How to Concept and Pitch an Augmented Reality Demo (in 1 Week or Less)
Week Zero: Getting to the Pitch
Sometime in the beginning of summer, the Contentstack marketing team called up Valtech, and asked them to build an Augmented Reality (AR) demo on top of our CMS.
We caught Pascal Lagarde (VP Commerce) and Auke van Urk (CTO) in a good mood. They said yes. Then everyone went on summer holidays. Until about 2 weeks ago, when Pascal called us back.
He said: “We’ll build you an AR demo. And we’re going to do it in the next 4 weeks.”
This is the story of how they did it, told (almost) live.
Today, what happened in Week Zero: how the development team at Valtech went from receiving our somewhat vague brief to pitching us two sharply defined concepts a week later.
We’ll even be sharing the actual pitch deck. (It’s at the bottom of this post.)
Getting the Brief
Jason Alderman is a senior engineer at Valtech, but he used to work designing interactive exhibits in museums. One of his favorite projects was a donation machine for a museum lobby, which was a giant glass porthole attached to a set of sails. When the machine detected a donation bill, it would suck it up through a snaking tube into the porthole, which would then activate a sensor that would make the sails blow as if in the wind.
He’s excited about the possibilities of Augmented Reality. “I like the connection between the physical and the digital world. Right now we're holding up these small pieces of metal and glass up to our faces and moving them around like a magic window. The technology is still evolving. I'm really interested to see what the end result will be.”
Jason was the first team member to get tasked with responding to “the brief” which was, admittedly, a somewhat rough Google Doc where a few Contentstack people had traded ideas with a few Valtech people along the lines of “could it look like Minority Report?” and “it needs to be interesting for marketers and developers alike”.
This was the actual brief.
Jason is positive about this experience, telling me: “We were given a lot of creative free rein. That's one of the things I love about this company — they really invest in the people and let them run with their ideas.” He planned a workshop with a few other developers, UX researchers, and experience designers. “We figured that we probably needed to get as many perspectives inside the company as we could and brainstorm things.”
Identifying the Parameters: Why Contentstack?
1. IDENTIFY HOW A HEADLESS CMS WILL BE USEFUL IN AN AR CONTEXT
Contentstack is a Content Experience Platform (CXP) with a headless content management system (CMS) at the core. It’s essentially a highly user-friendly database and environment for content creation and storage (text, media, or otherwise) with powerful APIs and integration capabilities that allow that content to easily be delivered to any kind of channel or environment. Traditionally, content management systems have been used to power the web, but today the demand for content-rich experiences is significantly more diverse. Beyond web and the mobile web and even app, brands need content to exist in an atomic form, ready to be delivered in an optimized and personalized way to digital billboards, point of sale terminals, social media, marketing automation systems — and yes, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality experiences.
Valtech is one of the founding partners together with Contentstack of the MACH Alliance, which is a governing and educational body promoting a new standard for enterprise architecture: Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS, and headless. Says Jason, “It's a way of having an enterprise CMS that can feed all sorts of different front-ends from mobile apps to react apps.”
2. LIST KNOWN STRENGTHS OF CONTENTSTACK CMS
The Valtech team made a list of all the strengths of the Contentstack platform that could be highlighted in an AR demo, which looked like this (see more of this in the pitch deck at the end of this post).
The strengths of Contentstack for AR demo, as identified by Valtech.
- Detailed content models can be structured easily to feed websites, apps, and of course, AR.
- Internationalization: robust multilingual support, including fallback languages — for instance, if there is no content for a given channel in Mexican Spanish you can rollback to general Spanish content.
- Robust ability to set up workflows — easily configuring layered steps comprising different actions (approval, commenting, adding elements) that can be set up to automatically push to the next stage.
- Tremendous capability for personalization through powerful integration with tools such as Optimizely or Dynamic Yield.
Isolating the Task: Why AR?
AR is hot right now. But the team that took our brief wasn’t a pure AR team. It was a group of people who know how to build experiences and augment them with technology in order to make them either useful, or really fun, or both. Given the brief of delivering content-rich experiences pulled from a headless CMS, their first question was "are we sure the best way to accomplish showing off this CMS is through AR?"
1. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND USEFUL APPLICATIONS OF AUGMENTED REALITY?
Along with Jason, leading the brainstorm efforts was Danielle Holstine, Delivery Manager — a software engineer turned project manager — who spent ten years developing AR and VR technology. She sees potential for AR in everything: “To experience VR you currently have to put this big thing on your face and it's like blinders — you can't see anything else around you. AR, on the other hand, uses what you're already seeing and just adds information on top of it, so it's additive.” Especially interesting is the potential of web-based AR and the ability to move away from native apps, which makes these experiences more accessible and easier to engage with. “Phone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have been investing in the hardware required to do augmented reality functions: improving cameras, sensors, all those kinds of things. And equally on the software side, there's been a lot of development on browser-based AR so it no longer requires a dedicated application to make use of your camera and the sensors on your phone, but rather being able to access the information through just a browser.”
But UX researcher and designer Hayley Sikora had questions. “Knowing that we’re working with an amazing CMS and that the brief was to convey information through it, my question was, why are we doing it in AR? Because it’s very difficult to get large amounts of information across in AR.”
Britt Midgette, Sr. Experience Designer, agrees. “We can’t just do AR because it’s cool. It must enhance the experience in a needful way. VR is a different thing — you are creating worlds, there’s "no reason” to do that — but it’s fun, and you can add a lot of stuff in that world. You can still show people a lot of things in an AR world but really — why?! Some things should be static. AR can just get in the way of what people are trying to do.”
2. FRAME THE BRAINSTORM TO SERVE THE OPPORTUNITY
The resolution came from framing the question in a storytelling narrative:
Since Augmented Reality is layering information on top of the real world, hopefully to make things easier and provide context, there are industries that have complex information, which can be simplified or explained, personalized, and delivered through an AR experience.
The team (Jason, Danielle, Hayley, Britt, Pascal, and engineers Alex Olivier and Brian Harrington) then broke down this narrative into its component parts and discussed each in turn.
The goal was to come up with 1-2 strong concepts that could be presented to Contentstack in a pitch the following Monday
BRAINSTORM Q1. What are industries that have complex information?
The team used Miro as a digital whiteboard.
The Miro board with dot voting star stickers.
The ideas did not start out clustered together, but rather as a brain-dump of all kinds of industries that have complex information that might be difficult to understand, or that people might need some help digging through and figuring out what is relevant. Some of the ideas included:
- Vitamins, health, skincare, beauty products
- Medicine & pharmaceuticals
- Software documentation, technology
- College admissions
- Insurance, credit cards, finance
- Real estate, apartment hunting
- Outdoor equipment, travel
- Home goods, auto parts, instruction manuals (and IKEA)
The team plotted it all out in a grid of post-its, then clustered it into meaningful groups, then voted on their favorites. The two industries that seemed to be the most popular were skincare & beauty and museums & education.
What are industries that have complex information? Miro board brainstorming.
That was the first part of the narrative: There are industries that have complex information, which can be simplified or explained, personalized and delivered through an AR experience.
The next step was to identify the kinds of information that could be simplified and explained in the two most favoured industries.
BRAINSTORM Q2: Given the industries “beauty & skincare” and “museums & education”, what is their complex information?
The questions that people had around beauty and skincare came naturally to many people in the room, like Hayley, who admits, “I have so many questions about what goes into my own skincare regimen.”
Ideas listed included:
- Ingredients: How can I understand the composition of this product? Are there known allergens in this? How have these ingredients been sourced?
- Benefits: What is actually healthy, versus just a “scam”? What is this product promising to do, and how can I track whether it’s actually working?
- Reviews: Can I see a rating or review? Who recommends this product? Are there influencers that have covered it?
When it came to museums & education, Hayley was inspired by the experience of her aunt, who recently decided to homeschool her children: “I was thinking that it would be a really amazing opportunity to provide kids across the world with some interactive learning tools that could, first of all, give their parents a break from having to be their homeschool teachers 100% of the time — but also give them some fun ways to learn this content."
Ideas for museum & educational complex information included:
- Learning management: Tracking systems for grades, assessments, progress
- Additional context: Who was the creator of an artwork? What are narratives behind certain artifacts which give them context, beyond just the names and dates?
- Details: Virtually dissect a dinosaur skeleton — pull out different bones and see where they were found, what they were for, and how they evolved.
- Media: Sound clips, 3D models, music (instrument types, styles)
- Provenance: How did the artifact get to the museum? Where was it originally created; what hands did it pass through; will it be, or has it been repatriated to the original cultures or people to whom it belongs?
What is the kind of complex information that we could work with?
Here the team had fleshed out the second part of the narrative: There are industries that have complex information, which can be simplified or explained, personalized and delivered through an AR experience.
The final piece of the puzzle was personalization.
BRAINSTORM Q3: How can we personalize this information?
Jason explains that without personalization, any content experience, AR-enhanced or otherwise, is just a bundle of information. The benefit of using technology to represent content in a dynamic format like AR is that it can be personalized, made highly relevant and specific to the person accessing that information.
Adds Hayley, “Personalization is only going to continue to get more important. The newest generation is seeking more personalized material than ever because they get instant gratification all day long with personalized content that is sent to them on their social media feeds, so they're expecting that out of other channels as well.”
How could personalization be used to de-complexify the types of information that we identified in beauty & skincare and museums & education?
Beauty & Skincare:
- Ingredients: Which of these ingredients will help me achieve my goals?
- Recommendations: Based on your purchase history, preferences; hide products that might cause an allergic reaction or are otherwise incompatible with your personal history. Upload a “shelfie” and get an analysis of how this would fit into your existing routine.
- Face scans: Similar to other Valtech projects showing makeup on someone’s face “live”, can products be recommended based on a scan of your face?
- Phone a friend: Are there reviews I can see from people I know, or from elsewhere online? Can we support or mimic the social buying experience?
Museums & Education:
- Game mechanics: Tour, scavenger hunt, quiz
- Social dynamics: Tether two people virtually to join in a trivia battle, or to share the experience in a personal way
- Responsive content: Dynamically generating a layout of a physical space to match your preferred experience, such as drawing a “map” for you personally to follow through a museum exhibit
- Avatars: To protect kids’ privacy, instead of putting in all of their own personal information into the app, can they create an avatar that represents their preferences and personality traits?
- Text to speech: Keeping in mind that a lot of content stored in Contentstack CMS is text-based, could text-to-speech be implemented to create a personalized audio tour experience using existing written content?
How can we personalize this information?
There are industries that have complex information, which can be simplified or explained, personalized and delivered through an AR experience.
This was the end of the brainstorming session, where two strong concepts had emerged to be taken into the pitch presentation.
Can It Be Done?
From here, the final question was, can this be done in our timeline: 3 weeks from this point on?
Here’s Danielle: “We knew we had three weeks, which is a very short time, to implement something this complex. A traditional two-week sprint process obviously isn't going to cut it for this. This work needs to move so rapidly that we don't have extended periods of time to wait, to have something blocked, those kinds of things.
“So as the brainstorm team was talking, I sketched out a three, one-week-sprint plan with rough goals for each of those weeks.
“The first week is really focused on nailing down the technology we're going to use. So what are the AR libraries that we're going to use? How are we going to track the items? Are we going to do it with fiducial markers, are we going to do it with image-based markers, are we going to do it with object tracking... Each of those has an increasing level of complexity. So we need to make that decision really soon. The next step was nailing down our interaction models and what we want the experience to be.
“Then the second week goal is going to be focused on really hard development: making the application, getting the data into Contentstack, and getting the data back out and visualized the way that we want it in the AR space.
“And then the third week would be really focused on polishing and refining. So, the intention is between the first week and the second week, to actually have our proof of concept — a working thing that we can send around to everybody to test and manipulate, get some feedback on it. And then spend that last week editing, adjusting, and refining. And if we have time, adding in some of the many nice-to-haves that we left on the drawing board."
1. LOWEST EFFORT, HIGHEST REWARD
Based on what they knew they could accomplish in 3 weeks, and that had the highest potential to deliver a “wow”-factor demo, Valtech pitched Contentstack two ideas for an AR proof of concept.
2. PRESENT IN AN EASY-TO-IMAGINE FORMAT
Valtech kept the presentation short, and pitched only one slide per concept, complete with hand-drawn illustrations that showed the concept, but made it clear that it was a mere idea, and not a fully living thing.
Knowing that it was possible, and armed with a wealth of ideas, here are the two ideas Valtech presented to us.
Beauty & SkincareWhat’s Inside the Bottle?
Scan a product on the shelf or at home to get personalized recommendations based on the ingredients in the product. See other products that are similar based on some criteria (feel, effect); products that are different (avoiding allergens, discovering other product lines); learn about sustainability and sourcing of the ingredients; or get instructions (see influencer content on tips and tricks, see usage and recommendations from the brand.)
The beauty and skincare concept, with sketch illustration by Jason Alderman and Lindsey Harris
Museums & EducationPersonal AR Audio Tour.
In a museum gallery or a simulated at-home environment, receive a personalized museum audio tour using text-to-speech technology, including; paths based on how objects in the museum are related to each other; paths that follow a particular preferred narrative thread or subject; synchronize the audio tour with other devices so users can experience the tour together with family or friends.
Museums & education concept, with sketch illustrations by Jason Alderman
3. OFFER RECOMMENDATIONS & GUIDANCE
The team also gave some personal guidance on their preference, which was towards the retail app. Says Jason: “I love museums, but we did not think that museum demo would be as effective as one that retailers could translate their business onto more easily.”
Hayley adds: “The opportunities in education are almost endless because there’s so much we could make interactive and gamify. The challenge with education and museums is bureaucracy — who actually takes ownership of it? What school system is going to pay to create an AR learning program for their kids? That's just not feasible. So I think taking this down a route where we could be talking about products that can go to a broader consumer audience makes sense.”
On the Contentstack side, me (I’m Varia — Director of Marketing) and my colleague Gal Oppenheimer (Manager, Solutions Architects) immediately gravitated towards the retail and skincare application idea. So that's the application we'll build — and over the next few weeks, we'll share with you exactly what that looks like.
We're calling it Project Spyglass.
In the coming weeks, we will show how Gal and his team helped Valtech to build the content models that will help to power this experience from Contentstack. Plus, Valtech’s software engineers research AR frameworks, interaction design storyboards start to take shape, and we wrestle with the surprisingly sticky problem of marker tracking. Read the week 1 post now.
See the full pitch deck presented by Valtech below:
How to transform your content creation with generative AI
Content marketing is a key part of an effective marketing strategy. Unfortunately, content creation can be tedious, time-intensive and difficult to scale alongside your business. Generative artificial intelligence (AI) offers an alternative approach: Artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT and other AI chatbots can create pieces of content based on patterns observed in existing data resources.By leveraging the power of generative AI, businesses can produce high-quality, personalized content quickly and efficiently, without having to invest significant resources into its creation. In this blog post, we'll explore how generative AI works and the ways it can help transform your marketing initiatives.Benefits of using generative AI for content creationGenerative AI has the potential to revolutionize content creation. Using natural language processing (NLP), generative AI can create large amounts of content quickly and accurately, allowing businesses to scale up their content creation faster than ever before. In addition to saving time and money, generative AI opens up new content marketing possibilities for brands. Content creators can use machine learning to develop a better understanding of their target audiences and how best to reach and connect with them, then hone their content to align with the audiences’ needs.Content also plays an essential role in the customer experience. Your content is your opportunity to demonstrate to customers that you are listening to what they want and what’s most important to them. That means being able to react quickly to trends and news events, and with AI generated content, it’s easier to incorporate new information and developments more quickly, accurately and effectively to maintain a positive customer experience.Generative AI can also use its understanding of your customers to ensure the content is relevant to them. This kind of precisely targeted content would normally take content creators days or weeks to create; with generative AI tools, that process can be shortened to a few hours or less.How to get startedDefine your content strategyBefore you can begin using generative AI to create content, it’s important to establish a content strategy, and that starts with defining your vision for your content. What do you hope to achieve with your content, and what types of content are best to achieve it? What topics do you want to cover? What tone and style of writing are you looking for?The more information and guidance you can provide, the more efficient the generative AI can be in creating the content — and the more effective that content will be. Once you have a good understanding of your needs and a solid content strategy, you can start the search for the right tool to execute it.Find the right tool for the jobThere are a number of different AI tools on the market that can be used for content generation, and some tools are better suited for certain tasks than others. For example, Writesonic and Jasper are better suited to creating written content; Type Studio is more geared towards podcasts, streams, and interviews; for more design- or visually-focused content, Designs.ai may be a better solution. You’ll need to do some research on generative AI tools to find the option that best suits your content marketing needs.Train the AI toolWhat makes ChatGPT such an effective AI chatbot? Training. Using reams of text from the open internet, ChatGPT’s developers assigned the program a simple directive: Predict the next word in a text string, over and over. Over the course of trillions of predictions, the large language model (LLM) learned not just how to predict the next word but also learned to apply its training data to answer questions and complete tasks assigned to it. In other words, ChatGPT wasn’t always as advanced as it is today — it had to be trained.The same concept applies to other generative AI tools. You will need to train your AI tool on the finer points (such as your brand voice and the types of content you want it to generate) before it can start generating pieces of content that resonate with your customers. And the more data you can provide, the better the results will be.Generate, edit and publish your contentOnce you have trained your AI tool, you can begin using it to generate content. Depending on the tool you are using and your content needs, you may be able to generate large amounts of content very quickly.It’s important to remember that once you have generated your content, it will need to be edited and formatted before publishing. This is particularly important in the early stages of using generative AI tools: The editing process will help you determine if the AI needs more training on tone or your brand voice.Improving the quality of your AI contentUse high-quality dataTo ensure high-quality AI-generated content, you need to start with data that is complete, accurate and free of errors. If your data is of poor quality or contains errors, your AI-generated content will likely reflect that.Choose the right algorithmThere are a variety of AI algorithms that can be used for content generation. Some are better suited for generating short pieces of content like social media posts and blurbs, while others are designed with longer pieces of content in mind, so it's vital that you choose the right algorithm for your specific needs.Evaluate and improve your AI modelAfter you've trained your AI model, it's important to evaluate it to see how well it's performing. This can be done by having humans read and rate the AI generated content and suggest areas of improvement. Those refinements can then be fed back into the generative AI and used as additional training data, which helps the tool avoid similar missteps in future content.Keep an eye on future developmentsAI technology is constantly evolving and improving, and the AI landscape might look drastically different a year from now. It's important to keep an eye on where AI is going to ensure that you can capitalize on future developments and continue producing high-quality AI generated content.Potential challenges of using generative AI solutionsGenerative AI tools have the potential to revolutionize content creation, but there are still potential challenges you should be aware of.Generative AI is still in its early stages of development, which means there are limited data sets available to train generative AI models — and as a result, these models are often biased toward the training data set. If your data doesn’t align with the training data set, the generative AI tool might choose to ignore that data at first. It may take a few tries to get the model to accept your data and incorporate it into its learning.Generative AI models can also be expensive to develop and train, both in terms of money and IT resources. And even though they are a great tool for quickly creating robust and effective content, there may be a ceiling on the quality of AI generated content. If high-quality — i.e., exceptionally well-written and thoroughly researched — articles and blog posts are a priority for your brand, generative AI may not be able to produce the kind of content that meets your standards. (At least, not yet.)There is also the question of authenticity. As consumers become more exposed to AI generated content, will they develop an ability to tell the difference between content written by a human and content written using artificial intelligence? And if they do, will that affect how they view that content? It’s unclear if that will be the case, but organizations that use AI-generated content should keep a close eye on how those pieces of content are received by their audience.Generative AI is an ambitious and exciting technology that offers endless possibilities for content creation, from increasing efficiency to creating entirely new forms of visual and written content. But before you go all-in on generative AI, it’s essential to understand the complexities of generative AI tools so you can overcome any potential challenges you may encounter during implementation. With the right tools and planning, generative AI can play an invaluable role in transforming your content marketing.Learn moreWatch this episode of "Contentstack LIVE" with Contenstack VP of Product Conor Egan to learn more about the power of generative AI and how Contentstack leverages ChatGPT in our AI Assistant.Schedule a free demo to learn how you can scale content creation and elevate your digital experience using AI Assistant and our composable DXP.
Contentstack demonstrated 295% ROI in Forrester study
Today’s consumer expects a seamless and personalized digital experience when interacting with brands. As we’ve discussed before, a monolithic (or “legacy”) CMS lacks the flexibility enterprises need to keep up with changing consumer demands. “A lot of the technologies that were initially driving digital experiences [were designed with] one single experience in mind,” said Jeff Baher, head of Global Product Marketing and Growth at Contentstack. However, Baher said, with the rise of mobile internet, social media and smart devices, “there’s just an entirely different set of requirements for being able to reach customers and create digital experiences.” The digital experience has expanded, and the customer journey can now unfold across multiple channels. Increasingly, enterprises are adopting composable architecture to build digital experiences for their customers, and a headless CMS is the beating heart of it all. But can the benefits of implementing a headless CMS be measured? We recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a study measuring the Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) of the Contentstack headless CMS platform, and the results speak for themselves.MethodologyThe Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) methodology was developed by Forrester to help companies quantify the value of IT initiatives, such as moving to a headless CMS. TEI gives leaders more concrete data they can use to make the right decisions for their organization.In order to effectively measure the benefits of the Contentstack headless CMS, researchers at Forrester identified four organizations currently using the Contentstack headless CMS. To ensure accuracy, the organizations were selected from different industries (food and beverage, travel, fitness and apparel), with revenues ranging from $25 million to $2.1 billion.Researchers interviewed decision-makers at each organization to obtain data on benefits, costs, flexibility and potential risks, then used this information to build a composite organization. Then, they applied TEI to build a financial model and quantify the business benefits of moving to a headless CMS.How Contentstack’s CMS platform benefits enterprisesThe Contentstack headless CMS platform offers significant financial benefits for enterprises. The study found that the composite organization’s ROI was 295%, thanks to a combination of cost savings and increased revenues. Cost savingsOne of the challenges of legacy infrastructure is what Baher calls a “push-and-pull” between an organization’s IT and business sides. Since the legacy CMS is so code-heavy, even minor tweaks to the digital experience can require significant updates to back-end code. “You have to put in an IT ticket for really basic things, and then the IT queue [is full of] tasks like ‘fix five typos,’ and that’s maddening,” Baher said. The Contentstack headless CMS platform makes it easier for the business side to make tweaks to the digital experience without a lot of IT assistance. This reduces the amount of time IT and developers spend on minor tasks — and that time adds up. One interview subject noted that with Contentstack’s CMS, “we can stand things up as quick as our control processes will allow.” The study found that using Contentstack’s headless CMS saved the composite organization $507,000 in productivity costs over three years. In addition, the headless CMS reduced content-related development time for the composite organization by 80%. The headless CMS also minimizes the number of manual and repetitive tasks business users normally have to perform to publish content in a legacy CMS. Simplifying the content publishing process helped reduce overhead and improve time to market for the composite organization. Overall, the organization’s time to publish was reduced by 90%, leading to savings of $2 million over three years. Increased revenuesThe study found that the Contentstack headless CMS was key to an estimated 4% revenue increase for the composite organization, worth $3 million in profit over three years. A few factors could explain this estimated increase. Cutting back on development time for minor tasks allows the composite organization to dedicate more IT resources to specialized projects. Reducing time to publish also means the composite organization can publish more content to enhance the digital experience. More frequent content updates means a higher SEO ranking, which drives more traffic to the site. And when potential customers arrive, the improved digital experience can positively impact purchasing decisions: Studies have shown that 42% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. The big pictureDelivering a high-quality customer experience has always been crucial for brands, but it is more important today than ever before. It is easier than ever for consumers to do business with a brand — and it is also easier than ever for consumers to take their business elsewhere when a brand fails to deliver the experience they expect.In order to meet the demands of today’s consumer, organizations must deliver a digital experience that is fast and seamlessly unfolds across multiple devices and channels. The customer journey needs to be personalized and perpetual: Brands must maintain a post-sale presence in order to encourage repeat business. Today’s consumer expects a more mobile, cloud-based digital experience. Most monolithic content management systems provide a preset suite of functions that can, in theory, meet those demands. But sometimes those built-in functions don’t quite work the way business users need them to — and sometimes they don’t exist at all. In those cases, organizations have to find third-party solutions, which can be hard to integrate into legacy systems. And, as Baher notes, maintaining those workarounds can be time-consuming and difficult. “Connecting is done through web hooks, which are these manual stitching points between parts of your stack or your suite. They’re manual, they take time, they’re error-prone, they’re security issues because you’re connecting third-party software to parts of your stack,” Baher said. Managing all these factors usually falls on a single member of the IT team — and teams often struggle to keep things running smoothly if that key member leaves the organization.The Contentstack headless CMS platform allows business users to be more hands-on when it comes to content. Contentstack Marketplace — an extensive ecosystem of features, services, apps, integrations, and accelerators — lets teams take a modular approach to digital experience composition by picking and choosing the right building blocks for their needs. These components can then be integrated quickly and easily via the Contentstack Automation Hub, which Baher describes as a “no-code, low-code environment that simplifies the complex and automates the routine.”“You can very quickly create triggers and actions across the composable stack, which saves time and removes the opportunity for a lot of errors,” Baher said.A headless CMS is the first step toward creating a fully composable digital experience platform (DXP), and Contentstack is the perfect foundation for robust and adaptable digital experience composition. The headless CMS, Marketplace, and Automation Hub combine to deliver fast, seamless integration so business users can publish content or make tweaks to the digital experience without significant involvement from the IT side. TEI is an important measure of the overall economic benefit of moving to composable architecture, as well as the unique and specific benefits of using the Contentstack Headless CMS Platform to do it. But going composable is about more than just dollars and cents — it’s also about future-proofing your business so that no matter how customer needs and demands evolve in the future, your organization can evolve along with them.Learn moreSchedule a free demo to see how Contentstack can help your organization deliver a customer experience that leads to higher revenues, lower overhead and has the agility today’s brands need.
How to use microblogging to market your business
A microblog is a brief article meant to generate fast responses from readers. It is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, share your thoughts and experiences and stay up-to-date on the latest news. But it can also be a powerful marketing tool for businesses of all sizes.Creating interesting and persuasive marketing copy can entice potential customers to learn more about your product or service. And by sharing your thoughts and ideas on microblogging platforms like Twitter and Tumblr, you can reach a larger audience quickly. There are many ways to share short microblogging messages, including audio, video, images and text.How can microblogging help my business?Microblogging can help your business in several ways. For starters, communicating news and information about your business on microblogs is a great way to connect with customers and followers. As social media became more popular, companies began to use microblogging as a way to engage with customers more quickly. These short messages also help keep customers informed about the longer content they can find on your website.Microblogs are also perfect for sharing short bits of information. If you need to get a message out fast, a microblog is an ideal way to do it. Since they're informal, your writing can be more creative and expressive.These short notes are perfect for reaching people on the go. Because they're easy to access from mobile devices, you can quickly share information with people no matter where they are. Plus, because microblogs are brief and to the point, people are more likely to read them.Finally, they are a great way to build trust and credibility with potential customers. By communicating your ideas on microblogging platforms, you can demonstrate your expertise to potential customers.What are the most popular microblogging platforms?There are a number of popular microblogging platforms out there. Here are a few of the most well-known platforms:Twitter: Twitter is a microblogging platform that lets you post short status updates for your followers. It's perfect for conveying quick thoughts and ideas and has over 396 million active users. That's a lot of potential customers! By disseminating news and information about your business on Twitter, you can reach a large audience quickly and easily.Tumblr: Tumblr is a microblogging site that lets you post photos, videos and text posts with your followers. It's great for bloggers who want to share longer pieces of content. Tumblr has over 496 million blogs.Facebook: Facebook is a popular social networking site offering microblogging features. It's perfect for businesses that want to connect with their customers on a more personal level. Facebook boasts 2.93 billion monthly active users.Instagram: If you like telling your stories with pictures, Instagram is a top-rated microblogging platform. Over a billion people use Instagram monthly. The effective use of tags for your images is crucial to reaching the right audience. How to write compelling marketing copy for microblogsHere are a few things to keep in mind for writing effective marketing copy for a microblog: Be concise and clear. Your audience doesn't expect to read long-form content and drawn-out posts; they want easy-to-digest information.Be creative and expressive. This innovative medium is your chance to show off your personality and connect with customers on a more personal level. Make sure your content is pertinent and timely. If you can tap into current trends and topics, you'll be more likely to capture your reader's attention.How to spice up your microblogging strategyIf you're looking to spice up your microblogging strategy, there are a few things you can do. Each platform offers unique features, so try using different sites. Learn which microblogging sites cater to the demographic of your ideal customer. Try out a few until you find the one right for you, or use more than one at a time.You can also try using different content types. Not all microblogs have to be text-based. You can share photos, videos and infographics to grab your reader's attention.Finally, make sure your content is relevant and interesting. Nobody wants to read tedious or extraneous posts, so make sure you put some thought into what you write. If you can capture your reader's attention with your content, they'll be more likely to come back for more.Using images in microblogsWhen it comes to microblogging, using images can be a great way to communicate your message. Not only do they help break up the text and make your posts more visually appealing, but they can also be more effective at grabbing attention and getting your point across.Research has shown that people process visual information much faster than text. MIT neuroscientists have discovered that the brain can process images in just 13 milliseconds. That's a lot of potential messaging you miss out on if you're not using images in your microblogs.Here are a few tips:Make sure your images are relevant to your message.Use effective tags to help people find your images.Experiment with different types of images (photos, infographics, videos, etc.).Use appropriate image sizes to avoid slowing page loading times.Learn moreGet more tips for your microblogging efforts in our blog post “How to choose social channels for your business.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable content experience platform can help your organization produce more content, faster and better than ever before.
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.