Having an API Doesn't Make Your CMS Headless
While a content management system (CMS) can claim “headless capabilities” by providing an API, simply having an API does not make a headless CMS. Yet that doesn’t stop a lot of vendors from trying to convince you otherwise!
To save you from getting duped, we’ve put together this guide to help marketing professionals understand the ins and outs of APIs. It includes how APIs define the functionality of a headless CMS, the danger of investing in the wrong CMS, and — best of all — the ultimate list for spotting and shutting down a headless CMS imposter before it’s too late.
What Is an API?
An application programming interface (API) is a technology that enables one application to make requests from or invoke actions in another application. In other words, APIs allow computer programs to interface — or communicate — with one another.
Software that uses APIs to provide data and functionality is more flexible, scalable, and integrable, which means it can be valuable and useful to businesses in a variety of ways.
Why Is API Integration Critical to Headless CMS?
Headless CMSes separates content creation and management in the backend (the “body”) from the frontend where the content is formatted and distributed (the “head”).
Using an API makes it possible to deliver content stored in the backend repository to any device or channel — which is central to what makes headless architecture ideal for brands that need to deliver experiences across consumer touchpoints. Which should be all of them, considering that in 2020 the customer experience is expected to “ …overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.”
The Challenges of Using a Traditional CMS in Place of a Headless CMS
On the other hand, there is the traditional, monolithic CMS platform (you may have heard of a few like WordPress and Drupal) that includes a frontend presentation layer (again the “head”) that intertwines with the backend. Because of this entanglement, content must be developed, designed, and delivered in the specific format that the CMS was built to handle. Often, the default delivery channel is either a static website or web-based application.
This tight “coupling” of content and presentation is outdated, as it limits how and where organizations can distribute content. To get around this fact, we’ve seen businesses tack modern interface-building (think React) software to a traditional CMS backend to create a DIY “headless” solution.
This approach does have a few advantages, such as:
- Delaying spending time and money to migrate content from one CMS platform to another
- Content managers get to stay in their comfort zone instead of learning the ins and outs of a headless CMS, which may be easier in the short run but can be costly when it comes to advancing their skills keep up with the future of the industry
However, trying to use a souped-up traditional CMS in place of a headless CMS also has plenty of disadvantages.
Speed, Stability, and Security Concerns Associated with Plugins
Traditional CMS platforms almost always come with plugins. Kind of like the poor man’s API, a plugin is a software add-on that extends functionality.
While it’s true that a traditional CMS wouldn’t be nearly as useful without some of these plugins, it’s also true that most traditional CMSes come with more plugins than any business could ever want or need.
Like pulling a cart of rocks uphill, the weight of these plugins slows the website’s performance. When the average load time of Google’s top sites is under three seconds, and 57% of people bounce if a page takes longer than that to load, slow performance is not an option.
Upgrades to plugins can also cause problems. Not all plug-ins are automatically updated to work with the latest release, so using new and old plugins that don’t work together can result in downtime or a broken site.
And, like any third-party integration, plugins introduce security and compliance concerns. In WordPress, for example, plugins are the largest source of security vulnerabilities. And of the ten most vulnerable plugins on WordPress, half are from commercial companies — and one is even a security-focused plugin!
A Poor Editorial Workflow
Even if you tack on multi-channel distribution tools that mimic the flexibility of a headless CMS, the editing workflow in a traditional CMS will always revolve around templates.
That means content managers must follow the technology’s built-in logic when it comes to structuring content — no matter how your business or your content itself needs to evolve with the times.
While you may feel like you’re buying a little slice of security when you invest in a traditional CMS that’s hosted in-house or on an external server, what you’re signing up for is a lifetime of hosting expenses, upkeep, upgrades, security, and version maintenance.
With a cloud-based headless CMS, the software is hosted and managed by the vendor. That means there are no upgrades for you to manage, no hosting bills, no server surprises, and no back-breaking expenses if you suddenly need to scale.
Lack of Flexibility
As we touched on earlier, a traditional CMS is quite opinionated.
Once upon a time, the interdependency between the authoring experience, content visualization, and the vendor ecosystem was a delight for single-channel publishers. But today, you don’t want to be locked into a single selection of plug-ins or a software suite. A headless CMS allows you to pick and choose your technology stack to integrate your preferred AI, CRM, CDP, localization, translation, and other tools to optimize content and publish it across multiple channels, devices, and audiences.
Is your CMS causing astronomical opportunity cost? Find out if your business displays any of the signs now.
How to Spot a Headless CMS “Imposter”
With the growing popularity of headless CMS, it seems like just about every content management provider is looking for a workaround that will allow them to call their platform “headless.”
While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we want to make sure you don’t fall for any false advertising. If you’re shopping for a pure headless CMS, this six-step checklist will help you identify and avoid imposters.
1. A headless CMS will offer more than a singular, content-focused API.
Most modern content management systems, both headless and traditional, include some API that pulls content out of a repository.
But as you now know, a single API does not make a headless CMS! If you want a genuinely headless solution, look for details on APIs that enable functionality across the platform — from content creation to management to delivery.
2. A True Headless CMS Can Support Any Frontend
Because APIs are used to link the front and backends, a headless CMS solution should be able to work with any frontend. Since it should work with any frontend, any CMS solution you’re looking at should have software development kits (SDKs) that cater to all frontend frameworks, Frontend-as-a-Service providers, mobile apps, and traditional application programming languages.
3. Headless is Always API-First
“Headless” is synonymous with “API-first” because headless architecture is predicated on the assumption that the APIs were there first.
If the CMS you’re looking at is built on pages and templates with APIs layered over the top, you’re probably going to find that that “API-first” architecture starts to crumble the deeper you dig.
4. Headless CMS Is (Usually) Delivered as a Service
Some traditional CMS vendors will sell you usage-based packages, similar to offerings with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms. But, be careful, as there’s a chance they’re just fancied-up managed services. If that’s the case, you’ll eventually find yourself lacking the flexibility and rapid development pace a service-based headless CMS would offer.
To uncover an imposter, ask how much money and time you can expect to spend on version upgrades. With a true SaaS headless CMS, the answer should be none.
5. Headless CMS Is Automatically Omnichannel
Technically speaking, any CMS can publish to multiple channels. But with a traditional CMS, you’ll have to create separate content for each channel manually.
A headless CMS serves as many channels and platforms and audiences as you want from a single content source. All the business user has to do is establish rules and implement integrations to translate, localize, and further optimize it.
This distinction is critical, as manually creating content with a traditional CMS can drastically ramp up your overhead costs and kill your speed to market.
6. Headless CMS Can Flex To Fit Your Use Cases—and Isn’t Afraid To Prove It
You’re about to drop a large sum of money on the platform upon which your entire digital experience will rest. So by all means, take it for a spin!
Headless or not, you want to make sure the CMS you choose is going to fit your business needs.
Even if it’s going to take a small investment, get a test account set up and work through several realistic proofs of concept. If the vendor isn’t willing to let you try before you buy — they likely have something to hide.
Now that you’re empowered to shut down CMS imposters in their tracks with your API knowledge, why not keep learning?
To learn more about what content architecture can do for your business, check out our guide on How Smarter Content Architecture Drives Business Transformation. And to prepare yourself to dive into CMS shopping, our primer on How to Choose a CMS should give you a great place to start.
If you have questions or want to see a pure headless CMS in action? Get in touch to set up a free, no-obligation proof of concept today.
How to avoid the pitfalls of a composable architecture
Digital content management is in a state of perpetual evolution. Consumers have come to expect robust, seamless digital experiences when interacting with brands, and organizations that fail to meet those expectations can quickly find themselves left behind.It’s tempting to think the solution is to build a digital experience that satisfies the expectations of today’s consumer; unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Every day brings new channels and new competitors, and the digital experiences consumers want today might not look anything like the one they want tomorrow.A composable architecture gives businesses the speed, flexibility and scalability they need to deliver digital experiences that meet the expectations of current and future customers. However, there are complexities in the implementation process that enterprises need to be prepared for in order to ensure a seamless transition to composable architecture.What is a composable architecture?Content management systems traditionally have relied on monolithic architecture: an all-in-one system in which the front-end and back-end layers are handled by a single codebase. That approach served us well for decades; that is, until 2014, when mobile internet usage supplanted desktop usage. Since then, consumers have grown to expect a seamless omnichannel experience that a traditional monolithic CMS was never designed to deliver. “There are a lot more requirements on the customer [or] end user side,” said Jeff Baher, head of product marketing at Contentstack. “Content that once resided solely on a website is now in a lot of different places.”Monolithic architecture offers a suite of functions that can be managed from one codebase, which makes for a fairly simple implementation process. But what happens when an organization’s needs surpass the capabilities of a legacy CMS?“Can any one single vendor get their arms around it and solve for all that?” Baher asked. The answer is increasingly no. Enterprises are instead often forced to rely on clunky plug-ins to deliver the functionality they need, and with each new plug-in, the site gets a little slower — and the digital experience suffers as a result.Organizations that wish to avoid plug-ins can update their CMS, but that’s a time-consuming and expensive process. With monolithic architecture, even minor front-end changes can require significant updates to back-end code. And, of course, that process inevitably needs to be repeated every time consumer expectations change or new channels emerge.A composable architecture breaks down the large and complex functions found in monolithic solutions into smaller, more manageable pieces. An application programming interface (API) acts as the go-between for these smaller pieces, allowing them to communicate and transfer information more efficiently. In a composable CMS, the front-end and back-end layers are decoupled, so changes can be made to the front end independent of back-end functions.The result is the same functionality found in monolithic architecture, only more efficient, more flexible and with more freedom to build a customized or modular solution to meet an organization’s specific needs — once the new architecture is up and running, that is.Common pitfalls of implementing a composable architectureA composable architecture allows organizations to build rich, omnichannel digital experiences on their own terms, free from any of the limitations imposed by monolithic architecture. But, a wider range of possibilities also means more potential challenges.What goes where, who’s on first?A monolithic architecture has a variety of inherent shortcomings, but monolithic solutions do offer a clear benefit: simplicity. Although notoriously difficult to update, legacy architecture is fairly easy to implement, which may be attractive to some organizations depending on their needs. And since monolithic solutions are typically created and sold by one vendor, organizations benefit from a one-stop point of contact for any issues that may arise. A composable solution brings together capabilities of different vendors, Baher said. This is undoubtedly a positive in terms of flexibility and freedom, but if one element doesn’t work as intended, it can affect the entire digital experience. With a monolithic solution, the vendor handles the process of identifying and fixing the problem, but with composable, the organization has to manage the diagnostic process. On top of that, if the issue is being caused by two elements from two different vendors; which vendor is responsible for the fix?The ‘kitchen sink' problemThe main selling point of a composable architecture is its flexibility; there are few limits on what your organization can do with a composable solution. But just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should. A composable architecture is “similar to Lego pieces, allowing you to build a lot of different things,” Baher said. “But that’s also the challenge: What do you build? How do you do it?”Assembling, or integrating, the available pieces is only half the battle. The other half is making sure each component selected is necessary to create the digital experience you have in mind. Remember, there’s “must-have” functionality and there’s “nice-to-have” functionality — and the more you have of the latter, the less time your IT team has to focus on the former.Disconnects between teamsAs the old saying goes, “a camel is a horse designed by a committee.” The flexibility of a composable architecture is useless if nobody can agree on the best way to use it. In organizations accustomed to monolithic architecture, it’s not uncommon for siloed teams or departments to form and operate independently of one another.Under these conditions, each team may develop their own idea of what “best” means in terms of functionality, user experience and so on, which can make for a rocky transition to a composable architecture. In order to overcome this challenge, and to maximize content re-use, organizations need to break down those silos by clearly defining cross-team goals and making sure departments work collaboratively to achieve them. If not, the digital experience you deliver to consumers is likely to resemble a camel.The people problemUltimately, an organization’s ability to successfully implement a composable architecture rests largely on its people for it’s not only a technology shift, it’s also a mindset shift. With a monolithic CMS, all the features are included in the software, but a composable solution is essentially a blank canvas — and it’s up to your people to think through and feel comfortable and confident with how to fill it in. Eliminating disconnects between teams is a key part of success in this regard, but organizations also need to have the right frame of mind and right resources on the technical side to build everything out.Overcome the pitfalls and go composable with confidenceMoving to composable architecture is more complex than many organizations realize initially, but the pitfalls are all surmountable. The following considerations are the key ingredients for success, according to Baher:Choose the right component technologies.Select vendors who view going composable as a partnership, not a dealership.Invest in automation technology to simplify integrations and automate routine tasks.Seek expertise and support to help you along the way.Run the numbers and a proper ROI analysis.Learn moreLearn more about the benefits of a composable architecture in our blog post, “Why a composable CMS is right for you.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s headless content management platform and industry-leading, cross-vendor support can help your organization make the transition to a composable architecture today.
Why a composable CMS is right for you
The average digital user spends 54 seconds on a page. That may seem like a short amount of time to formulate an opinion about your site, but from the user’s perspective, it’s practically an eternity. According to the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, 75% of consumers decide whether a company is credible based solely on their experience with the company’s site. And research from Google found that 1 in 4 visitors will abandon a site if it takes longer than 4 seconds to load.Your site has a very small window of opportunity to make a good impression. A composable content management system (CMS) can help your organization meet the needs and expectations of today’s consumers while remaining agile enough to adapt when those needs change. (And they will.)Here’s how.What is a composable content management system?Content management systems are traditionally built using monolithic or “legacy” architecture. With the monolithic model, entire applications are designed as a single unit: a monolithic CMS provides a suite of functions, all handled by a single codebase.This model worked well when the digital experience only had to be delivered on desktop browsers, but that changed 15 years ago with the release of the first iPhone. Monolithic was slow to adapt to mobile internet usage; since then, a slew of new channels has popped up, from smartwatches and gaming consoles to devices like Google Home and Alexa.Today’s consumers demand a seamless omnichannel digital experience, and monolithic struggles to keep up: a legacy CMS can be upgraded to fit new channels, but those upgrades are reactive, not proactive. Monolithic is slow to adapt to existing channels, let alone anticipate new ones. In addition, the inherent complexity of legacy architecture makes for a lengthy publishing and launch process, which affects the time to market on any upgrades. That’s not just inconvenient — it’s a genuine risk to an enterprise’s long-term success. That’s why more organizations are moving to composable architecture.How does a composable CMS work?A composable CMS is built using a collection of smaller, more manageable pieces, instead of the single large and complex unit found in monolithic solutions. With a composable CMS, organizations choose the individual systems and services that best suit their needs and allow them to build a custom digital experience. These pieces are tied together using an Application Programming Interface (API) that acts as a middleman for these smaller pieces to communicate and transfer information in a more efficient way.What are the benefits of a composable CMS?The modular approach of composable architecture offers a variety of benefits for both businesses and consumers.Innovation forward Because monolithic is so large and complex, most of the development time and resources are spent on upgrading the CMS just to keep up. Unfortunately, that leaves less time for developers to take a more forward-thinking approach. The rapid development time of updates and upgrades to a composable CMS means your team has more time to focus on innovation.AgilityWith monolithic architecture, even minor front-end changes can require significant updates to back-end code, and that means developer involvement — even for something as simple as updating site fonts or a carousel. With a composable CMS, the front-end and back-end code are decoupled, so front-end changes (i.e., changes to the presentation and delivery of the site to users) can be made without having to update the back end. This flexibility is crucial in the age of digital disruption, when organizations that are unable to adapt to new channels and behaviors can get left behind.Composable CMSs allow you to swap out modular components on the fly. This cuts down on development time and allows organizations to experiment with changes to a site or application before fully committing to them.Scalability A growing user base for your site or application is a good thing, but if you want to maintain that growth, you have to scale. Both monolithic and composable CMSes can scale horizontally by adding more instances of a high-demand function or feature. But in a monolithic CMS, everything is interconnected: if you need to run five instances of a specific feature of your site or app to meet demand, you have to run five instances of the entire application — even if you could meet demand for all the other features with just a single instance. Therefore, ensuring the performance of that one function could mean having to pay for five times more server or cloud storage than you really need.Composable lets you scale individual functions according to demand. It’s a more efficient and budget-friendly way to consistently deliver the digital experience users expect from your business.Enhanced capabilities Every monolithic CMS has its own unique pros and cons: Adobe Experience can handle a lot of site content, but it’s expensive and requires significant IT support throughout its lifespan. Sitecore can be scaled easily and is more secure than most other CMSes, but skilled developers are hard to find and transitioning to Sitecore is a lengthy and expensive process. With a monolithic CMS, the digital experience is limited by what that particular CMS does well. Composable lets you choose the best applications for each function and build a limitless CMS experience. Reduced talent costsTo maintain and upgrade a monolithic CMS, you’ll need developers and engineers who are experts in that specific CMS’ proprietary framework. Those specialized skills mean organizations have to pay more to attract and retain talent. In addition, it’s difficult to learn these complex and highly specific systems on the job, so organizations usually have to hire more top-dollar talent every time a member of the team leaves the company.With composable, organizations can access a much larger talent pool, making it easier to find the right people to handle each individual function — for the right price.Improved user experienceA composable CMS can make a major difference in the user experience. A monolithic CMS can usually only be customized via plug-ins, which negatively impact site loading and speed. This can affect your bottom line: recent research from Portent found that an e-commerce site with a one-second load time had a conversion rate 2.5x higher than a site with a five-second load time. Composable allows for as much (if not more) customization, but without sacrificing speed.Learn moreLearn more about composable architecture in our guide, “What is composable architecture?”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s content experience platform can deliver the benefits of composable to your organization.
What is Agile content marketing?
Does your organization clamor to keep up with requests to create more relevant online content? Does your marketing team work tirelessly spinning content for different personas and managing content for multiple channels?Because the enormous demand for digital content continues to grow, these problems are very real for marketing teams at organizations of every size. According to Pew Research, in 2021 one in every three U.S. adults reported being “almost constantly” online.This heavy online presence produces a plethora of data, from geolocation tracking to Google Analytics to consumer reviews and much more. Yet much of this data is overlooked or not fully utilized when making marketing decisions, especially with the traditional waterfall marketing approach. Yet many organizations still handle their marketing this way — the same way it’s been done for decades. This is not all that surprising given the lightning speed at which technology creates new ways to communicate with customers. Trying to outpace or even just keep up with the constant flux of change is challenging at best for most organizations.An increasing number of organizations, however, are realizing there’s a better way to manage their marketing with an Agile approach based on the abundance of real-time data and consumer insights that are available virtually 24/7. We’ll tell you more about this shortly. But first let’s look at some of the main issues organizations experience with traditional marketing.Why traditional marketing doesn’t work in our data-driven worldFor most organizations, decisions about the type of campaigns to run and when to run them have traditionally been made months or even a year in advance. While these decisions may be made thoughtfully based on available insights at the time, there are clear disadvantages to marketing this way.Lack of flexibility: Firstly, there’s little room for flexibility when trends like customer expectations and sales change between the time decisions are made and when marketing campaigns launch. There’s no process in place to let marketing teams change their prioritized content or goals based on data or even current events.Difficulty producing content for multiple channels: Another key disadvantage of traditional marketing is it doesn’t provide an intuitive, easy process for repurposing content for multiple channels including websites, social media channels or e-commerce platforms.Lack of personalization: Savvy customers today expect content that relates to their lifestyles and needs. With traditional marketing, there’s no easy way to personalize content for specific customer segments with user stories of other tools. Instead, personalizing content becomes a laborious process that burdens staff with repurposing content and then making sure it gets to the right channels.Overburdened, frustrated staff: All the above issues affect the marketing team. From writers to project managers, team members may feel stressed, overburdened and sometimes disheartened because, despite all their efforts, the results they’re seeing are not optimal.What Is Agile content marketing?The Agile methodology was first used by software developers who wanted to reduce the time it took to create new products and updates while retaining flexibility. Agile was designed to break projects into manageable chunks, and at every step of the process, provide a process to implement necessary changes as they arose. Because of this built-in ability to pivot when needed, finished software products could be more up-to-date and relevant when released.Agile has since been heavily adopted to manage projects in the corporate world and government agencies. The methodology is used in a wide range of industries including financial services, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, engineering, aerospace and others.Desiring the same speed and flexibility, the Agile methodology has more recently been leveraged widely for content marketing. This is especially true in forward-thinking organizations looking for better strategies and technologies to help them accomplish their goals.To understand why the Agile approach is a perfect fit for content marketing, let’s briefly think about the onset of the pandemic. Whether B2C or B2B, every organization had to move fast to reach their audiences with content ranging from text messages and social media posts to website alerts and relevant articles and blogs. The world was changing rapidly and content needed to keep pace with the changes that were occurring from one day to the next.In an Agile content marketing workflow, cross-functional teams of writers, editors, designers, and other content experts collaborate on manageable tasks over a period of time called a “sprint.” Other cross-functional teams may work in parallel on separate but equally important tasks that may be part of the same larger project.Each team’s tasks are assigned based on priority by analyzing data, consumer feedback, recent trends, current events and other inputs. At the end of each sprint, content is sent to another sprint for improvement or launched with a specific goal in mind. Then both the work and the process are reviewed for possible improvements.In real life, an Agile marketing process might look like this:A marketing lead gathers data and customer requirementsThe data and user stories are prioritized by the marketing team and then broken down into actionable tasksThe team organizes tasks into one or more sprints based on content typeA cross-functional team works in tandem to execute their work during the sprintAt the end of each sprint, the work and the sprint planning process are both reviewed for possible improvementsThe next sprint to implement improvements and new tasks are assignedAgile content marketing: a game changer for your businessOne significant feature of Agile content marketing is that it involves a consistent cycle of producing content, then testing it to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Then simply do more of what works or what your audience wants and less of what doesn’t work. The benefit is more relevant content engaging audiences in meaningful ways.For instance, let’s say a marketing team created a blog post for one of its buyer personas. The post doesn’t drive a wide audience to the organization’s website. However, the social media post on Facebook to promote the blog got hundreds of responses and likes. Based on some of the comments, the marketing team gained some valuable insights into the products that potential customers wanted to learn more about. With Agile content marketing, it’s easy for the marketing team to prioritize more of the desired content in the next sprint, while deprioritizing content on a different topic that didn’t garner as much interest. Pushing successful content to other channels would be another available option with Agile marketing.Social media comments and shares, website page views and conversion rates, and video views are some of the many types of data that can be leveraged to influence Agile marketing strategy.Creating high-quality content not only engages audiences and helps to convert new customers, it provides a steady stream of new ideas for the marketing team so they know which strategies or topics to focus on next. 5 benefits of Agile content marketingAgile content marketing has many benefits. Here are the five that we believe are the most important. Greater success: Several research studies have proven that Agile marketing content is more successful than content created using the traditional waterfall approach. This includes the Standish Group Chaos Report 2020, which determined that Agile projects were three times more likely to succeed.Speed: The Agile approach enables marketers to launch content faster, especially when sprint lengths are tailored specifically to different content types.Efficiency: Agile marketing teams are able to do more with less because they can focus their full attention on the content that’s prioritized at any given time. The content creation process also becomes more efficient over time because it’s evaluated after every sprint for ongoing improvement.Greater flexibility: With Agile marketing, there’s a built-in process for changing content strategy or the content itself based on data, consumer behavior, current events and other insights.Happier marketing teams: Not only do Agile marketing teams report greater productivity, they’re also happier. Research has shown that they have improved morale.Learn more Learn more about Agile marketing in our guide, “How to get started with Agile marketing.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable content experience platform can help jump start your agile content marketing strategy.
How to choose an omnichannel marketing platform
Omnichannel marketing allows businesses to create customer-centric experiences that are personalized and consistent for each consumer across all channels. This modern way of thinking about content management can help your business build stronger relationships with customers and increase sales.Today's marketing professionals need to pursue an omnichannel experience that customers can use whenever, wherever they want. This approach means creating a consistent experience across all devices, whether customers use a desktop computer, a mobile phone, a tablet or a smartwatch. By designing an omnichannel experience, companies can ensure that their customers have a positive and seamless experience no matter how they interact with them. This article will explore what marketing professionals should look for when considering an omnichannel marketing platform.What is an omnichannel marketing platform and why do you need one?An omnichannel marketing platform allows you to connect with customers across all channels, including online, offline, and mobile. Using this customer-centric marketing approach, companies can provide a consistent customer experience no matter how the customer interacts with them. An omnichannel platform can also help businesses to better understand customer behavior and preferences, which can help to improve marketing strategies and ultimately increase sales.Omnichannel marketing is similar to multichannel marketing. Both of these strategies involve engaging customers across different channels. However, there are some critical differences between these two approaches. Multichannel marketing promotes a unified message using various channels. In contrast, omnichannel marketing takes a customer-focused approach. It adapts to the customer's cross-channel preferences, allowing them to move between channels seamlessly. This capability means omnichannel marketing is better equipped to provide a personalized experience. Benefits of using an omnichannel marketing platformAn omnichannel marketing platform can provide many benefits for your business. The products and services you offer, the customers you serve and other characteristics unique to your situation will determine the advantages that benefit you most. Here are the most common omnichannel use cases.Add virtual inventory to your store: Omnichannel marketing allows you to promote the idea of an endless aisle. You can use this virtual merchandise presentation to complement your real-world store's physical inventory. This type of shopping experience is nearly impossible to achieve without an omnichannel marketing platform.Recurring payment model: Recurring payments are becoming an increasingly popular way for consumers to pay for goods and services. This payment model allows customers to regularly authorize a merchant to charge a designated amount to their credit card or bank account. This can be a convenient way for customers to pay for monthly subscriptions, such as Netflix or Spotify, or for larger purchases spread over time, such as a new mattress.Recurring payments help your business build stronger relationships with your customers by making it easy for them to continue doing business with your company over time. Omnichannel marketing helps your customers move seamlessly between making an in-store or online purchase and establishing continuing services.Buy online for in-store pickup: This omnichannel feature has quickly become a staple of e-commerce. For many types of goods, if customers can't shop for items from the comfort of their homes, they will shop elsewhere.Increasing customer loyalty: A well-designed omnichannel strategy can help your business better understand customer behavior and preferences. You can use this information to improve relationships, fortify customer loyalty, and ultimately increase sales.Improving customer experience: By using an omnichannel platform, businesses can ensure that they are providing a consistent customer experience across all channels. This consistent experience can improve customer satisfaction.How to choose the best omnichannel marketing platform for your businessWhen choosing an omnichannel marketing platform for your business, the most critical consideration is finding one that is truly focused on the customer, not just brand-centric, using multiple channels. Brand centricity is all about promoting a unified message across various channels. At the same time, customer-centricity considers the customer's preferences and needs. Adopting this paradigm can be challenging for some marketing solution providers that cut their teeth on multichannel marketing. It's not enough to provide the same branding message across your customers' channels. A customer-centric solution helps you tap into your customers' historical behavior to understand their needs better. To provide your customers with the best possible experience, you will also want to consider how user-friendly and easy to navigate a potential solution is. The platform's ability to integrate with other software applications used by your company is also an important consideration. Once you have considered these factors, you can compare the different omnichannel features that are available. Reading reviews and comparing attributes is essential to ensure you choose the best platform for your business.Features of the best omnichannel platformsHere are some of the top features to consider when choosing an omnichannel marketing platform:The ability to provide a personalized customer journey across all channels: An omnichannel marketing platform should allow you to manage your marketing activities efficiently and effectively across all channels. This approach can save time and money.The ability to connect with customers across all channels: An omnichannel marketing platform should allow you to connect with customers across all channels, including online, offline, and mobile. This can help to improve customer loyalty and increase sales.The ability to understand customer behavior and preferences: An omnichannel marketing platform can help businesses better understand customer behavior and preferences. You can use this information to improve marketing and ultimately increase sales.What to avoid in omnichannel marketing platformsWhen considering an omnichannel marketing platform, it is essential to know the available features and choose the platform best suited to your business. However, there are also some things to avoid when choosing a platform.Be sure not to choose a platform that is too complex or difficult to use. The platform should be easy to navigate and use so that you can manage your marketing activities effectively.Also, avoid platforms that are too costly for your budget. It is crucial to find a platform that offers good value for your money.Finally, avoid platforms that do not offer good customer support. The platform should be easy to use, but if you encounter any problems, you should be able to get help quickly.Learn moreLearn more about omnichannel content management in this informative guide.Is your CMS holding you back from creating the omnichannel experiences your customers expect? Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s headless, composable content experience platform can transform your digital marketing strategy.
How to launch an online store in under 90 days
There are two absolutes in a digital economy: impatient, demanding customers and the need for an e-commerce presence. If you don’t have an e-commerce presence or the one you do have fails to meet customer expectations, you’re likely considering how to solve your problem.What’s been your experience with a software development effort? If you’re like many, it conjures images of:Rounding up the best qualified (and already overworked) team membersSlogging through endless team meetings on top of your other job dutiesWorking through months of coding, testing, refining and debugging to field a minimum viable product (MVP) e-commerce siteWe’ve all been there and have the T-shirts to prove it. But how would you react if we said it is possible to launch an e-commerce venture in under 90 days? Not a work-in-progress, bare-bones MVP placeholder, but a fully functional, customer-centric, remarkably agile e-commerce site built by a team of six people using four independent technologies in less than three months.Why build a working example?How do you address the incredulous responses to the “up and running in under 90 days” claim? As professional baseball player Dizzy Dean said, “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.” So, we decided to prove the power and ease of using composable commerce tools by building and demonstrating a working e-commerce site at ContentCon 2022, our annual conference.Why tie the project to the conference? A swag store was the natural choice to launch at a conference as attendees could access the store, select their items, create digital receipts and collect their items at the vendor’s booth.“We wanted to use this as an example to give you guys an application that you can actually interact with that we’ve built with our four technologies to show it’s really not that difficult,” said Piyush Patel, chief ecosystem officer at Algolia.The team planned the project as more than just a conference presentation, however.“This is just the starting point,” said Gary Ballabio, VP of technology partnerships at Cloudinary. While every business will have its own requirements, the team used their four technologies to create a proof of concept “but also [to create a reusable platform] for anybody to use afterward, for everybody to branch off and use really for a starting point themselves.”How do you launch an e-commerce store in under 90 days?How did we pull this off in less than 90 days? By partnering with three other industry leaders, BigCommerce, Cloudinary and Algolia. We each contributed part-time team members and our software to the project. Here’s a rundown of the platform software each company contributed:E-commerce enablement by BigCommerceImage and video management by CloudinaryHeadless CMS by ContentstackInstant searchability by AlgoliaThe next step was setting up our goals and success measures with the technologies chosen. The resulting project parameters were simple and to the point:Our working premise was that the four technologies working together would meet all project requirements.The site would include four pillars: content, search, commerce and media.Each technology partner would provide part-time technologists, not full-time developers.In a nod to the reality people face developing and deploying software today, all team members were remote, spanning time zones from India to California.Assess the ability of each technology’s integration framework to facilitate information flow seamlessly between platforms.Deliver a solution other e-commerce ventures could use as a starting point.We wanted the development effort to reflect the real world, not be an academic exercise. “This really mimicked what many of your organizations have to deal with on a day-to-day basis,” said Nick Barron, senior director of partner enablement at Contentstack. “We’ve got a lot of remote employees; we’ve got a lot of dispersed teams that live in little siloes, specialties and little centers.” So, a 100% remote team was an ideal test environment.The results? We met all our goals and delivered the e-commerce site in well under 90 days. The team became so enthused and productive that we finally called a hard stop as we had more than enough to prove our concept.Here are the project’s summary stats:How it worksHow do you bridge the integration gap between different technologies to deliver functional e-commerce sites and other applications quickly and easily? The short answer lies in using application protocol interfaces (APIs) to manage communication between technologies. Configuration settings replace software customization, allowing users to compose the processes and actions needed to make the application meaningful to customers and the business.Here's a high-level look at how the ABC Swag e-commerce site brings a new product to life.The product manager creates the product in BigCommerce, entering the required information like SKU, product name, product specifications and more.BigCommerce automatically creates the product detail page (PDP) in Contentstack, notifying the product marketer that it’s available for enrichment.The product marketer adds enriched content, including images, videos, 3D models and more, to the PDP from Cloudinary.Contentstack updates Cloudinary assets with metadata describing the location of each asset used in the PDP.When Contentstack publishes the product, it sends all the details to Algolia to index and prepare for searching.As the product manager or marketer makes changes based on analytics like sales, clicks and customer questions, the system automatically manages them, eliminating human error and increasing system responsiveness.Why it worksOf course, technology underpins everything, but people and a cooperative spirit are the two things that make technology valuable and usable. At Contentstack, we call this “Care Without Compromise™.”Here are some observations from the other team members about why the project worked:“The ability to reach out to the other vendors with questions made everyone’s job easier,” Patel said. “I think that’s the lesson we learned is, have help.”Ballabio said the team members were technologists, not full-time developers, working part-time with new tools and working full-time with the tools they were familiar with.“It is a testament to how well documented and how well set up those other tools are for them to pick it up and to create this proof of concept together,” he said.The project also illustrates the dedication of the companies leading the Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless (MACH) evolution to solve their customers’ problems. This dedication extends to getting help from other technology partners when necessary.Powered by composable architectureWhat made it possible for our part-time team, working remotely in their area of expertise, to build this e-commerce venture in record time? Composable architecture. Composable architecture takes advantage of APIs and scalable web services to create a digital-first enterprise.A simplified definition, to be sure, but it’s more important how composable architecture helps enterprises than how you define it. According to Architecture & Governance, Gartner says, “supporting composable architecture means architecting your business for real-time adaptability and resilience in the face of uncertainty.” What business cannot benefit from adaptability and resilience?Acceptance of the MACH/composable architecture approach to e-commerce continues to grow. More organizations are finding they can no longer meet the demands of today’s consumers with traditional monolithic systems and dated development methodologies. To survive and thrive, they are making the move to composable systems. According to a recent Salesforce State of Commerce report, 80% of businesses that don’t currently have headless e-commerce technology up and running plan to implement it in the next two years.Composable architecture using MACH components enables teams in any size company to develop, deploy and maintain responsive e-commerce ventures in record time. We demonstrated that combining headless CMS, media enrichment, e-commerce enablement and instant search replaces monoliths with superior solutions.Connect Without CompromiseContentstack and our partners are taking Care Without Compromise™ to another level with Connect Without Compromise™. We want to assure our mutual customers that our tools will work as described. Should any customer experience issues, we'll work with our partners to find a solutionHow does this differ from our Care Without Compromise? Think of it as a combination of technology and best practices.Marketplace: An extensive ecosystem of features, services, apps, integrations and accelerators.Automation Hub: Simple, no-code, cross-stack business logic you can implement immediately.Blueprints: Extremely detailed best practices and implementation guides to get you from zero to operational in the shortest time possible.For example, if you want to set up a store using the same technologies we used to build our ABC Swag Store demo, we have a blueprint that will give you a jump start on creating a similar application for your business.The passing of the age of the monolithsIt’s fair to say that the age of the monoliths has passed, replaced by the age of composable architecture. Rather than waiting weeks for developers to create a simple integration in a monolithic system, businesses can model, evaluate and deploy them in minutes. We think that’s worth celebrating. If you agree and want to learn more to move your business forward, we offer these options:See the ABC Swag Store in action. For a deeper dive into the building of the ABC Swag Store site, watch our webinar series, “The ABCs of Composable Commerce.”Want to build your e-commerce venture or headless CMS? Learn more and schedule a free demo.