Brent Heslop is a Sr. Technical Writer. He has worked as a Webmaster at TIBCO Software, and has authored 15 popular computing books. Brent taught HTML and Web programming at UC Santa Cruz Extension. He enjoys U.S. Masters Swimming, cooking, and spending time with his wife, Kim, and their faithful dog, Fargo.
Posts by Brent Heslop
What You Need to Know About Digital Experience Management
Building a unified commerce experience begins with retail digital experience management. Retail is a tough business – and as connected devices cultivate around-the-clock consumers and the low threshold for entry creates overnight competitors, it’s only getting tougher. Not long ago, many experts agreed that by 2020, the consumer experience would be the critical differentiator between retailers. That’s right: The customer’s digital experience has become more important than your products, price and even quality. More than 85% of customers say they’ll pay more for the same products from brands that provide a better experience. In fact, 89% report that they’ll stop doing business with retailers that offer poor experiences. It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for a single negative experience — a negative experience they’re going to tell someone else about. customers-2x-more-likely-to-share-bad-experiences.png The retail digital experience is the sum of every interaction customers have with your brand across digital channels (think social media), digital devices (smartphones), and in-store digital technology (a kiosk). Management of that experience is the strategy you implement to align channels, content and marketing assets to provide experiences that meet consumer demands. It should cycle through three steps: striving to understand the consumer experience, executing improvements and monitoring them to find where progress can be made the next time around. retail-digital-experience-management-cycle.png To build a unified commerce experience, retail marketers must integrate processes and tools that enable flawless experiences at scale. The first step is understanding what your current and potential customers want, need, like and dislike. Take their pulse with monitoring and data collection technology. A customer relationship management platform (CRM) will help you manage your relationship with current customers and move leads through the sales and marketing funnel. A few to try: Salesforce, HubSpot CRM, Zendesk, Intercom or Insightly. Layer a customer data platform (CDP) on top of your CRM or other customer data stockpile to create more well-rounded and informative customer profiles. Consider Evergage and Exponea for this functionality. Next, “voice of the customer” tools provide insight on what consumers are thinking, often in real time. Social listening tools, such as Hootsuite, Buffer and others, allow you to see what consumers are saying about your industry or your business. Sentiment analysis platforms identify the underlying “feeling” (negative, positive, etc.) in text-based conversations both on and off social media. IBM Watson, MonkeyLearn, Salesforce Einstein and RapidMiner provide this service. You can also look to your web or app analytics platforms, such as Google Analytics and Countly, to identify underperforming areas. And of course you’ll want to carefully monitor your own on-site or in-app feedback sources (web forms, chat, call center logs, surveys, reviews, formal complaints, etc.). There are more retail consumers and competitors on the scene than ever. It’s critical to focus your marketing efforts on developing a retail digital experience management strategy that provides a unified commerce experience across every consumer touchpoint. Gather more helpful marketing tips from our guide: How to Nail Your Enterprise Marketing Strategy.
The Top 10 Content Management System Blog Posts of 2021
As we journeyed through the last year, the world continued to change and the need for global commerce to adapt grew. More businesses adopted omnichannel approaches and personalization became more important than ever. Looking at the most-visited blog posts of 2021, the focus on headless content management systems are growing.1. How Headless CMS Is Killing the Buy vs. Build Decision It used to be that the only way to get your content management system to do exactly what you wanted was to build it yourself. The headless CMS system and its ability to deliver content seamlessly across every channel changed all that.2. The History of Content Management Systems and the Rise of Headless CMS From the early days of Web 1.0 and HTML to today’s world of headless CMS and global commerce, the CMS playing field has always evolved. Look back at our journey so far and where we might be headed.3. How to Choose the Right Content Management System (CMS) With so many options out there, selecting the right content management system can seem like a daunting task. There are so many variables to consider and choosing poorly could be a costly mistake. Here are 10 tips to help you choose the right CMS for your team.4. Content Lifecycle Management for the Modern Enterprise Having a complete content lifecycle management system in place can make life easier for content strategists to guide their programs. Pulling it off can be tricky, though. To make sure you get through without a hitch, check out the seven stages of content lifecycle management.5. The Ultimate Guide to Content Approval Workflows In the world of enterprise business, you thrive on vast amounts of content that needs to be fresh and relevant. If you need consistency and efficiency, build a content approval workflow that empowers content creators to reach their potential.6. Content Modeling and Headless CMS: A Match Made for the Future of Content To deliver consistent, high-quality content when and where your audience wants it, you’re going to need a carefully structured content strategy. But how do you even know what you need? Enter content modeling.7. Localization and Personalization at Scale Companies today have access to an incredible amount of data from their customers, including their interests, locations and what type of products they’ve purchased before. Access to this data is making it easier than ever to create an online experience focused on localization and personalization.8. From Pong to Call of Duty: The Globalization and Localization of Video Games With the massive rise in gaming popularity came an equally massive shift toward a global launch approach, with producers releasing games in different languages to audiences all over the world at the same time. This globalization of the gaming industry has important implications for companies, gamers and developers.9. The State of the CMS Industry: 20 Key Content Management Statistics for 2020 From the rise of chatbots to the increasing impact of the headless CMS, look back at the content management trends we were watching for in 2020.10. The 11 Best Content Management Systems of 2021: Options for Small, Midmarket, and Enterprise Businesses There’s never been a one-size-fits-all content management system. There are many things to consider researching a CMS, from size and scalability to omnichannel features to how easy it is to use. Here were our recommendations for the best content management systems of 2021.
Digital Experience Examples that Feel Like They're From the Future
When it comes to the digital experience, it can be easy to lose sight of the forest when you’re focused on the trees. To help you see the bigger picture, we put together a few cutting-edge digital experience examples as well as some advice on how you can create them in your own organization. What Digital Customer Experience Means and Why it Matters The digital customer experience encompasses the interactions consumers have with your brand on digital channels and devices throughout the customer journey. Effective digital experiences provide customers with relevant recommendations and convenient access to your products or services, support staff, and any brand information they may need. Organizations that use modern channels and devices to create digital experiences are able to access and use consumer data to create personalized, omnichannel interactions. According to MuleSoft’s 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report, businesses that invest in creating personalized digital experiences that flow seamlessly across channels enjoy higher customer engagement, better ROI, and improved business innovation and transformation. See it in Action: 4 Digital Experience Examples Fewer than 20% of businesses report having built a seamless digital experience. If you’re looking for ways to make your digital experience more cohesive and ready for whatever customer experience trends the future holds, here are a few examples to inspire you. 1. Casper: A New Take on the Chatbot Many modern companies use artificial intelligence (AI) to support personalized, omnichannel digital experiences. But the direct-to-consumer (DTC) mattress brand Casper is using AI in a simple yet effective way to digitally connect with consumers. Casper created a chatbot named Insomnobot3000. People can text the chatbot, for free, between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Casper’s goal with Insomnobot3000 was “ … to make a bot that made 3 a.m. a little less lonely," according to Casper’s former Head of Communications Lindsay Kaplan. The chatbot represents a new, creative channel where consumers can connect with the organization. It’s also possible the chatbot will be able to gather data that will be useful in creating personalized marketing and messaging. man-on-couch-chatting.jpg 2. JetBlue: A True Omnichannel Digital Experience JetBlue’s “A Better Wingman” campaign involved what most participants thought was simply an interactive digital billboard on a New York City street. However, it also hid a real, in-person flight attendant behind the scenes who was able to immediately respond to consumer questions and feedback — and hand out free flights and other gifts from the airline. This experience received several awards and generated brand recognition for JetBlue with more than 15 million earned media impressions. 3. Miami HEAT: Personalization Powers the In-Person Experience The Miami HEAT took winning to the next level when they decided to upgrade their digital experience with a switch to a headless platform (more about that here) for their mobile application. Even before COVID-19, teams were struggling against TV and digital media to bring fans to in-person events, which are a critical revenue stream for both teams and arenas. The HEAT needed a personalized experience that helped immerse fans in the game day scene. Considering mobile-device penetration was then near 100% for in-person sporting event attendees, a mobile app improvement was a clear choice. The HEAT’s tech team integrated tools that delivered an innovative mobile experience. At the same time, their marketing pros were finally able to gather the data they needed to create the highly personalized content that powered these experiences. One example of the success of The HEAT’s new platform and app was a personalized marketing campaign: “We launched a targeted messaging campaign that informed our season ticket members about an exclusive retail offer once they scanned into the arena,” said the HEAT’s Executive Vice President of Business Strategy Matthew Jafarian. “That resulted in an almost 100% influenced app open rate and a spike in sales for our [retail] group.” 4. Apple: A Personalizable Self-Service Experience Self-service may seem like the opposite of providing a thoughtful consumer experience. However, when done right, self-service can be another helpful channel through which consumers interact with your brand. Apple is an example of a company that provides a pleasing self-service experience that users can personalize. The main Apple Support website page showcases their self-help portal – a value-adding channel and a key element of their omnichannel, digital experience. Not only is it helpful for consumers, but this portal is also a helpful channel for the Apple team, who can save time and resources by weeding out issues that might not need their personalized attention. apple-support-page-screenshot.jpg How to Become a Powerful Digital Experience Example In our own a recent survey of tech, marketing, and business leaders, we uncovered that more than half of the digital experience capabilities built by businesses never actually get used! The biggest roadblock to digital experience execution? The cost of implementation. In addition, the majority of respondents also believed their current digital-experience investments would become obsolete in just a few years due to a lack of integration across technologies. why-digital-experience-is-under-utilized-infographic.png Building modern digital experiences upon a monolithic, legacy software platform is difficult. To avoid the endless and sticky tangle of add-ons, organizations should build their digital experiences upon a modular, modern software platform that can shift as easily as experience trends do. You need a MACH system. “MACH” is an acronym for software that is made of multiple microservices (M), connected using APIs (A), hosted in and delivered via the cloud (C), and built using headless (H) architecture that separates back-end logic from front-end presentation layers. MACH makes integration simple and implementation much more affordable. Integration is simpler within a MACH platform because each piece of functionality is a self-contained microservice. The whole system works together via API (application programming interface). This structure eliminates the need for expensive re-platforming projects, but that’s just one way in which implementing MACH is more affordable than going monolithic. MACH platforms are hosted by their vendors and delivered via the cloud, so they pay for maintenance and hosting, not you. Payment for MACH solutions is often subscription-based, so you can pay for your platform in small installments instead of laying out the full amount upfront for a piece of technology that may become outdated in just a few years. mach-architecture-empowers-microservices.png Organizations that work with APIs create 27% of their revenue from those APIs and all the related implementations they bring to life. When you build your digital experiences on API-connected MACH solutions, you’ll be prepared to simply shift, affordably scale and become a powerful digital experience example. To learn more about the ROI of the digital experience, you can read our free ebook Going Beyond ROI with Return on Experience. To learn more about the MACH concept, start with Leaning Away from Legacy Tools: Modernize Your Tech Stack with MACH then read 6 Ways to Identify Modern Enterprise Software to make sure you’re picking the best tech for creating modern digital experiences. And finally, if you want to see some MACH software in action for free, we invite you to sign up for a personalized demo of Contentstack today.
13 Data-Backed Omnichannel Benefits
While impulse buying still exists, gone are the days when retailers can rely on a single channel — be it their brick-and-mortar store or company website — to sell products or services. In 2021 and beyond, an omnichannel shopping path is becoming the norm. Today, it’s not as simple as a shopper landing on your website, navigating to and buying a product and becoming a lifetime customer from that moment on. Instead, retailers have to be prepared for more complex journeys across a variety of digital and physical channels, such as researching on your website before buying a product in-store and later seeking out customer support over social media. While it’s typical for businesses to use these shopping and communication channels individually, it's much harder to create an omnichannel experience in which many channels work together to create a seamless, personalized journey for each consumer. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible — which is excellent news considering all the benefits that an omnichannel experience can provide. Allow us to walk you through what the omnichannel experience looks like, data-backed benefits that will help you understand why the investment in omnichannel is worth it, and how you can get started when you’re ready to set up your own omnichannel experience.What Is an Omnichannel Experience? Channels are all the places where consumers interact with a business. They may include where products and services are sold (website, physical store), how they’re advertised (email, direct mail, social media) and the devices used to find them (desktop, tablet, smartphone). For businesses, providing effective omnichannel experiences means collating consumer data, using this information to develop highly relevant content and delivering this content at the best time, in the best format, on the best channels for that consumer. This creates smooth, personalized shopping journeys that help increase revenue and retention in a time of extreme competition. The omnichannel experience puts the consumer at the heart of the action is a powerful improvement upon multi-channel engagement, which revolves around the product instead of the person. These outdated experiences are hallmarked by their only capability — bombarding consumers with static, impersonal, out-of-place content that does more to drive them away than to entice them to interact with your brand. 13 Data-Backed Omnichannel Benefits for Modern Businesses A Salesforce report found that 67% of customers use several channels to complete their purchases. In fact, 40% of customers won’t do business with companies if they can’t use the channels with which they’re the most comfortable. The demand for omnichannel experiences is real, and the benefits of going omnichannel are just as real:Marketing campaigns with three or more channels generate 90% higher retention rates than single-channel campaigns.Harvard Business Review found that omnichannel customers make 23% more trips back to a retailer’s store than single-channel shoppers.The average order value (AOV) for a single-channel campaign is $58.70 while the AOV for an omnichannel campaign is 13% higher at $66.31.For the 2021 holiday season, 65% of consumers say they’ll spend as much if not more than they did in 2020. Half say they plan to shop online more than in previous years and a similar percentage will use more omnichannel shopping options, such as buying online and picking up in-store.Digital sales at Target grew by almost $10 billion in 2020, thanks to a 235% increase in usage of omnichannel same-day services like curbside pickup, buy-online-pick-up-in-store and same-day delivery from local stores.Customers who give a business a high experience rating spend 140% more on average at that business — and keep shopping there for as many as six years.Marketing campaigns using three or more channels generate a purchase rate of over 12% – almost 300% higher than their single-channel counterparts that bring in a purchase rate near 3%. Harvard Business Review also found that omnichannel shoppers spend 10% more online and 4% more in-store than their single-channel counterparts, and every additional channel customers use corresponds to more money spent in-store.Single-channel campaigns only earn a 5.4% average engagement rate, but with a campaign with three or more channels that number jumps to nearly 19%.Omnichannel shoppers are more likely to recommend their favorite retailer to friends and family than single-channel shoppers are.According to Think with Google, 70% of shoppers say it’s still important for them to be able to shop in person.Shoppers who visit a Sephora store within 24 hours of visiting the website are three times more likely to complete a purchase and spend 13% more than other customers.RetailWire’s BrainTrust members believe omnichannel services like buy online and pick up in-store are here to stay thanks to COVID-19 forcing many retailers to finally “get in the game” — and consumers loving it.Where to Start Your Omnichannel Journey As you can see, there’s a lot to gain from building omnichannel experiences for your consumers. However, Digital Marketing Maturity Benchmarks 2021 by Smart Insights and BrightTALK found that only 37% of companies have implemented an omnichannel marketing strategy to meet the demand. The disconnect is because the content management system (CMS) platforms many marketing departments use aren’t up to the task of implementing content-powered omnichannel experiences. The traditional, monolithic CMS tools that were once cutting edge can only service a limited number of channels and employees at any given time. It’s expensive, time-consuming and risky to add new technologies to these old-school platforms. That’s why the answer to reaping omnichannel benefits lies in a modern, agile, MACH headless CMS. “MACH” stands for microservices-based, API-connected, cloud-native and headless. A modern, agile headless CMS built using MACH principles lets businesses manage every channel from a single, unified hub. The headless architecture separates content creation from content distribution. This allows marketers to create content that powers omnichannel experiences while developers build out delivery systems, without interfering with one another. Robust integration capabilities also offer smart analytics, personalization tools and other helpful services so businesses can deliver omnichannel experiences via chatbot, in-store kiosk, email campaigns and more. The opportunities for omnichannel benefits are practically boundless, but you’ll only get as far as your CMS can take you. To work with a headless, agile CMS that’s uniquely devoted to the success of its users, connect with Contentstack today to get a free trial or personalized walk-through.
Why Omnichannel is Eating the World
If all you know about omnichannel experiences is that other marketers won’t shut up about them, then you’ve got a lot to learn — and we’ve got a lot to tell you. So without further ado, here’s why omnichannel is eating the world and what you can do to get a seat at the dinner table. What’s Omnichannel? Exploring the Term Marketers Just Can’t Shut Up About An omnichannel experience offers a seamless, personalized customer journey across channels and devices. That may look like product information management (PIM) + content management system (CMS) integrations that keep your website up to date so consumers can make sure the product they researched online is available at their local store. Or, it could look like customer service software that allows your staff to smoothly continue a conversation carried over from Twitter. Multi-Channel-vs-Omnichannel-Marketing.pngWhy Omnichannel? Diving Into the Reasons It’s no longer enough to simply spread disjointed messages across as many channels as possible and have the leads and sales come rolling in. Marketing today must focus on omnichannel experiences that put the consumer at the center of every interaction in order to create meaningful (and valuable) relationships. Now, let’s explore more of the data behind why omnichannel is eating up every other marketing method in its path.Omnichannel Shopping + Omnichannel Marketing Are Inextricably Intertwined With the invention of hand-held, internet-connected devices came a natural development: shopping at all hours, on all channels, on all devices. And that led to omnichannel marketing strategies that could reach every consumer across these channels and devices. Many businesses today can’t survive without offering omnichannel shopping opportunities, nor can they survive without omnichannel marketing. Omnichannel Is Just What the Brick-And-Mortar Ordered If physical stores are a key element of your business, don’t count yourself out when it comes to omnichannel marketing. Today’s buyers want variety. Just because they can shop on digital channels doesn’t mean they don’t want to also shop in-store. Home Depot is a great example. In early 2020, at the same time the first wave of COVID-19 hit, Home Depot’s online sales were up by 80% — and over 60% of all orders were picked up at a physical store. Brick-and-mortar shopping is still as important for some consumers as it is for many businesses. By adopting marketing strategies that consider both physical and digital shopping channels, businesses can stay ahead of the omnichannel trend. Personalized Omnichannel Will Push You Ahead of the Pack According to Segment’s report “The State of Personalization 2021,” 60% of consumers say that they’re likely to become repeat shoppers after enjoying a single personalized experience. And as many marketers know, retention is extremely valuable. In fact, over 40% of an average ecommerce business’ revenue is generated by just 8% of its customers — the repeat ones. But while a whopping 90% of consumers feel positive about businesses that provide individualized experiences, only 20% say there are brands that do so successfully! Why is this number so low? Because most brands focus on personalized experiences that only work when a consumer takes a specific, linear path to purchase. Companies that offer a personalized omnichannel experience will capture business from the 90% of consumers who love it. Consumer-Sentiment-Graph.pngHow Do I Go Omnichannel? Headless CMS Puts Your Business Ahead of the Curve Now that you know why omnichannel is taking over the marketing world and why you should strive to keep up, let’s cover exactly how you can do that. It all starts with the right foundation: Headless CMS. Headless CMS is a cutting-edge take on the content management systems of old. Traditional CMSes such as Wordpress and Drupal have two main components: a back-end repository for content and a front-end programming interface that dictates how that content is displayed. These two components are deeply interconnected. Because of this, content in a traditional CMS needs to be manually reformatted and published every time you want to use it on a new channel or device. This isn’t just frustrating for marketers; it can become prohibitively expensive for businesses as they attempt to grow in a competitive market. A headless CMS employs MACH architecture, which means it’s made up of microservices, connected using application programming interfaces (APIs). It lives in the cloud and is built on headless architecture. With this architecture, content can be stored independently of how it’s presented. Instead of being constrained by a front-end design template with limited functionality, you can quickly find, optimize and deploy reusable content modules across multiple channels and devices. Traditional-vs-SaaS-CMS.png4 Benefits of Going Omnichannel with Headless CMS Now that we’ve covered what a headless CMS is and where it excels, let’s look more closely at how a headless CMS helps marketers create and deliver omnichannel experiences.Empower Content Personalization Personalization is everything in today’s marketing environment. A headless CMS enables integration with all the tools that make personalization possible. For example, headless architecture supports integration with third-party applications such as your customer relationship management (CRM) platform. This allows you to pull in customer location, behavior, preferences and more so you can develop content specific to that shopper.Enable Omnichannel Publishing If you are publishing content across multiple channels, a headless CMS makes it easy to quickly repurpose content. As the omnichannel universe continues to grow, a headless CMS allows you to easily customize content for the web and mobile as well as for IoT devices, chatbots, digital assistants, in-store displays or anywhere else your content could appear.Easy Content Collaboration With all of your content centralized in a modular headless CMS system, your content creation team can collaborate more easily. Instead of scrambling to locate pieces of content you need to share, team members can simultaneously access the content repository, making it easy to work in parallel to create new digital assets or update legacy content. Having a unified repository for your most-used apps also makes it easier for teams to leverage each others’ data. This is a huge advantage when launching new campaigns, as well as for reacting quickly to emerging trends and staying ahead of the competition. Improve Content Consistency with Reusability A headless CMS supports consistency across your entire brand by allowing you to reuse content for multiple purposes. Eliminating the need to cut and paste supports common messaging across channels and minimizes errors. Need to update something? No problem. With headless CMS, editing content becomes much simpler because you only need to make the change once, and that change applies wherever that block of content is used. This allows creative teams to focus on high-value activities instead of mundane, repetitive tasks of tracking down and updating outdated information. From ‘Why Omnichannel?’ to ‘How to’ With Contentstack Headless CMS Now that you know the benefits, your question may have gone from “Why go omnichannel?” to “How do I go omnichannel?” We can help you do that. We’re Contentstack — a headless, agile CMS that empowers business and technical users alike to collaborate on creating, optimizing, publishing, and even republishing content that delivers the omnichannel experiences consumers seek. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Just check out what any of our awesome customers have to say — or give Contentstack a test drive yourself with a personalized demo or free, two-week trial.
Contentstack Supports Integration Powerhouse Zapier
Composability is a system design principle in which software components can be arranged to meet the needs of a business. Highly composable architecture takes this principle to the next level by loosely connecting each technological element so they can each be assembled more quickly and easily than ever before. Modern composable businesses are those that have adopted this high level of composability in order to create agile solutions that can be adapted and scaled as necessary. This level of flexibility is what makes composability integral to the future of business. With composable architecture, businesses of all sizes can remain resilient through substantial interruptions — such as COVID-19 — and keep up with rapidly changing trends such as the increased demand for personalized customer experiences COVID-19 has driven. A key benefit of a highly composable business is increased capability for integration. Integration allows companies to use all the tools they need to create seamless experiences, personalized campaigns and cutting-edge products and services in days instead of months — outpacing competitors and delivering interactions their customers desire. This is what makes integration the lifeblood of modern, future-proof businesses. Contentstack is making integration more attainable for businesses everywhere through our partnership with Zapier. Introducing Zapier: Achievable Workplace Integrations Zapier is a platform that helps people automate everyday tasks — no coding required. Zapier enables users to set up Zaps, which are customized workflows that automatically complete events or a list of tasks. Users build Zaps by creating “triggers” that cause Zaps to start and “actions” that outline the task(s) Zaps should complete. Zapier saves the workflows you create so you can use them over and over again — or set them to run automatically. Zapier connects with thousands of apps to create millions of workflows. You are likely to find you can create time-saving automations with tools you already work with every day — including Contentstack.How Can Contentstack Customers Use Zapier? This partnership connects Contentstack customers and buyers to an ecosystem of 3,000+ applications they can connect to Contentstack’s headless agile content management system (CMS). Without the need for code, you can configure Contentstack to work with the apps you open every week. From Stripe to Slack, Asana, Mailchimp, Microsoft Outlook, Facebook Lead Ads, Google Sheets and more — Zapier and Contentstack have you covered. With Contentstack and Zapier, users can automatically: Add links from new entries in Contentstack to your master content tracking spreadsheet in Google Sheets Share new Contentstack entries to your various marketing tools, including social media schedulers, email marketing platforms, advertising software and more Alert a Slack or Microsoft Teams channel when you update a workflow stage in Contentstack There are many other ways Zapier can help your team handle tasks you perform in Contentstack every day. Get more ideas for automation on Zapier’s blog.What Makes The Contentstack + Zapier Partnership Groundbreaking? No other enterprise-level CMS providers are working with Zapier the way Contentstack is. Why? Many enterprise CMS vendors believe smaller CMS providers should work with smaller, non-enterprise solutions and that their time is better spent focusing on large enterprise customers. But at Contentstack, we don’t care what other enterprise CMS vendors think; we care about what our customers think. And we’re not willing to settle for less than exceeding our customer needs. Our customers, from large enterprises to startups, consider the ability to easily and quickly integrate non-enterprise tools into their workflows necessary for success. This is the leading reason behind our decision to partner with Zapier’s powerful integration platform. In addition, integration is in such demand right now that the Forrester Wave added Zapier support to the back-end extensibility criteria in their Q1, 2021 report on Agile Content Management Systems. What Does the Future Hold for Contentstack + Zapier? Contentstack’s technology team will continue to support the enterprise-level integrations for which our platform has become known. Zapier support will make it easier than ever for users to customize everyday workflows with Zapier’s breadth of non-enterprise integrations. As adoption increases and we move out of the public beta phase, Contentstack will support more Zapier triggers and actions. That means you can continue to build creative automations around Contentstack entries, assets, workflow stages and release functionality. Our integration with Zapier is available to all tiers of Contentstack users. Sign up for a free two-week trial or a personalized demo of Contentstack today to see how you can make the most of our business features + Zapier integration.
Modular Blocks: Build and Deploy at Light Speed with Modular Content
There’s nothing more frustrating as a content strategist than spending your days not strategizing — and often not creating content at all! In the world of always-on and ever-expanding channels, content strategists are often stuck tweaking content and publishing it to channel after channel. Any time a new content campaign comes out, they wash, rinse and repeat the process. We don’t blame you for wanting to break the cycle. That’s where modular content blocks come in. Here’s everything you need to know about modular content blocks, why they’re vital to breaking the cycle of creating more content instead of better content, and how to create and deploy better content at record speed with Contentstack’s Modular Blocks.What Are Modular Content Blocks? In the context of a content management system (CMS), a content block is a field or a group of fields that hosts specific types of content such as videos, images, text, code, products and so on. Using content blocks enables content to be managed modularly. That means that each block can be updated, moved, deleted and otherwise managed individually without affecting the rest of the website or page where the content lives. With modular content blocks, entire pages can be generated in seconds by pulling together the right blocks. Updates are automatically applied to every instance of the block, no matter where they’re located. Why Does Modular Content Matter? Traditional, monolithic CMSs store content by page instead of by type. While this makes it easy to send content to a single endpoint, it also makes it hard to update content or send it to a different endpoint without going through the steps of republishing the entire page. For example, if you’re using a traditional CMS such as WordPress, publishing the same content to both your website and your smartwatch app means creating and publishing two slightly different versions of that content. But a modern headless CMS can change all that. A headless content management system relies on application programming interface (API) technology to unite the modular blocks where content is stored. This enables content to be delivered as a service — instead of as a static unit — to any channel, device, or platform via API. content-as-a-service.png Why does the shift to content as a service (CaaS) enabled by modular content blocks matter? You’re about to find out. 5 Key Benefits of CaaS Delivered via Modular Blocks Here are five ways modular blocks help businesses keep up in an ever-changing digital world by enabling content to be delivered as a service. Faster Publishing With modular blocks, you can tweak content quickly and without the risk of breaking any structure or functionality. Even better, content strategists can make and publish changes without having to wait for help from developers or designers for last-minute updates or launching time-sensitive campaigns. Improved Scalability and Flexibility Another benefit of using modular content blocks to deliver content as a service is flexible content that can be quickly located, optimized and published hundreds of times on any channel. This flexibility means your content can scale to keep up with your content needs — without scaling the size and expense of your content team to match. Personalized, Omnichannel Content Distribution By 2030, it’s thought that as many as 125 billion smart devices will be online. That works out to every consumer owning about 15 internet-enabled devices. Looks like you’re about to have a lot of publishing to do — across a lot of different devices and channels. In fact, the shift to delivering content as a service is a result of the introduction of new digital channels and the devices people use to access them. Today, consumers want content that’s available around the clock, relevant to their needs and optimized for specific experiences. This is why it’s vital that businesses implement modular blocks that turn their content types into individual, flexible assets that can be personalized, optimized and served to various websites, mobile apps, voice-activated devices and more. Save Money on Content Creation Modular content blocks boost employee morale and save salary dollars by making already-created content highly reusable. Content blocks put an end to endless tweaking, copying, reformatting and republishing of content campaigns for each channel or experience. They enable content creators to look ahead at what’s new and what’s next instead of spending hours on mundane reworking. While this might not sound like the biggest benefit, the savings can be considerable. Take for example the time spent formatting content after it’s been translated into a different language — a must for any business that wants to compete on a global stage. With a CMS that empowers employees to reuse content instead of recreating it from scratch, a business can reduce time spent on post-translation formatting by as much as 50%.Improved Publishing Consistency and Quality When the content you enter into a reusable block is published according to your content guidelines the first time around, you won’t have to worry about its consistency even when it’s republished the hundredth time around. The automation aspect of modular content blocks eliminates the introduction of human error. And when you use these content blocks in conjunction with a CMS that includes a rich set of publishing features such as access controls, approval workflows, versioning and rollback, and more — you can be even more confident in the consistent quality of your content. Create and Deploy Content Lightning Fast with Contentstack’s Modular Blocks In order for content to be successfully delivered as a service, the modular blocks in which it lives have to be in a database where they aren’t attached to anything else such as code or design that governs how they perform or look. This independence makes the content easy to find and flexible so it can be optimized quickly and displayed for various consumer channels. A headless content management system separates the front-end presentation layer (the head) of content from its back-end storage and programming (the body). This empowers marketing teams to create and manage content while designers and developers build the best front-end interface to display it. Finally, an API is used to call and serve the content the same way it would any other service. omnichannel-delivery.png Modular blocks are one of Contentstack’s most powerful features. They give developers infinite possibilities for customization while making it painless for content managers to create and arrange content components on their websites and apps without compromising design integrity. For a sneak peek at how easy it is to use Contentstack’s modular blocks, check out this complete walkthrough we created for developers. And for even more information about how Contentstack serves brands like Best Buy, Cisco, Dell, Ellie Mae, Miami HEAT, Walmart and more, get your hands on this free datasheet that covers everything you need to know about Contentstack’s features, our major business benefits and what sets us apart from the competition.
Think Agile To Extend the Value of Content Systems and Processes
Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) have the highest turnover of all C-suite roles at Fortune 500 companies. The executive search firm Spencer Stuart found that the tenure of CMOs at top U.S. brands in 2019 averaged 41 months. The median tenure was just 30 months. Why? “Tough business headwinds, new technologies, and pressures to change quickly,” said Greg Welch, a Spencer Stuart consultant. “It’s a perfect storm.” In a business environment — and the world — where change is the most reliable constant, CMOs, their teams, and the departments with which they partner across the organization must become agile to keep up. The word “agile” is becoming a keystone term for marketing and content management. Forrester has redefined the CMS category to “Agile CMSes” and recently released the “Forrester Wave™: Agile Content Management Systems (CMSes), Q1 2021” report. The following explains what agility means in marketing and content management, why now is the time to adopt agile methodologies and a three-step strategy for developing a winning agile marketing program. What Does Agile Marketing Mean? Traditional marketing methods follow a waterfall approach, where large projects “flow” from one completed task to the next — from planning to writing, then design, then legal, and so on. etc. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t leave room for unforeseen hiccups that often happen along the way. Since each step can become a bottleneck that stops work for everyone downstream, the waterfall approach puts marketing campaigns at risk of running over budget or losing relevance by completion time. Agile marketing methods, on the other hand, are based on the popular agile software development methodology. At their core, agile projects call for constant prioritization, collaboration, and iteration to complete bite-sized tasks. An agile marketing approach empowers multi-faceted teams to collaborate on small pieces of large projects over short intervals of time known as “sprints.” This process allows agile marketing teams to keep putting out new and relevant campaigns that they can regularly come back to and improve over time. Why It’s Time to Adopt Agile Marketing Even before COVID-19 changed the world, “business as usual” was already getting a little less usual. The number of U.S. employees who telecommute at least half the time grew 115% between 2005 and 2017. And as of mid-April 2020, 62% of employed adults in America worked from home due to COVID-19. About half of these workers said they’d prefer to continue to work remotely if possible. And they might get their wish, considering that three-quarters of companies are planning to keep some percentage of their workforce remote even after COVID-19 is under control in their areas. This shift has required organizations to adopt agile processes, policies, and technologies that empower collaboration and productivity for their distributed marketing, IT, and other departments. In addition to newly-remote workforces, there’s another major shift driving the need for agile marketing. Today, the way consumers shop is channel-agnostic and concurrent. Consumers themselves are agile. Modern consumers interact with six brand touchpoints on average before making a purchase. This interaction wouldn’t be so overwhelming if they didn’t expect that their experience will be seamless across each touchpoint. The vast majority (90%) of consumers report finding personalized experiences appealing, 80% say they’re more likely to do business with a company that personalizes their experience, and 75% of consumers are downright frustrated by irrelevant marketing. What does an organization need to do to process data and produce the level of content necessary to provide a personalized, omnichannel marketing experience for every last consumer? Employ an agile marketing program.A Three-Part Strategy for Developing an Agile Marketing Program This three-part strategy will help you develop the processes and choose the tools you need to move with agility when it comes to managing a distributed marketing team, producing high-quality campaigns, and optimizing them for various audiences and distribution channels.Start with a Solid Structure: Think MACH-First “MACH” describes technology that is microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless. Microservices ensure a marketing platform can adapt to fit every change the future holds. Application programming interface (API) technology enables countless integrations and seamless content delivery. Meanwhile, cloud-native infrastructure means your marketing platform is always up-to-date and ready-to-scale. A headless architecture empowers streamlined content operations so you can quickly optimize your campaigns for each audience and channel. A marketing platform built following MACH principles empowers marketing teams to collaborate, create, test, learn, and improve — fast. A MACH-first marketing platform is, at its core, agile. And speaking of this “marketing platform,” it all starts with the right software.Adopt the Right Software: An Agile Content Management System Creating an agile marketing program requires adopting an agile content management system (CMS) to keep up with and empower your modern marketing efforts. The problem with the traditional, monolithic CMS platforms (like WordPress and Drupal) to which many organizations are still tied is that content and its presentation are intertwined. This coupling of content and the presentation layer means you have to manually recreate content each time you want to use it for a new customer type or channel. It’s easy to see why traditional CMS is not agile enough for organizations that need to quickly develop and deliver a variety of personalized, omnichannel campaigns. On the other hand, a headless CMS separates content creation and presentation. This separation enables marketing teams to create content-powered experiences. Simultaneously, designers and developers build out the best displays for these campaigns — whether they’re delivering content to websites, mobile apps, email campaigns, chatbots, or elsewhere. It enables agility. The APIs that power a headless CMS’s modular architecture also make it easy to integrate with microservices — such as CRMs, DMPs, ecommerce platforms, translation and localization tools, AI-powered analytics programs, and more — to automate best-in-class content optimization and delivery. Implement Your New Process: How to Deploy an Agile Marketing Workflow With your structure and software in place, the final step is to implement your agile marketing program. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps to deploying an agile marketing workflow: Win stakeholder buy-in. Consensus is more important than ever when it comes to agile projects because goals can shift regularly, and it isn’t always easy to see progress when changes are happening quickly but on a small scale. Create your project roadmap. Of course, you should expect some dates to change due to the always-evolving nature of agile projects. However, try to define the significant milestones, if only to keep stakeholders happy and everyone else accountable. Never stop talking about the “big goals.” The small goals may change along the way, but you’ll still need to meet the big goals that helped you get buy-in in the first place. Remember that you should break down every goal into short, actionable tasks that you can complete within a sprint cycle.Round up your resources. With big goals, small tasks, and everything in between figured out — it’s finally time to invest in the resources (tools, training, etc.) that you’re going to need to get it all done. This is the time you want to shop for your agile headless CMS. Start small. Don’t expect your first agile marketing campaign to go totally according to plan. Treat your marketing program just like you would any agile campaign—start with what you know, learn, improve, and then grow. Kick-off Your Agile Marketing Program with a Big Win Forrester’s definition of agile CMS — “a solution for collaboratively curating, creating, and delivering content across channels and campaigns via iterative development and deployment processes” — further cements agile, headless CMS as the central platform which you need to build a modern marketing program. For more information on why transitioning to an agile CMS saves companies time, money, and headaches, while empowering business and technical users, check out Contentstack’s “Marketers and Developers Embrace Agile CMS” webinar featuring Nick Barber, Senior Analyst at Forrester. At Contentstack, we’re proud to be recognized among the top agile CMS providers. And we invite you to start your new agile marketing program off on the right foot with a free, no-obligation, 30-day trial. Try our features, set up a proof of concept, and see why our Contentstack’s agile headless CMS is a big win for your modern marketing program.
7 Must-Know Omnichannel Retail Trends for 2021 and Beyond
In today’s rapidly-changing economy, it’s more important than ever to stay up to date on the latest trends influencing the omnichannel retail space. In the article, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about omnichannel retail in 2021, key developments ranging from shoppable social to the shocking role of physical spaces, and the software you can start working with today to act on all these modern trends.What Does Omnichannel Retail Really Mean? In the beginning there was single-channel retail — aka, the “traditional” model. Single-channel retailers communicate with customers and sell their wares through a single channel. This channel could be anything from an online store to a physical one. But as internet-connected devices gained widespread usage, retailers realized they could connect with consumers better by diving into more channels. And thus multi-channel retail began. Multi-channel retail is quite similar to single-channel retail — just multiplied as the retailer expands into new channels. While this gives shoppers more opportunities to connect and shop with brands, it’s a disjointed experience that doesn’t jive with today’s consumer expectations (more on those later). Omnichannel retail is multi-channel retail with one major upgrade: The use of cutting-edge tech to tie each channel together. Omnichannel retail is all about creating a seamless, continuous consumer experience from the first time they discover your brand via search engine to their interactions with your on-site chatbot through the follow-up email you send to make sure they’re happy with their final purchase. For a real-life example of what a great omnichannel retail experience might look like, check out our imaginary shopper, Chen, as she takes a typically non-linear journey through buying a consumer product: What more and more retailers are learning is that providing an omnichannel experience is the baseline in today’s consumer environment Here’s what you need to know about what your most modern competitors are doing — and what you can do today to keep up.7 Data-Backed Omnichannel Retail Trends to Know If you’re not sure where to start with your omnichannel efforts, let these omnichannel retail trends be your guide.More Businesses Than Ever Are Investing in Omnichannel Efforts We all know that COVID-19 impacted retailers — but what we might not have fully realized is how extensive that impact was. A whopping 70% of locally-based retailers either introduced new or boosted existing digital channels as a result of the pandemic. According to Audrey Low, a managing director at media agency Mindshare China, the pandemic forced many businesses to transition into omnichannel over the course of just six months, as opposed to the multi-year rollouts they may have planned.Omnichannel Shopping Habits Boosted by the Pandemic Are Here to Stay In an (almost!) post-COVID-19 era, it looks like those digital accelerations — and the consumer shopping habits that came with them — aren’t going anywhere. Now that consumers know it is safer to shop from home and many also need to pinch pennies more than ever, we’ve become accustomed to using every channel at our disposal to not just complete purchases but to shop around for the best price and availability. This is why the marketing researchers at Nielsen predict that even once things return to what was once the “norm,” many of our omnichannel shopping habits will stick around — and so will retailers that are well-equipped to serve them.Omnichannel Shoppers Expect Consistency Across Channels Let’s take a second to deliver on our earlier promise to discuss what exactly the modern consumer expectation is. The name of the game for today’s shoppers is consistency. No matter the device, no matter the social channel, no matter the shopping platform, no matter the locale, and no matter the time of day — the majority of consumers expect brands to be capable of providing consistent information and experiences at all times. As for the retailers that can’t meet these expectations? They may be in for devastating business losses. More than 60% of people will stop shopping with a company that doesn’t deliver the experience they want. Social Media is a Powerful Shopping Channel Social media has long been a tool that brands can use to grow their audiences, collect rave reviews, provide modern customer support, and drive traffic to their revenue-generating websites. But now, many of those same social platforms are finding a way to take retailer profiles a step further by offering built-in shopping features. Probably the most common examples in the U.S. right now are Facebook’s Shops feature and Instagram’s Shopping feature. According to mdf commerce’s report 10 Trends Changing Omnichannel Retailing in 2021, over 60% of brands have already started using some kind of social ecommerce functionality.Video Usage Grows — And Becomes Shoppable We think VentureBeat hits the nail on the head when they predict that “The future of commerce belongs to brands and creators who bring commerce and content closer together in a seamless, engaging, and interactive viewing environment.” And according to Venturebeat, that interactive environment is video. They predict that 2021 is the year that social platforms will enable video clips to be linked to purchase pages the same way photos on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms have been for years. YouTube is already dabbling in becoming a social-ecommerce hybrid platform by enabling some product ads to link directly to a purchase page. And TikTok, a testament to the power and continued growth of video as a marketing tool, sets an example of fully-integrated social commerce by enabling URLs to be used in both user profiles and in individual video posts to take viewers straight to the product being featured.Digital Payments Take Off Digital payment options include technologies like mobile wallets (think Apple’s Wallet app), P2P payment platforms (think Venmo), real-time payments, and even cryptocurrencies. And the use of these cashless alternatives is absolutely skyrocketing. The global digital payment industry has more than doubled since 2017, growing from a $3 trillion industry in 2017 to an estimated $6.6 trillion industry by the end of 2021. If that isn’t enough to convince you to get in on this omnichannel retail trend, maybe the news that ecommerce giants like Amazon and Apple continue to invest in digital-first payment solutions will. In order to keep up with the modern consumer’s “anytime, anywhere” shopping mentality, consider optimizing your buying journey by offering multiple payment options — including an easy-to-use digital one.Brick-And-Mortar Remains a Key Element of Omnichannel Retail In the first quarter of 2020 — right around the same time COVID-19 took hold across most of the world — Home Depot’s digital sales were up 80%. But that’s not the headline here. What’s important is that over 60% of all orders were still picked up at a Home Depot store. The pandemic didn’t kill the brick-and-mortar store — it firmly cemented its place as a key element of your overall omnichannel retail strategy. While the purpose of physical retail spaces may have shifted for a time, they remained an important part of the buyer’s journey — the end-point of buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) and buy-online-pickup-at-curb (BOPAC) sales strategies. What we learned watching retail over this past year is that just because shoppers like to (or are sometimes forced to) buy online, that doesn’t mean they don’t also like to shop in store. With all the options they have today, consumers are increasingly nuanced in their shopping habits — and that’s the whole point of providing omnichannel retail experiences, isn’t it? Simply put, brick-and-mortar retail is not at all dead. In fact, for retailers who were able to hold onto their physical spaces through 2020, they might just be the key to cashing in on the variety of omnichannel retail trends we’ll continue to see through 2021 and beyond. Take Advantage of Today’s Omnichannel Retail Trends With Headless Architecture The common thread through all of the omnichannel retail trends we shared above is the ability for brands to provide consistent, connected, and constant experiences. Unfortunately, that’s just not possible with the legacy ecommerce tech that most brands are stuck using. If you’re ready to upgrade to67 tools that’ll help you go omnichannel, you’re ready to upgrade to headless architecture. Headless architecture uses application programming interface (API) technology to connect microservices, which are like single-purpose apps that deliver whatever features a business needs in the moment. Compared to legacy technology where features are permanently entwined and make for heavy, expensive software that’s a chore to update — headless architecture is quick, easy, and affordable to change and scale up (or down!) as trends demand. For retailers in particular, we recommend headless commerce architecture that brings together a headless content management system (like Contentstack) for website management and content delivery and a headless ecommerce platform (like commercetools) for all the core shopping functionality you need. Together, these tools will create a smooth, omnichannel shopping experience that makes life easier for your team and makes the shopping experience more modern for your customers. If you want to learn more about how easy it can be to build a headless commerce architecture with the right tools, read our blog Headless Ecommerce Architecture Using Contentstack and commercetools. And to experience the platform where it all begins — Contentstack’s headless content management system — request a free trial or book a personalized demo today.
Choosing a Mobile CMS: A Buyer's Guide for Marketers and IT Teams
From WCM to CXP: How the Content Arms Race is Killing the Legacy CMS
Struggling with how you can provide seamless customer experiences as consumers continue their conversation from chat to email to Twitter to some new app virtually unknown to anyone over 16? Wondering how you’re ever going to find the budget and coordinate the people needed to keep your content fresh and current across various local websites and growing social media channels? If these are things you’re thinking about as we’re settling into 2021, then you know it’s nothing short of a race to provide content-driven experiences that attract and engage consumers.The good news is that today’s modern content platforms are better than the traditional content management systems (CMSs) and web content management platforms (WCMs or sometimes “WEMs”) that are still in use by many large marketing organizations. The bad news? If you’re reading this article right now, you’re probably one of those large marketing organizations using outdated software.This article covers everything you need to know about:The modern content experienceHow modern content has fueled the progression from CMS to WCM to today’s CXPHow to create a strong base for your content experience platformWhat the Modern Content Experience Looks LikeIt is critical to keep up in the modern content environment. The vast majority of the history of content distribution was via the same handful of predictable formats: Print, TV, and radio. Then came the World Wide Web. Nothing much changed at first — you could just put your “billboard” on a static website in addition to on the side of the road. Then, the first 3G-connected smartphone hit in the year 2000, and everything changed.Now we can watch videos on our watches, use hand-held computers to chat with customer service reps, and order items directly to our homes with a few taps on a digital in-store kiosk.Consumption is skyrocketing as we close in on an entire year spent in the shadow of COVID-19. A survey of 10,000 people across Europe and the U.S. found that, since the pandemic began, the average daily digital content consumption per person has risen to nearly seven hours. Over 40% of consumers said they were using connected televisions more often, 48% were on social media more frequently, and 43% were spending more time watching videos — on YouTube, specifically.Today, readily-available mobile devices and internet connectivity have made us accustomed to consuming brand content and, often, making purchases anytime and anywhere. This omnichannel delivery is bedrock of the modern content experience.For marketers, the content experience can be more concisely defined as the sum of the interactions a consumer has with your content — ideally, as they move toward a purchasing decision. And the growing number of interactions and types of content all lead to one thing: Developing a platform for managing all of them.What is a “Content Experience Platform”?A content experience platform is your “control center” for all things content — content creation, management, deployment, and the various content operation tools that feed business intelligence into your content development and deployment process.Ultimately, your CXP is where the content elements you create are empowered to become part of the modern consumer experience.A modern content experience platform is composable because it’s built on MACH principles.“MACH” stands for technology that is:Microservices-basedAPI-firstCloud-nativeHeadlessAmong plenty of other benefits, what this means is that all the content experience tools you need can be individually plugged in, updated, removed, and rearranged as needed.MACH technology is what powers the content experience platform as the central hub for data platforms, personalization software, analytical apps, and content management tools you need to create omnichannel-ready content that meets consumers where they are. This infrastructure ensures that customers have all the information they need throughout the purchasing journey. (Check out our “Is your Enterprise Ready for MACH?” article to learn more about MACH.)How Content Demands Have Fueled the Progression from CMS to WCM to CXPAs content and the devices upon which consumers access it continue to change, so does the technology we use to keep up with it. Here’s how the ever-quickening race to provide the most valuable content at the perfect time has led to the evolution of today’s modern content experience platform.Traditional, Monolithic CMSsFirst were traditional, monolithic content management systems. These monolithic systems are still in use by plenty of enterprises today. These legacy CMSs combine content creation with delivery, so content is permanently in its “final form” once it’s formatted for delivery to a specific channel.While this was fine when the only device was the desktop computer and the only channel was a static website, today, it just means content that isn’t ready for omnichannel distribution.Single-Channel Web Content Management ToolsThe web content management platform (sometimes called a web “engagement” platform) came to popularity as businesses realized digital content would be a critical business capability.WCM software helps large marketing departments bring together many of the tools they need to create, run, and analyze complex content campaigns. And while this functionality is certainly a step up from monolithic CMS platforms that are nearly impossible to integrate new features into, they’re still hyper-focused on delivering content to a single channel — the web.Modern, Composable Content Experience PlatformsFinally, composable content experience platforms came along to provide the best of both worlds. Delivering a centralized content experience management app that plays well with outside tools, so you can create content thatgenuinelyoutpaces competitors in the race to deliver on omnichannel customer demands.Building Your Content Experience Platform: It All Starts With These Four ComponentsNow that you know how a CXP can bring together everything you need to compete in today’s content race, it’s time to take the next big step.While each organization’s CXP tech stack will be unique, in this section, we’ll lay out the four foundational components that will help you create your cutting-edge content experience platform.Headless CMSTo enable its full capabilities, start your modern CXP with a MACH-based headless CMS.Between its content capabilities and composability, a MACH headless CMS will provide the ideal foundation from which your business can create and push omnichannel content.Why? Well, for starters, a MACH headless CMS separates the process of creating and managing content from the way that content is formatted and distributed. It uses application programming interface (API) technology to connect the front-end display layer to the back-end content repository.The modular design means that marketing teams can create content once and reuse it for multiple platforms, using APIs to deliver the content to any device or channel, from websites and social media platforms to your customer relationship management database and beyond.This API-driven approach also provides a flexible architecture that allows you to plug in any microservice — including best-of-breed content solutions — without expensive and time-consuming development costs.Data Management SoftwareAlthough standard web analytics and A/B testing still have a place in a well-built marketing tech stack (think Google Analytics or Optimizely), building your CXP is all about leveling up and making it your own. Remember that the more data you can collect and use, the more value the data will generate when integrated into your CXP to inform content creation and distribution.Link your headless CMS to a modern customer relationship management database that tracks leads through the sales funnel (such as Zendesk) and a customer data platform that supplements your customer profiles (e.g., Evergage or Exponea). These types of tools ensure accuracy and generate insights faster.With this step, you’re on your way to bringing together the critical components of a modern CXP that will outpace legacy enterprise tech any day.Personalization ToolsPersonalization is a must-have in the modern CXP — especially in today’s omnichannel content environment where customers expect their experiences to be frictionless and consistent.Personalization is all about customizing what consumers see based on their behavior and characteristics, and studies show that it pays dividends.Research by McKinsey shows that industry leaders in personalization have increased revenue by up to 15%. Similarly, a study by Accenture found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations.By definition, personalization is data-driven. It requires collecting data about individual customers from various places and storing it to make it easy to analyze and take action on the findings. For brands with thousands or even millions of unique customers, it’s clear that personalization is a job for technology.In addition to the data management tools detailed in the previous section, platforms like Hubspot and applications that tap into supercomputers like IBM Watson are a great addition to your CXP. They further support content personalization by automating everything from sentiment analysis to keyword extraction — allowing you to deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time.Augmented and Predictive Analytics PlatformsAs consumers live more of their lives online, their data footprints continue to grow. And that means there’s more data than ever before that your brand can use to generate valuable business intelligence.The challenge of collecting, cleaning, organizing, and analyzing that data is best left to AI-driven tools that make light work of turning data into actionable insights.Augmented and predictive analytics platforms rely on machine learning to build analytical models that will help you determine what kind of content-driven experience each consumer desires.Augmented analytics use these models to identify patterns that human analysts would easily overlook. For example, augmented analytics can scan, evaluate, and summarize all content published on a particular topic during a specific time. So if you want to know how customers feel about your new marketing campaign — or perhaps even the campaigns that other top brands are running — augmented analytics can help you measure that.Predictive analytics takes a similar approach to identify trends using machine learning models to determine what customers are likely to do or want next. This process can suggest actions; for example, it might recommend sending a perfectly-timed, customized email that can turn a good content experience into a great one.With the addition of smart personalization and analytics tools to your content experience platform, you’ll be ready to run circles around your competitors with highly-personalized, omnichannel-ready content experiences.How Will Your Business Pull Ahead in Today’s Content Race?From legacy tech like web content management platforms to today’s MACH headless CMS, the fast pace of content has propelled marketing technology’s advancement like nothing else.To pull ahead of the competition in the race to provide omnichannel content experiences that consumers love — it all starts with adopting the easiest to customize headless CMS: Contentstack. Request a free, no-obligation trial or demo today to see how Contentstack can support your most significant and best content goals.
Is Your Enterprise Ready for MACH (Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, Headless)?
As competitive pressures drive the need for digital transformation, enterprises have a mind-boggling number of factors to weigh when growing their digital experience. This decision-making process is especially tough for established brands with legacy infrastructure that represents years of investment in capital and human expertise. While the number of martech tools continues to explode, the types of solutions that can support your business transformation are more clear-cut. You can choose to stay wedded to your traditional, monolithic system —or you can pursue a modern digital infrastructure that enables your business to integrate the best of these new technologies and adapt to market forces. If you find yourself caught between the two, you’re not alone. The prospect of embracing a new way of developing and delivering digital services can feel overwhelming. The truth is, if you’re already considering ways to accelerate your growth with modern digital tools, you’re more ready than you think you are to embrace the MACH approach. But what’s MACH? And are you ready to go all the way when it comes to MACH? The following article explains MACH technologies and helps you assess whether MACH is right for your enterprise. How MACH Works Magic in Your Tech Stack MACH technology is microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless. Far from just a fancy buzzword that invokes scenes of jet fighters, MACH technologies have several high-performance features: Microservices deliver each microservice’s functionality by connecting it to the desired endpoints. Application programming interfaces (APIs) deliver each microservice’s functionality by connecting it to the desired endpoints. Cloud-native infrastructure gives you scalability that legacy enterprise systems don’t have. And a headless digital system, such as a headless content management system (CMS), separates the front-end presentation from the back-end programming. This separation enables development flexibility and breaks down the data silos that stifle collaboration and enables omnichannel delivery. By design, MACH technologies are modular and scalable, with the ability to swap services in and out to meet evolving business needs. This is precisely why the MACH approach is gaining ground. A recent report by Forrester found that 76% of organizations believe that microservices are a crucial business agenda, something that’s also reflected in how organizations are planning to invest. The global market for cloud microservices, which estimates put at $810M for 2020, is projected to reach $2.8B by 2027 — growing at a CAGR of 19.2% from 2020 to 2027. The magic of MACH comes from the way its four key elements work together to make enterprises more agile and innovative. In particular, MACH technologies excel at meeting essential business needs that have become inherent in today’s business environment. Three key things drive most enterprises to consider MACH:Speed: You want to execute tasks and implement services fasterOutcomes: You want to deliver an exceptional customer experience that your current legacy architecture can’t handleProcesses: You need a tech stack that eliminates data silos and promotes collaboration If that sounds like virtually everyone in today’s market, you’re right. In our digital-first world, brands need to engage with consumers on multiple devices and channels, and the rules are being rewritten every day. The good news? With MACH, you can draw your roadmap to success.You’re Ready to Go MACH If... Not sure if you’re quite ready to go MACH? It all depends on whether or not the following statements ring true.You Have Big Plans for Your Omnichannel Strategy If you operate across multiple channels and customer touchpoints — or aspire to — the MACH framework accelerates your ability to innovate with traditional and digital touchpoints, as well as seize new opportunities at any point along the customer journey. The microservices at the foundation of the MACH approach are agile and modular, which means you’re not stuck with the limitations of a one-size-fits-all enterprise suite. One of the biggest reasons for going MACH is the flexibility to choose whichever services you want to deploy. With microservices, you can quickly create and deploy small (as in micro) function-specific solutions for new channels and customer touchpoints without lengthy and expensive lead times because they use less code. Microservices also allow you to experiment and innovate without impacting your other core services, generating less risk and more reward for your effort. Together with a headless CMS, this eliminates channel silos and allows you to deliver a consistent customer experience across touchpoints, which drives brand loyalty. Even better? MACH technologies are inherently vendor agnostic, which gives brands the freedom to innovate, test, and refine quickly — all while creating a custom tech stack that future-proofs their investments and delivers a stellar user experience. Whether you develop something new in-house or you want to try a new best-of-breed tool, MACH technologies empower your team to meet emerging needs with the agility that your customers — and your CEO — expect.You Need Scalable Infrastructure That Grows Along With You If your enterprise needs to react to unexpected market changes or disruptions that call for fast implementation of new solutions, MACH can equip you to do it fast. Adopting microservices lets you take a modular approach to gradually replacing your legacy architecture at a pace that aligns with your business needs and budget. Even if you run multiple platforms that need to talk to each other, the API-first approach makes integration simple, with the added benefit of giving developers the freedom to choose the best front-end technology for a given problem and simplify development with a unified logic.Your Business Requires Lightning-Fast Speeds and Reliable Uptime Using microservices also allows you to implement and manage new features and functionality seamlessly, avoiding the negative cascading impacts if an update goes sideways. This means no more bundling new features or upgrades into complex releases and a blissful end to complicated recompiling and rebuilding. Cloud services also leverage multiple data centers across time zones to give you the flexibility to handle traffic fluctuations that would grind legacy systems to a revenue-stopping halt.You Have Multiple Teams to Serve If you have several people across departments working together or needing access to the same data, MACH will accelerate collaboration. The headless architecture underpinning MACH-ready technology makes it easy to ensure that individuals and teams have access to the tools and functionality they need, thanks to well-constructed APIs to break down data silos.You’re Always Thinking About Keeping Costs In Check If your business needs surge capacity to handle volume fluctuations (think holiday shopping), MACH can save you a lot of headaches. MACH’s cloud-native design lets you power up to meet the Black Friday shopping rush without having to pay for surge capacity when you don’t need it. A consumption-based model is also an excellent choice for business models that recognize that increased transactions mean increased costs — and vice-versa. Instead of asking yourself if you can afford to ditch your monolithic legacy system and go MACH, considering the monetary and morale cost of maintaining a legacy system, you should be asking yourself if you can afford not to.How to Implement MACH in Your Organization At its core, MACH allows enterprises to use technology the way it’s meant to be used: To enable business success, not just to be another sunk cost. And once they see it through this lens, most organizations are in a good mental space to go MACH. Now, follow these guidelines and get in a good organizational space for spinning up your first-ever MACH project.Identify Your Goals and Gaps Starting your MACH journey begins with knowing what you want to achieve and what gaps prevent you from getting there. Do you have urgent problems that need solving to address your current business needs, such as adding critical functionality missing from your current stack? Or are you looking for ways to accelerate your growth and future-proof your next investments in your tech stack so you can turn on a dime if the need arises? Thoughtful questions like these — and plenty of others that are more specific to your business — will help you start outlining your goals when you go MACH. Now how close can you get to achieving those goals with what you already have? What’s missing — and how will MACH help you integrate it? With your goal in mind, these kinds of questions will empower you to identify the gaps you intend to fill with your MACH technologies.Win Organizational Buy-In Implementing a MACH approach is an excellent way to drive growth and innovation in your brand, in large part because it touches every aspect of how you operate as a business. However, digital transformation is as much about people as it is about technology. That means you need buy-in throughout your organization to implement MACH successfully. From the CEO and CFO who hold the purse strings to the developers and content creators who will be working with the new solutions you introduce, your MACH journey will be much smoother if everyone understands the goals and has a chance to contribute to the process. The consultative process often reveals even more opportunities to innovate with new technologies that many assumed were out of reach.Find an Implementation Partner Look, we’re not here to sugarcoat reality and say that the process of taking your whole organization MACH is an easy one. We’re here to say mostly the opposite. Making the transition to MACH requires particular expertise — both with the transformation itself and the ground-breaking technology MACH entails. So, look for a transformation partner that has that expertise. The ideal partner won’t just provide the staff you need to make the transition — though that’s a super important element — but will also continue to support you as you dismantle more of your legacy monolith to let new technology take root. For six powerful tips that will help you choose an ally in your MACH transformation, read our blog “How to Choose the Best Partner to Transition Your Technology to MACH.”Iterate Your Way to Full Your MACH Adoption We’re big fans of the agile approach to everything from marketing to development to, now, MACH implementation. As such, we recommend an iterative approach to “going MACH,” in which you tackle small projects, replace specific software solutions, or improve minimal areas of the business at a time. By doing so, you can create a cycle in which stakeholders can see the changes and weigh in on what’s working and what isn’t working in almost real-time. With each iteration, you and your implementation partner will get smarter about what your organization wants with MACH and implement more efficiently over time. Want to see a MACH technology implementation project unfold right before your very eyes? Check out Project Spyglass, Valtech and Contentstack’s four-week augmented reality effort:How to Concept and Pitch an Augmented Reality Demo (in 1 Week or Less)Augmented Reality for Retail: From Concept to Game Plan (Week 1 / 3 of Development)Augmented Reality Frameworks for an Enterprise Web-Based AR ApplicationDevelopment of an Augmented Reality Retail Skincare POC: Content Modeling and Interaction Building (Week 2/3) And be sure to stay tuned to the Contentstack blog for more updates as Project Spyglass continues to develop!Get Familiar With the Market Before You Go MACH If reading this article has you motivated to go MACH, check out our free MACH Evaluation Checklist to help you quickly assess whether that cutting-edge tech you’re looking at really follows the MACH principles to which you want to adhere. Dive even deeper by downloading our ebook, Break the Replatform Cycle with MACH Enterprise Architecture, to learn more about MACH, see if MACH is a good fit for your enterprise, and get advice from digital leaders who have found success with MACH
The 11 Best Content Management Systems of 2021: Options for Small, Midmarket, and Enterprise Businesses
Today, every business is a publisher. Well, every successful business is a publisher. Consider the following:Website publishers push six new websites live every second. Bloggers published approximately 116 posts per second. Instagram users upload 1,099 posts each second. And so on. Is your business prepared to cut through this noise? Success as a modern business isn’t about beating every other organization that’s publishing on the internet. No, success today is about leveraging the right content to reach the right audience on the right channels. This is why you must choose the right tools to execute a robust content marketing strategy. And it all starts with a content management system.Why Do You Need a Content Management System? Almost every company today needs to create, publish, manage, and now optimize a variety of content they serve to their audience. Many of them — almost 65% — use a content management system (CMS) to do so. Why? Well, there are several reasons. A CMS, especially an enterprise-grade CMS (more on that later), should come with structure and features such as meta descriptions, optimized URL structures, and more that will boost your search engine presence and direct valuable traffic to your websites. Additionally, a modern content management system can help integrate your content with business intelligence applications so you can make informed content marketing decisions that move the needle. This insight is important when you consider that more than half of the data that companies collect is “dark” — meaning it’s never actually analyzed in a way that contributes to business intelligence. A content management system will enable your team to create the governance and workflows that streamline collaboration so you can get your best content created and served in no time. Getting great content to market has never been more critical than in the age of COVID-19. It has forced consumers to do everything from working to shopping to learning how to perform their own services — digital salons, anyone? — via the internet. That’s why ecommerce has experienced almost 30% growth in 2020. This growth is despite projections that ecommerce would decline by over 16%, and the retail market would decrease by 3%. To reach consumers interested in your product or services, your business needs to invest in the right content management system. The rest of this article is devoted to helping you make that choice.Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best CMS for You There is no one-size-fits-all content management system. Different CMS options will work better in different situations. For example, a multi-million dollar ecommerce business running dozens of marketing campaigns across various digital channels will need technical integrations, features that enable omnichannel delivery, and other characteristics that an individual blogger isn’t going to need. There are several criteria that businesses need to consider when shopping for a CMS, such as:Size and scalability: When choosing a CMS, the platform’s size and scalability should align with your organization’s size and scalability. If you’re looking to grow your business with more new members, more capabilities, and more sales, your CMS has to be readily scalable to keep serving you through all your ups (and any downs). Extensibility: Extensibility goes hand-in-hand with scalability. If you’re consistently scaling, you want a CMS that lets you easily add, update, and even remove extensions. Of course, if you’re happy with a more stagnant CMS, you won’t need to prioritize extensibility as much. Omnichannel capabilities: In this day and age, it’s vital to serve content optimized for the channels your target consumers visit. Even if a CMS needs integrations to do this, it should at least mention omnichannel content management as a priority. Content management features: What’s a CMS without the features for content management, such as tagging, search, and workflows? Each CMS has its unique blend of features — make sure the one you’re looking at has the features you need. Ease of use: The absolute best content management system in the world isn’t worth anything if the people who need it the most can’t use it effectively. Consider the ease of use of a CMS to ensure your team will use it. Security and controls: As more of our lives take place online, security becomes more critical. Every time you add a new integration or user to your CMS, your risk of a security breach goes up. It’s essential to be aware of these facts and how seriously a piece of CMS software takes security and access controls when making your choice. Cost: Of course, how much you’re willing to spend is an important thing to remember when shopping for any business software. But beyond the sticker price, make sure there are no ongoing costs that you’re uncomfortable with (for example, many legacy CMSs love to charge per user, charge for software upgrades, and so on).Customer support: When a large percentage of your business success is riding on your content management system, you want to know you can get in touch with your vendor if anything happens to go wrong. Try contacting a CMS provider several times with different requests before signing any contracts to make sure they’re as responsive and helpful as you need.2021’s Best Content Management Systems for Small, Midmarket, and Enterprise Businesses Next up, our recommendations for the best content management systems of 2021 for several key business types.The Best CMS Platform for Personal Projects People running personal projects — such as travel or cooking blogs — will want a CMS with all the ease of use and content management features but won’t need the flexibility that often requires development resources.Our Pick: Squarespace Squarespace is a visual website builder and hosting platform all in one, which means users have just enough flexibility to make their website look a certain way but don’t have to hire developers or interact with code to get their site up and running.Other CMSs for Personal Projects Wix is like Squarespace in that it offers pre-built templates and a drag-and-drop builder for creating website pages. With a free option (that features ads), Wix is ideal for the person who is just getting started with publishing for personal projects.The Best CMS for Small Businesses Like personal projects, small businesses want ease of use and affordability — but they also want security, access to customer support, and content management features that enable collaboration within a small marketing team.Our Pick: WordPress WordPress is an open-source content management system initially built to be a blog publishing platform. This focus on blogs means that while it falls short in things that bigger businesses prioritize — such as access control, superior security, scalability, etc. — it works for individuals because it’s affordable and easy to use. And because WordPress is open-source, entire agencies have been created around developing various templates and plugins that make the platform highly customizable for small businesses.Other CMSs for Small Businesses Unlike the other options we’ve mentioned so far, Amplience is a headless CMS. The next section dives deeper into headless CMSs. Generally, a headless CMS offers more scalability, extensibility, omnichannel capabilities, and security than a legacy CMS. For the small business that’s willing to pay a little more for increased functionality, Amplience can help with digital asset management, product information management, and of course, content management.The Best CMS for Midmarket and Enterprise Businesses Midmarket and enterprise-level businesses have more complex requirements for their digital entities. A midmarket services agency might want to create an interactive content experience for its website — while an ecommerce enterprise will need to deliver personalized shopping experiences at each digital touchpoint in the purchasing journey. These requirements call for a headless content management system that goes beyond simple templates and drag-and-drop functionality. A headless CMS delivers extensibility, powerful omnichannel capabilities, robust content management features, and cutting-edge security — and provides it all at scale.Our Pick: Contentstack Contentstack is a pioneer when it comes to headless CMS software. As such, Contentstack offers the speed and agility that modern midmarket and enterprise businesses in ecommerce and beyond demand — without sacrificing any of the security and control, support, or content management features upon which busy marketing departments rely. And thanks to cutting-edge extensibility combined with award-winning ease of use, Contentstack is uniquely positioned to help you accelerate content personalization, optimization, and publishing across today’s and tomorrow’s digital devices and channels.Other CMS Options for Midmarket and Enterprise While Contentful is another popular CMS that provides standard headless content management features for large businesses, it simply doesn’t stack up compared to Contenstack in a head-to-head(less) showdown. From content management features to scalability to ease of doing business with, Contentstack consistently outranks Contentful on G2 — a recognized business software review resource. ButterCMS is one of the few headless CMSs with a pre-made package explicitly created for blogging. This focus on blogging functionality before anything else means Butter is probably best left to businesses centered around their blogs.Sitecore is an “experience platform” with a complex suite of services built on Microsoft’s NET Core platform. They’re currently rebranding their content management service — known as “Sitecore Content Hub” — like a headless CMS to position their system alongside true headless CMSs. On top of all this, to use Sitecore successfully, your business will have to hire developers or contract out an agency that has specific (and expensive!) Sitecore training. For these reasons, Contentstack beats Sitecore in every category on G2 — achieving 4.7/5 stars compared to Sitecore’s 3.9/5 stars, which are based on real user reviews. Core DNA bills itself as an “all-in-one SaaS digital platform” that aims to provide a single tool from which businesses don’t just manage marketing content but also their internal intranet and events. Due to this lack of focus on critical headless CMS features, it’s not surprising that reviewers note the high cost, the outsized effort required to re-platform, and a lack of desired integration points among Core dna’s downsides. Kentico Kontent is Kentico’s recent development in their “move from pure headless CMS to Content as a Service.” While this shift might sound nice from a product branding perspective, we wonder what it means for users who want to rely on Kentico as a headless content management system.Prismic’s tech-focused blog section and a developer-focused pricing tier show a headless CMS that’s built by and for people with an IT background. While it appears to be a viable option for IT-led projects, it may not be ideal for marketing- and content-focused users. With all the options laid out in front of you, let’s dive deeper into our reason behind naming Contentstack the number-one pick for midmarket and enterprise businesses in 2021.Why Contentstack Headless CMS is the Best Choice for Midmarket and Enterprise Organizations The features that make Contentstack a leader in the headless CMS industry are the same features that make it the best option for content management for midmarket and enterprise businesses. So what features set apart a headless CMS? A headless content management system is built on a modular architecture that decouples the process of content creation, management, and publishing from the design and development of the platforms upon which it’s displayed. This decoupling enables marketing teams to keep publishing perfectly-optimized content to every platform, design teams to keep creating engaging consumer-facing content displays, and IT teams to keep focusing on cutting-edge technology updates — all without waiting or blocking each other or worrying about anything breaking. What makes all of this possible? With modern headless CMS platforms such as Contenstack, it all comes down to a unique blend of technology features known as MACH. MACH is a term for modern technologies built using microservices, supported by application programming interfaces (APIs), cloud-native, and headless from the ground up. This unique combination makes MACH technology modular, pluggable, scalable, and easy to update so that it can support even the most quickly-evolved digital experience at your midmarket or enterprise organization. Compare this to traditional, monolithic content management systems of old in which content management features and content presentation functionality are coupled together. This approach means that your carefully-crafted content is permanently defined by how it’s designed and displayed. And this makes it impossible to create content once, optimize it over and over again, and publish it infinitely to the channels consumers crave both now and into the future. In other words, all the things you can do with modern, MACH-powered headless CMSs — such as Contentstack.Test the Best CMS for Midmarket and Enterprise for Free Today Contentstack provides a variety of clear advantages over other CMS options for midmarket and enterprise businesses, including:Increased speed and agility native only to SaaS-based headless solutionsLimitless scale as your business grows and changesStability and security akin to legacy softwarePrioritization of content optimization for the omnichannel delivery consumers crave Industry-leading content management features and controls that empower marketers to work without expensive engineering resourcesCloud-first architecture and pricing that never forces you to choose between savings and customer experiencePrime onboarding and customer support free for every customer Want to see for yourself how Contentstack can help your midmarket or enterprise organization create world-class content experiences? Developers can dive in headfirst by signing up for a free, all-access trial today. And marketers can get started now with a free, full-featured demo from Contentstack’s helpful support staff.
How Augmented and Predictive Analytics Make the Most of Your Data
How to Choose the Best Headless CMS for Your Company
No matter your industry or organization size, this guide will help you choose a powerful content management system to create the digital experiences your workers need and consumers demand. Keep reading to learn:Why headless is the best solution when it comes to content management systemsWhy a headless CMS is a critical tool for businesses of all types The best headless CMSs for a variety of company typesWhat is a Headless CMS? A content management system (CMS) is software that serves as the central hub for marketing content that engages your consumers, supports your business goals, and ultimately drives revenue. Content management systems do this by giving businesses the tools they need to create, publish, and otherwise manage content for their consumers on their company websites, applications, and other digital channels and devices. And today, when these consumers are interacting with your business on a growing number of devices, you need a CMS built to keep up. This is why headless is best. A headless CMS is built on a modular architecture that decouples content creation, management, and publishing from how it’s displayed. This enables marketing teams to push new content and IT teams to make new tech updates without relying on the other for help or worrying about breaking anything. Application programming interface (API) technology enables content modules to be quickly optimized and published on websites, apps, smart billboards, end-cap kiosks, chatbot knowledge bases, and every other cutting-edge consumer channel that comes to fruition. Headless CMS is part of the MACH family of technology. MACH tech is built on four core principles: It employs lean "microservices" to deliver specific functionality, relies on "APIs" for infinite flexibility, is delivered via the "cloud" for affordability and scalability, and is "headless" so that it can operate flawlessly in any framework. Together, MACH technology features empower companies of every size and type to keep up with consumer trends — the most important of which we’ll discuss next.Why Is Having a Headless CMS Important for Every Type of Company? Have you felt like you’re busier than ever before? If you have, you’re not alone. Over a third of respondents in the National Retail Federation’s Consumer View Winter 2020 report said they have less free time today than they did just five years ago. And what do they want to spend their dwindling free time doing? It sure isn’t shopping around. Just over 80% of consumers say a convenient shopping experience is more critical today than five years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to do as much of their shopping as possible from the safety of their own homes; it’s a safe bet that number has grown since the National Retail Federation’s research was compiled — and will remain high for years to come. No matter what type of company you serve, meeting consumers on the channels they want to shop with the personalized products and services they want to buy is key to capitalizing on convenience.How to Choose the Best Headless CMS for Your Business Type For businesses that want to stay relevant throughout every modern consumer trend, a headless CMS is the only solution for content management across endless channels and devices. That’s why you need to know how to choose the right one. Let’s explore the type of headless CMS that various businesses should look for when shopping for the right content management system to power their experience machine.Tech Startups Whether your company is a team of one or made up of a small handful of people, startups in the technology space have specific needs. Small businesses piloted primarily by technology-savvy leaders — or at least have a laser focus on technology while developing their product or service — should look for a stripped-down headless CMS. The simplest version of a headless CMS is built without any typical business features that enable marketers to create and publish content without interacting with code. These types of headless CMS can be harder to track down, and you might find yourself wanting to upgrade once you grow your team. However, most tech-focused startups will benefit from the integrability and affordability of a stripped-down CMS while they’re still building out that proof of concept and market viability.Bloggers and Other Small Businesses On the other end of the spectrum are the non-technical small or single-person businesses, such as personal travel, food, fitness, and different types of blogs. If you are — or you’re working with — one of these types of companies, you want a headless CMS with all the business-focused features you can get, so you never have to interact with code. While this type of headless CMS cost more out of the gate, one of the best things about going headless is that you’ll only have to do it once. The cloud-based, API-powered modular architecture is built from the ground up to scale as much as your business needs.Nonprofit Businesses Like small businesses, nonprofits need a headless CMS with marketer-friendly features and a user-friendly interface to grow their audience. They also need the flexibility to scale up (and down!) as their busy seasons and levels of support ebb and flow. But unlike small businesses, nonprofits need a headless CMS that serves a higher number and a wider variety of users — all in a cost-efficient way. To meet these unique needs, nonprofit companies are best off looking for a headless CMS platform that markets explicitly to them. That or reaching out to newer or smaller headless CMS providers to see if they can customize a package to meet both their needs and budget.Manufacturing Companies Manufacturing companies that turn raw materials into finished goods have particular needs for their content management systems. Namely, they need a system that can connect with and create applicable business intelligence from a wide variety of tools — including CAD software, supply chain management platforms, complex accounting systems, partner and distributor portals, and more. A manufacturer should look for the essential features in their headless CMS, such as interoperability, artificial intelligence for automation, and the appropriate level of support to get their integrations and business transformation up and running.New Direct-to-Consumer Brands With their focus on delivering personalized marketing and consistent customer experiences across every channel, direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands are a perfect match for the features that headless CMS offers. While newer D2C brands will undoubtedly need these capabilities as they grow, while they’re still working on cutting through the noise, they should focus on making sure they’ve got their number-one feature locked down: The product. That means managing everything that goes into providing your product to consumers, from the product’s data to product information distribution, inventory, and performance analytics. If that’s where you are, prioritize finding the product information management (PIM) and a digital asset management (DAM) platform that works for you before selecting a more lightweight but still feature-rich headless CMS to create flawless consumer experiences.Medium-Sized Businesses Medium-sized businesses are in a unique position. While they can typically benefit from the same headless CMS features as large businesses, they may be intimidated by an enterprise-focused tool that comes with extras like cutting-edge usability, turnkey integrations, manageable workflows, and white-glove service. The best feature a medium-sized business can have in this case is to identify their most important features right now and what they will need from their headless CMS in the future. A cloud-based SaaS solution’s flexibility is well-poised to grow with a medium-sized business without breaking the bank.The Best Headless CMS for Enterprise, Large Retail, and FinServ Businesses: Contentstack In this case, the best feature a medium-sized business can have is to identify their most important features right now and what they will need from their headless CMS in the future. A cloud-based SaaS solution’s flexibility is well-poised to grow with a medium-sized business without breaking the bank. In the words of Contentstack CMO and former co-founder of the integration-as-a-service provider Built.io Matthew Baier, “ … integration is a superpower that enterprises are beginning to unlock.” Contentstack’s headless CMS was built from the ground up to provide turnkey sales and marketing integrations. These integrations enable the most complex organizations — whether they be modern FinServ leaders, retailers, or others — to provide the individualized experiences that are key to closing sales and blowing competitors out of the water. Contentstack helped the mortgage finance industry leader Ellie Mae cut their developer tickets almost in half so they could get back to the revenue-generating projects that mattered! And speaking of integrations, Contentstack’s partnership with commercetools enables large retailers to rapidly launch and grow all-inclusive ecommerce platforms that support the end-to-end consumer experience. This focus on ecommerce features and the flexibility, scalability, and up-time that result from Contentstack’s MACH architecture — is especially significant right now. By the summer of 2020, ecommerce sales had grown 55% year over year, and shoppers spent an additional $107 billion online — mainly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The digital experiences that Contentstack enables its enterprise business users to create and consumers to enjoy are only going to become more critical as more of our daily interactions go digital. Large retailers, FinServ organizations, and other enterprise businesses can either go big and choose Contentstack — or they can go home.Which Will be The Best Headless CMS for Your Company? Going headless or making the switch from an outdated content management system to a new one will likely be a big project, but when you choose the right headless CMS platform, you can be sure it’ll be time and money well spent. To learn even more about the ins and outs of headless CMS, download our free and easy to read brief, “Traditional vs. Headless CMS — Never Settle.” For even more tips on what to look for in a headless CMS, check out this “Headless CMS Buyer’s Guide.”And if you want to see what a real, enterprise-ready headless CMS looks like from the inside, you can take a no-obligation test drive of Contentstack or get a guided demo.
Minimize Time to Value for Headless CMS Deployment
In this digital age, IT investments are far from sunk costs. IT has become a business enabler that directly supports the bottom line. That’s great news for technology leaders, who now regularly find themselves with a seat at the decision-making table. However, it also increases pressure on technology teams to show results faster than ever. While no one questions the need to keep email systems running, the cost associated with upgrading your content management system (CMS) might be a tougher sell. But investing in a headless CMS will not just save time and money in the long run — it will start paying for itself as soon as you bring it online. It allows your technology and content teams to work more efficiently and generate results faster. This guide shows how to minimize the time to value for your headless CMS deployment, complete with practical advice on quickly taking advantage of the flexibility and scalability that only comes from going headless. There are two critical components to make this happen: Understanding the benefits and knowing how to get there as quickly as possible. We’ll cover them both, starting with the benefits and then showing some examples.What Is a Headless CMS? A headless CMSs separates content creation and management in the backend (the “body”) from the frontend, where the content is formatted and distributed (the “head”). Application programming interfaces (APIs) then deliver the content stored in the back-end repository to any device or channel — from websites to social media platforms, mobile apps, email marketing campaigns, your customer relationship management (CRM) database, and beyond. The content flexibility and scalability that headless CMS enables make it ideal for brands that need to deliver experiences across consumer touchpoints.Why Organizations Choose a Headless CMS to Maximize Value From FinTech to publishing to online retailing, a headless CMS is the solution for brands competing in an omnichannel market — a market that is only getting bigger. The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices alone has created a dramatic spike in around-the-clock connectivity as well as the number of channels upon which people can consume your content. Already, 69% of U.S. households own at least one smart home device. And, the total number of IoT devices is projected to reach 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025. Today, savvy companies choose a headless CMS because they need to distribute more content to more digital destinations in less time, and headless is hands down the most efficient and effective way to do so. 3 Ways Headless CMS Helps Brands Minimize Time to Value With an increasing number of non-web endpoints entering your omnichannel universe, you can hardly afford not to consider a headless CMS. Here’s how headless can help maximize value in your organization.Improve the Customer Experience on Your Existing Digital Platforms Consumers interact with an average of six touchpoints before making a purchase. And, they expect the experience to be seamless across all of them. In practice, that means if you’re a retailer that needs to update a listing, your customers expect to see the same listing information no matter what platform or device they’re engaging on. A headless CMS helps you deliver that kind of flawless experience by eliminating silos and providing a single source of truth that everyone on your team can work to optimize and publish on-brand and up-to-date content.Reach Existing Customers on New Touchpoints As new technologies emerge, from today’s smartphones to tomorrow’s VR kiosks, your customers expect new ways to engage. Stay relevant by showing up to the party early, whether it’s in an IoT-connected refrigerator or the dash of a new self-driving car. If you have barely moved beyond mobile, a headless CMS is your gateway to exploring a whole new omnichannel frontier. Introduce New Customers to Your Products Whether you started as a brick-and-mortar business or you’re a brand new cloud-native start-up, a headless CMS is the fastest way to grow your customer base quickly in an omnichannel environment. Using a headless CMS, you can create content once and reuse it as often as you need using APIs. If you’re starting from scratch, you reap all the benefits of agility and scalability right from the get-go. The modular nature of headless CMS also means it integrates easily with legacy systems, so your team can still use their favorite apps without having to copy and paste content across platforms. If it sounds like headless CMS can help virtually every brand with something, that’s because it can. At its core, a headless CMS minimizes the time it takes to generate ROI and value by providing the flexibility and scalability that organizations need to ensure consistently delivering high-quality content anywhere.The Top 5 Benefits of a Headless CMS There is a long list of benefits from adopting headless CMS, but they fall into five main categories.Improving System Performance As content needs to become more dynamic, traditional CMSs are burdened by the additional weight. But headless CMSs don’t have this problem because APIs deliver the content — it isn’t embedded in your website or app’s code. That means, with headless CMS, consumers experience faster load times — which has a significant impact on bounce rate and, ultimately, revenue generation.Future-Proofing Tech Investments As technological advancement marches on, maintaining and adapting legacy systems will become increasingly unsustainable. Every moment your tech team spends building workarounds for a traditional, monolithic CMS, the time it takes to see a return on your content investment grows. But by using a headless CMS that employs APIs to deliver content, you make today’s work easier while giving yourself the flexibility to use new platforms in the future. Some new device or channel on the horizon? Great, create an API, and get your content out there! That’s infinitely faster — and in the long-term, less expensive — than retooling your monolithic CMS every time a new device hits the market.Giving Developers More Flexibility With a traditional CMS, developers have to dive into code to change the content — an arduous process to fix a small typo. But with headless CMS, developers can unleash their creativity to build front-end displays that focus on aesthetics and user experience, all while coding in the languages they already know and love. Even better? When they need to make changes to the frontend, they can do so without having a ripple effect on the backend.Leveling Up Your Marketing Chops The API-first approach of headless CMS makes it easier for marketers to take advantage of strategies that are hard to implement efficiently with a traditional CMS. MarTech solutions like marketing automation, augmented and predictive analytics, and predictive lead scoring all integrate seamlessly into headless CMS via API. This allows your marketing and sales teams to refine their campaigns and tactics in a way that traditional CMSs can’t match. An extensible, API-first headless CMS also makes quick work of personalization and localization by integrating third-party data. This fuels tailored content creation while allowing you to publish multi-language content simultaneously.Increasing Efficiency for Content Creators Research from the Content Marketing Institute confirms that much content-related work is still done manually, which leaves lots of room to improve processes and workflows. By separating content from the way it’s displayed, a headless CMS empowers content creators to focus on what they do best: Making compelling content! Using the modular, labeled, and searchable content stored inside a headless CMS, new webpages, social posts, and campaigns can be created or adapted in minutes. This streamlines the process of delivering content because no one has to locate or recreate it. Not only does it save time and reduce errors, but it also allows content teams to distribute more high-quality content faster. What does that mean for the bottom line? Your content creators can develop scalable systems for creating and delivering relevant, timely content that engages your audience — and stop waiting around for IT to add that comma. How to Reach Peak Headless CMS Performance to Maximize Value Technology itself doesn’t solve problems — people solve problems using technology. These final tips will help make sure you’re able to fast-track the time to value for your headless CMS deployment.Get Buy-In Early and Often It’s no secret that organizational buy-in is critical to the success of any initiative. While this includes senior leadership support, it also includes the people that use your CMS every day. In the process of deploying a headless CMS for the first time, it’s crucial to engage the content creators, managers, editors, marketers, and analysts who all rely on the information and data in your CMS to do their jobs. Just telling someone that the next system will be “new and improved” is never enough. Include your whole team in the conversation regularly and get to value with fewer speed bumps along the way.Teach People How to Use It A fantastic feature of headless CMSs is that not everyone needs to know how to do everything, which makes training a breeze. Be sure to shop for a headless CMS with explicit permissions settings to empower people in their roles and take ownership of their work. With training sessions that teach people what to do and using settings to control the access to content, you’ll have fewer hangups and less rework when it comes to publishing using your headless CMS. Be Clear About How You Measure Value Getting to value faster implies knowing what value is. Whether your primary driver for choosing a headless CMS is enhancing customer experience or improving team workflow, make sure you have the right metrics to measure it before you charge toward your goals.Find Out How Your Organization Can Minimize Time to Value by Deploying Headless CMS There’s no need to wonder if headless is for you — you can see it in action for yourself. To see what a headless CMS can do for your business, get in touch with the Contentstack team to book a demo or sign up for a free, 30-day trial and learn why so many organizations are choosing to go headless.