How Modern Marketers Can Implement AI for Content Marketing
The field of artificial intelligence has grown leaps and bounds since Logic Theorist, the first program to mimic human problem-solving skills, was built in 1955 by Herbert Simon, Allen Newell, and John Shaw.
Not even a century after its unveiling at the 1956 Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence conference—where the term “artificial intelligence” was coined—AI-powered computers are already writing sci-fi screenplays from scratch and “robot journalists” are creating content in record time for the Associated Press.
AI and content are a winning combination for any modern marketing department that needs to crank up the quantity of their content without sacrificing its quality. Keep reading to learn more about the practical applications of AI for content marketing and how to get it right.
Artificial Intelligence and Its Place in Content Marketing
Artificial intelligence, or AI, refers to the capability of a machine to mimic human cognitive activities. AI is an umbrella term that covers several different technologies, including machine learning (automatic “learning” without being programmed to do so), natural language processing (“reading” human language), natural language generation (“writing” and “speaking” human language), and more. The overarching theme is that all of these systems use similar AI practices to perform various cognitive processes as well as—or better than—humans. Additionally, they typically improve with time and experience.
And it’s clearly in high demand, considering predictions that the global artificial intelligence software market is going to grow by over 594% between 2020 and 2025.
The growth of AI is excellent news for content marketers. Why? Just think of all those manual, menial marketing tasks you could spend entire days on—not anymore with the help of artificial intelligence. How? Keep reading to learn the practical applications of AI for content marketing.
AI for Content: Practical Applications for Marketers
Marketers can effectively and efficiently plan and create content, predict and personalize content that resonates with each consumer, and even automate engagement—all by using AI.
Content Planning and Creation at Any Scale
“Tuesday was a great day for W. Roberts, as the junior pitcher threw a perfect game to carry Virginia to a 2-0 victory over George Washington at Davenport Field.” Did a human or a computer write that sentence? If you can’t tell, it doesn’t matter. (It wasn’t a human.) Big content producers like Yahoo and even the Associated Press have been using AI to write stories—like the sentence above, referencing W. Roberts—for years.
But if full-on robot writers aren’t your style, try implementing AI in your content creation workflow to help write short-form content such as ad copy and even nail those emails and subject lines the first time around.
AI can also be used to analyze consumer behavior and generate recommendations to the content that is most applicable to the person as they continue on their customer journey.
Effective Content Personalization
As the most critical marketing trend of this century, personalization is extremely important for the modern content marketer. And there is almost no way to execute personalized content at any valuable scale without the assistance of automation and artificial intelligence.
Computers armed with machine learning collect data from consumers that they then use to create individual profiles and generate recommendations on how to personalize content for each.
That little box that pops up at the bottom right corner when you visit a website? It probably isn’t a real agent offering to help you—that’s a chatbot.
Chatbot software employs artificial intelligence to mimic human conversation. Chatbots enable businesses to provide around-the-clock customer service, automatically share just-right promotional and educational content, and empower consumers to self-serve as they see fit. Aside from doing all of the above to boost engagement, chatbots also streamline the customer support process to increase average resolution time and decrease costs.
How to Implement AI for Content
As we’ve explored, AI for content has several essential applications in the business world. The marketer that wants to keep their company relevant and competitive would be wise to tackle this new frontier as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
The key to implementing AI for content marketing lies in separating that content from other business assets, and enabling the filtering of the content through cutting-edge AI-powered tools for analysis, optimization, and publication across various channels.
How? With a headless content management system (CMS). The bleeding edge in content marketing, headless CMS is a purpose-built platform for compartmentalizing content creation, display, and functionality. That means that any piece of content in the CMS can be personalized and optimized for chatbot use, and otherwise updated seamlessly and infinitely.
If you’re ready to implement the AI tools you need for large-scale content planning and creation, flawless personalization, and engaging chatbot automation; it’s time to move your content management program over to Contentstack—the only headless CMS designed specifically for integrations, such as AI and personalization integrations. Contentstack includes pre-built integrations for leading AI solutions, such as IBM Watson and MonkeyLearn.
Learn more about headless CMS, and use our ROI calculator to see how you could be saving hundreds of thousands of dollars on content management, or get in touch today to try Contentstack for free!
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.
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.