference Between Localization and Translation? Translation is the process of changing a piece of content from one language (the source language) to another language (the target language). For example, if a company creates an English resource guide, they might translate it into Spanish when the company expands to Spain, and then again into Italian when they target an Italian market. This approach can shift the message of the content and introduce errors and cultural faux pas. Translation alone does not consider cultural differences. Content translated to Spanish for Spain won’t have the unique syntax needed for Argentinian Spanish. Content localization, on the other hand, would create stand-alone content that is technically correct and adapted to the differences in culture, search marketing practices, and legal requirements between the two markets. Content Localization Goes Beyond Translation Content localization creates content that is specifically designed for a market by working with local consultants and marketers. To continue our Spanish example, that would mean local experts would provide different content for Mexico and Spain. Even though these countries both use Spanish as their national language; slang, syntax, and cultural differences remain. To be successful in selling to a foreign market, brands must overcome more than just language barriers. They must create a customized message, which might include adjusting the following aspects: Colors and Font: Content localization considers preferences in colors and fonts for a different audience. For example, in China, white is considered unlucky in some instances. Presenting a person’s name in red font in Korea in the past indicated the person is deceased, or if they were still living that you wish harm to come to them.Content Layout: Many factors impact layout. Some languages require more or less space, text may be read left to right or right to left, or the audience may prefer mobile devices. Content localization considers these differences and creates a format that appeals to the audience.Images and Visuals: Images and visuals should be changed to appeal to a new target market and location. You wouldn't use pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge on a website targeting London locals, for example. Currencies and Measurement Units: Content localization includes changing currency, product descriptions, directions, and any other content that uses currency or measurement to reflect the preferred format of the new market. It may also include raising or lowering the price point based on the new target audience. Laws and Regulations: Different locations require companies to meet varying regulations. For example, a U.S.-based company would need to adhere to the GDPR when addressing the EU market. Marketing Practices: Effective strategies and competition vary by market. Localizing content may also include adjusting target key terms, link building strategies, and lead generation techniques. Content localization also addresses the differences in content architecture between locations, including different buyer persona and popular content formats. Why Does Content Localization Matter? Consider this scenario: Your company is hosting two conferences about high-end dining—one in Chicago and one in New York. Your company creates a landing page, brochures, Facebook event, and a visiting guide for each city. The language wouldn't change at all in this example; however, you wouldn't use the same images and content, right? The speakers might cover different topics, and the conference held in different locations. In Chicago, green might be a fine color choice, but in New York, green could be associated with the New York Jets football team. You would use Chicago pictures for the Chicago conference, and New York pictures for the New York event. Additionally, your recommended restaurants and directions to the conference location would be different, as would the online strategy you use to sell tickets. This example highlights the difference content localization can make when it comes to creating content—even when it’s not overseas. Other big business benefits of content localization include the following:Overcomes Culture Barriers To successfully market to a global audience, brands must adjust their marketing message and, in some cases, even their product name, to a new market. Coca-Cola, for example, is called “kekou kele” in China—which translates to "delicious happiness." Their Chinese marketing strategy included handing out chopsticks and balloons to market the new product. Today, China is the third-largest market for Coca-Cola, selling more than 140 million sodas every day. Successful global marketing strategy requires adjusting to local cultural norms and creating content and branding that makes locals feel as if the content was created especially for them—because it is! Increases Sales When it comes to deciding where to spend their money, consumers are far more likely to spend money with brands that speak their language. Over half of consumers said that the ability to find information in their native language is more important than cost. In addition to language, preferences also vary by geographical location. Localization is designed to identify these preferences, then create content that caters to these differences. For example, Italian users tend to prefer a more casual online approach, so localizing content for Italy might include changing the tone and adding humor. Localized content is effective at increasing sales because it addresses not just language needs, but also different marketing practices and preferences that appeal to diverse audiences. Builds Brand Loyalty Consumers are loyal to the brands they trust and feel a connection with. By creating localized content, you are showing a new market that you understand who they are and what they need. This translates to a higher level of brand loyalty, which makes customers less likely to churn. A lower churn rate results in a decrease in marketing spend and an increase in the lifetime value of your customers. Increases Brand Integrity Brand integrity is how consumers perceive your brand based on your content, marketing strategies, and even product packaging. When it comes to content localization, brand integrity can get lost in translation. In 1987, Braniff Airlines created a campaign to highlight its leather airline seats. An issue arose when that campaign was translated and played on the airwaves in Mexico. The original ad encouraged users to fly "in leather," which sounds nearly identical to "naked" in Spanish. Localization goes beyond translation to look for conflicts or hidden meanings to help brands avoid faux pas and maintain brand integrity across global markets. Reduces Customer Support Costs When customers can easily locate the information they need in a format and language they understand, they are less likely to require the help of your support team. For example, if an Italian user can find a troubleshooting guide for your product in Italian, they may be able to solve their problems faster, which reduces frustration and prevents a call to your support team. Content Localization Success: Support Your Content and Your Team With the Right Technology The most significant challenge companies face when approaching content localization is the sheer size of the project. It can feel overwhelming, which results in many companies choosing to translate content and call it a day. The issue is, as explained above, merely translating content is not enough to effectively target and convert a global audience. Instead, companies should look for a technological solution that makes it easier to manage the content localization process and reduces frustration. Contentstack is an omnichannel-ready, headless CMS that offers sophisticated multilingual and localization capabilities. These features allow your brand to create and publish entries in any language and cater to a wide variety of audiences by serving content in their local language. Advanced marketing features also make collaboration far easier with approval workflows, image management, and versioning and rollback capabilities. Learn from a Brand that's Mastered the Art of Localized Content at Scale  Freeletics, an AI-based fitness and lifestyle coaching app, cut production time for their localized content by 80%. Learn how in our upcoming fireside chat.

Nov 06, 2019

Omnichannel Retail: 6 Technologies to Transform Your Strategy

For anyone who’s been paying attention, it’s pretty clear that the future of retail and ecommerce (and pretty much every other industry) in the enterprise space lies in delivering seamless, relevant omnichannel consumer experiences. That means that brands with offline retail and online ecommerce lines of business need to expand and converge their efforts to deliver the kind of modern shopping flow that consumers expect. For many business leaders and their (often) already-overworked marketing teams, just considering this shift is enough to make them yearn for simpler times. But don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all today—and you don’t have to do it all alone. The following explains why you should care about omnichannel retail, why now is a great time to start taking action, and the emerging technology that smart omnichannel retailers are implementing to build a seamless online-to-in-store shopping experience for current and future consumers. What Omnichannel Retail Means and Why Now Is the Perfect Time to Dive In As opposed to multichannel retail, in which consumers have more than one channel that they can use to shop with a brand, omnichannel retail uses technology to tie all of these channels together to “ …create a unified shopping experience across every single device and channel that a consumer uses to interact with their business.” The main goal of omnichannel retail is to provide the consumer with a seamless and continuous flow at every touchpoint with which they interact when they’re researching or making a purchase from your business. And, it’s important to note that omnichannel retail includes both online (think smart devices and social media channels) and offline channels (think brick-and-mortar stores). A quick example of a retailer who’s blurring the lines between the in-store and ecommerce experiences with their omnichannel strategy is Target. When a shopper logs into the Target mobile app and confirms their location, they see in-store inventory in real-time at their closest store. Then, the consumer can order their items via app to be picked up in-store later the same day. This experience makes the purchasing process modern and quick (which makes the customer happy!). It cuts out much of the friction and personpower that was previously required to make a sale (which makes the retailer happy!). Sounds impressive, right? We hoped you’d think so*—because omnichannel retail is practically a requirement for brands that want to keep up these days. Today, the average digital consumer already has five profiles across various online channels. And, 90 percent of these consumers expect consistent interactions across every channel on which they interact with businesses. Don’t think channel-switching happens often enough for retailers to worry about? Tell that to the 86 percent of digital consumers who switch between at least two different channels in the course of a purchase! These omnichannel shoppers spend an average of 4 percent more on every in-store shopping trip and 10 percent more online! When compared to single-channel shoppers, omnichannel shoppers visit their favorite retailers’ shops 23 percent more often, have a 30 percent higher lifetime value and are more likely to recommend a retailer to friends and family. Despite all this, a report by Salesforce tells us that 55 percent of shoppers still find their retail experience disjointed when they switch to new channels. It certainly doesn’t help that only 22 percent of North American retailers consider omnichannel retail strategy a priority. There is a significant disconnect between today’s shoppers and the businesses from which they shop—which can work in your favor. Keep reading to learn about the tech and tools you need to know about to blur the lines between in-store and ecommerce and provide the omnichannel retail experience consumers crave. Emerging Technology That’s Powering Omnichannel Retail These are some of the most groundbreaking technologies on the market in 2019, how they’re shaping retail and ecommerce, and how you can shape them to deliver your ideal omnichannel retail experience.IoT-Connected Devices Empower Omnichannel Shopping Household smart devices, smartwatches, phones, and wearables—the number of IoT-connected devices (the internet of things is the web of smart devices that connect to the internet and each other) consumers can use to interact with ecommerce channels only continues to grow. Some sources estimate that the average person will own and use at least 15 connected devices by the year 2030! And thanks to some of the other technological advancements that we’re about to discuss—chatbots, augmented reality, and more—the variety of internet-enabled devices may never stop multiplying and evolving. It is crucial to stay competitive and relevant; businesses need to have an omnichannel strategy that enables them to present personalized marketing and product content on established, new, and emerging IoT devices and platforms. Lucky for you, we’ll delve into the tools you need to build and implement that kind of strategy just a little later in this article. Roboticized Customer Service There is no danger here, Will Robinson! Whereas robots were once a figment of creative imaginations, it’s thought that as soon as 2020, robots—specifically chatbots—may handle 85 percent of customer interactions and require almost no input from a human agent. For brands with ecommerce outlets, chatbots are a vital omnichannel tool for delivering personalized, on-demand customer service that’s available 24/7. Oracle found that 80 percent of entrepreneurs are already using or planning to install a customer service chatbot on their website. Will you?Augmented Reality Unites Physical and Digital Shopping Augmented reality (AR) technology enables a shopper to use the camera on their smart device to superimpose digital elements onto their physical surroundings. Popular retailers who are taking advantage of IoT as well as AR to blur the line between physical and digital shopping experiences are IKEA and Converse. IKEA empowers consumers to visualize how their products fit into their lives by enabling shoppers to use their smartphones to virtually place furniture in their homes. Then there’s Converse, whose smartphone app helps shoppers virtually try on shoes—and even share those AR-enhanced images on social media! AR is a big business in the retail space—and there are plenty of tools out there (IKEA uses ARKit, for example) for any brand that wants to get in on the action. In-Store, Digital Payment Options Offering digital payment options in physical locations is one of the most persuasive examples of how omnichannel retailers can blur the lines between in-store and ecommerce experiences. Plus, with all the options on the market, it’s pretty easy to get started! From Google Pay to Apple Pay to Samsung Pay—it seems like pretty much every large technology manufacturer is equipping their smart devices with cardless, contactless payment options. By 2021, these “proximity mobile payments” are expected to generate $190 billion in transaction value in the U.S. And, according to professionals in the industry, this type of payment is going to lead the pack of digital payment options.Recommendation Engines Personalize the Shopping Experience It’s no secret that one of today’s most prominent ecommerce outlets, you guessed it—Amazon!, grew to its size thanks in part to its ability to keep consumers coming back for more. How do they do it? By using recommendation engines. Recommendation engines use algorithms, A/B testing, and sometimes artificial intelligence-powered machine learning to predict and recommend products a shopper may like based on what they’ve purchased in the past or what a similar shopper has purchased. And, really smart businesses may even up the ante by plugging in data like what consumers looked at and purchased in-store. Recommendation engines are what suggest related items to you on ecommerce websites like Amazon, Best Buy, and thousands of others as well keep viewers engaged for video after video on YouTube. Recommendation engines help businesses provide one-to-one, or personalized, marketing on a large scale. This type of personalization is a must-have in an era when 78 percent of shoppers are more likely to make a purchase when the brand provides relevant content. Impressively, 50 percent would pay more for a product if they experienced personalization while they were shopping, and 64 percent would recommend a brand that delivered relevant content. Headless Content Management Enables Omnichannel Retail Marketing at Scale The last-but-not-least piece of omnichannel retail technology on our list is the headless content management system (CMS). If you aren’t familiar, headless CMS is the latest development in a long and rich history of content management. Its core functionality is to allow businesses to integrate content as well as pretty much every content management tool imaginable via an application programming interface (API). This revolutionary separation of content creation from how it’s designed, stored, optimized, and eventually displayed means content can be quickly rearranged and reused on any device, any channel, and at any time. Headless CMS empowers marketers to take charge of content management while developers get the flexibility they need to use any technology to craft any user experience based on the consumer channel. In our opinion, headless is a natural and groundbreaking innovation on the traditional, monolithic CMS whose core purpose is to deliver content to a single, static, highly-styled website. From a retail and ecommerce marketing perspective, one of the best things about headless CMS is how easy it makes achieving actual omnichannel content creation, optimization, and distribution at scale from a single, reliable platform. And there’s one headless CMS on the market that doesn’t just have industry-leading content collaboration and editing tools but also provides a unique interface that allows users to take advantage of best-in-class integrations. Contentstack has been called “…the industry's most powerful integrations framework to create unprecedented digital experiences” thanks to its ability to seamlessly integrate customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, translation services, AI tools, A/B testing applications, analytics parsing, personalization engines, and almost anything else that the future of enterprise content requires. Whether your omnichannel retail marketing efforts include websites, smartphones, software platforms, automobile interfaces, VR headsets, voice-activated devices, Jumbotrons, or anything else—Contentstack’s specific capabilities make it an important technology that businesses can adopt if they want to blur the line between online, in-app, and in-store experiences. To find out why Aragon Research named Contentstack one of the hottest vendors in experience management, read their report here for free. To see it in action for yourself, take Contentstack for a test drive today.

Oct 30, 2019

The Marketer’s Guide to CDNs, Site Speed, and Customer Experience

In the age of complex website infrastructure, cross-channel integrations, and a nearly infinite number of services, plugins, and scripts, websites are not the simple pages and links that they used to be. Whatever happened to when a website was just good ol’ HTML? All of the tech jargon alone can make a marketer’s eyes go crossed. But, content delivery networks (CDNs) are one piece of technology that’s worth marketers’ time and attention. While they play a background role as part of your technical infrastructure, it’s worth noting that CDNs that serve content to users are a pretty important element of the marketing tech stack. Marketers have more and more reason to be thinking about how content is being delivered to website visitors—and how quickly it’s being served. That’s because consumer expectations are shifting. Increasingly, website visitors demand near-instant loading, quick page rendering, and interactivity. Before we get into what CDNs are and how they work, let’s start with a bit of data on why marketers—and not just the technical team—should care about site speed. Speed Matters: Why Marketers Should Care About Load Time The average consumer has a dwindling attention span. Maybe nowhere is that more apparent than in the lack of patience by visitors waiting for websites to load. According to data collected by Google, over 50% of mobile users leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. That’s right; they won’t give you 30 seconds—not even 10 seconds. Users only give your website to the count of 3 to make its appearance. Other studies have found that for each additional second that it takes your website to load, the website saw a decrease in conversions by a whopping 7%. In addition to that, Google’s search algorithm actually favors websites that load more quickly. Ipso facto, if your site is loading at a turtle’s pace, it can impact your organic search rankings and make it more difficult for customers to find your site at all. So, here’s what that means for marketers. First of all, site speed could literally make or break your entire business. If your site loads too slowly, it could show up on page 2, 3, or even 10 of the Google search results rather than on page 1. That’s no-man’s land in the world of SEO. It’s like your business practically doesn’t even exist. Site speed isn’t a nice-to-have feature that makes you feel good or marginally improves your user experience. It’s a critical component to your business success, and you only have a few seconds to get it right or possibly lose a huge swath of your customers. That also means that marketers can no longer sit on the sidelines when it comes to site speed. It’s not a “technical thing” only for the engineers. It’s as essential as nearly every other element of the customer experience. As a marketer, if you care about customer experience, you should care about website speed.How CDNs Can Improve Your Site’s Speed Luckily, there is a not-too-technical way for firms to invest in improving their site speed. It’s the Content Delivery Network or CDN. This piece of technology allows your website to load more quickly for users around the world and improves the load time of sizable assets that can bog down a page, like videos and images. In a nutshell, a CDN is a third-party service that caches (stores) and delivers files to your visitors faster than they would typically load. In an example laid out by Cloudflare, this could reduce load time by up to 66%. The primary way that a CDN works is by simply storing and delivering the files and assets from a server that is physically closer to the user. So, if your website is hosted in Seattle and a visitor is in Miami, their browser can fetch some parts of the site from the main server and some of the larger files (like images and video) from a CDN location that’s closer—say, in Atlanta. The net-net of this exchange is that the user’s device receives the content more quickly. And that means that your website loads more quickly, which means that you reduce the chances that you bore visitors, and they click away. CDNs are built for speed, but they also offer some other benefits, too.Four More Key Benefits of Using a CDN Faster site speed is the most often cited reason for implementing a CDN. But it’s not just about snappy response time on your web pages. It’s also about the follow-on effects that come with improved load speeds. Many benefits that come from deploying a CDN beyond just fewer second spent twiddling thumbs.1. Better SEO Faster load speed doesn’t just affect the ability of users to navigate your website. It can also impact their ability to find your company and content in the first place. In recent years, Google has made it known that page load speed is a ranking factor used in their search algorithm. What this means is that websites that load faster will, on average, rank higher in search results than those that load more slowly. For all of the reasons we’ve already covered, Google knows that faster-loading pages deliver a better experience to their users. And, as such, they now favor speedy websites over slower ones. In other words, you could rank lower and lose traffic without a CDN. The improvement in website load speed could have a direct impact on revenue. 2. Improved User Experience At the most basic level, the reason why CDNs exist—and the main benefit that they provide—is improved user experience. As mentioned previously, users demand sites and apps that load faster than ever. As such, the experience as a whole is largely marked by your company’s ability to deliver on that expectation.3. Heightened Website Security One of the often-overlooked benefits of using a CDN is that they also improve the security of your website. While the core functionality of the CDN is not necessarily security-related, many CDN providers and overlay networks offer security-enhanced features that can detect malicious bot attacks, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attempts, and other types of nefarious activity. 4. Improved Website Reliability Depending on your website hosting infrastructure, serving resource-heavy assets like videos and images can put a drain on your server’s resources. In some cases, it can slow down the entire site, lead to your site’s load speed being throttled, or even lead to the server crashing or your website becoming entirely unresponsive and unavailable. Especially if your website has the potential to review a significant spike in traffic, the extra stress can take your whole website offline. CDNs help reduce the resources needed to keep your website up and running by offloading the largest files and stabilizing the demand on the server during peak requests.How to Know if Your Site Needs a CDN First and foremost, you should check to see if your website is already using a CDN. Depending on your technology stack, you may have a CDN configured and not even realize it. Do a simple test: Check your website’s speed. This free tool from Pingdom gives you an analysis of how quickly your page loads along with some specific suggestions for how to improve your site’s speed overall. It also tells you if your website is not using a CDN and recommend that you implement* one. If your website is not performing at peak speeds and you’re not already using a CDN, then you should likely look into implementing one. It’s a reasonably simple way to dramatically improve your website’s performance (compared to other changes) and shouldn’t be an enormous technical lift for your engineering team. This is a significant first step, but even if your website isn’t sluggish right now, a CDN could also help you prepare for future growth or better manage surges of traffic that might threaten your business. CDNs are especially crucial for websites that fit certain criteria: Heavy use of images, scripts, or videosWebsite prone to spikes in trafficTraffic from around the worldRapid (expected or actual) growth If any of these cases describe your website, then a CDN is likely a smart and worthwhile investment to improve your site’s performance and customer experience. So, how do you get one of these things hooked up?Implementing a CDN The first thing you should know is that, as a marketer, implementing a CDN should not impact your day-to-day work in any way. You should be able to upload files, add them to pages, and make content changes as needed. All of the heavy lifting of a CDN occurs behind the scenes and only impacts how files are stored and retrieved across the net. Once they’re set up and working, you shouldn’t need to do anything different or alter your workflow to reap the benefits of a faster and more reliable website. CDNs are technical and they intertwine with many components of your website’s infrastructure, including your CMS. This means that the implementation likely needs to be handled by the team that manages your website’s hosting and configuration. If you use a Content as a Service (CaaS) platform like Contentstack, taking advantage of the CDN comes standard. No setup or administration that needs to happen. If you’re using another hosted CMS or on-premise solution to manage your website, then your site admins need to follow a few steps to get one up and running:Find and select and CDN vendor (Contentstack uses Fastly)Create a subdomain for your CDN (e.g., cdn.contentstack.com)Create a CNAME record that directs your subdomain to your CDN domainSetup push and pull zones for the filesUpdate your website to reference the cached resources It might sound complicated, but it’s not a difficult process. Your tech team could be up and running with a CDN with a few hours of work. While it’s not an instant fix, the CDN investment is well worth it for companies that want to scale effortlessly, improve their website’s speed, and make strides in their overall customer experience. Remember, speed matters—especially to your bottom line. Contentstack seamlessly connects your content with a CDN. Contact us to set up a free test drive and see how easy it is to reap the speed benefits of a CDN with Contentstack.

Oct 23, 2019

How Marketing Will Be Transformed by Connected Devices in the Next 10 Years

From 170 billion to $561 billion in roughly 3 years, that’s the expected growth for the Internet of Things (IoT) market. With the average person expected to own and use at least 15 connected devices by 2030, it’s clear that businesses need to be taking the IoT revolution seriously.From digital assistants and in-home electric car chargers to “hearables” (in-ear-devices) and smart appliances—IoT is a tantalizingly attractive market for businesses looking to make their mark. The research backs up that point: KPMG surveyed 750 tech leaders who said that IoT is driving the most significant business transformation in the next three years.With worldwide spending on IoT expected to reach $1.2 trillion in 2022, both business investment and consumer-driven spending on IoT are growing in parallel.The way organizations do business with each other is radically transforming through the expanded use of B2B IoT devices. Sparklabs has predicted an increase from 2.5 billion connections in 2017 to 5.4 billion connected devices in 2020. Wearables, in particular, are set for rapid growth.The opportunities are out there. You’ll want your business to be a part of that.Here’s a bit more on how IoT is changing the game in marketing and how your business can proactively prepare for the next phase of the IoT takeover.How the IoT Will Revolutionize MarketingA Gamechanger For ContentOne of the most significant shifts involves content.The role that content plays in business success is growing much larger.Companies are going to move away from “containerized” content for specific platforms. Headless, API-first content management systems are fast becoming critical for empowering marketing across an array of devices, platforms, channels, and even forms of technology that have yet to be invented.The IoT allows for content presentation in new and exciting ways. From AI-powered chatbots to voice-activated devices used as essential search tools, the ways of delivering content is becoming much more varied and diffuse. Content is going to be able to serve various functions across multiple situations, which means that marketers are going to need to revise how they target searches.More companies are going to move away from bulky, traditional content management systems and move towards headless CMS solutions that allow them to create content once and publish it anywhere. In the era of the IoT, content managers need the ability to quickly adjust content and deliver consistent experiences from apps and connected devices to websites and voice assistants.As content evolves on connected devices, contextual targeting will be key. Content marketers and business users often struggle with delivering relevant content to customers at the precise right time. Over time, customers develop an even lower level of acceptance for irrelevant content. This means that marketers have to leverage data and all other tools at their disposal to place the perfect piece of content in front of customers moving forward.Big Data Bleeds into Products, Marketing, and MoreTo stay competitive, companies are compelled to use their data to understand their customers better while developing and marketing products to serve them. Inside a company’s marketing operations, data can empower CMOs to understand and automate internal systems to optimize efficiency and output.With data as the currency of the market, businesses are sure to look for ways to cash in.All content marketers need to learn how to process, analyze, and interpret data to apply it to their content. Expertise in data and analytics may be a required skill for content marketers in the future. Marketers should also make sure they have the necessary analytic tools to interpret data. While marketers upskill and expand their capabilities, we’ll likely see more data scientists join marketing teams to harness the IoT’s potential.Success is going to follow third-party providers that can effectively analyze, manage, and protect data in the market while supporting companies looking for that special edge with data-driven insights. These high-tech platforms need to receive, interpret, and act on massive amounts of data at scale while producing insights in real-time. AI-driven marketing tools accelerate the trend here in a big way.The drive for more personalized devices that are smarter (through the deft use of data) is going to be a major guidepost for companies in the IoT age.Leveraging Predictive Customer SupportCompanies need to find ways to engage customers directly and reduce costly support backlogs.In other words, if businesses can enhance the customer buying experience (and perhaps increase sales revenue) by proactively assisting customers, they’re going to do it.Take a customer that cannot decide between two products. A virtual assistant swoops in to help them decide based on personalized data about their previous purchases and social media profiles. Perhaps the assistant even suggests another product to pair with the item.That’s the future we’re heading towards when it comes to customer support.Businesses need the resources to scale their support infrastructure by establishing AI-enabled customer support that can predict what a customer needs before they know themselves. This creates a fascinating nexus between customer support and marketing.Both marketing and support are now working together, armed with more insights than ever about how products are performing after connecting to customers’ homes and other devices. Companies can take the initiative to start a support interaction based on what they see and even suggest complementary products to support customers further.The big change for marketers is that they need to be able to offer personalized and timely messages to consumers that sync with their particular needs at any given moment. With heightened capabilities like this, companies need to keep in mind greater scrutiny over privacy and security that comes along with how this data and connectivity are utilized.How to Ensure Your CMO Is Using the IoT EffectivelyIf your marketing operations aren’t prepared to harness the power of the IoT, it is going to be a struggle to stay effective.The conversation around the IoT tends to focus on things like stoplights, cargo ships, and heart monitors. At the same time, the artificial intelligence used in those applications can also track abandoned shopping carts, unopened emails, page views, customer purchases, and much more.The big question for CMOs looking to embrace the IoT is simple: How do we leverage that data in the most effective ways? To answer that question, CMOs must do a few things to stay at the forefront of the IoT revolution.First, they must be data proficient by identifying which information is critical to their marketing operations and how they’ll gain insights from it regularly. Second, CMOs should be able to curate content in an omnichannel world. Third, CMOs must leverage data and content to keep up with transformation and stay ahead of the market.A headless CMS like Contentstack is a great tool to accomplish these goals for any CMO or company looking to keep pace with the growing Internet of Things. Future-proof your marketing by creating structured, omnichannel content and give Contentstack a try for free today.

Oct 09, 2019

CMS Debt Series: The High Cost of Choosing the Wrong CMS

Welcome to Contentstack’s three-part series on CMS debt, where we'll unpack the different ways that choosing—and continuing to use—the wrong CMS can have costly and detrimental consequences for businesses. In this first installment, we’re going to explore the upfront and incidental costs associated with choosing the wrong CMS only to have to re-platform later as well as five steps to avoid that mistake in the first place. The High Cost of Replacing Your CMS The cost of choosing—and eventually having to replace—the wrong business technology is high. When it comes to a content management system (CMS), the expense is even higher as digital transformation makes omnichannel, personalized content practically a requirement for growth. Here are both the upfront as well as the incidental costs you can expect to experience if you find yourself needing to replace a CMS that never fit neither your current nor your changing business needs. (And if you’re looking for a little hope, keep reading to learn how to avoid getting yourself into this costly situation in the first place.) Irrevocably Damaging Your SEO Ranking Search engine optimization (SEO) is an organic and often affordable way for brands to engage consumers who are looking for information related to their products or services. And it all revolves around content. With a CMS that isn’t well equipped to create or optimize content, it’ll be hard to establish strong SEO in the first place. However, changing established URLs, removing meta tags, and deleting and rearranging content when it comes time to switch your CMS can kill your SEO traffic and overall ranking. Plus, the longer your content lives on both the new and old platforms, the more likely you are to get dinged by search engines for “duplicate content.” If a critical element of your marketing program is search engine optimization, you could be in for a shocking blow to your SEO ranking when you move to a new platform. Losing Valuable Content During Migration As the center of the omnichannel experience, content is vital for most marketing programs. That’s why it’s no wonder that so many marketing teams—and businesses as a whole—put off adopting the best technology in fear of losing any of that content during migration. Content loss is a valid concern, especially for brands with tons of content and those who choose to migrate their content manually. Unfortunately, giving in to this fear by putting off migration costs companies when it comes to their competitive edge. Stunted Growth Due to Unplanned, Exorbitant Downtime Most companies underestimate the cost of switching to a new CMS. There are dozens of factors to consider upfront and hundreds of incidental decisions to make on the fly along the way. These factors add up to cause unplanned downtime in many cases. When even white-glove migration projects can take as long as three weeks to complete, it’s scary to think about how much extra downtime is practically inevitable. For media, eCommerce, and other enterprise businesses where content is their largest asset on which they’ve spent millions to develop; any unplanned downtime can have a significant negative impact on ROI, omnichannel traffic, sales, and overall revenue. Wasted Money on Salary Dollars and Actual Costs Almost no CMS re-platforming project works out the way you thought it would—especially without some manual input on behalf of your awesome team. No matter how well you think your data is organized now, that doesn’t mean it’s going to integrate flawlessly into a new system. A white-glove migration service starts around $4,500—and that’s before the manual adjustments that will very likely need to be made throughout the project. Depending on the size of the project and how delicately you need or want to treat your content, spending on employee salaries and the actual CMS costs associated with re-platforming can add up. 5 Steps to Stay out of Technical Debt by Selecting the Right CMS As we’ve established, most of the expense of switching CMSes comes from choosing a system that can’t scale with you in the first place and the cost of correcting that decision. Here’s how to stay out of technical debt—which is the cost of additional work generated from choosing a quick solution instead of taking the time to choose the better but longer approach—by selecting the right CMS from the start. 1. Develop User Scenarios Yes, features are important. We’ll get to those next. However, even more important is fully understanding what key users need from your CMS. Developing user scenarios to determine what users need is immensely helpful. A user scenario is a short, plain-language story that describes a specific user group’s interaction with the technology to achieve a business objective. Creating these stories is an effective way to uncover feature requirements in context. An effective user scenario should: Be written from the perspective of specific users Address a critical yet common task Reference the content that needs managing Not being specific about the technology itself Primarily focus on capturing the different ways that “power users” in marketing, sales, and IT will use the CMS. 2. Create a Features Matrix A “features matrix” is typically a spreadsheet that compares different enterprise software solutions using a list of required features. The features are typically listed down the first, left-most column while the technologies being compared stretch across the top. From there, you score each solution on how well it delivers on your required features. To get you started, here are some features you may want to include in your CMS features matrix: Separation of content and presentation Flexible content types and modular blocks Intuitive UI/UX Digital asset management Technology and customer support Versioning and rollback capabilities Omnichannel authoring and approval Integration with your key technologies Enterprise-ready tooling, security, performance, etc. Choice of languages, frameworks, and IDE 3. Seek Out Lightweight, Future-Proof Architecture If you want a CMS that can scale as your business grows and changes, it’s crucial that you choose one with a flexible, headless architecture that’s made up of microservices that are brought together via API as needed to support specific actions. A CMS with traditional, monolithic architecture isn’t built to integrate with modern optimization tools, nor is it capable of distributing content to various channels. Adding bandaids to accomplish these actions creates a slow-moving system that’s hard to maintain and even harder to fix when it inevitably crumbles under its own weight. 4. Get to Know the Provider, Not Just the Platform A CMS is just a technology platform, and various platforms can achieve similar results. It’s the ideals and support behind a platform that makes it unique and determines whether it’s a good fit for your specific business needs. Look for a provider that prioritizes both customer service and growth. This means they are more likely to act on individual feedback, and you’ll get the features and improvements you need. If you already know you want a white-glove, enterprise-ready CMS implementation, be sure to seek out businesses that promise that in plain writing. And, don’t make any assumptions on a CMS provider’s development chops or their grasp of modern marketing needs—you want to be sure the system upon which you’re building your entire content program is “by developers, for developers” while still being user-friendly for business users. Aside from checking out a CMS company’s social media and website, how does one go about getting familiar and making sure they align with their culture and employees? Reach out to set up a trial. 5. And Above All—Take It for a Test Drive Trialing or “test driving” a CMS platform may very well help you make an informed and correct decision instead of regretfully falling for dishonest sales tactics. If a provider can’t promise you a test drive at all, you can immediately cut them from your shortlist. Chances are they’re hiding something that you don’t want to risk finding out once the success of your business is dependent upon them. For those platforms that welcome you to trial their product, rely on your user scenarios and features matrix and take your time to make sure it’s going to meets all your needs now and in the future. Switch Your CMS Without Fear Today If you’re struggling with or scared of stunted growth, missed opportunities, wasted salary dollars, and other expenses that come with switching your CMS—you don’t have to be. As a headless CMS with enterprise-ready IT features, user-friendly design, and a friendly support team; Contentstack is uniquely well-positioned to make your transition smooth and your ongoing content program competitive and future-proof. We invite you to try out our ROI calculator to prove how much you can save annually by switching to Contentstack, contact us to take our technology for a test drive and build your very own proof of concept, or download our free ebook where you can learn everything you need to know about why headless CMS is the future content marketing.

Oct 02, 2019

The State of the CMS Industry: 20 Key Content Management Statistics for 2020

Content management is nearly as old as the internet itself. For most of its history, WordPress has dominated the choice of content management systems (CMS)—but is that poised to change in 2020? Furthermore, how will the rise of technologies like AI, chatbots, and headless CMS impact the industry? Moreover, will the increase of voice-activated search and smart devices impact the platforms we rely upon to manage content? Read on to learn more about where the CMS industry is going in 2020 and to discover a few surprising statistics about trends you should watch closely. The State of the CMS Market in 2020—And Beyond WordPress may still loom large in the CMS market, but growth and shifts in the industry could leave openings for new, more-tech savvy players. Globally, the CMS market was valued at around $36 billion in 2018 and is expected to generate around $123.5 billion by 2026—which is a very healthy compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 17 percent. 33 percent of that growth is expected to come from North America. It is also essential to consider the global web content management (WCM) market, which includes related tools such as content analytics, digital asset management, and editing tools. In 2017, the WCM industry was valued at around $4.8 billion and is expected to reach over $11 billion by 2023, amounting to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 percent. While CMS remains the most significant portion of the industry, web experience management solutions make up a growing portion of the market. Key factors that impact the CMS industry's growth include an increase in demand for digital marketing solutions, a growing digital retail sector, and consumer demand for omnichannel experiences. As of 2018, WordPress powers 34 percent of all the websites on the internet. Joomla powers 2.8 percent of all websites while Drupal powers just under 2 percent of all sites. Squarespace, often touted as a top competitor to WordPress, is used by just 1.6 percent of all websites. It is worth noting that the vast majority of the market is made up of content management systems that capture less than 1 percent of the total market—which means that there is plenty of room for growth of alternative solutions. Content Management Fact Sheet: The Importance of CMS At their core, a CMS is designed to allow multiple users to manage content and make it easier to display that digital content. As technology changes, CMS and related systems like digital asset managers (DAM) can improve security, make sites more user-friendly, and even save money. 33 percent of marketing budgets go towards technology, with 28 percent of that total budget going to infrastructures such as CMS and web content management systems. 92 percent of companies face challenges in translating content into different languages. Only 29 percent of companies integrate their CMS with a translation management system or language service provider 91 percent of customers want to pick up where they left off when they contact a customer service rep, no matter what channel they use. As technology advances, digital publishers are looking to cut costs, and DAM systems could be the answer. The average worker spends 20 percent of every day looking for lost files. The cost to replace a single digital asset can easily exceed $1,000—which can make a DAM system quite a cost-saver. Security issues remain a struggle for content management systems, with WordPress getting the most flack. This is not to say other content management systems don't face security issues, but as the most popular CMS, WordPress does have the most concerning numbers. The platform's worst security breach impacted 18 million WordPress users. As many as 70 percent of all WordPress sites may be vulnerable to hacker attacks. Key CMS Trends You Need To Know Looking ahead, what changes can you expect in the CMS industry? Headless CMS and AI are a few of the top content management trends to keep an eye on. Here is what you need to know about these and other CMS trends. Use of AI in CMS is Rising Drag and drop and WYSIWYG editors may be falling out of favor as AI takes over. Several content management systems, such as WIX, are already using AI to make it easier than ever for users to build, create animations, and even create copy for their websites. According to CMSWire, AI could help CMS generate content, design sites, speed up testing, and even give feedback on content. IBM predicts by the end of 2020, 90 percent of large enterprises will be running pilot or production-level machine learning applications. By 2020, nearly 20 percent of business content is going to be created by AI. Increased Demand for Headless CMS The core goal of a CMS has always been to make it easier to manage content without digging into coding. However, as we look to 2020, content-driven services and websites are consistently moving to headless CMS solutions to adjust to the rapidly diversifying content consumption landscape. Headless CMS adoption rates are expected to double in the next year. 86 percent of people feel positive about headless CMS. 63 percent of people who use a headless CMS love it. Better Assistance for Voice-Based Search Optimization Voice search made its debut in 2007, but most content management systems have largely overlooked it. Most systems offer SEO features for traditional (read: typed) searches. However, the voice search industry is fast growing and worth paying attention to. So far, in 2019, consumers have spent over $2 billion through voice-based online shopping. The voice shopping market is expected to exceed $40 billion by 2022. By some estimates, half of all searches may be done by voice in 2020. By 2040, 95 percent of all purchases will be done online. Increased Need to Manage Chatbot Content The rise of chatbots is another trend those paying attention to the CMS market should keep an eye on. The way a CMS manages content needs to adjust to serve the demands of automated chatbots better, as Gartner predicts: Chatbots will power as much as 85 percent of all customer service conversations by the year 2020. By 2020, the average person is going to have more conversations with a chatbot than their spouse. Ready to Learn More About the Future of Content Management? These are just a few of the CMS trends that are influencing the way brands and publishers use content management in the coming years. As more internet users become publishers, many content management systems are changing to become more user-friendly and less code reliant. However, a CMS must also be able to adapt to new content types and technologies. The systems that do this well, such as headless CMS, may be poised to take over market share from WordPress. Learn more about how headless CMS is changing the face of internet publishing in The Ultimate Guide to CMS, volume 1.

Sep 25, 2019

Examining the DNA of a Future-Proof Enterprise CMS

In the 1920s, radio technology enabled businesses to mass market their products and services to a broader audience than ever before. Now, almost a century later, an even more significant marketing shift requires brands to either pivot or die. The future of enterprise content marketing lies in personalization, omnichannel delivery, and the technology that can make those things happen effectively and efficiently. The Future of Enterprise Content is Omnichannel Internet users have an average of five profiles across various social media channels—and 90 percent of them expect consistent interactions across these and every other channel on which they interact with businesses. When it comes time to make a purchase, 86 percent of these digital consumers switch between at least two different channels. Moreover, 65 percent of B2B technology buyers in particular report consuming up to five pieces of enterprise content across channels before completing a purchase. Household smart devices, countless mobile apps, wearables, social media platforms that become the hot new thing overnight—the number and types of channels on which people are consuming brand content feels endless. Thanks to technological advancements, they very well may never stop multiplying and evolving. The enterprise content landscape continues to fluctuate rapidly as virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence get smarter and smarter. To stay competitive, businesses need to be present on established, new, and emerging technologies and platforms, and it doesn’t stop there. … And Personalized In addition to being practically omnipresent, the enterprise content that succeeds in the future will also be personalized. Consumers receiving personalized content marketing are more likely to convert into customers, often spend more than initially intended, and are 44 percent more probable to come back for repeat purchases. Serving relevant content, at the right time, and on the right channels is the single most effective way to differentiate yourself from your competition, engage your ideal audience, and convert customers. So what can brands do to provide content that speaks to every consumer’s challenges and offers valuable solutions? To put it bluntly, they really can’t do much without the help of modern personalization optimization tools that help automate the process. So they’ll be able to do even less if they can’t plug that kind of technology into their content repository. With a traditional content management system (CMS), the work required to personalize and distribute high-value content across the appropriate channels would be outrageous—possibly even impossible. It’s time to embrace a modern content management system that’s ready for the future of enterprise content. Here’s How to Go Headless to Future-Proof Your Content Whether you’re thinking about the future of your enterprise content as a whole or just gauging which CMS solution is best for your next big marketing push, you need to consider the headless option. Why? Because headless CMS makes content future-proof. Headless CMS integrates content management tools via Application Programming Interface (API)—so content always exists separately from how it is displayed to consumers. Because headless content is modular and decoupled from functionality and design, any piece of content can be personalized and optimized for distribution across various channels at any time—without breaking or changing other content modules around it. Not only does this mean IT and marketing teams can both work on the same content delivery project at the same time, but it also future-proofs content and empowers it to scale infinitely. Instead of a monolithic, traditional CMS that tethers content to functionality and forces businesses to build a “Frankenstein” system with precarious workarounds, a headless CMS is flexible—so it can be integrated with and built on top of nearly any stack for use with any device, channel, or technology. Behind the Curtain: What Future-Proof Enterprise Content Looks Like Here’s what the future may hold for your enterprise content and CMS if you choose to invest in API-first, headless CMS. Autonomy for Content Producers That modular, decoupled content we talked about earlier empowers marketing teams to act autonomously by untangling content management from technology and design. This is a major improvement over outdated, traditional content management systems where technology and content are so tightly intertwined that content producers have to submit a ticket to their engineering team to change so much as a typo on a landing page. The separation that headless allows enables content producers to create, edit, optimize, and share content across various channels and devices—independently and efficiently. Freedom for Developers The benefits of headless enterprise content management continue when it comes to the development team. By delivering content via API, front-end developers are free to create the absolute best visual interface, using the best-fit programming language, for various delivery channels without having to worry about breaking or disrupting any content marketing campaigns. Cutting-Edge Design Similar to front-end development, the decoupled nature of headless CMS means that websites, apps, and other experiences can still receive modern, customized design treatment without concern over how to integrate and update content down the road. Truly Personalized, Omnichannel Content Marketing As a single “source of truth,” a headless CMS with a user-friendly front end enables marketing teams——be they efficient two-person units or larger and a bit more siloed—to achieve true omnichannel content creation, optimization, and distribution from one reliable platform. The Contentstack headless CMS was built “by developers for developers,” and it’s no slouch when it comes to enabling omnichannel enterprise content marketing. Aside from industry-leading collaboration and editing tools, Contentstack has a unique interface built for integrating best-in-class personalization tools, such as customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, translation services, AI tools, A/B testing applications, analytics parsing, and almost anything else that the future of enterprise content requires. Additionally, the API-first architecture closes the loop on omnichannel distribution by enabling content creators to “create once and distribute anywhere”—whether that’s to a website, mobile device, software platform, automobile, VR headset, a voice-activated device, Jumbotron, or wherever else tomorrow’s technology dictates! Future-Proof Your Content and Your Enterprise with Contentstack If you can future-proof your content marketing program, you can future-proof your enterprise. Thankfully, with Contentstack, it doesn’t have to cost you your sanity or all your profit. Use our ROI calculator to see how many thousands of dollars you can save with Contentstack or contact us to set up a free test drive and build out your proof of concept today!

Sep 18, 2019

How DevOps Methodologies Can Improve Your Marketing Strategies

The phrase “back to the drawing board” exists for a reason.  Sometimes in business, we’ve got to rethink things. Often, the problems we face are problems with learning. We need to figure out better ways to collaborate and iterate using existing resources. So when marketers are facing challenges in their work, it only makes sense that they look to their colleagues to get unstuck. When developers and coders were running into issues and having trouble collaborating with system administrators and IT technicians—DevOps was created. There was a need to combine these critical, yet necessarily different, parts of a software project team. Developers are the ones pushing innovation, constantly enhancing software, adding new features, making updates. They are the ones who shake up existing systems. The Operations team works to stabilize and maintain. They deal with the bugs that arise and test software changes before deploying the software to users. It only made sense that these two very distinct teams became one. Now, organizations are using DevOps methodologies to improve products at a faster pace than competitors employing traditional software development and management processes. Big players like Amazon, Netflix, Target, and WalMart, are making significant strides using DevOps as part of their broader operational strategy. At the highest level, marketers can learn a lot from how DevOps teams have learned to work together. From automation and constant communication and considering the impact on the whole system to rapid feedback cycles, there’s a great deal of value in how these teams collaborate. Pair that approach with a data-driven outlook and you’ve got the potential to take your marketing team (and your business) to new heights. Let’s dig into exactly how to get that done. How DevOps Strategies Can Influence the Marketing Mindset It’s important to remember that marketing and DevOps want the same things. Both teams want the company to succeed. They want to reach new customers. They want to improve the product. The team members who focus on promoting the product or service are just as important as the developers building and deploying the code. Without paying customers and engagement with the product, there’s no product to develop. If there’s no constant improvement of the product, it gets challenging to attract and retain customers. There is an important interdependence here. At the highest level, there are a few key ways that DevOps methodologies can have a positive impact on marketing teams. Communicate Constantly and Fluidly With DevOps, continuous feedback is a given. The details of how changes impact the overall business goal are critical. With a better understanding of these changes, marketers can improve how they describe a product or provide service to customers. If you’ve got customers with a deep focus on quality, your marketing content should highlight how the company ensures quality in its development process. That’s a strong appeal in a deeply technical campaign aimed at that subset of your market. Keep the Message Consistent Harnessing that developer’s urge for constant improvement. Businesses that focus on innovation are better positioned to demonstrate how their product or service places them above the competition. Armed with an understanding of precisely how the product or service is superior, marketers can hammer it home in marketing content. From ads and white papers to blogs and remarketing, a marketing team that gets the product and its ongoing development are better equipped to deliver a marketing message that resonates with customers. Determine the Right Marketing-Related Analytics Each piece of marketing content should have a clear objective. Once determined, some form of analytics should back that objective. Any focused marketing communication can and should link back to metrics, solution tags, and specific objectives that are shared during development. Think about the predictive analytics provided by products like Amazon, Alexa, and Google Home. There’s a great deal that marketers can use in the way of incremental improvements in that wealth of data. Marketing teams that learn to work with development teams to better understand the ideas that influence the metrics will ultimately “out-market” the competition. Key Strategies Marketers Can Implement from DevOps Methodology Yes, there are specific DevOps strategies that your marketing team can and should put in place ASAP. Here are a few approaches that stand out among the crowd as promising strategies to increase profitability and productivity in your company: Use Cooperation and Communication to Your Benefit The average cost of poor communication for large companies was $62.4 million per year. In other words, if your marketing and sales teams aren’t talking constantly, you’re losing money. Armed with the information the sales team secures from interactions with customers, the marketing team can improve the content of their campaigns and even enrich the follow-ups completed by the sales team. Just like development teams collaborate with operations to deliver the necessary tools as needed, marketing teams can learn to deliver the right content at the right moment to the sales team. This kind of collaboration, speed, and innovation helps your business speed past the competition. Your marketing team will often have many qualified leads. Those leads must make it into the sales pipeline. What this does is free up the time your salespeople spend finding and nurturing less qualified leads. Setting specific metrics around this—such as specific percentages for delivery of leads or time constraints on follow-ups—can increase the value of these leads. Working together, the sales and marketing teams can engage in targeted marketing that increases buzz among customers about field events and other engagement points with customers. Again, setting specific goals—such as asking the sales team to achieve precise attendance numbers for a marketing event—helps increase the value of marketing events. Increase Productivity with Agile Processes The marketer’s job has become even more complicated in our modern, ecosystem economy. They’re tasked with reaching their target audience with a message that converts, at the right time, through the best possible channel. It’s not a simple task. It takes a lot of thoughtful planning and strategy. This is why companies are choosing to automate many aspects of their marketing to reduce the time spent on trivial tasks. As is the case with DevOps, it’s all about continuous delivery and speed. Marketing automation can ensure that campaigns run efficiently and smoothly by integrating ongoing feedback and adapting insights into continuous changes in marketing campaigns. Chatbots empower marketers to automate website chat funnels and guide visitors towards conversion. This reduces the amount of time marketing teams need to directly interact with customers while still allowing them the opportunity to jump into conversations as needed. One study showed that by 2022, chatbots are expected to reduce business costs by over $8 billion. While DevOps teams continuously seek ways to automate software delivery into production, marketing teams can rely on tools like email automation to deliver personalized marketing content to customers based on data insights. Similarly, ad retargeting automation tools (integrated with ecommerce, email, and reporting platforms) allows marketers to serve up personalized and timely ads to customers that drive conversions. Just as DevOps teams are employing automation to reduce human error and better leverage data-driven insights into production processes, marketing teams can do much the same with their marketing operations. Measure, Modify and Iterate Data-driven marketing is all the rage these days. The idea is that marketers need to be continually learning from customer data to improve how they market. This means that marketing teams are increasingly expected to deliver targeted campaigns that prove their ROI, increasing lead quality and conversion rates, and measurable increases in customer satisfaction. Just like DevOps teams are measuring their progress and impact regularly, the same is being asked of modern marketing teams. In the realm of marketing, the omnichannel approach is now dominant while at the same time, we’re asking marketers to stream content creation and increase output. As this happens, it becomes ever more critical that marketers are conducting regular relevance checks to understand how marketing content is performing and to make adjustments accordingly. The need for flexible architecture (such as a headless CMS) that allows for marketing automation and integration of vast amounts of data becomes more pressing for marketing teams looking to stay competitive in the market. Putting the DevOps Mentality to Work in Your Marketing Strategy So much of sound business strategy is borrowing and repurposing proven approaches. That’s what we’re advocating here. It’s about nudging your marketing teams to get up from their desks, step out of their silos, and learn strategies from their peers in DevOps. From improving communication methods, embracing agile processes, and building in measurement and iteration workflows, there’s a great deal that marketing teams can employ from the DevOps side of the house to meet their unique team goals and drive company profitability. To move quickly and iterate like the DevOps team, you need technology that allows you to quickly deploy, test, measure, and re-deploy content across every marketing channel. Such movements require re-tooling of your architecture from traditional CMS and siloed systems to something that more flexible and interconnected. Try Contentstack’s headless CMS, obligation-free, to see how your marketing team can truly put those DevOps methodologies and principles into practice today.

Sep 11, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power and Profit of Personalized Communication

Personalization is incredibly important for driving business results—yet doing it at scale can be incredibly difficult to achieve. When it comes to personalization, technological innovation is a double-edged sword. While it has made communicating with customers fast, customizable, and dare we say easy; it has also changed consumer behavior and expectations for good. Whether a lack of funding or a lack of understanding has kept your organization from pursuing personalization up until now; today we’re going to explore the benefits and tools behind personalized communication so you can build a business case, justify the budget, and remain competitive in a changing world. The Power (and Profit) of Personalization Personalization isn’t just a nice little “extra” for customers—it has become a differentiating factor and a driving force when it comes to growing loyalty, revenue, and conversions. Lock Down Loyalty According to Jeff Rosenfeld, VP of customer insight and analytics for The Neiman Marcus Group, “Personalization is the new loyalty.” Today, implementing personalization to lock down loyalty looks less like providing in-store customer service and more like using technology to observe and act on unique, personal customer information. Moreover, this modernized approach to personalization is working. Consumers that enjoy personalized experiences are 44 percent more likely to become repeat customers. Nearly 40 percent of consumers who are pleased with a personalized experience tell their friends and family about it—and over 20 percent positively mention it on social media. A survey of over 200 digital marketers found that a whopping 96 percent believe personalization is a great tool to help grow their relationships with customers. What’s more is that personalized communication has been shown to heavily influence the way consumers—especially Millennials, a powerful consumer group—interact with brands and whether or not they choose to continue to interact with those brands. Rev Up Revenue In their 2017 State of Personalization Report, the customer data experts at Segment discovered that 40 percent of consumers spent more than originally planned after receiving personalized communication. Also, nearly half of respondents admitted to purchasing something they didn’t even intend to buy thanks to personal recommendations! So it’s no surprise that brands that are creating personalized experiences with the help of digital technology can rev up their revenue by as much as 10 percent—and they’re doing it two to three times faster than their non-personalizing peers. Leaders in providing personalized communications are capturing the lion’s share of profits while followers are losing out on customers, sales, and market share. By 2025, Accenture estimates that companies that can nail it when it comes to optimized, personalized digital experiences will generate nearly $3 trillion. Will you invest in personalized communication now to grab your slice of that pie? Catapult Conversions One survey of 350 marketing executives found that personalizing their email communications and products boosted their conversion rates by 6 percent—which is pretty significant when you consider the average email conversion rate is under 2 percent! And after analyzing 330,000 call-to-action (CTA) buttons over the course of six months, Hubspot found that personalized CTAs—no matter the channel—converted 200 percent better than generic versions. To Lead the Pack in Personalized Communication, You Must Move Quickly Like we mentioned before, personalizing consumer experiences at any significant scale can be pretty difficult without the right knowledge and tools. That’s why only about 15 percent of companies can be considered leaders in personalization. While another 20 percent report experimenting with one-to-one marketing, only 13 percent feel their messaging is truly customer specific—and only 7 percent have seamlessly integrated personalized communication across channels. Thankfully, that means there is still room for your organization to catch up and become a leader in personalized communication—but only if you do it soon and do it right. Here’s how. How to Achieve Personalized Communication at Scale As the connective tissue that ties an organization’s marketing efforts together, content is the heart of the personalized consumer experience. It’s vital that your organization can serve consistently-personalized and valuable messaging wherever it’s being consumed; whether that’s on a smart billboard, social media app, video streaming service, and beyond. Thankfully, there’s a technology that makes this effort far more affordable—and enjoyable—than doubling your staff to recreate and republish your valuable enterprise marketing content over and over again. A headless content management system (CMS) integrates content management tools via Application Programming Interface (API). What that means is that it separates content from how it’s displayed. So while the marketing team is creating and distributing personalized content, the engineering team is free to create the best visual interface and use an API to call that content via website, mobile device, software platform, automobile, VR headset, a voice-activated device, Jumbotron, or whatever tomorrow’s technology may be! Because headless content is modular and decoupled from functionality, any piece of content can be personalized, optimized, or otherwise updated without affecting other content modules or breaking the way it’s displayed. Not only does this mean IT and marketing teams can both work on the same content delivery project at the same time, but it also future-proofs content and empowers it to scale infinitely. Contentstack headless CMS, in particular, is designed for integration. Need to implement tools to help you personalize communications? Contentstack simplifies integrating best-in-class customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, translation services, AI tools, A/B testing applications, analytics parsing, and anything else you can imagine. Ready to go headless and grab your piece of that three-trillion-dollar pie? Read up on headless CMS, figure out how to shop for your own, or get in touch today to try one out for free!

Sep 04, 2019

A Brief History of Digital Transformation [Infographic]

“Digital transformation” is a relatively new phrase in the lexicon of the modern enterprise, so it may come as a surprise that its roots go all the way back to a revolutionary concept that was born in the middle of the last century—digitization. Digitization is the conversion of analog technology into a digital format, and it has been disrupting the way we work and live since its conception in the late 40s. In 1948, American mathematician and engineer Claude Shannon, later dubbed the “father of modern digital communications and information theory,” laid the foundation for what would become digitization in a paper entitled A Mathematical Theory of Communication. Just one decade later, the microchip and semiconductor transistor that would empower analog computing to go digital were invented—and everything changed. The 60s brought ARPANET, which was the foundation of the internet as we know it. Then, the 70s and 80s saw digitization skyrocket with the invention of personal computers, the World Wide Web, and automation for the workplace. By the end of the 2000s, digitized cell phones were widespread, the internet population topped 1 billion people, and the digital revolution had gone worldwide. But as the digitization of formerly manual and analog devices and processes reached saturation, developments didn’t just stop—they transformed. It all started when digitized channels (like websites and social media) and devices (such as smartphones and even on-location kiosks) allowed companies and customers to connect. The companies soon found themselves in need of a digital process that would not only support these interactions but pull from them data that could be used to create valuable experiences for both the company and the consumer. To better leverage all their marketing and sales channels, consumer data and experiences, and even internal operations; enterprises started connecting tools and systems in cross-departmental networks. Seeing the demand, software providers began developing digital platforms (think CMS and DXP) that suddenly made it possible to strategically implement digitization throughout an entire organization instead of on a per-project basis. Thus, digital transformation was born. At its core, digital transformation (DX) is the cross-departmental effort to reimagine the way a company uses its people, processes, and digital programs to drive new business and revenue in light of changing consumer expectations. And almost every industry and organization on the planet has been—or will very soon be—revolutionized by its development. In the age of digital transformation, the new norm is change. Changing technology and consumer expectations will continue to metamorphose entire organizations, verticals, and industries—and those businesses that choose not to participate will be left in the dust. If you’re interested in learning more about the intertwined history of digitization, the internet, and digital transformation—and why the heck it all matters!—check out our infographic below. For relevant tips and best practices on digital transformation, subscribe to our Headless CMS blog!

Aug 28, 2019

CMS Maintenance Shouldn't Be a Full-Time Job

Just like our cars and houses, it’s obvious when our digital assets get neglected. Whether it’s an app, a Content Management System (CMS), or a website — people notice. Unmaintained assets can speak volumes about the owner. When it comes to your CMS, maintenance isn’t the sexiest task. It is often misunderstood while also being critical to the success of your business. CMS Maintenance itself is a big umbrella term. It can refer to some of the following tedious tasks: Security updates Add-on plugins Testing Software updates Backing up your site Compatibility checks Link checking Moreover, that’s not even the type of CMS maintenance that looms largest for most companies, which is maintaining the actual content and assets that live within the system. These nitty-gritty elements of CMS maintenance are so essential...when you’re running a traditional CMS. However, there’s a much better way to manage your content in this new era of digital transformation. Enter CaaS — Content as a Service. With a CaaS platform, you can eliminate virtually all of the typical technical maintenance you’d face with a traditional CMS. Even better, a headless CMS solution like Contentstack vastly improves how you maintain the content within your CMS. That’s where headless CMS shines: If you do it right, you’ve got a great modular content library to tap into as you engage your customers. Here’s a bit more on headless CMS as an out-of-the-box solution for your CMS maintenance woes. How To Eliminate Virtually All CMS Maintenance We’re not living in the wild wild west of the Internet anymore. These days, few people are building websites by writing HTML directly. The needs for most companies tend to diverge into two main camps: Simple websites built with basic editors and out-of-the-box solutions Omnichannel experience management that includes deploying and maintaining content across multiple channels like websites, apps, and third-party content integrations At the enterprise level, most firms require a more advanced approach. A simple editor and basic website software don't meet the needs of sprawling corporate websites with localized content and multi-platform content distribution. However, this has traditionally meant building, integrating, and deploying a cacophony of technology solutions. Additionally, it means maintaining the systems, both in terms of technical maintenance and maintaining content parity on different platforms. The big secret is that, with a CaaS platform, you can avoid nearly all maintenance of databases, servers, and infrastructure since your provider manages it. There’s another side of the coin as well: Headless CMS solutions broadly change how you manage your content! A headless solution like Contentstack allows companies to create modular content using content modeling and other taxonomy, which makes updating and maintaining content much more manageable. The advantage isn’t just with how your CMS is maintained; the benefits also apply to your content and how you deploy it across any number of channels. For example, using a traditional CMS, you might have content that lives in multiple places on your site. If you want to edit that content in each place, you have to make manual edits to every single page or template accordingly. Moreover, that’s just for your website, if you have other channels, such as mobile sites, applications, microsites, kiosks, VR, your work is likely compounded by having to do this for each channel as well. That’s a lot of work. Inevitably, templates get broken, and content blocks get out of sync because they’re not native to the system. That doesn’t have to be the case. With a headless CMS, the content is built in a modular fashion. Updating and maintaining content is much simpler since you can update a recurring block of text in a single pass. Assuming you set up the content modeling with the right taxonomy and content governance, you can edit and deploy new content updates without spending hours making changes on every individual page or in every place the content exists. That’s arguably the best way to handle CMS maintenance — eliminate it — while doing yourself a major favor by optimizing your content management simultaneously. Maintaining A Headless CMS If you are using Content as a Service (CaaS), all technology-related maintenance of the CMS itself is, essentially, eliminated. Security updates, backups, and server related maintenance are taken care of by your provider. What remains is maintaining the content and assets that live within the headless CMS itself. Nevertheless, these tasks are also streamlined in a headless architecture that centralizes all of your content and content maintenance into a single platform. Maintaining content is made simpler within a headless CMS. Omnichannel content upkeep Assuming that content is being properly organized and modeled for use across all relevant platforms, making and deploying changes should be as simple as editing only affected sections. Those changes propagate across all places where the content appears on all front-end channels. Content democratization Since a headless CMS promotes a more agile way of working, content owners across the enterprise can dive into content maintenance simultaneously. This agility eliminates internal bottlenecks that come from traditional CMS workflows where all changes would land on marketing or IT to update and maintain content from all areas of the firm. The content itself becomes democratically controlled by the stakeholders in your organization. Keeping in mind these unique considerations, a headless CMS offers significant advantages when it comes to reducing the CMS maintenance burden. In short, a CaaS solution can eliminate virtually all typical maintenance while ensuring enhanced content management at the same time. That’s a big win-win when it comes to your choice of CMS. Choose a CMS that allows you to stay focused on your content and your customers while getting rid of the need for costly maintenance. Your team is sure to thank you. If you want to take a look for yourself, we invite you to try out a headless CMS solution for your company. Build a free proof of concept with Contentstack today.