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Content Management and Artificial Intelligence: The Future of Content Ops
Artificial intelligence is changing the world, one everyday task at a time. Ever used a navigation app to find your way to a destination? Then you very likely benefited from artificial intelligence that crunched a bunch of data at a super-fast speed to show you the best and fastest route. And we know you’ve used email. You can thank AI for modern email features like automatic spam filters and categorizations that make email more manageable. Considering how AI can be applied to such a variety of verticals, it only makes sense that there are plenty of applications for it in the content management space. Read on to find out how AI is already powering content teams, where it could go in the future, and how you can integrate content management and artificial intelligence to future-proof your content operations.What is Artificial Intelligence? Artificial intelligence (AI for short) is a term that describes a machine performing human activities. There are several capabilities that fall under the umbrella of AI:Machine learning is when a machine automatically learns something new without being programmed to do soNatural language processing is when a machine reads human languageNatural language generation is when a machine writes or even speaks in a human language AI was created to complete these and other tasks faster (and sometimes better) than humans. When it comes to content ops, the combination of content management and artificial intelligence is a great tool for giving workers back the time they need to perform more complex tasks that still require a human brain.4 Ways Content Management & Artificial Intelligence Are Already Impacting Content Ops AI shines when it comes to understanding vast pools of data and automating routine tasks. This has a lot of benefits: improving consumer experiences, helping businesses save time and money, and even exposing patterns that can uncover new opportunities and inform smart business decisions. In this section, we’ll explore how AI is helping businesses take advantage of these benefits by up-leveling content management across various stages of the content operations workflow.1. Smart Content Analysis and Categorization One amazing thing that artificial intelligence can do is analyze a piece of content to identify its sentiment and overall tone. This is important for helping content managers quickly determine whether a piece of content is right for their audience or if it needs some tweaking before it’s able to really engage the intended consumer. IBM Watson, for example, uses AI to automate content categorization, text labeling, sentiment analysis, keyword extraction, and more.2. Automatic Image Tagging Images enhance your content and can increase consumer engagement. Unfortunately, there’s almost nothing less engaging for workers than manually tagging image after image for search and SEO purposes. But it’s still a supremely important task. And that is what makes it a great job for AI. Pretty recently, AI-powered automated image recognition has gotten smart enough to tag images in a matter of seconds—letting your content workers get back to deeper work.3. Scalable Personalization and Predictions AI also brings scalability to another important but nearly impossible task for human workers: tracking and making use of individual user behavior. AI can automate the process of watching what each user on your website or app is doing simultaneously. Then, it can compile this data to look for patterns that will help it predict, based on past behavior, what each user might want next. This information can uplevel any marketing department’s personalization efforts, from serving dynamic content to making product recommendations and more. And improving personalization has never been more important. In the words of the management consulting firm McKinsey, “Personalization will be the prime driver of marketing success within five years.” In fact, they found that leaders in personalization were already able to increase revenue by 5 to 15% and improve efficiency on marketing spend by 10 to 30%.4. Time-Saving Content Creation Assistance And now for the big one: AI can be a big help when it comes to actually creating content. While the advance of AI into content creation may feel scary for some marketing professionals, an article created by Articoolo’s artificial intelligence system, “A robot explains how to achieve the perfect work-life balance,” shows that there is a long way to go before “robots” will be able to match the tone or accuracy of human writers. Artificial intelligence still isn’t great at coming up with original content ideas or creating nuanced pieces of content. However, a really well-trained AI tool should be able to contribute to straightforward writing projects such as news articles, factual reports, translations, transcriptions, and editing for accuracy. For now, in the content creation space, AI is basically a tool for improving the ROI on content marketing, which can often be resource-intensive. AI can do the legwork when it comes to research and data while human writers can take this info and do the deep work required to create high-value, relevant content for each target customer.Imagining the Future of AI in Content Management Now that we’ve explored the main areas in which content management and artificial intelligence are already coming together to improve content operations, let’s talk about a few ways AI may improve marketing even more in the future.Interactions Between AI Tools If you’ve ever used your voice-activated smart speaker (like a Google Home) to control something in your house (like turn on a smart light from Philips Hue) then you’ve experienced an interaction between two different AI-powered devices. And we think similar interactions are in store for the future of AI-powered tools in the content operations space. It’s only a matter of time before AI-enabled content management systems (CMSs) and other content platforms and tools will be able to interact with each other in smart, automatic ways to provide faster functionality and better experiences for consumers and marketers alike.On-the-Spot SEO Improvements Taking the idea of sentiment analysis one step further, we predict that in the near future AI-enabled CMSs may be able to identify opportunities for SEO improvements in real time. This capability would empower marketing professionals to create more effective content in less time, which will outperform competitors and rank well in search engines.Content Gap Identification When you’re in the thick of it all, it can be hard to see where your content may be lacking (or where your competitors’ content may be lacking). But both of these situations give you the opportunity to fill those “gaps” and capture more traffic. One day, we hope AI will become smart enough to flag gaps and make recommendations so you can create fresh content that adds value and generates new leads.Customer Service Automations Customer service is another one of those expensive yet necessary parts of business. Fortunately, it can become a little less time- and money-intensive with the help of AI. Just like AI enables content folks to focus on deep work, AI-powered chatbots can enable customer service folks to do the same. While many of today’s chatbots can address very simple questions with answers pulled from a knowledge base, we look forward to the day when a large percentage of queries don’t have to be routed back to human agents. After all, it’s the instantaneous and around-the-clock support that consumers are truly looking for when interacting with brand chatbots.Get Started with Content Management and Artificial Intelligence with Contentstack The future of content ops is bright, thanks to content management and artificial intelligence. Your business can become a part of that bright future by adopting a composable CMS that’s built to integrate with AI-enabled content management tools. And we only know one CMS of the sort: Contentstack. Contentstack is an agile CMS that’s part of the MACH revolution. That means it’s microservices-based, API-connected, cloud-native, and is built on headless architecture from the ground up. Because of Contentstack’s decoupled nature, almost any modern, AI-powered content management tool can be integrated to help your team with everything from automated content analysis to smart content creation. Our turnkey integrations (which we call Experience Extensions) with best-in-class tools like IBM Watson, Salesforce Einstein, and MonkeyLearn are already empowering Contentstack users to leverage AI and reap a variety of benefits. To get started, sign up for a free trial or a personalized demo today and see why the future of your content operation lies in your ability to integrate content management and artificial intelligence with the help of Contentstack.
Conversational Marketing is the Future (and the Future is Now)
Reimagining Agile Omnichannel Personalization with Headless Content
At the end of 2019, Gartner predicted “By 2025, 80% of marketers who have invested in personalization will abandon efforts due to lack of ROI, the perils of customer data management or both.” Of course, since that prediction, a lot has happened. While traditional, rules-based personalization might very well be abandoned in a few years, the rise of intelligent personalization tools is opening the door for a new approach. “We’re moving into a world where organizations have access to data that allows them to personalize not just the products you’re seeing, but the experience and the timing of conversations a business is having with you,” says Matt Bradbeer, MACH Business Lead at EPAM Systems, Inc. and Co-Founder of The MACH Alliance. “Personalization has moved from a very blunt approach of showing an ad or a product to having a constantly evolving conversation.” Fortunately, the enterprise technology market is adapting quickly to suit the omnichannel customer - and the busy teams that cater to them. To show just how fast companies can get content personalization up and running with modern MACH tools, Contentstack is partnering up with Uniform and EPAM to launch Project CUE - taking personalization from idea to market in less than 12 weeks. Introducing Project CUE To showcase the possibilities of a MACH approach to content personalization, Contentstack, Uniform, and EPAM have teamed up for what we are calling “Project CUE”. In less than one business quarter, the team will identify a personalization use case, develop a content model in Contentstack, add personalization with Uniform, and debut the omnichannel experience at the CMSWire DX Summit on July 29th. “Most of the businesses I talk to are ready for personalization and many have tried it, but the question becomes how to do it successfully,” says Neal Prescott, Vice President of Digital Technology at EPAM. “We don’t see many people wondering if personalization is the right choice, it’s just unclear how to take those first steps.” This is the goal of the project. To show how - and how quickly - personalization can be implemented across the customer journey. To kick off Project CUE, we spoke with the co-collaborators to understand the historical challenges to personalization, steps teams can take to overcome those barriers, and how a MACH approach (microservice-based, API-first, cloud-native, headless) is helping enterprises reimagine personalization in an omnichannel world. Shift to Omnichannel Thinking Getting on board with the idea that customer journeys are no longer linear means digital marketers have to let go of old ways of thinking about channels, pages, and content. “One of the things that made personalization so difficult in the past was the traditional presentation or channel-centric approach to content.” explains Peter Fogelsanger, Global Head of Partnerships at Contentstack. “If there was content on one page that would be valuable for personalization on another it was a very cumbersome—and often manual—process to leverage that content elsewhere. Even within the same website.” Marketers stuck with single-use content often leaned towards two extremes when thinking about personalization. Content marketers tried to manually create a new set of assets for every possible interaction a customer could have, which required an overwhelming amount of content and didn’t always make sense from an ROI perspective. While technical marketers narrowed in on the UX aspect to optimize banners and CTAs, which moved the needle on conversions but focused on only a narrow slice of the customer-brand relationship. 'The technology has caught up to where the typical marketer is able to find the sweet spot in the middle,” says Fogelsanger, referring to the rise of headless content. A headless approach decouples the content from its presentation. So the content on that landing page you just published can be broken up and reused in unlimited ways. Pull the intro copy over into an email, push the header banner to an in-store kiosk, or have the product descriptions read out loud by voice search. No more single-use content. Which means teams can escape the page-based walls of manual personalization and explore a more scalable approach of mapping individual pieces of content to multiple visitor intents. Stop Proposing on the First Date Uniform, the headless API-first personalization platform, is helping many customers adopt a mindset of delivering content as a response to customer in-the-moment intent. With personalization tools that adapt content as a visitor explores the site, marketing teams are no longer limited to A/B testing single interactions but can focus on a more long-term relationship with a customer. 'A good way to think about it is a love story, because content is what makes a visitor fall in love with your brand.” says Lars Petersen, Co-Founder of Uniform, “If you go on a blind date and the first thing your date asks is ‘will you marry me?’ that’s going to be awkward. Yet, as consumers, when we come into a website today the first thing we see is ‘buy this’ or ‘get a call from sales today’.” Like any relationship, the one you have with your customer works best when it’s two-sided. “Personalization is a feedback loop, it’s not just a one-way channel of showing customers what you think they want to see,” says EPAM’s Matt Bradbeer. “You have to give the customer a way to talk back, to have a conversation, and be able to use that information to change the way you do business.” Bridge the Gap Between Creation and Personalization Using legacy, manual personalization tools to deliver an experience that reacts to visitor feedback is, for many enterprise companies, not scalable enough to be worth the time and effort. “You essentially need to have a PhD in creating rules,” says Petersen about the traditional rules-based approach to personalization. “It’s a very technical task.” For many marketing teams, the tool used to manage content is completely separate from the tool used to personalize it. Often, this means personalization efforts are handed over to someone else or just forgotten entirely. But today, modern software vendors are designing their products with integration in mind, using standardized API building blocks that make it possible to manage multiple tools in a shared user interface. Sharing a UI makes it easy to weave personalization into the authoring process, so that the people closest to the content can be the ones who put it in context. “Having an easy to understand personalization layer, like Uniform, and have it exposed right inside the content experience is a real game changer,” says Fogelsanger. “Now you don’t need to think about personalization differently, you’re just describing the content when you’re authoring it.” Take Control of Your Data Not only do modular tools bring previously siloed applications into the same UI, but they also make it easier to connect the data behind it. “One thing I would say to people on this journey is to get your data into a place where you control it and own the structure, and it’s aggregated, agnostic and available to any system or touchpoint you want, when you want it,” says Bradbeer. Building this type of fully composable, data-agnostic architecture doesn’t happen overnight and a major benefit of MACH tools is that companies can start benefiting from this approach without waiting around for a big-bang replatform. “You can put a MACH frontend or backend on what you’ve got, which allows you to get some immediate benefits while chipping away at the larger architecture,” says Prescott. “You can get going where you can and where you’ll see the biggest impact, while also planning for the future.” This lowers the barrier of entry for personalization. Companies can gain momentum in one area, such as email nurture or the promotion of an annual event, and be able to reuse that data and scale efforts to the rest of the experience over time. We’ll Show You How “Project CUE is about showing omnichannel experience can be fast time to market,” says Petersen. “That it can meet the requirements of fast performance based on the core web vitals, and the experience the visitor gets across the different channels being highly relevant to their intents.” “The overall theme of Project CUE is that you can start now.” says Fogelsanger, “There are things that you intuitively know about your customers and your business that can be a starting point.” “I think there are a lot of brands interested in taking this approach, they’re just not sure how to do it or not sure if they can do it in a way that’s not too disruptive to their content machine.” adds Fogelsanger. “My hope is that we can show there is a lower impact way of doing things a lot smarter, that you can weave personalization into the way that you’re managing your content experiences today.” Project CUE kicked off this May, so stay tuned for updates and insights.
How to Elevate the Customer Experience to Drive Loyalty and Revenue
Customer loyalty isn't what it used to be. Gone are the days when points programs or even product quality were enough to attract and keep a customer. In a marketplace where all the rules are changing, digital managers have a critical role to play in earning the business of all customers—potential and existing—with a consistent, high-quality customer experience (CX). And the numbers show that putting effort into CX is well worth it. Accenture predicts that a digital wave is underway that could bring a cumulative $2.95 trillion in value to the retail industry by 2025—all powered by digital connections to consumers. With the right mindset and the right tools, brands have an incredible opportunity to level up their CX approach and earn more market share. Already, leading companies are getting on board with the experience-driven customer journey. According to the 2020 Digital Marketing Trends Report by Econsultancy and Adobe, customer experience ranked number one as the most exciting business opportunity today. Here’s what customer experience means today and how businesses can ensure that all stages of the customer journey are united by a thread of outstanding CX.What Does Modern Customer Experience Mean? The customer experience is the sum of the interactions that a person has with your brand, from their first impression to their most recent contact, including everything you would expect: Convenience, quality, attitude, and more. What the modern customer experience adds to this is that so many of these interactions can now take place digitally. This vastly increases the channels, devices, and platforms upon which customers can interact with your brand, as well as how often. In a digital world where customers have many ways to engage with your brand, there are more opportunities to get CX right—or to get it really, really wrong. A global CX study by Oracle found that rising customer expectations (59%) and the impact of social media on customers’ ability to broadcast good and bad experiences (37%) are the top two drivers for organizations’ focus on customer experience. Research shows that it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. That alone could be reason enough to focus on CX, but there’s even more compelling data to demonstrate why you should invest in CX for all of your customers. Let’s look closer at how important CX really is.Why is Customer Experience So Important Today? According to research by Forrester, how an experience makes customers feel has a bigger influence on their brand loyalty than the ease or effectiveness of the experience. And a survey conducted by PwC makes an incredibly strong case for a laser focus on CX:73% of people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions65% find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising42% would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience32% of customers say they will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience What’s even more compelling? Customers that give companies a high CX score spend 140% more and remain loyal for up to six years. As technology progresses, customers have come to expect a no-fuss, seamless experience that’s optimized for their needs, regardless of where they are in their buying journey. Here’s how to answer their demands.How to Bring Modern Customer Experiences to the Customer Journey The entire customer journey—from the moment a customer becomes aware of a need to every decision they make after that—is full of opportunities to deliver exceptional CX that translates into loyalty that you simply can’t buy. Let’s look closer at the foundation of a modern customer journey and find where you can put digital tools to work to improve your CX along the way.Stage 1: Awareness The awareness phase is when your potential customer first becomes aware that they want something or have a problem to solve. In this phase, they’re simply looking for information, so that’s what you want to deliver. The best way to elevate CX in this phase is by providing a seamless experience that allows your prospects to get the information they want, when they want it, and in a context that’s relevant to them at the time. You achieve that by executing an omnichannel strategy that meets your prospects on their terms. A headless content management system (CMS)—the latest development in a long and rich history of content management—separates content creation from how it’s designed, stored, optimized, and displayed. This means content can be quickly found, re-optimized, and re-published to cater to the right audience, on the right channel, at the right time. Stage 2: Consideration The consideration phase is where a prospective customer assesses how interested they are in the experience they’re receiving from your brand. This is where their preferences come into play, and it’s where they do research to evaluate if there’s a better alternative out there. Competing on this playing field is all about personalization — a growing trend that’s been called the “holy grail” of marketing. Personalization is all about tailoring an experience based on information that has been collected about an individual, and there’s solid data proving that it works:According to KPMG, personalization drives loyalty in 18 out of 20 markets Research by McKinsey shows that leaders in personalization have increased revenue by up to 15% and improved the efficiency of their marketing spend by up to 30% A study by Accenture found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations Using advanced tools like augmented analytics, which uses real-time data from the web and social media, you can get to know your audience better and faster. That allows you to deliver personalized content that tips their decision-making in your favor. Together with predictive analytics, which automate the task of assessing customer behavior to determine what they’re likely to do or want next, you can deliver the personalized experience that leads increasingly expect.Stage 3: Decision-Making In the decision-making phase, consumers are working out those last few questions before deciding between their top options. For digital managers, the goal is to build a deep relationship and provide value that would be hard for the consumer to leave behind. How can companies do this in an age where there are so many leads to keep up with across so many channels? They can integrate modern customer relationship and customer data platforms that are purpose-built to help win in the decision showdown. A customer relationship management (CRM) platform like HubSpot CRM, Zendesk, or Intercom helps you keep track of all the interactions a consumer has had across your business. A customer data platform (CDP) like Evergage or Exponea layers consumer data on top of this relationship information so you can create a complete, personalized profile of the lead at hand — enabling you to build a personal, decision-worthy relationship.Stage 4: Retention The customer journey doesn’t end once a product is shipped or a service is delivered. Even after a transaction has been completed, CX is as important as ever. A good experience leads to retention, which is the most significant driver of revenue for businesses. After all, the success rate of selling to a new customer is only 5-20% while the success rate of selling to an existing customer is a whopping 60 to 70%! While there’s no doubt that the retention stage is vital to the customer journey, the question is how can a single team keep up with providing a great customer experience across various channels at all times of the day? Artificial intelligence-powered chatbots are the always-on and always-informed customer service “agents” that can document requests, answer customer questions, and even provide the resources consumers need to help themselves around the clock. As long as your chatbots are combined with business processes that ensure no important complaints, requests, or conversations fall through the cracks, automation can help you provide a customer experience that keeps them coming back for more.Where Will the Modern Customer Experience Take You? Great CX is a long-term goal, but it’s worth an investment right now. Having a modern marketing technology stack powered by a headless content management system will streamline your content delivery, break down information silos, and integrate your MarTech tools—like your customer relationship management platform, chatbots, and more—to provide a seamless thread of excellence and ease throughout the customer journey and beyond. For more details on how to level up your company’s performance, download our free ebook Going Beyond ROI with Return on Experience and learn why forward-thinking organizations are shifting their thinking from ROI to return on the modern customer experience.
How to Manage Content Easier with Modern CMS [Infographic]
Today’s always-on, always-connected world requires your business to focus more than ever on creating seamless digital experiences. And because content is the core of the digital experience, that means creating more engaging content and publishing it to more channels and platforms than ever before. Unfortunately, if your business is still using traditional tools to handle all this content, it probably also means more hassle for your busy team. But with a modern content management system (CMS), your marketing team can create and manage more content, your developers can spend more time on their most important tasks, and your business can reap more benefits from both teams.What is Modern CMS? Headless CMS is built using modular architecture. This structure separates the backend (the “body”) where content is created and stored from the content presentation layer (the “head”), where content is designed for delivery. A headless CMS employs an application programming interface (API) technology to let the frontend and backend communicate and work together to publish content. The most powerful headless CMS platforms are built on modern MACH principles. MACH is a newly-coined acronym for technology that is constructed from modular Microservices, uses APIs to maintain connectivity, is hosted in and delivered via the Cloud, and is built from the ground up with decoupled and Headless functionality.6 Ways Modern CMS Makes Content Management Easier With a modern, headless CMS, you can enjoy content management the way it’s supposed to be. Here we cover some of the ways a modern, MACH-based headless CMS makes content management a breeze for your business.1. Streamline Content Processes with Smart Workflows Tracking a piece of content from ideation to publication is hard enough without having to constantly hound members of your team. With a modern CMS that prioritizes features for busy marketers, you can take some of the manual follow-up tasks off your plate by building out a well-defined workflow that gets all your tasks moving in the right direction.2. Enjoy Painless Content Launches Most developers don’t want to spend their time on content updates, and most marketers don’t want to have to rely on outside help just to do their jobs. But that’s what outdated, traditional content management platforms put their users through. With headless CMS, however, developers can take back their time and marketers can take back their power, easily scheduling releases, launching campaigns, and making most content updates on their terms.3. Resolve Content Reviews Faster While you certainly want to streamline and speed up the process of reviewing, approving, and publishing content, you also don’t want to sacrifice quality. That’s why a good headless CMS will include secure permissions to make sure the right people are able to review the right content at the right time. This enables content teams to move through the content review stage quickly and easily without losing quality. 4. Power Your Omnichannel Efforts with Modular Content Inside a modern CMS, content is created and stored in independent modules. Because these modules aren’t permanently attached to any kind of styling or code, they can be re-optimized and re-published over and over again across different channels, platforms, and devices. With new channels and content opportunities emerging all the time, businesses absolutely must prioritize omnichannel distribution. Learn more about today’s most important omnichannel trends here. 5. Ensure Consistency with Powerful Previews For marketing users, one of the biggest downfalls of some headless CMSs is that they aren’t equipped to give an accurate preview of what content is going to look like once it’s published. That’s why it’s important that you choose a headless CMS that prioritizes painless previewing. No more “what you see is what you might get.” With the right CMS, you can instantly ensure that your content looks great, every time and everywhere. 6. Integrate Endless Functionality Perhaps one of the coolest ways modern CMS makes content management easier is through integrations. With a flexible, microservices-based architecture that’s connected via API, it’s easy to integrate other cutting-edge tools into your headless CMS to create a platform with practically endless functionality Next Your CMS to Make Content Management Easier for Your Team Content management can be fast — even easy — when you choose the right modern, headless CMS. Stop letting your own content management technology hold you back — next your CMS and enjoy life with the most modern solution on the block.Learn how to choose an enterprise CMS or see a real-life headless CMS in action by signing up for Contentstack’s free trial or demonstration.
How to Transition from Outdated CMS Software to Modern SaaS CMS
Originally known as the “time-sharing system,” what we call now software-as-a-service (SaaS) dates back more than 50 years. For instance, the IBM 7090 that NASA used to control space flights in the 1960s was rented for $500,000 per month (in today’s money). What started as a solution for companies that didn’t have the space or the resources to purchase their own computers turned out to be an ideal arrangement for many other reasons. Whether you’re responsible for purchasing and maintaining your organization’s technology or for improving the content features to which your marketing team has access, SaaS is typically a smart choice. It’s generally easier to use and maintain, more affordable, more powerful, and simply more modern than its traditional on-site counterpart. Interested in learning more about SaaS for content management and how you can start making the transition from legacy, on-premise software to SaaS? Then you’ve come to the right place. No $500,000 monthly rent required.What Separates SaaS CMS From Traditional CMS? Instead of being downloaded to your company’s computers and maintained by your IT team, software-as-a-service is hosted in the cloud and delivered to customers via the internet by a vendor, who maintains the software on their end. Typically, the most maintenance that you should have to do with software delivered as a service is keep paying the subscription.When it comes to a content management system (CMS), the “traditional” way to work with CMS software is to purchase a license and use your own server space to host the files that make up the CMS. Traditional CMS users may also pay a hosting company to store their CMS files off-site. Maintenance with a traditional CMS requires updating the software on a regular basis to keep functionality and security up to snuff, as well as installing any plug-ins needed to increase its capabilities.Then there’s the modern SaaS CMS, which is widely considered easier to manage than traditional CMS. SaaS CMS vendors maintain and host the software they sell. That means your team doesn't have to spend any time or server space on hosting and very little, if any, on CMS upkeep and maintenance. As times and trends change, the cloud-native content management provider is the one best equipped to add and subtract features—simply delivering them to clients via the cloud in the next update. Benefits of SaaS CMS Over Traditional CMS Let’s explore some of the key advantages that differentiate today’s modern SaaS CMS from the traditional CMS platforms of old.Composable Features Make for Increased FunctionalityWith a traditional CMS, the problem is not finding a solution that meets your needs. The problem is that you’ll never find one that can evolve and be rearranged the way a SaaS CMS can when your needs inevitably change. SaaS CMS providers understand that a major benefit of cloud-native content management software is that updates are handled on their end. So now that the technology is available, these providers have built their SaaS tools on modern composable platforms so that content features are easy to add, remove, update, and deliver to the buyer as trends and technology change.Flexible Content Management CapabilitiesWhat do highly-composable features mean when it comes to cloud-native content management? Modern, flexible content management capabilities that empower modern, flexible marketing campaigns. Today’s marketing users need rich content controls that enable smooth content creation and collaborative workflows and integrations with the other tools (think CRMs, analytics platforms, and more) that make your marketing program tick. Together, these features make omnichannel distribution as easy as the click of a button. Thanks to their composable nature, modern SaaS CMS can deliver on all your current content channels and adapt to drive new channels and opportunities that will emerge.On-Demand ScalabilityMost large businesses and marketing departments want to grow. That’s a given. What isn’t so obvious is how to be ready for that growth. Before cloud-native content management software, traditional CMS users had two options: Consistently overpay for the features and bandwidth you hope you’ll eventually need—or be caught unprepared to scale when the pivotal moment of growth arrives. We’ve all seen the latter happen to businesses after a popular commercial or media mention drives unforeseen traffic and crashes a website. With a SaaS CMS, the vendor manages all hosting and storage needs. That means they can see when a wave is coming and scale up your server space accordingly before it hits. Sure, you’ll have to pay for your increased server usage, but you only pay for exactly what you need when you’re actively using it. If traffic scales back down for any reason, your cost does as well.Dependable Uptime and AvailabilityBy nature, SaaS CMS vendors are one part content management feature builders and one part hosting pros. This is because they know that a key reason marketing technology buyers purchase their product is so that they can access their CMS anywhere in the world and at any time. In fact, one LinkedIn study found that the most “essential” characteristic of SaaS technology is availability.Being able to promise dependable uptime and therefore availability is a major differentiator for cloud-native content management software.Reliable BackupOff-site hosting means your files and data will be safe and sound if anything should happen to your on-site premises or technology. Natural disaster? You won’t have to worry about local events impacting your SaaS CMS when your files and data are all stored safely in the cloud. And if something like a security breach does knock out your CMS momentarily, you can get back online quickly thanks to the reliable digital backup that a cloud-native content management system provides.Lower Cost Than Traditional CMS SoftwareThe cost savings abound when it comes to SaaS CMS. First, there are the more obvious cost reductions compared to traditional CMS—no on-site servers or other hardware, no development time spent on building or upgrading features, etc. Then there are the unseen savings, such as on the opportunity costs that come with a lack of scalability, the downtime during updates, security and service breaches, and other issues tied to traditional CMS. Faster Collaboration and Time to MarketWhat do flexible content management features, dependable scalability, and wide-spread availability have in common? They enable marketing teams to use SaaS CMS to collaborate more effectively, no matter what device they’re using or where they’re working. Now that COVID-19 has made remote work likely to become a lasting reality for many organizations, this benefit will have more impact than ever.This level of collaboration means those marketing campaigns your team is working so hard to create can get to market more quickly—giving you yet another way to get a leg up on the competition. Make the Most of Your Switch to SaaS CMS by Going HeadlessWhile SaaS CMS is a modem upgrade when compared to traditional CMS software across the board, not all cloud-native content management systems are created equal. To make your switch to SaaS CMS a success, we recommend you select a headless CMS solution. What is headless CMS?Headless content management systems rely on modular architecture to disentangle content creation and management from the design and development that goes into publishing it on various channels and devices. This decoupling process means marketers can publish their content campaigns to various platforms while designers create engaging content displays and IT pushes technology updates. A headless CMS enables every team in the content publishing process to work independently yet in sync.And why headless CMS instead of another type of SaaS CMS? Because the right headless CMS solution will be MACH-powered.MACH is a term for modern composable technology that’s enabled by a unique combination of features:Microservices are single-purpose applications that can be maintained and scaled independently, providing infinite content management capabilities. Application programming interface (API) technology enables composable architecture by connecting all of these microservices together. Cloud-nativity means your SaaS CMS is delivered by a vendor who takes care of all the hosting and upgrades, as we mentioned earlier. Headless architecture is the final piece of the puzzle, decoupling the content presentation layer from the database for limitless integrations and omnichannel content delivery.MACH makes for a modern, headless CMS that is quick and easy to scale, update, and integrate with so your marketing team can keep delivering on quickly-changing digital experiences.To keep learning more about the exciting new world of MACH marketing technology, check out our infographic “MACH to the Rescue”. And to see how your team can benefit from working within a headless, MACH-powered, SaaS CMS —click here to request a detailed demo today.
Create content faster with a headless CMS
Is your content management system helping you create great content? Or, is it yet another piece of laggy, legacy enterprise tech that only creates discontent? Hopefully it’s the former, because great content is the core of effective digital business strategies. But if it is the latter, here’s what you need to know about generating great content with great speed. We’ll cover why creating content faster is so important today and how to next your CMS to create modern content experiences.Why creating content faster mattersWhile many businesses were already in the process of digital transformation, 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic drastically accelerated that transformation. In fact, 70% of retailers that relied on local business introduced new digital channels or boosted existing ones in the wake of the pandemic.And there’s no going back to the old way now.We live in a digital environment in which consumers connect the most with the brands that can provide an instant and seamless content-powered experience — no matter the time of day or the device. What’s more, content is essential to just about every part of your customer’s experience, from the marketing funnel to customer support messaging to interactions with your software or physical products. The need for content has never been greater, and your team has to create, optimize, and distribute it all. But trying to create this much content at the speed customers demand is almost impossible when your team is dragged down by slow, siloed content management solutions.You can do it all the old way and risk your workers becoming overworked and burned out and your business becoming irrelevant and outpaced by competitors. Or, you can adopt the best technology for enabling your business to keep up with your grand content vision.How a headless CMS puts content in the fast laneA headless content management system (CMS) makes content creation fast and keeps content from being tied to any one specific channel or consumer — so it’s ready to be customized and re-used at any time. Headless CMS is called “headless” because it’s built on modular architecture that separates the backend (the “body”) of the CMS where content is created and stored from the content presentation layer (the “head”), where content is designed for delivery. Application programming interface (API) technology enables the frontend and backend to work together. Thanks to this modularity, the content within a headless CMS only needs to be created once. From there, it can be quickly re-optimized and re-published over and over again on any device or channel. Headless CMS is flexible yet powerful because it’s built on MACH principles.MACH is an acronym that describes technology that is constructed of lean microservices, employs API connectivity, lives in the cloud, and whose features are decoupled and headless.MACH solutions like headless CMS enable businesses to quickly take advantage of the latest technologies, shift content operations to keep up with new trends and scale rapidly without undertaking an expensive and time-consuming replatforming project.Marketers create better content more quicklyHeadless CMS empowers marketing teams to create and store content in flexible, reusable modules. This means content only has to be created once and can then be quickly repurposed and published — no developer ticket required. Finally, content can move at the speed of business. In addition, the right headless CMS will prioritize content creation features like multiple content environments, instant and accurate page previews, easy-to-use page editors, customizable page templates, detailed permissions settings, and smart publishing workflows. This means marketers can enjoy freedom, flexibility, and fearlessness when it comes to executing content quickly, no matter the scale.Developers focus on building great experiences Because the functionality within a headless CMS is decoupled, developers can actually work within the CMS at the same time that marketers are creating and publishing content. When developers can use their language of choice to build the best front-end experience for content without waiting for that content to be finalized, you can launch content much faster. This enables you to serve consumers the right content at the right time and get in on trends before your competitors. On top of that, the API-powered connectivity and microservices-based architecture within a headless CMS make it easy to integrate seamlessly with other modern tools and services. These tools help developers deliver increased functionality without wasting time dealing with outdated widgets and plug-ins that always seem to be buggy or broken.Never settle: Next your CMS with ContentstackDo you have a singular platform that enables you to easily and quickly manage content throughout its entire lifecycle? Or are you settling when it comes to your CMS?Today, businesses don’t have to settle or sacrifice speed. MACH-based headless CMS solutions like Contentstack are the faster, more affordable, more flexible and longer-lasting option when it comes to marketing content technology. Learn more about choosing the best headless CMS for your organization or dive right in with a free two-week trial or personalized demo of Contentstack today.
Leaning Away from Legacy Tools: Modernize Your Tech Stack with MACH
Inertia is a tough force to overcome, especially when it comes to upgrading your technology stack. Even if your team is struggling under the weight of clunky and outdated tools, deciding how to get unstuck can quickly lead to analysis paralysis as you try to figure out how to modernize your tools without creating chaos. If this sounds familiar, you’re in good company. A report by Infosys found that legacy systems are one of the biggest barriers to digital transformation — alongside aversion to risk. This powerful pairing can make transformation even more challenging. In this post, we help technology leaders diagnose the obstacles of legacy tech and provide a recommendation for the infrastructure upon which to build a lean, modern, and future-proof tech stack. Why Leaving a Legacy Isn’t Always Good In the technology business, legacy is a loaded word. It can reflect an expensive capital investment that took years of careful financial planning, or it can represent a barrier to adopting a modern and efficient way of doing business. Or it can be both. Legacy systems may have been cutting-edge in their heyday, when technical tasks were centralized and computers belonged on desks, but today they have become expensive and difficult to maintain. And they don’t integrate well — if at all — with modern tools. They are, however, still frustratingly difficult to lean away from because organizations have built whole business processes and cultures around them, and changing those can feel like trying to turn the Titanic. While the term legacy is often associated with last generation or end-of-life components, a tool or process doesn’t need to be that old to be considered legacy. If any of these apply to your organization, it’s time to think about how to lean away from the legacy:You rely on technology that has become unstable and hard to repair since support has been discontinued or hardware components are no longer available. Lack of support makes data reporting unreliable and cumbersome, especially if your data is stored on physical servers instead of in the cloud, leaving you vulnerable to data loss.You use tools that won’t integrate with modern solutions and it’s keeping you from reaching your business goals. Lack of integration and scalability means that your growth plans get stalled or you have to layer on additional piecemeal solutions to fill the gaps, which creates more data silos and negatively impacts data analytics.You run proprietary systems that are hard to learn, making it increasingly challenging to retain internal expertise to maintain them. You might spend more time managing tools than contributing to business outcomes. At best, legacy tools are ones that can’t help you move forward. At worst, they threaten your organization’s growth and security. The good news is that you don’t need to stay stuck.How to Lean Away From Legacy Tools The best strategy for making smart decisions about legacy systems is to focus on your current needs, not on the tools you adopted to meet your past needs. While it’s hard to forget how expensive and ingrained some of your tech systems might be, that train of thought goes backward, not forward. Your business has evolved and the pace of digital innovation has skyrocketed since those early investments. It’s only natural that your technology stack needs an upgrade. All you need is the right strategy to refresh your legacy tools and get out ahead of the competition.1. Articulate Your Business Goals As digital tools have transformed the business landscape, your company’s strategies have no doubt changed since you first bought into your existing tech stack. For example, the shift to online shopping has altered priorities for retailers that started as brick-and-mortar storefronts, and the anything-as-a-service model has created whole new business lines across sectors, from FinTech to publishing. Take the time to understand what your company’s business goals are today, as well as where your company expects to grow in the next three to five years. In parallel, take stock of the tools that will drive that growth. What do you have? What does your organization need? Resist the urge to align your needs with specific products. Instead, name the function you need to perform.2. Set Your Business Priorities To get the most from your tech budget, choose a small number of priorities that will help you address your biggest pain points and drive your business forward. Whether you need to tear down data silos or completely update your ecommerce strategy, identify the areas that would benefit the most from a tech refresh — both today and in the future. As you do this, be sure to engage stakeholders and leadership throughout your organization. Change is hard for everyone, but you’re less likely to face resistance if your decisions take everyone’s needs into consideration.3. Assess Your Technology Options Leaning away from some old tools gives you the chance to lean toward some new ones. It’s unrealistic that you’ll be able to overhaul everything at once, so instead go in planning to rework your technology using a spectrum of options, including:Retain what you have Retire old tools you can live withoutRehost your apps and services in the cloud Repurchase new tools to perform existing functions Replatform your system with new cloud-based tools Chances are high that your various systems and solutions will require several of the above actions. It’s important to remember when evaluating your legacy tools that technology as a whole is moving away from monolithic enterprise systems where applications are dependent on the underlying infrastructure and toward more nimble options that were designed to meet today’s fast-evolving environment.What to Lean Toward: MACH Technology The MACH approach to tech architecture is fast becoming the preferred course by modern organizations who want to future-proof their tech investments. MACH technology solutions are Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless. But it’s not as complex as it sounds. To put it simply, the MACH approach provides agility, scalability, and efficiency through ease of integration. Here’s how each feature of MACH technology can help you eliminate and consolidate the disparate tools that are currently holding you back:Microservices Optimize Functionality With Best-of-Breed Solutions Microservices are individual pieces of business functionality that are designed to expertly perform one specific task. Because they’re small and focused, they can be deployed and updated quickly. Choosing microservices allows you to select the best-of-breed tools to meet your needs instead of having to settle for what’s available in an enterprise suite.API-First Means Seamless Integrations Using an application programming interface (API) allows data to flow between multiple applications or services, helping you eliminate data silos and level up your data analytics. Well-designed APIs increase your flexibility, simplify development, and accelerate your time-to-market.Cloud-Native Systems Deliver Scalability at Speed When your apps and tools are developed and delivered in the cloud, you have built-in scalability that boosts performance when you need it.Headless Architecture Accelerates Omnichannel Delivery Headless architecture separates front-end presentation and back-end logic. This enables you to use APIs to bring together your microservices of choice without disrupting the flow of business. For example, a headless content management system (CMS) allows you to connect your content repository on the backend to a wide variety of front-end channels; such as websites, mobile apps, or Internet of Things devices. And it does this while giving designers and developers the freedom to shape the front-end without the constraints of rigid templates. In today’s marketplace, where end-user expectations are constantly changing, going headless is a critical part of business success. To learn more about how your tech team can spend less time patching your legacy content systems and more time building things that matter, dive into the details of Contentstack — a MACH-enabled headless CMS.And to learn more about MACH tools and how they can help you future-proof your tech stack, download a free copy of our eBook: Break the Replatform Cycle with MACH Enterprise Architecture and hear from digital leaders and their lessons on how to align company culture, evaluate solutions, and gain momentum with early technology wins.
Think Agile To Extend the Value of Content Systems and Processes
Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) have the highest turnover of all C-suite roles at Fortune 500 companies. The executive search firm Spencer Stuart found that the tenure of CMOs at top U.S. brands in 2019 averaged 41 months. The median tenure was just 30 months. Why? “Tough business headwinds, new technologies, and pressures to change quickly,” said Greg Welch, a Spencer Stuart consultant. “It’s a perfect storm.” In a business environment — and the world — where change is the most reliable constant, CMOs, their teams, and the departments with which they partner across the organization must become agile to keep up. The word “agile” is becoming a keystone term for marketing and content management. Forrester has redefined the CMS category to “Agile CMSes” and recently released the “Forrester Wave™: Agile Content Management Systems (CMSes), Q1 2021” report. The following explains what agility means in marketing and content management, why now is the time to adopt agile methodologies and a three-step strategy for developing a winning agile marketing program. What Does Agile Marketing Mean? Traditional marketing methods follow a waterfall approach, where large projects “flow” from one completed task to the next — from planning to writing, then design, then legal, and so on. etc. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t leave room for unforeseen hiccups that often happen along the way. Since each step can become a bottleneck that stops work for everyone downstream, the waterfall approach puts marketing campaigns at risk of running over budget or losing relevance by completion time. Agile marketing methods, on the other hand, are based on the popular agile software development methodology. At their core, agile projects call for constant prioritization, collaboration, and iteration to complete bite-sized tasks. An agile marketing approach empowers multi-faceted teams to collaborate on small pieces of large projects over short intervals of time known as “sprints.” This process allows agile marketing teams to keep putting out new and relevant campaigns that they can regularly come back to and improve over time. Why It’s Time to Adopt Agile Marketing Even before COVID-19 changed the world, “business as usual” was already getting a little less usual. The number of U.S. employees who telecommute at least half the time grew 115% between 2005 and 2017. And as of mid-April 2020, 62% of employed adults in America worked from home due to COVID-19. About half of these workers said they’d prefer to continue to work remotely if possible. And they might get their wish, considering that three-quarters of companies are planning to keep some percentage of their workforce remote even after COVID-19 is under control in their areas. This shift has required organizations to adopt agile processes, policies, and technologies that empower collaboration and productivity for their distributed marketing, IT, and other departments. In addition to newly-remote workforces, there’s another major shift driving the need for agile marketing. Today, the way consumers shop is channel-agnostic and concurrent. Consumers themselves are agile. Modern consumers interact with six brand touchpoints on average before making a purchase. This interaction wouldn’t be so overwhelming if they didn’t expect that their experience will be seamless across each touchpoint. The vast majority (90%) of consumers report finding personalized experiences appealing, 80% say they’re more likely to do business with a company that personalizes their experience, and 75% of consumers are downright frustrated by irrelevant marketing. What does an organization need to do to process data and produce the level of content necessary to provide a personalized, omnichannel marketing experience for every last consumer? Employ an agile marketing program.A Three-Part Strategy for Developing an Agile Marketing Program This three-part strategy will help you develop the processes and choose the tools you need to move with agility when it comes to managing a distributed marketing team, producing high-quality campaigns, and optimizing them for various audiences and distribution channels.Start with a Solid Structure: Think MACH-First “MACH” describes technology that is microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless. Microservices ensure a marketing platform can adapt to fit every change the future holds. Application programming interface (API) technology enables countless integrations and seamless content delivery. Meanwhile, cloud-native infrastructure means your marketing platform is always up-to-date and ready-to-scale. A headless architecture empowers streamlined content operations so you can quickly optimize your campaigns for each audience and channel. A marketing platform built following MACH principles empowers marketing teams to collaborate, create, test, learn, and improve — fast. A MACH-first marketing platform is, at its core, agile. And speaking of this “marketing platform,” it all starts with the right software.Adopt the Right Software: An Agile Content Management System Creating an agile marketing program requires adopting an agile content management system (CMS) to keep up with and empower your modern marketing efforts. The problem with the traditional, monolithic CMS platforms (like WordPress and Drupal) to which many organizations are still tied is that content and its presentation are intertwined. This coupling of content and the presentation layer means you have to manually recreate content each time you want to use it for a new customer type or channel. It’s easy to see why traditional CMS is not agile enough for organizations that need to quickly develop and deliver a variety of personalized, omnichannel campaigns. On the other hand, a headless CMS separates content creation and presentation. This separation enables marketing teams to create content-powered experiences. Simultaneously, designers and developers build out the best displays for these campaigns — whether they’re delivering content to websites, mobile apps, email campaigns, chatbots, or elsewhere. It enables agility. The APIs that power a headless CMS’s modular architecture also make it easy to integrate with microservices — such as CRMs, DMPs, ecommerce platforms, translation and localization tools, AI-powered analytics programs, and more — to automate best-in-class content optimization and delivery. Implement Your New Process: How to Deploy an Agile Marketing Workflow With your structure and software in place, the final step is to implement your agile marketing program. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps to deploying an agile marketing workflow: Win stakeholder buy-in. Consensus is more important than ever when it comes to agile projects because goals can shift regularly, and it isn’t always easy to see progress when changes are happening quickly but on a small scale. Create your project roadmap. Of course, you should expect some dates to change due to the always-evolving nature of agile projects. However, try to define the significant milestones, if only to keep stakeholders happy and everyone else accountable. Never stop talking about the “big goals.” The small goals may change along the way, but you’ll still need to meet the big goals that helped you get buy-in in the first place. Remember that you should break down every goal into short, actionable tasks that you can complete within a sprint cycle.Round up your resources. With big goals, small tasks, and everything in between figured out — it’s finally time to invest in the resources (tools, training, etc.) that you’re going to need to get it all done. This is the time you want to shop for your agile headless CMS. Start small. Don’t expect your first agile marketing campaign to go totally according to plan. Treat your marketing program just like you would any agile campaign—start with what you know, learn, improve, and then grow. Kick-off Your Agile Marketing Program with a Big Win Forrester’s definition of agile CMS — “a solution for collaboratively curating, creating, and delivering content across channels and campaigns via iterative development and deployment processes” — further cements agile, headless CMS as the central platform which you need to build a modern marketing program. For more information on why transitioning to an agile CMS saves companies time, money, and headaches, while empowering business and technical users, check out Contentstack’s “Marketers and Developers Embrace Agile CMS” webinar featuring Nick Barber, Senior Analyst at Forrester. At Contentstack, we’re proud to be recognized among the top agile CMS providers. And we invite you to start your new agile marketing program off on the right foot with a free, no-obligation, 30-day trial. Try our features, set up a proof of concept, and see why our Contentstack’s agile headless CMS is a big win for your modern marketing program.
7 Must-Know Omnichannel Retail Trends for 2021 and Beyond
In today’s rapidly-changing economy, it’s more important than ever to stay up to date on the latest trends influencing the omnichannel retail space. In the article, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about omnichannel retail in 2021, key developments ranging from shoppable social to the shocking role of physical spaces, and the software you can start working with today to act on all these modern trends.What Does Omnichannel Retail Really Mean? In the beginning there was single-channel retail — aka, the “traditional” model. Single-channel retailers communicate with customers and sell their wares through a single channel. This channel could be anything from an online store to a physical one. But as internet-connected devices gained widespread usage, retailers realized they could connect with consumers better by diving into more channels. And thus multi-channel retail began. Multi-channel retail is quite similar to single-channel retail — just multiplied as the retailer expands into new channels. While this gives shoppers more opportunities to connect and shop with brands, it’s a disjointed experience that doesn’t jive with today’s consumer expectations (more on those later). Omnichannel retail is multi-channel retail with one major upgrade: The use of cutting-edge tech to tie each channel together. Omnichannel retail is all about creating a seamless, continuous consumer experience from the first time they discover your brand via search engine to their interactions with your on-site chatbot through the follow-up email you send to make sure they’re happy with their final purchase. For a real-life example of what a great omnichannel retail experience might look like, check out our imaginary shopper, Chen, as she takes a typically non-linear journey through buying a consumer product: What more and more retailers are learning is that providing an omnichannel experience is the baseline in today’s consumer environment Here’s what you need to know about what your most modern competitors are doing — and what you can do today to keep up.7 Data-Backed Omnichannel Retail Trends to Know If you’re not sure where to start with your omnichannel efforts, let these omnichannel retail trends be your guide.More Businesses Than Ever Are Investing in Omnichannel Efforts We all know that COVID-19 impacted retailers — but what we might not have fully realized is how extensive that impact was. A whopping 70% of locally-based retailers either introduced new or boosted existing digital channels as a result of the pandemic. According to Audrey Low, a managing director at media agency Mindshare China, the pandemic forced many businesses to transition into omnichannel over the course of just six months, as opposed to the multi-year rollouts they may have planned.Omnichannel Shopping Habits Boosted by the Pandemic Are Here to Stay In an (almost!) post-COVID-19 era, it looks like those digital accelerations — and the consumer shopping habits that came with them — aren’t going anywhere. Now that consumers know it is safer to shop from home and many also need to pinch pennies more than ever, we’ve become accustomed to using every channel at our disposal to not just complete purchases but to shop around for the best price and availability. This is why the marketing researchers at Nielsen predict that even once things return to what was once the “norm,” many of our omnichannel shopping habits will stick around — and so will retailers that are well-equipped to serve them.Omnichannel Shoppers Expect Consistency Across Channels Let’s take a second to deliver on our earlier promise to discuss what exactly the modern consumer expectation is. The name of the game for today’s shoppers is consistency. No matter the device, no matter the social channel, no matter the shopping platform, no matter the locale, and no matter the time of day — the majority of consumers expect brands to be capable of providing consistent information and experiences at all times. As for the retailers that can’t meet these expectations? They may be in for devastating business losses. More than 60% of people will stop shopping with a company that doesn’t deliver the experience they want. Social Media is a Powerful Shopping Channel Social media has long been a tool that brands can use to grow their audiences, collect rave reviews, provide modern customer support, and drive traffic to their revenue-generating websites. But now, many of those same social platforms are finding a way to take retailer profiles a step further by offering built-in shopping features. Probably the most common examples in the U.S. right now are Facebook’s Shops feature and Instagram’s Shopping feature. According to mdf commerce’s report 10 Trends Changing Omnichannel Retailing in 2021, over 60% of brands have already started using some kind of social ecommerce functionality.Video Usage Grows — And Becomes Shoppable We think VentureBeat hits the nail on the head when they predict that “The future of commerce belongs to brands and creators who bring commerce and content closer together in a seamless, engaging, and interactive viewing environment.” And according to Venturebeat, that interactive environment is video. They predict that 2021 is the year that social platforms will enable video clips to be linked to purchase pages the same way photos on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms have been for years. YouTube is already dabbling in becoming a social-ecommerce hybrid platform by enabling some product ads to link directly to a purchase page. And TikTok, a testament to the power and continued growth of video as a marketing tool, sets an example of fully-integrated social commerce by enabling URLs to be used in both user profiles and in individual video posts to take viewers straight to the product being featured.Digital Payments Take Off Digital payment options include technologies like mobile wallets (think Apple’s Wallet app), P2P payment platforms (think Venmo), real-time payments, and even cryptocurrencies. And the use of these cashless alternatives is absolutely skyrocketing. The global digital payment industry has more than doubled since 2017, growing from a $3 trillion industry in 2017 to an estimated $6.6 trillion industry by the end of 2021. If that isn’t enough to convince you to get in on this omnichannel retail trend, maybe the news that ecommerce giants like Amazon and Apple continue to invest in digital-first payment solutions will. In order to keep up with the modern consumer’s “anytime, anywhere” shopping mentality, consider optimizing your buying journey by offering multiple payment options — including an easy-to-use digital one.Brick-And-Mortar Remains a Key Element of Omnichannel Retail In the first quarter of 2020 — right around the same time COVID-19 took hold across most of the world — Home Depot’s digital sales were up 80%. But that’s not the headline here. What’s important is that over 60% of all orders were still picked up at a Home Depot store. The pandemic didn’t kill the brick-and-mortar store — it firmly cemented its place as a key element of your overall omnichannel retail strategy. While the purpose of physical retail spaces may have shifted for a time, they remained an important part of the buyer’s journey — the end-point of buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) and buy-online-pickup-at-curb (BOPAC) sales strategies. What we learned watching retail over this past year is that just because shoppers like to (or are sometimes forced to) buy online, that doesn’t mean they don’t also like to shop in store. With all the options they have today, consumers are increasingly nuanced in their shopping habits — and that’s the whole point of providing omnichannel retail experiences, isn’t it? Simply put, brick-and-mortar retail is not at all dead. In fact, for retailers who were able to hold onto their physical spaces through 2020, they might just be the key to cashing in on the variety of omnichannel retail trends we’ll continue to see through 2021 and beyond. Take Advantage of Today’s Omnichannel Retail Trends With Headless Architecture The common thread through all of the omnichannel retail trends we shared above is the ability for brands to provide consistent, connected, and constant experiences. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible with the legacy ecommerce tech that most brands are stuck using. If you’re ready to upgrade to67 tools that’ll help you go omnichannel, you’re ready to upgrade to headless architecture. Headless architecture uses application programming interface (API) technology to connect microservices, which are like single-purpose apps that deliver whatever features a business needs in the moment. Compared to legacy technology where features are permanently entwined and make for heavy, expensive software that’s a chore to update — headless architecture is quick, easy, and affordable to change and scale up (or down!) as trends demand. For retailers in particular, we recommend headless commerce architecture that brings together a headless content management system (like Contentstack) for website management and content delivery and a headless ecommerce platform (like commercetools) for all the core shopping functionality you need. Together, these tools will create a smooth, omnichannel shopping experience that makes life easier for your team and makes the shopping experience more modern for your customers. If you want to learn more about how easy it can be to build a headless commerce architecture with the right tools, read our blog Headless Ecommerce Architecture Using Contentstack and commercetools. And to experience the platform where it all begins — Contentstack’s headless content management system — request a free trial or book a personalized demo today.
Choosing a Mobile CMS: A Buyer's Guide for Marketers and IT Teams
From WCM to CXP: How the Content Arms Race is Killing the Legacy CMS
Struggling with how you can provide seamless customer experiences as consumers continue their conversation from chat to email to Twitter to some new app virtually unknown to anyone over 16? Wondering how you’re ever going to find the budget and coordinate the people needed to keep your content fresh and current across various local websites and growing social media channels? If these are things you’re thinking about as we’re settling into 2021, then you know it’s nothing short of a race to provide content-driven experiences that attract and engage consumers.The good news is that today’s modern content platforms are better than the traditional content management systems (CMSs) and web content management platforms (WCMs or sometimes “WEMs”) that are still in use by many large marketing organizations. The bad news? If you’re reading this article right now, you’re probably one of those large marketing organizations using outdated software.This article covers everything you need to know about:The modern content experienceHow modern content has fueled the progression from CMS to WCM to today’s CXPHow to create a strong base for your content experience platformWhat the Modern Content Experience Looks LikeIt is critical to keep up in the modern content environment. The vast majority of the history of content distribution was via the same handful of predictable formats: Print, TV, and radio. Then came the World Wide Web. Nothing much changed at first — you could just put your “billboard” on a static website in addition to on the side of the road. Then, the first 3G-connected smartphone hit in the year 2000, and everything changed.Now we can watch videos on our watches, use hand-held computers to chat with customer service reps, and order items directly to our homes with a few taps on a digital in-store kiosk.Consumption is skyrocketing as we close in on an entire year spent in the shadow of COVID-19. A survey of 10,000 people across Europe and the U.S. found that, since the pandemic began, the average daily digital content consumption per person has risen to nearly seven hours. Over 40% of consumers said they were using connected televisions more often, 48% were on social media more frequently, and 43% were spending more time watching videos — on YouTube, specifically.Today, readily-available mobile devices and internet connectivity have made us accustomed to consuming brand content and, often, making purchases anytime and anywhere. This omnichannel delivery is bedrock of the modern content experience.For marketers, the content experience can be more concisely defined as the sum of the interactions a consumer has with your content — ideally, as they move toward a purchasing decision. And the growing number of interactions and types of content all lead to one thing: Developing a platform for managing all of them.What is a “Content Experience Platform”?A content experience platform is your “control center” for all things content — content creation, management, deployment, and the various content operation tools that feed business intelligence into your content development and deployment process.Ultimately, your CXP is where the content elements you create are empowered to become part of the modern consumer experience.A modern content experience platform is composable because it’s built on MACH principles.“MACH” stands for technology that is:Microservices-basedAPI-firstCloud-nativeHeadlessAmong plenty of other benefits, what this means is that all the content experience tools you need can be individually plugged in, updated, removed, and rearranged as needed.MACH technology is what powers the content experience platform as the central hub for data platforms, personalization software, analytical apps, and content management tools you need to create omnichannel-ready content that meets consumers where they are. This infrastructure ensures that customers have all the information they need throughout the purchasing journey. (Check out our “Is your Enterprise Ready for MACH?” article to learn more about MACH.)How Content Demands Have Fueled the Progression from CMS to WCM to CXPAs content and the devices upon which consumers access it continue to change, so does the technology we use to keep up with it. Here’s how the ever-quickening race to provide the most valuable content at the perfect time has led to the evolution of today’s modern content experience platform.Traditional, Monolithic CMSsFirst were traditional, monolithic content management systems. These monolithic systems are still in use by plenty of enterprises today. These legacy CMSs combine content creation with delivery, so content is permanently in its “final form” once it’s formatted for delivery to a specific channel.While this was fine when the only device was the desktop computer and the only channel was a static website, today, it just means content that isn’t ready for omnichannel distribution.Single-Channel Web Content Management ToolsThe web content management platform (sometimes called a web “engagement” platform) came to popularity as businesses realized digital content would be a critical business capability.WCM software helps large marketing departments bring together many of the tools they need to create, run, and analyze complex content campaigns. And while this functionality is certainly a step up from monolithic CMS platforms that are nearly impossible to integrate new features into, they’re still hyper-focused on delivering content to a single channel — the web.Modern, Composable Content Experience PlatformsFinally, composable content experience platforms came along to provide the best of both worlds. Delivering a centralized content experience management app that plays well with outside tools, so you can create content thatgenuinelyoutpaces competitors in the race to deliver on omnichannel customer demands.Building Your Content Experience Platform: It All Starts With These Four ComponentsNow that you know how a CXP can bring together everything you need to compete in today’s content race, it’s time to take the next big step.While each organization’s CXP tech stack will be unique, in this section, we’ll lay out the four foundational components that will help you create your cutting-edge content experience platform.Headless CMSTo enable its full capabilities, start your modern CXP with a MACH-based headless CMS.Between its content capabilities and composability, a MACH headless CMS will provide the ideal foundation from which your business can create and push omnichannel content.Why? Well, for starters, a MACH headless CMS separates the process of creating and managing content from the way that content is formatted and distributed. It uses application programming interface (API) technology to connect the front-end display layer to the back-end content repository.The modular design means that marketing teams can create content once and reuse it for multiple platforms, using APIs to deliver the content to any device or channel, from websites and social media platforms to your customer relationship management database and beyond.This API-driven approach also provides a flexible architecture that allows you to plug in any microservice — including best-of-breed content solutions — without expensive and time-consuming development costs.Data Management SoftwareAlthough standard web analytics and A/B testing still have a place in a well-built marketing tech stack (think Google Analytics or Optimizely), building your CXP is all about leveling up and making it your own. Remember that the more data you can collect and use, the more value the data will generate when integrated into your CXP to inform content creation and distribution.Link your headless CMS to a modern customer relationship management database that tracks leads through the sales funnel (such as Zendesk) and a customer data platform that supplements your customer profiles (e.g., Evergage or Exponea). These types of tools ensure accuracy and generate insights faster.With this step, you’re on your way to bringing together the critical components of a modern CXP that will outpace legacy enterprise tech any day.Personalization ToolsPersonalization is a must-have in the modern CXP — especially in today’s omnichannel content environment where customers expect their experiences to be frictionless and consistent.Personalization is all about customizing what consumers see based on their behavior and characteristics, and studies show that it pays dividends.Research by McKinsey shows that industry leaders in personalization have increased revenue by up to 15%. Similarly, a study by Accenture found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations.By definition, personalization is data-driven. It requires collecting data about individual customers from various places and storing it to make it easy to analyze and take action on the findings. For brands with thousands or even millions of unique customers, it’s clear that personalization is a job for technology.In addition to the data management tools detailed in the previous section, platforms like Hubspot and applications that tap into supercomputers like IBM Watson are a great addition to your CXP. They further support content personalization by automating everything from sentiment analysis to keyword extraction — allowing you to deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time.Augmented and Predictive Analytics PlatformsAs consumers live more of their lives online, their data footprints continue to grow. And that means there’s more data than ever before that your brand can use to generate valuable business intelligence.The challenge of collecting, cleaning, organizing, and analyzing that data is best left to AI-driven tools that make light work of turning data into actionable insights.Augmented and predictive analytics platforms rely on machine learning to build analytical models that will help you determine what kind of content-driven experience each consumer desires.Augmented analytics use these models to identify patterns that human analysts would easily overlook. For example, augmented analytics can scan, evaluate, and summarize all content published on a particular topic during a specific time. So if you want to know how customers feel about your new marketing campaign — or perhaps even the campaigns that other top brands are running — augmented analytics can help you measure that.Predictive analytics takes a similar approach to identify trends using machine learning models to determine what customers are likely to do or want next. This process can suggest actions; for example, it might recommend sending a perfectly-timed, customized email that can turn a good content experience into a great one.With the addition of smart personalization and analytics tools to your content experience platform, you’ll be ready to run circles around your competitors with highly-personalized, omnichannel-ready content experiences.How Will Your Business Pull Ahead in Today’s Content Race?From legacy tech like web content management platforms to today’s MACH headless CMS, the fast pace of content has propelled marketing technology’s advancement like nothing else.To pull ahead of the competition in the race to provide omnichannel content experiences that consumers love — it all starts with adopting the easiest to customize headless CMS: Contentstack. Request a free, no-obligation trial or demo today to see how Contentstack can support your most significant and best content goals.