Contentstack Demonstrates 295% ROI as Part of New Go Composable Initiative295% ROI with ContentstackRead more
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The Contentstack Team

Posts by The Contentstack Team

Feb 03, 2023

Levi's Zach Crittendon supports big ambitions with flexible tech

One thing jeans and technology have in common? You can outgrow them. As digital became increasingly critical to Levi Strauss and Co.’s strategy, it was clear that the single, monolithic platform that had been powering the website wasn’t going to be able to keep up with the company’s omnichannel ambitions. “That was a great way to get started,” said Zach Crittendon, software architect at Levi Strauss & Co., about their legacy all-in-one platform. “It has a lot of best practices built into it and was sufficient to get us live on the internet, but it was not going to scale with us in all of the things that we needed to do as a company.” Crittendon recently spoke with us about developing scalable solutions, designing tools that empower creative teams and the advice he has for other leaders making the transition to a composable architecture. Minimize risk with phases Moving from an all-in-one platform to a composable approach, where different systems handle different responsibilities, can be a complex challenge — especially as most companies aim to make this transition in a way that quickly proves value and poses minimal risk. “A huge part of the transition is finding the business case that fits it,” Crittendon said. “One that will give you a real world evaluation of what you’ve built, what its strengths and weaknesses are, but in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your main line of business.” For Levi’s, this meant taking a phased approach. In phase one, the team added a headless CMS to create a new homepage while the rest of the website stayed in the legacy platform. Phase two was to completely replace the legacy platform for the Eastern European website, which was a simpler use case because a third party handled a large part of the order management process. In phase three, the team completely moved to a composable architecture. These phases allowed the team to gradually add complexity and step off the monolith one capability at a time instead of a big-bang replatform effort. “You can have those learnings and if there are any issues you have the time to work through and identify and resolve those before you bet the business on it,” Crittendon said.Build with growth in mind “The most important thing with composable is having a very clear idea of where you’re going," Crittendon said. “Make sure that you have a good idea of what a strong, powerful, flexible, composable architecture looks like in the future.”Keeping the long-term vision in mind helped the Levi’s team to develop and implement capabilities that would be able to grow with the business. For example, instead of creating a one-off template, the homepage was built in a modular way with the intention that the APIs, content types, content schema and the content itself could later be reused and repurposed for different use cases. “We ensured that the initial architecture was structured in such a way that we could expand the number of locations that this modular system could be used within our site and that the set of modules themselves could be expanded,” Crittendon said.Having a foundation of reusable, flexible modules allows the team to repurpose content, integrate data, combine experience elements and deliver to different channels with very little technical investment. For instance, in a two-day hackathon they were able to develop shoppable videos that display inventory-aware products and local prices.“It’s very simple to reuse all of these pieces that we’ve built and just reconfigure them to suit the requirements that we have at the moment,” Crittendon said.Enable creative teams The long-term vision that guides how capabilities are designed and implemented should be developed with both technology and creative teams at the table. At Levi’s, the long-held desire from the marketing team to be able to blend brand-driven content with conversation-driven experience was a major factor in the design of the new architecture. “Going composable has made it faster and easier for us to create essentially whatever experiences our product and user experience teams are able to dream up,” Crittendon said. “The way we’ve integrated our commerce and product information management APIs with our CMS APIs, we’re able to make it very easy for our business users to create these experiences that combine the commerce and the content in one place,” he explained.   Crittendon and his team have approached this from two directions. First, by making it easy to put “content in commerce” and letting business users put text, images and videos directly in category pages and product grids. Second, by enabling “commerce in content” experiences like the ability to tag editorial photos with related products and use real-time data from the commerce platform to only show products that are available. “We’re not trapped in the template of a product display page but can instead deliver a very rich, custom, bespoke brand experience and have the commerce part of that experience just a click away,” Crittendon said. “That’s something that our team had been dreaming of for years before we moved to this composable architecture.” Focus on usability “Half the project is the experience that we’re delivering to the external customers, the other half of the project is how we’re doing that in a way that is easy to use and easy to learn and understand for the business users,” Crittendon said. “As a technology person my job, as I see it, is to understand what it is that they’re trying to convey and what the differences and similarities are across campaigns, locales and languages,” Crittendon said, explaining that a critical part of designing a solution for a global, multi-brand organization like Levi’s is making sure there is significant flexibility. So while architecture components are designed to be reused as much as possible, it’s easy to adjust if a country or brand needs to do something slightly different. This approach has made it possible for Levi’s, in just a few years, to go from a website with basic e-commerce functionality to having over 100 business users actively contributing to an omnichannel experience with thousands of pages live across 60 countries and nine languages. “Being able to create the tools that allow that to be managed at scale by a really wide group of users is something that I’m really proud of” Crittendon said. “Business users are able to create really rich experiences without any ongoing, day-to-day involvement from quality assurance, engineering, or performance.”Learn more about going composable here.

Feb 02, 2023

Why composable architecture is the future of digital experience

Digital experiences are rapidly evolving, causing more and more enterprises to consider the move to a composable digital experience platform. Should your business be one of them?If you haven’t started your journey to a composable architecture, read on to learn:Why experts say composable is the way of the futurePotential benefits of a composable DXPHow to get started and why being “fully composable” mattersWhat is a composable DXP?The composable digital experience platform (DXP) is the most recent concept to emerge in the evolution of the digital experience from its beginnings, when enterprise content was limited to a static website viewed on a desktop where customers could find information about a brick-and-mortar business.With no need to frequently update or publish to multiple channels, a monolithic architecture was the answer to publishing enterprise content. Businesses would purchase a predetermined set of tools designed by one vendor.Then came the smartphone, which led to today’s e-commerce landscape where consumers are not only shopping online but doing so on a plethora of devices and channels. Monolithic platforms, which require developers to code any changes to content, are unable to keep up.The composable DXP is the latest solution for businesses aiming to meet and serve their customers across multiple channels and devices. A composable DXP uses a headless CMS as the foundation for a content hub where microservices are delivered via independent APIs, allowing content to be quickly and easily deployed across channels.Why a composable DXP is the way of the futureAs digital commerce evolves, customers not only expect to be able to interact with your website; they expect a seamless, personalized experience. Monolithic systems, which require IT teams to code every change and update, don’t have the ability to rapidly respond to customer preferences and publish fresh content across multiple channels. According to Gartner Research, businesses can no longer meet their objectives with monolithic platforms. In its 2020 report “Adopt a Composable DXP Strategy to Future-Proof Your Tech Stack,” Gartner predicted that by 2023, organizations that adopt a composable approach will outpace competition by 80% in implementing new features.Potential benefits of a composable DXPA composable DXP offers many benefits for enterprise marketing and IT teams, which can positively impact the success of the overall business. These include:Flexibility, scalability and faster developmentComposable architecture provides organizations the flexibility to choose and combine a unique mix of best-in-breed tools and microservices and to easily change this mix as business needs evolve. The modularity of composable architecture supports the seamless integration of these independent best-in-breed solutions. This means they can be added, removed and recombined quickly without downtime. The ability to deploy services independently to multiple websites and channels from one central hub enables enterprises to scale faster and more easily as needed.Speed and agilityBecause the tools and microservices in composable architecture are modular – meaning they work as independent components or APIs – each can be updated incrementally as needed without impacting other tools, services or channels. Organizations become more agile as marketing and IT teams are empowered to act faster to keep pace with changing customer expectations by providing richer, more up-to-date content experiences.Ease of useWithout coding or technical expertise, marketing teams can modify user interfaces and content experiences without having to open tickets and wait on developers to fulfill requests. Workflow governance for multiple sites and channels is managed from one central hub with customizable user controls ensuring the right persons have approved content prior to rollout.Rapid innovationMonolithic platforms are complex and require hundreds of hours of development time and resources to upgrade and maintain with heavy reliance on tech teams. A composable platform is easier for IT to upgrade as technology evolves because new apps and functionality can be launched independently. Major website overhauls become a thing of the past. Freed from mundane marketing requests and maintenance, IT can focus on innovation and delivering better customer experiences.Increased ROIA composable DXP reduces both development time and time to publish, resulting in reduced costs and an increased profit.Real-time feedbackWebsite analytics, social media, customer relationship management and other sources of data collected via the tools and microservices in the DXP can provide a more complete picture of your customers in real-time. This enables the personalization and up-to-date, relevant content experiences that customers expect.Omnichannel content deploymentIn a composable DXP built with a headless CMS, creation of content and the channels where it’s published are mutually independent. This allows marketers to maintain a responsive presence across multiple channels and devices from one central hub by seamlessly and rapidly optimizing and pushing out marketing campaigns to reach customers where they are.Getting started on the journey to a composable architectureIf your current digital experience solution is holding you back from experiencing the benefits above, it may be time to think about switching to a composable DXP. But where do you begin? Start by listing everything that isn’t working in your current platform. Consider the parts of your current system that are working well to meet the needs of your business, and whether those needs are likely to change in the near future. This will help clarify which apps and microservices you should include in your future solution as well as how to approach implementing it. Transitioning to composable doesn’t necessarily mean throwing out your entire current system and starting with something completely new. Based on your assessment of what’s currently working and not working, you may want to adopt a gradual approach by first implementing composable applications in crucial areas where it could make the most impact and where your monolithic platform is slowing you down.Finding the right composable DXPOnce you’ve decided on the best approach, it’s time to research solutions. If you decide on a gradual approach, make sure the vendor you choose has the ability to take you all the way to your goal of going fully composable. Many vendors currently market their platforms as being “composable” even though they aren’t fully composable. Instead they are selling platforms built on monolithic architecture that offer some composable functionality such as the ability to plug in some APIs or integrate with certain microservices. A fully composable DXP, on the other hand, is built on a composable architecture rather than on monolithic. At its foundation is a headless CMS that separates the back-end coding from the end points such as your website interface. Instead of being one centrally controlled system, it’s a variety of solutions that are independently controlled but work cohesively from one central hub.Does being ‘fully composable’ really matter?If you’re wondering if it really makes a difference whether a DXP is fully composable or not, it actually matters a great deal. A DXP built on monolithic architecture will not deliver all the great benefits of a fully composable platform that we’ve covered in this blog. In fact, it will have many limitations that a fully composable platform won’t have. One of the most notable differences is with monolithic architecture, the vendor controls the type of technology that you can and cannot use. This means your organization will not always have the flexibility to choose and leverage the best available apps and microservices for success as your business grows. This is especially important moving into the future as technology continues to evolve and new options become available. A fully composable DXP provides the flexibility to choose the best solutions now and later so your organization can always leverage the most up-to-date technology tools it requires for success. Fully composable puts you in control of creating a unique DXP, one that will evolve over time to continuously align with business needs, without being limited by a vendor.Learn moreFor a more detailed look at how you can get started on your journey to a composable architecture, see our guide, “How to switch from a monolithic to a composable architecture in 7 steps.” Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable digital experience platform can help future-proof your enterprise. 

Jan 19, 2023

4 ways your teams can benefit from a composable DXP

Whether you’re a company leader, developer or a creative director, chances are that you understand the importance of having good content on your website and other communication channels that your organization leverages. If you’re like most mid-sized to large companies, you have a complex mix of content that’s used for diverse purposes: marketing and promotions, internal communications and investor relations, delivering personalized customer experiences, engaging potential customers and more.Traditionally, having relevant omnichannel content has been disjointed, time-consuming, difficult to manage, slow and inefficient. Compounding these issues is the accompanying frustration from developers who are leaned on to edit code when any little thing needs to change, and from marketers who can’t get updates made fast enough.Fortunately, there’s a much easier and streamlined way to manage and publish content these days with digital experience platforms (DXPs) built with composable architecture and headless content management systems (CMSes). An increasing number of organizations are transitioning to this type of system for benefits including agility, speed and scalability. Last year, Gartner predicted that more than half of mainstream organizations would invest in composable applications by 2023.Before delving into the benefits of composable, let’s first take a look at what a DXP built on a composable architecture actually is.What is composable architecture?Composable architecture is a way of separating the front-end (what you see on the display) and the back-end code (development) of a website, making development faster and easier. This separation means the front and back end can be developed independently of each other, making deployments simpler and more efficient.A composable architecture typically has a headless CMS at its core. This type of CMS provides an application programming interface or API that the front-end code can call to fetch data from the back end. What kind of tools or APIs are used in a composable DXP?In addition to the headless CMS, which is the central hub of the composable DXP, this type of platform will include a wide variety of microservice-based APIs based on what your organization needs. The beauty is that you can pick and choose the best options in each of these areas below in addition to others without being locked to a specific vendor:E-commerceAsset managementCustomer managementOmnichannel managementMarketing automation and analyticsContent workflowsCustomer engagementAI toolsIn a nutshell, composability means you have the freedom and flexibility to create a unique DXP that’s tailored specifically to your organization’s needs by choosing the right microservices. You might think of these microservices as being an arsenal of tools that can help you elevate your organization above the competition.If the idea of switching from a traditional, monolithic platform to a composable DXP seems daunting at first, keep in mind that the transition doesn’t have to take place all at once. Instead, it can take place one piece (or API) at the time as you add different products and services to the headless CMS. Compatibility enables this kind of targeted transition because each component or API works independently of every other component. As you might imagine, this has many advantages. One of the biggest is that a failure in one component doesn’t bring down the whole system.A composable DXP provides many significant benefits for your organization’s executive, creative and technology teams. Here are four key features of composable DXP and how each team benefits.Very little to no coding neededWith a composable DXP, most changes don’t require the technical knowledge of a developer. Here’s how this benefits teams at every level of your organization.Executive teamsWhen marketing and technology teams can focus on what they do best, there should be less friction between the two. This reduces frustration levels and makes for happier employees, helping you retain your best workers.Creative teams Composability will empower marketing teams to create, change and publish content without having to have any technical expertise. Content is easy to access in one central location. Marketing teams will no longer have to create tickets and wait for developers to get around to their requests. Instead they’ll create campaigns and push a variety of content types to multiple platforms and channels with greater speed and efficiency.Technology teamsThe time developers typically spend making everyday fixes and working with code to launch new campaigns will be freed up so that they can focus more time on creating user-friendly digital experiences for customers.ScalabilityDo you plan on adding e-commerce down the road? Want to add a mobile channel? Want your website to have chat functionality? It’s very easy to add new apps and services to your websites and other channels with a composable DXP. Executive teamsThe business can more easily expand its product and service offerings without having to worry about downtime for websites and other channels. You can focus on growing the business with confidence that your content management system has the agility to keep up. Creative teamsAs new marketing automation and tools become available, it will be simple to add these to your API mix.Technology teamsIt will be easier for IT to scale apps because services can be deployed independently. Tech can focus on one type of digital service, while others continue to work as normal. There’s no need for rushed overnight deployments or site downtime to release new functionality.SpeedComposability improves speed in several different ways, including speed of publishing content, speed of implementing campaigns and speed of reaching business goals.Executive teamsBusiness goals can be fulfilled faster, whether you aspire to expand into a new region or roll out new products and services. What better way to stay a step ahead of the competition?Creative teamsMarketing leaders will be empowered to launch campaigns and publish content much faster. Again, there’s no waiting on IT to make changes. They can also push content to multiple sites without having to totally recreate content from scratch. Composability makes it easier to create a content block for one site, and then quickly push that content to other sites and channels.Technology teamsSlow implementations become a thing of the past, as IT teams focus their efforts on targeted API functionality, rather than being bogged down with tickets for minor edits and updates.Improved customer experiencesWhen relying on a composable DXP, delivering content that’s personalized and relevant becomes the status quo instead of the exception, boosting customer satisfaction. Executive teamsThe business can expect to reap the rewards of improved customer experiences. A current Forrester Total Economic Impact (TEI) study demonstrates an ROI of 295% with a composable architecture.Creative teamsMarketers will no longer be hindered by the rigidity of a monolithic CMS. Instead, they will have unlimited access to all the tools they need for success with the freedom to expand their toolkit any time they choose.Technology teams With less time spent on repetitive requests, the IT staff can put its expertise to work in key areas which will have the biggest impact on customer satisfaction.FAQsAs a recap and to answer additional questions you may have, here are a few frequently asked questions about composable DXPs.Am I tied to one vendor that determines what solutions I can use?No, a composable DXP gives you the freedom to choose the best solutions, regardless of vendor.How do I know all the components that I want in my composable DXP will work together?Composable providers understand the importance of their solutions being able to integrate with other APIs and have worked to address this issue. Composable providers ensure their solutions can seamlessly enable multiple APIs to work together by making them easy to plug in with software developer kits (SDKs) or one-click connections.What if I want to keep tools on my current websites that are working?With a composable DXP, an organization can choose the best options and even keep using some of the existing solutions that are already working. You are no longer locked into using just the services and apps that your vendor or platform supports.What is the first step in transitioning to a composable DXP?Begin by thinking about the apps and services you would want to have in your DXP if the options were limitless and then write them down. Be sure to get input from executive, creative and IT teams before searching for products and scheduling demos.Learn moreLearn more about composable DXPs in our guide, “What is a DXP? Understanding digital experience platforms.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable digital experience platform can benefit executive, creative and technology teams at your organization.

Jan 17, 2023

Contentstack demonstrated 295% ROI in Forrester study

Today’s consumer expects a seamless and personalized digital experience when interacting with brands. As we’ve discussed before, a monolithic (or “legacy”) CMS lacks the flexibility enterprises need to keep up with changing consumer demands. “A lot of the technologies that were initially driving digital experiences [were designed with] one single experience in mind,” said Jeff Baher, head of Global Product Marketing and Growth at Contentstack. However, Baher said, with the rise of mobile internet, social media and smart devices, “there’s just an entirely different set of requirements for being able to reach customers and create digital experiences.” The digital experience has expanded, and the customer journey can now unfold across multiple channels. Increasingly, enterprises are adopting composable architecture to build digital experiences for their customers, and a headless CMS is the beating heart of it all. But can the benefits of implementing a headless CMS be measured? We recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a study measuring the Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) of the Contentstack headless CMS platform, and the results speak for themselves.MethodologyThe Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) methodology was developed by Forrester to help companies quantify the value of IT initiatives, such as moving to a headless CMS. TEI gives leaders more concrete data they can use to make the right decisions for their organization.In order to effectively measure the benefits of the Contentstack headless CMS, researchers at Forrester identified four organizations currently using the Contentstack headless CMS. To ensure accuracy, the organizations were selected from different industries (food and beverage, travel, fitness and apparel), with revenues ranging from $25 million to $2.1 billion.Researchers interviewed decision-makers at each organization to obtain data on benefits, costs, flexibility and potential risks, then used this information to build a composite organization. Then, they applied TEI to build a financial model and quantify the business benefits of moving to a headless CMS.How Contentstack’s CMS platform benefits enterprisesThe Contentstack headless CMS platform offers significant financial benefits for enterprises. The study found that the composite organization’s ROI was 295%, thanks to a combination of cost savings and increased revenues.  Cost savingsOne of the challenges of legacy infrastructure is what Baher calls a “push-and-pull” between an organization’s IT and business sides. Since the legacy CMS is so code-heavy, even minor tweaks to the digital experience can require significant updates to back-end code. “You have to put in an IT ticket for really basic things, and then the IT queue [is full of] tasks like ‘fix five typos,’ and that’s maddening,” Baher said. The Contentstack headless CMS platform makes it easier for the business side to make tweaks to the digital experience without a lot of IT assistance. This reduces the amount of time IT and developers spend on minor tasks — and that time adds up. One interview subject noted that with Contentstack’s CMS, “we can stand things up as quick as our control processes will allow.” The study found that using Contentstack’s headless CMS saved the composite organization $507,000 in productivity costs over three years. In addition, the headless CMS reduced content-related development time for the composite organization by 80%. The headless CMS also minimizes the number of manual and repetitive tasks business users normally have to perform to publish content in a legacy CMS. Simplifying the content publishing process helped reduce overhead and improve time to market for the composite organization. Overall, the organization’s time to publish was reduced by 90%, leading to savings of $2 million over three years.  Increased revenuesThe study found that the Contentstack headless CMS was key to an estimated 4% revenue increase for the composite organization, worth $3 million in profit over three years. A few factors could explain this estimated increase. Cutting back on development time for minor tasks allows the composite organization to dedicate more IT resources to specialized projects. Reducing time to publish also means the composite organization can publish more content to enhance the digital experience. More frequent content updates means a higher SEO ranking, which drives more traffic to the site. And when potential customers arrive, the improved digital experience can positively impact purchasing decisions: Studies have shown that 42% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. The big pictureDelivering a high-quality customer experience has always been crucial for brands, but it is more important today than ever before. It is easier than ever for consumers to do business with a brand — and it is also easier than ever for consumers to take their business elsewhere when a brand fails to deliver the experience they expect.In order to meet the demands of today’s consumer, organizations must deliver a digital experience that is fast and seamlessly unfolds across multiple devices and channels. The customer journey needs to be personalized and perpetual: Brands must maintain a post-sale presence in order to encourage repeat business. Today’s consumer expects a more mobile, cloud-based digital experience. Most monolithic content management systems provide a preset suite of functions that can, in theory, meet those demands. But sometimes those built-in functions don’t quite work the way business users need them to — and sometimes they don’t exist at all. In those cases, organizations have to find third-party solutions, which can be hard to integrate into legacy systems. And, as Baher notes, maintaining those workarounds can be time-consuming and difficult. “Connecting is done through web hooks, which are these manual stitching points between parts of your stack or your suite. They’re manual, they take time, they’re error-prone, they’re security issues because you’re connecting third-party software to parts of your stack,” Baher said. Managing all these factors usually falls on a single member of the IT team — and teams often struggle to keep things running smoothly if that key member leaves the organization.The Contentstack headless CMS platform allows business users to be more hands-on when it comes to content. Contentstack Marketplace — an extensive ecosystem of features, services, apps, integrations, and accelerators — lets teams take a modular approach to digital experience composition by picking and choosing the right building blocks for their needs. These components can then be integrated quickly and easily  via the Contentstack Automation Hub, which Baher describes as a “no-code, low-code environment that simplifies the complex and automates the routine.”“You can very quickly create triggers and actions across  the composable stack, which saves time and removes the opportunity for a lot of errors,” Baher said.A headless CMS is the first step toward creating a fully composable digital experience platform (DXP), and Contentstack is the perfect foundation for  robust and adaptable digital experience composition. The headless CMS, Marketplace, and Automation Hub combine to deliver fast, seamless integration so business users can publish content or make tweaks to the digital experience without significant involvement from the IT side. TEI is an important measure of the overall economic benefit of moving to composable architecture, as well as the unique and specific benefits of using the Contentstack Headless CMS Platform to do it. But going composable is about more than just dollars and cents — it’s also about future-proofing your business so that no matter how customer needs and demands evolve in the future, your organization can evolve along with them.Learn moreSchedule a free demo to see how Contentstack can help your organization deliver a customer experience that leads to higher revenues, lower overhead and has the agility today’s brands need.

Jan 05, 2023

Composable vs. monolithic: Which is right for you?

Businesses are trying to create better customer experiences, so composable digital experience platforms (DXPs) are becoming more popular. But what are they? How do they compare to monolithic platforms? And how do you choose the right one for your business? In this blog post, we will answer these questions and more.What is a digital experience platform (DXP)?Digital experience platforms (DXP) are purpose-built technology solutions for creating, managing, delivering and optimizing consistent digital experiences across different customer touchpoints. These tools offer businesses a valuable way to communicate with their users through content and obtain customer feedback through data collection.Companies can utilize DXPs to create content tailored to websites, email campaigns, mobile apps, social media channels, e-commerce sites, IoT devices, digital signage systems and more. Beyond simply broadcasting content on each platform, DXPs also allow marketers to automate marketing activities and develop a unified digital experience that can take users toward their desired goals or objectives.DXPs help companies understand what customers want and need. They can do this by looking at how customers act online on websites, social media, and other online places. Businesses can then use this information to reach out in new ways or to improve their relationships with existing customers. Ultimately, using a DXP helps organizations make more sales or conversions by providing a better user experience across multiple channels.What is composable architecture?Composable architecture is an innovative way of organizing and managing software development that separates front-end and back-end code. This technique enables teams to create, modify and launch content without relying on developers for coding. This method of organization helps speed up development and make it more efficient. Composable architecture makes developing software easier while encouraging teamwork between different departments. For example, if you use a composable content management system, the marketing team can make changes and publish their work without waiting for developers to finish coding. This way, teams can post new content more quickly. Additionally, developers can focus on creating unique experiences and features instead of being bogged down with marketing tasks or fixes.What is a monolithic DXP?A monolithic DXP solution is an all-in-one platform that provides a suite of tools for managing content. These platforms are designed to enable users to store, manage and publish content quickly and easily. They typically offer features such as content editing options, user permissions and roles and media asset management.Monolithic content management solution platforms can be rigid in terms of how they operate and may not be able to keep up with the ever-changing needs of a business. Additionally, they tend to take longer to customize than composable DXP systems.What is a composable DXP?The composable DXP concept is still relatively new and has become increasingly popular recently. A composable DXP is a platform that allows digital teams to assemble individual services or microservices into an experience that meets their specific needs. This innovative type of DXP is essentially an assembly of best-of-breed solutions to deliver content and digital experiences to customers in a much more agile, flexible and efficient way than a single monolithic platform.As opposed to the traditional monolithic approach taken with DXPs, this microservices approach enables companies to cost-effectively customize their DXP according to their business needs. Furthermore, allowing for a greater level of scalability and interoperability allows faster time-to-market for new features or services, as well as improved customer satisfaction.The composable approach gives organizations better control over their digital experiences and helps them stay ahead of their competition by enabling them to focus on innovation instead of maintenance. A composable solution makes it easier for businesses to move quickly while keeping up with the ever-changing technology landscape.What to consider when comparing a composable and monolithic DXPsCan the platform integrate with solutions your team currently uses?Monolithic suites are large programs often made up of products obtained through acquisitions and then given a makeover in terms of branding and user experience to fit into the overarching process. Such products lack the open-source code needed to integrate them seamlessly with other solutions, which can limit their utility as part of a more comprehensive DXP solution. This technique makes it simple for internal integration, but external integration can be difficult or even impossible.On the other hand, with a composable DXP, external integration is better facilitated due to its ability to connect with existing best-of-breed solutions more readily. As such, organizations have more control over how their digital experiences are created and tailored for their specific audiences. Furthermore, each individual component can be monitored separately from the rest of the system, allowing for greater visibility into performance and ease of scalability when needed. Ultimately, a composable DXP offers organizations greater flexibility and agility compared to monolithic platforms by providing enhanced external integrations and visibility into performance metrics on an individual basis.How much time will it take to deploy the platform?Deploying a new monolithic suite can require significant time and effort — sometimes months — and demands constant monitoring for unexpected changes or challenges during set-up.Moreover, it's necessary to ensure that all employees acquire the required skills to work effectively in this new environment. Besides the technical implications of such large-scale transition projects, there are also social and psychological implications that business leaders should take into consideration. Companies must be aware that transition periods affect team dynamics and thus must create an atmosphere of collaboration that encourages employee engagement and satisfaction throughout the process.On the other hand, a composable DXP approach allows companies to start quickly, taking advantage of the existing knowledge their staff already has. This strategy eliminates the need for extensive training since they can be up and running with a condensed feature set using workflows they're already familiar with.How will we keep the platform up-to-date?Companies can easily keep their composable DXPs up-to-date as the various vendors focus solely on perfecting their solutions. Additionally, organizations can frequently enhance open-source products with improved customizations and updates that won't depend on the vendor.For monolithic suites, a single vendor provides updates and new features; however, some of these “nice-to-have” additions may take an extended amount of time to be implemented to the platform  — if at all. Even minor bugs can be left without resolution until suite-wide updates are rolled out. Companies should be aware that they may not always get timely fixes for any issues they encounter while using DXPs with a single-source provider.How secure are these platforms?A composable architecture allows security updates and patching solutions to be implemented quickly for each component without hindering other systems. This expedited process allows for swift response times in case a breach or vulnerability is discovered. However, if a security flaw is found in one component of an entire suite, it can likely extend to the whole system, thereby rendering the entire suite susceptible to exploitation. Consequently, organizations must take extra care when monitoring their suites for security flaws to ensure that all corners of their system are protected from malicious actors.On the other hand, monolithic solutions can be patched as a single software package. Still, patches may need to happen when the system is not being used, causing extended exposure to vulnerabilities.ConclusionComposable DXPs offer more flexibility and agility compared to monolithic platforms. This means they can scale better, have new features and services faster and improve customer satisfaction. They also provide shorter deployment times, easier updates and enable responsive security updates. However, while they may be more flexible than a single-vendor platform, companies must still carefully monitor their systems for any potential security flaws or vulnerabilities that could put their entire suite at risk. Ultimately, businesses can make informed decisions about which type of system best meets their needs by understanding the differences between these two approaches to digital experience delivery and the pros and cons of each.Learn moreLearn more about composable architecture in our guide, “The ultimate marketer’s guide to composable DXPs.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable DXP can help your organization deliver the digital experiences your customers crave.

Dec 29, 2022

How React works in a composable architecture

React is a JavaScript library widely frequented by web developers who plan on building composable elements for dynamic interfaces. By default, it is a declarative and flexible framework for altering web and app data without having to refresh the DOM every time. A React CMS splits the roles of designers and developers, placing them into a front-end or back-end role respectively. React is a collection of designated components used to maintain a structured front end, for performing actions like validating forms, controlling states, arranging layouts and passing in data. Described as a headless infrastructure, the three main ingredients of a React CMS are React, REST API and GraphQL. These libraries allow you to scale content across many channels and devices by eliminating codebase dependencies that would be prevalent in a traditional CMS environment.  When should you use a React CMS?A React CMS is ideal for editing the elements that users interact with, from buttons to dropdowns on your website. And for organizing larger projects, complex code logic is grouped by matching patterns to help you track the state of apps. It will update your source code in the DOM to reflect changes in app requirements so the content gets delivered without any compatibility issues. This is achieved by tracking the modified versions of your components to back up your data before the system restarts. If you prefer something more substantial than drag-and-drop customization, then you should consider getting a React CMS to access native API configurations and code blocks that are fully decoupled from the presentation layer. This will save you time on having to manually update plugins or extensions, so you can divert resources to creating and deploying the app through its API-based integrations. Moreover, a React CMS has been shown to improve performance by allocating less memory to track component changes. To get around loading delays, it will use the virtual DOM to render only the assets that are found at the URL. Instead of receiving just the themes and templates, you have complete control over the content layout for fetching chunks of data from API calls to populate your web pages with the desired elements. How a React CMS works with APIs to distribute contentWhen React is combined with a CMS, it lets you preview the output of workflows before you publish them onto a page. A React CMS is able to transmit on-demand data between the client and server or even during compilation time, to dictate how objects are rendered on a webpage. Using a composable model, you can call the API to request information from root directories or databases on the server, dividing your website functionality into closed environments that will not interfere with each other. From a technical standpoint, React CMSes make it possible to edit visual elements through your site’s HTML, by tying it back to the schema of GraphQL as you fill in the fields or toggle the settings. It’s also great for patching bugs in your JS bundles that might otherwise lead to delayed page interactions or even downtime on the server. Rather than create a project from scratch, the composable architecture makes it easy to reuse content over multiple channels. In addition, you can search for third-party integrations on the market to help you build streamlined apps that contribute to the overall React ecosystem. As such, swapping out components is the way to go when your team is pressed for time on the next feature release. By employing API-first methods, you won’t have to monitor CMS servers or databases in messy clusters, unlike what happens in traditional CMS solutions. What are the benefits and features of a React CMS?A React CMS ensures the continuous operation of components on the app, giving you composable options to import modules that perform what you need on the client. Once you understand the fundamental components, it becomes easier to develop and maintain web apps by leveraging just the required functionality to deliver consistent user interactions. To manage your databases, it utilizes GraphQL to recover queries from the app data in a structured format. As a substitute for REST, GraphQL caches and updates databases with new entries, thereby combining them with Apollo or Axios packages to execute your API requests. Another aspect is the custom editing experience, which generates dynamic content in an organized manner, so you can avoid a conflict of interest when loading HTML and JSON files in succession. If you’re looking for a specific feature to implement, such as a login page or shopping cart to enhance the user experience, you can learn about them in detail through the support documentation. The goal is to stabilize your app’s performance during page loads to improve the accessibility of various media types. To see the CMS in action, you can simply declare the permission and hierarchy of API objects using the default arguments. But before you map out the visuals, it’s best to have a clearly defined scope of the app by taking measures to scale it in conjunction with your network or server capacity. Choosing a React CMS to decouple your web servicesFor enterprise workflows, React APIs are a must-have that can shorten the time to market by automatically cleaning content backlogs and preparing for site migrations. Since there are lots of options for React CMSes, you’ll have to narrow down which libraries are capable of handling your app’s payload. If you want a composable CMS focused on developers, get one that offers a large collection of third-party frameworks or extensions in order to cover all bases of your React app. For example, you may need conditional fields to verify user accounts or support for SQL to join multiple tables containing product details. Another advantage is being able to override protocol errors or software failures that are detrimental to performance indicators before they end up on the latest build. This ensures development is productive and has room to grow into cross-platform capabilities. The cost of implementation is well worth it for specialized use cases that cover static site generators, mobile apps and web services. In return, this puts custom assets, webhooks and test scenarios at your fingertips, so you can keep adding integrations with other tools without worrying about the impact on existing code.With headless CMS functionality, you can frame API responses and multiple SaaS solutions around predictable outcomes to close the gap between React and your site content. Learn moreIf you would like to learn more about the benefits of a composable architecture, see our article “Why a composable CMS is right for you.” Schedule a free demo to experience the benefits of a composable CMS with Contentstack’s headless CMS-based digital experience platform.  

Dec 22, 2022

How to launch fresh ideas in an old-school industry

When a business is driven by highly personal customer service, like booking bucket list trips to the world’s best golf courses, it’s a challenge to introduce digital innovation while retaining the special touch that sets the company apart. Jon Richards, head of digital at Golfbreaks, has built an in-house Digital Center of Excellence to do just that. Jon recently spoke with us about how to unlock the power of in-house expertise, empower teams across the business, and the advice he has for other leaders that are moving companies into the future. Get comfortable with discomfortShaking up the status quo often means confronting strong opinions and ruffling some feathers within the organization, especially in companies that have had many years of success. ‘When I was challenging what we were doing and how we were doing things, I found it really uncomfortable to begin with,” Jon said. “The more I did it, the more I came round to the thinking that I’m here to make this team work the best they can and deliver the best products they can. So if I need to ask some difficult questions, and have some uncomfortable conversations, so be it.“Don’t be afraid. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations, and then they soon become comfortable,” he advised. Unify new and proven strategiesTaking a critical look at how a business operates will uncover areas for improvement as well as show that there are very good reasons for certain legacy ways of working. Part of an effective transformation is blending new, data-driven tactics with the established people-driven processes that are central to the business.A major competitive advantage of Golfbreaks is the personal, thoughtful service from sales and customer service agents. Key to this is empowering agents to make decisions on an individual basis, such as noticing a client’s flight was delayed and calling the hotel to arrange a free round of drinks. This human touch makes a big difference in a traveler’s experience and creates a lot of loyal customers. At the same time, digital can provide convenience to customers at a scale not possible with 1:1 agent interactions. During the pandemic lockdowns, Golfbreaks was able to quickly spin up a self-service application that customers could use to process refunds online. This freed up the sales team to devote more time to working with clients to rebook trips when travel opened back up and, overall, retain 80% of the business in that period. Data can also be used to quickly validate new strategies and shed light on the business impact of human behavior. For example, Golfbreaks introduced a feature that allowed customers to use the website to set up a date and time for a call-back and sent a reminder to sales agents 15 minutes before the scheduled time. The data showed that if agents called too early, right when they got the reminder, it negatively impacted conversions by 30%. By passing that statistic along to the sales team, and disabling the 15 minute notification, the business got a quick and significant win.Leverage legacy knowledge Discussion around digital transformation tends to focus on how to help people learn and develop new skills, but just as important is figuring out how to better harness the knowledge that’s already there. Golfbreaks has dozens of employees that have been with the company for over 10 years and know their customers, their suppliers and the market inside and out. This gold mine of expertise is what enabled a major part of the company’s transformation strategy: moving away from external agencies and building up an in-house Digital Center of Excellence.“For an agency, it’s really difficult to come in and understand the complexities of the business and the systems and in 12 to 18 months deliver a really compelling digital experience,” Jon said. “We have huge internal knowledge that we weren’t really utilizing for these digital projects.”  Making the most of in-house expertise means adopting a more collaborative way of working. A Digital Center of Excellence can put processes in place that encourage people to share insights.At Golfbreaks, this included bringing stakeholders from marketing, sales, account management, product teams and customer service into the scoping phase of the new website, as well as getting regular input from different departments to help prioritize investment, improve new features and minimize the risk of spending time on projects that experts know wouldn’t work well in the market. A monthly stakeholder meeting is used to communicate progress, get teams thinking about digital in new ways and collect feedback. “Everyone is very clear on what the business is trying to achieve and there’s a lot of great collaboration,” Jon said. “At any level of the organization, people can have a voice and put forward their ideas.” Invest in the next generation Along with tapping into the expertise already in the company, great ideas can come from bringing in a fresh pair of eyes that can look at the business from new angles. “One thing that's been really important to the business, for many years, is investing in young people,” Jon said. “We work with universities across the UK to support student work placement programs.” These programs are a great way to find talent and Golfbreaks has employed many placement students after they graduate, some of whom are now at a director level in the company. They’re also an invaluable source of insight to guide the future of the company. While golf has traditionally catered to an older demographic, the rise of Topgolf and driving ranges, as well as the fact that golf courses were one of the only sports facilities open during pandemic lockdowns, has led to an influx of younger players. “We see them as being our customers of the future,” Jon said about the students in the program. “It’s important to get an understanding of how they’re using technology and what their expectations are of brands when we’re looking to build our products.” Empower teams to think big Finding great ideas is one part of the transformation equation. Another is having a team with the skills and creativity to bring them to life; a team that doesn’t see digital as one-off projects but looks at the needs and ideas coming from all departments and is able to drive a cohesive digital strategy across the business. “Come to us with the problem, not the solution,” is what Jon and the team at the helm of the Digital Center of Excellence tell the organization. “Tell us what you are trying to achieve, and we will tell you the best way to reach those goals and that outcome.” Building a team that can perform at this level is not only about recruiting the type of people who want to problem solve, but also giving them the time and resources to do so. For instance, every two weeks the Golfbreaks digital team is given an an R&D day to work on new ideas, new projects or learn new skills. Investing in teams leads to teams that are invested in the work they do, empowered to make decisions and able to move fast. Over the last four years, the Center of Excellence team at Golfbreaks has successfully brought all digital projects in-house, completely rebuilt the tech stack, launched a new website and handled the many changes brought on by the pandemic.   “Everyone in the team was really committed and passionate about building the right platform for Golfbreaks. It was great to see everyone just pulling in the same direction,” says Jon. “That’s been one of the key successes in my career so far.” 

Dec 08, 2022

How to use microblogging to market your business

A microblog is a brief article meant to generate fast responses from readers. It is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, share your thoughts and experiences and stay up-to-date on the latest news. But it can also be a powerful marketing tool for businesses of all sizes.Creating interesting and persuasive marketing copy can entice potential customers to learn more about your product or service. And by sharing your thoughts and ideas on microblogging platforms like Twitter and Tumblr, you can reach a larger audience quickly. There are many ways to share short microblogging messages, including audio, video, images and text.How can microblogging help my business?Microblogging can help your business in several ways. For starters, communicating news and information about your business on microblogs is a great way to connect with customers and followers. As social media became more popular, companies began to use microblogging as a way to engage with customers more quickly. These short messages also help keep customers informed about the longer content they can find on your website.Microblogs are also perfect for sharing short bits of information. If you need to get a message out fast, a microblog is an ideal way to do it. Since they're informal, your writing can be more creative and expressive.These short notes are perfect for reaching people on the go. Because they're easy to access from mobile devices, you can quickly share information with people no matter where they are. Plus, because microblogs are brief and to the point, people are more likely to read them.Finally, they are a great way to build trust and credibility with potential customers. By communicating your ideas on microblogging platforms, you can demonstrate your expertise to potential customers.What are the most popular microblogging platforms?There are a number of popular microblogging platforms out there. Here are a few of the most well-known platforms:Twitter: Twitter is a microblogging platform that lets you post short status updates for your followers. It's perfect for conveying quick thoughts and ideas and has over 396 million active users. That's a lot of potential customers! By disseminating news and information about your business on Twitter, you can reach a large audience quickly and easily.Tumblr: Tumblr is a microblogging site that lets you post photos, videos and text posts with your followers. It's great for bloggers who want to share longer pieces of content. Tumblr has over 496 million blogs.Facebook: Facebook is a popular social networking site offering microblogging features. It's perfect for businesses that want to connect with their customers on a more personal level. Facebook boasts 2.93 billion monthly active users.Instagram: If you like telling your stories with pictures, Instagram is a top-rated microblogging platform. Over a billion people use Instagram monthly. The effective use of tags for your images is crucial to reaching the right audience. How to write compelling marketing copy for microblogsHere are a few things to keep in mind for writing effective marketing copy for a microblog: Be concise and clear. Your audience doesn't expect to read long-form content and drawn-out posts; they want easy-to-digest information.Be creative and expressive. This innovative medium is your chance to show off your personality and connect with customers on a more personal level. Make sure your content is pertinent and timely. If you can tap into current trends and topics, you'll be more likely to capture your reader's attention.How to spice up your microblogging strategyIf you're looking to spice up your microblogging strategy, there are a few things you can do. Each platform offers unique features, so try using different sites. Learn which microblogging sites cater to the demographic of your ideal customer. Try out a few until you find the one right for you, or use more than one at a time.You can also try using different content types. Not all microblogs have to be text-based. You can share photos, videos and infographics to grab your reader's attention.Finally, make sure your content is relevant and interesting. Nobody wants to read tedious or extraneous posts, so make sure you put some thought into what you write. If you can capture your reader's attention with your content, they'll be more likely to come back for more.Using images in microblogsWhen it comes to microblogging, using images can be a great way to communicate your message. Not only do they help break up the text and make your posts more visually appealing, but they can also be more effective at grabbing attention and getting your point across.Research has shown that people process visual information much faster than text. MIT neuroscientists have discovered that the brain can process images in just 13 milliseconds. That's a lot of potential messaging you miss out on if you're not using images in your microblogs.Here are a few tips:Make sure your images are relevant to your message.Use effective tags to help people find your images.Experiment with different types of images (photos, infographics, videos, etc.).Use appropriate image sizes to avoid slowing page loading times.Learn moreGet more tips for your microblogging efforts in our blog post “How to choose social channels for your business.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable content experience platform can help your organization produce more content, faster and better than ever before.

Dec 01, 2022

5 things you should know about Next.js

Next.js is a React framework that supports high-performance web applications through a patchwork of modern tools and features. These building blocks will help you develop sleek React apps with scalable infrastructure, numerous integrations, limitless routing and a better user experience. To enhance development, Next.js takes the guesswork out of selecting third-party libraries by delivering front-end UIs for every occasion. If you want to take advantage of interactive layouts, there are React components that can merge static and dynamic page generation into one. Next.js is a React framework that improves how your business operates online:SEO: More organic traffic is always a good thing with increased visibility in the SERPs.  Responsive: Adapts to any device or screen size by skipping CSS selectorsTime to Market: Pre-made components save time on product testing and feedbackVersatile UX: Forget about plugins and templates when you have complete control over visual design.As a standalone JavaScript library, React excels in performance thanks to an abundance of reusable tools. The only problem is rendering web content on the client side. With Next.js, it’s much easier to start your own project, where you no longer have to configure tools or reinvent the wheel. 5 things to know about Next.js1. Data fetching methods: SSG, SSR and ISRRendering converts JavaScript into HTML and moves web resources into the DOM. Data fetching pre-renders and loads your content during build time, with commands for server-side, static-site, client-side and incremental static regeneration. When you’re in a CMS, a pages directory will link each one to a dynamic route, rendering them in advance without dipping into client-side JS. This is done through either static site generation (SSG) or server-side rendering (SSR). SSG caches pages over a CDN by crawling your application to boost SEO rankings. This makes it a versatile page builder for marketing and blogging activities, on top of importing items into the back-end database. You just have to export the getStaticProps function to pass elements onto the client side. SSR detects files on the server and renders their HTML on the client page. It does wonders for user experience by allowing you to use recycled code on a high-speed connection. To fetch page data at the request time, you can call the getServerSideProps function to return the exported JSON for user dashboards or portals. Incremental static regeneration (ISR) differs in that it won’t render the requested page until after the user tries to visit it. The outcome is a pre-rendered version being shown to the user unless another build replaces it or the cache timeout is triggered. ISR assigns static generation to individual pages so you aren’t forced to rebuild the whole site.   2. Build an API with dynamic routesFor those who want to develop their own API, Next.js offers a solution through API routes. How it works: A file in the pages/API directory gets treated as an endpoint deployed to the serverless function. The route comes with an SSG to grab your page data via a headless CMS, and Preview Mode to load a copy of your draft before it gets published. A great use case for API routes is processing user input, mainly for account sign-ups or forms to fill out. A POST request is then transmitted to the API route, thereby saving the fixed entry into your database. Here is the code for creating an API route that passes in the HTTP message and server response: export default function handler(req, res) {res.status(200).json({ text: “Hello World!”});}Inside the brackets, you can return a JSON response with the status code 200 from the local host 3000 URL. Req and res are the handlers that receive either an incoming message or a helper function to fetch the endpoint. Dynamic API routes allow you to establish a REST pattern through subsequent GET requests for getting a list of posts or a media library in one go. It catches all your API paths by matching parameters to the specified queries and mobilizing them to the page. For external API routes, Next.js supports deploying on REST, GraphQL, and CORS headers. GraphQL provides the most use cases for uploading files and defining schemas. 3. Features for editing and handling scriptsEnable Fast RefreshOne neat feature of Next.js is called Fast Refresh because it sends you feedback based on the edits you’ve made to a React component. Enabled on newer versions, Fast Refresh prompts most changes in seconds while preserving a constant state. You have several options to restrict code updates to a particular file and modify its core logic or event handlers at will. On non-React files, it reaches into other imported files and re-runs them with the recent edits. Fast Refresh quickly catches mistakes on your end, to correct syntax and runtime errors even when you don’t reload the app. The previous values are always preserved because of useState and useRef arguments. Resetting the state is done by typing // @refresh reset in the modified file, and remounting the components on every update. Automatic Code SplittingAutomatic code splitting bundles your application into separate pages that are accessible through different URLs, turning them into new entry points. On closer inspection, each page is partitioned into smaller chunks to eliminate dependencies and reduce the number of requests. The point of bundling JavaScript is to contract load times by only running the code on a page once a user lands there. It’s also called on-demand loading because it renders the resources in order of importance.Splitting gets rid of duplicate code on repeat navigations, even though it preloads other pages a user might visit soon. This applies to shared modules or dependencies that you’ve downloaded. The final outcome is a smaller payload size on your React app.4. Manage websites on the Jamstack architectureJamstack has been pivotal in the responsive website scene, ensuring they are secure and adaptable to business needs. It incorporates pre-rendering and decoupling of browser applications by partnering with site generators including Jekyll, Gatsby and Docsify for lightweight editing of HTML markdown on both files and templates. The vast majority of Jamstack sites are used to host personal blogs, B2B products, and e-commerce stores. Some of them are enterprise sites frequented by millions of users with developers working around the clock to keep servers online.  Jamstack technologies are not only available on the client side but are also being implemented on the server side by full-stack developers. Whether it’s leveraging microservices or containers, there are functions that perform every task on your workflow checklist. When merged with CMS platforms, these site generators are bound to drive organic traffic to your website and attract more app users in the long run. 5. Compiles TypeScript for a uniform rendering experienceIf you’re attempting to create a TypeScript project, you won’t need to configure any built-in pages or APIs. In fact, it’s possible to clone the starter simply by calling create-next-app with a typescript flag. Then follow the directions on the command output to create a user profile. To send over an existing project, declare a new tsconfig.json file and save it to the root folder so it carries the default settings. Then it just boils down to toggling the compiler options or setting the file path before you insert an npm run dev to fetch the required packages and finish the setup. Next.js has specific types for Static Generation and SSR you can use to load web content in an asynchronous manner. If you need to migrate the app to TypeScript, import the built-in type AppProps and let it update your .js files to .tsx through the compiler. And lastly, the TypeScript integration supports next.config and incremental type checking to help detect any errors that pop up in your application. Optimize your site performanceWhen building a React app, specialization is the answer to remedying development costs that would exhaust your resources. After you adopt the Next.js framework, installing packages along with making API calls won’t be as complicated anymore. If you’re serious about perfecting the user experience, getting Next.js will optimize your site performance for better visibility on search engines.  The system is packed with exceptional tools for importing JavaScript libraries, designing elegant themes, image rendering and much more. It has everything you need to launch a successful project on React.

Nov 28, 2022

How 3 content creators changed Icelandair’s approach to customer experience

When faced with the unexpected, the best solutions often come from the people who simply have to adapt quickly. No one knows this better than Óskar Völundarson, Edvardas Paskevicius and Hallur Þór Halldórsson, the three-person content team at Icelandair that quickly stepped up to create a content strategy to handle the chaos of the pandemic shutdowns and beyond. Völundarson, Paskevicius and Þór Halldórsson recently spoke with us about how they took on authority, created a center of excellence and changed the way Icelandair approaches the digital customer experience.Project to product mindset Dealing with rapid changes and limited resources during the pandemic made it clear that the old way of looking at content requests as one-off projects wasn’t going to cut it anymore. “We started thinking of new features in terms of how we can use them in the future,” said Völundarson, UX copywriter at Icelandair. “Thinking more about the broad structure of the web rather than just this particular page, this feature, for this individual project.” This big-picture view helps the team prioritize where to allocate resources and gives them a better understanding of their arsenal of digital tools. This means they are often able to handle requests for new features quickly by repurposing existing capabilities.  Being guided by long-term, high-level outcomes of a product rather than a project checklist also makes it easier to adapt to any change along the way. It allows for a more flexible environment that welcomes feedback and new ideas from all levels of the organization.  “Every project gives an opportunity to find new insights, or new ways to approach things, and to improve the way we work and collaborate,” said Paskevicius, content manager at Icelandair.“The important thing is that you understand what you’re trying to achieve; the way you achieve it doesn’t really matter,” explained Þór Halldórsson, digital product manager at Icelandair. “Just make sure that if it isn’t working you acknowledge that, and go back and revisit what you were initially trying to do. Be curious and learn from everything.”Proactively manage expectationsBecause Icelandair is an international airline, many of the projects the content team is involved in are complex operations that involve multiple departments, global translations, tight deadlines and rapidly changing customer needs. The team has worked to create a “no drama” approach to keep these projects running smoothly under pressure and a major factor of this is clear, up-front communication about what they can deliver. “Conflict often tends to stem from different expectations around what the web can deliver,” Völundarson said, explaining that people often think of the web as a blank canvas without understanding the systems that guide content creation. The team handles expectation management in three main ways. First, by defining the responsibilities of the content team. As there is plenty of material that needs editing and translation, but only a subset that falls under the “user experience” material that the team has the capacity for. Second, by aligning new requests with the technology and design process already in place. Third, by communicating what is achievable in the time frame when taking into account the design, development and editing resources available. “Being aware of the expected outcomes is really important as a first step in becoming empowered enough to have authority,” Þór Halldórsson said. Transparent decision making Decisions aren’t just guided by what is possible in a practical sense, but also by content goals and brand guidelines. Being able to communicate these standards, and the purpose behind them, makes it easier to handle conflicting priorities. “You can say this new idea is in line with the policy that we have for this area of the web, or it isn’t. That will be the deciding factor, rather than what might seem like a personal decision,” Völundarson explained.  Taking on the responsibility of defining standards for user experience, tone of voice, brand design and other aspects of content creation has also allowed the team to grow into a more advisory role. “Creating ownership and certain authority within the company helps you to take the necessary steps to become that center of excellence,”Paskevicius said, “where you become someone who can guide others and help them deliver the expected outcomes.” Through this center of excellence the content team has been able to gradually change how the organization thinks about communication, going from using the website as a bulletin board for what the company wanted to say to making decisions based on the customer experience.“It’s really hard to shift the mindset from company to customer,” Þór Halldórsson said. “One of the key roles that the content team has played is to bring about that view, to keep the customer at the forefront.” Processes that simplify success Driving change within an organization is not only about setting high standards, but being able to reliably and quickly deliver work that meets those standards. “I think our biggest asset is, and will always be, that we’re a small company which gives us the ability to move fast,” Þór Halldórsson said. “At the same time, we’re working in a really big market and we need to keep up with the competition.” “We have to be innovative and find ways to deliver at the same pace,”Paskevicius said. “This is where our technology gives us a key advantage.” The team leverages technology to put processes in place that allow them to run projects efficiently, across multiple departments, while minimizing risk. This can be as simple as having a file naming system or being able to roll back changes with version control, as well as creating templates with mandatory fields and granular levels of access that allow other departments to manage their own content independently.  Of course, technology alone isn’t enough to guarantee efficiency. A key role the Icelandair content team plays is to translate business ideas into practical technology capabilities, working closely with developers at every stage of the process to create solutions that are intuitive for everyone that needs to work with them.“In my experience, things always tend towards complexity,” Völundarson said. “If you want to have things clear and simple, you have to specifically aim for that and keep that at the back of your mind in making decisions.” 

Nov 09, 2022

How to avoid the pitfalls of a composable architecture

Digital content management is in a state of perpetual evolution. Consumers have come to expect robust, seamless digital experiences when interacting with brands, and organizations that fail to meet those expectations can quickly find themselves left behind.It’s tempting to think the solution is to build a digital experience that satisfies the expectations of today’s consumer; unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Every day brings new channels and new competitors, and the digital experiences consumers want today might not look anything like the one they want tomorrow.A composable architecture gives businesses the speed, flexibility and scalability they need to deliver digital experiences that meet the expectations of current and future customers. However, there are complexities in the implementation process that enterprises need to be prepared for in order to ensure a seamless transition to composable architecture.What is a composable architecture?Content management systems traditionally have relied on monolithic architecture: an all-in-one system in which the front-end and back-end layers are handled by a single codebase. That approach served us well for decades; that is, until 2014, when mobile internet usage supplanted desktop usage. Since then, consumers have grown to expect a seamless omnichannel experience that a traditional monolithic CMS was never designed to deliver. “There are a lot more requirements on the customer [or] end user side,” said Jeff Baher, head of product marketing at Contentstack. “Content that once resided solely on a website is now in a lot of different places.”Monolithic architecture offers a suite of functions that can be managed from one codebase, which makes for a fairly simple implementation process. But what happens when an organization’s needs surpass the capabilities of a legacy CMS?“Can any one single vendor get their arms around it and solve for all that?” Baher asked. The answer is increasingly no. Enterprises are instead often forced to rely on clunky plug-ins to deliver the functionality they need, and with each new plug-in, the site gets a little slower — and the digital experience suffers as a result.Organizations that wish to avoid plug-ins can update their CMS, but that’s a time-consuming and expensive process. With monolithic architecture, even minor front-end changes can require significant updates to back-end code. And, of course, that process inevitably needs to be repeated every time consumer expectations change or new channels emerge.A composable architecture breaks down the large and complex functions found in monolithic solutions into smaller, more manageable pieces. An application programming interface (API) acts as the go-between for these smaller pieces, allowing them to communicate and transfer information more efficiently. In a composable CMS, the front-end and back-end layers are decoupled, so changes can be made to the front end independent of back-end functions.The result is the same functionality found in monolithic architecture, only more efficient, more flexible and with more freedom to build a customized or modular solution to meet an organization’s specific needs — once the new architecture is up and running, that is.Common pitfalls of implementing a composable architectureA composable architecture allows organizations to build rich, omnichannel digital experiences on their own terms, free from any of the limitations imposed by monolithic architecture. But, a wider range of possibilities also means more potential challenges.What goes where, who’s on first?A monolithic architecture has a variety of inherent shortcomings, but monolithic solutions do offer a clear benefit: simplicity. Although notoriously difficult to update, legacy architecture is fairly easy to implement, which may be attractive to some organizations depending on their needs. And since monolithic solutions are typically created and sold by one vendor, organizations benefit from a one-stop point of contact for any issues that may arise. A composable solution brings together capabilities of different vendors, Baher said. This is undoubtedly a positive in terms of flexibility and freedom, but if one element doesn’t work as intended, it can affect the entire digital experience. With a monolithic solution, the vendor handles the process of identifying and fixing the problem, but with composable, the organization has to manage the diagnostic process. On top of that, if the issue is being caused by two elements from two different vendors; which vendor is responsible for the fix?The ‘kitchen sink' problemThe main selling point of a composable architecture is its flexibility; there are few limits on what your organization can do with a composable solution. But just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should. A composable architecture is “similar to Lego pieces, allowing you to build a lot of different things,” Baher said. “But that’s also the challenge: What do you build? How do you do it?”Assembling, or integrating, the available pieces is only half the battle. The other half is making sure each component selected is necessary to create the digital experience you have in mind. Remember, there’s “must-have” functionality and there’s “nice-to-have” functionality — and the more you have of the latter, the less time your IT team has to focus on the former.Disconnects between teamsAs the old saying goes, “a camel is a horse designed by a committee.” The flexibility of a composable architecture is useless if nobody can agree on the best way to use it. In organizations accustomed to monolithic architecture, it’s not uncommon for siloed teams or departments to form and operate independently of one another.Under these conditions, each team may develop their own idea of what “best” means in terms of functionality, user experience and so on, which can make for a rocky transition to a composable architecture. In order to overcome this challenge, and to maximize content re-use, organizations need to break down those silos by clearly defining cross-team goals and making sure departments work collaboratively to achieve them. If not, the digital experience you deliver to consumers is likely to resemble a camel.The people problemUltimately, an organization’s ability to successfully implement a composable architecture rests largely on its people for it’s not only a technology shift, it’s also a mindset shift. With a monolithic CMS, all the features are included in the software, but a composable solution is essentially a blank canvas — and it’s up to your people to think through and feel comfortable and confident with how to fill it in. Eliminating disconnects between teams is a key part of success in this regard, but organizations also need to have the right frame of mind and  right resources on the technical side to build everything out.Overcome the pitfalls and go composable with confidenceMoving to composable architecture is more complex than many organizations realize initially, but the pitfalls are all surmountable. The following considerations are the key ingredients for success, according to Baher:Choose the right component technologies.Select vendors who view going composable as a partnership, not a dealership.Invest in automation technology to simplify integrations and automate routine tasks.Seek expertise and support to help you along the way.Run the numbers and a proper ROI analysis.Learn moreLearn more about the benefits of a composable architecture in our blog post, “Why a composable CMS is right for you.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s headless content management platform and industry-leading, cross-vendor support can help your organization make the transition to a composable architecture today.

Nov 02, 2022

Why a composable CMS is right for you

The average digital user spends 54 seconds on a page. That may seem like a short amount of time to formulate an opinion about your site, but from the user’s perspective, it’s practically an eternity. According to the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, 75% of consumers decide whether a company is credible based solely on their experience with the company’s site. And research from Google found that 1 in 4 visitors will abandon a site if it takes longer than 4 seconds to load.Your site has a very small window of opportunity to make a good impression. A composable content management system (CMS) can help your organization meet the needs and expectations of today’s consumers while remaining agile enough to adapt when those needs change. (And they will.)Here’s how.What is a composable content management system?Content management systems are traditionally built using monolithic or “legacy” architecture. With the monolithic model, entire applications are designed as a single unit: a monolithic CMS provides a suite of functions, all handled by a single codebase.This model worked well when the digital experience only had to be delivered on desktop browsers, but that changed 15 years ago with the release of the first iPhone. Monolithic was slow to adapt to mobile internet usage; since then, a slew of new channels has popped up, from smartwatches and gaming consoles to devices like Google Home and Alexa.Today’s consumers demand a seamless omnichannel digital experience, and monolithic struggles to keep up: a legacy CMS can be upgraded to fit new channels, but those upgrades are reactive, not proactive. Monolithic is slow to adapt to existing channels, let alone anticipate new ones. In addition, the inherent complexity of legacy architecture makes for a lengthy publishing and launch process, which affects the time to market on any upgrades. That’s not just inconvenient — it’s a genuine risk to an enterprise’s long-term success. That’s why more organizations are moving to composable architecture.How does a composable CMS work?A composable CMS is built using a collection of smaller, more manageable pieces, instead of the single large and complex unit found in monolithic solutions. With a composable CMS, organizations choose the individual systems and services that best suit their needs and allow them to build a custom digital experience. These pieces are tied together using an Application Programming Interface (API) that acts as a middleman for these smaller pieces to communicate and transfer information in a more efficient way.What are the benefits of a composable CMS?The modular approach of composable architecture offers a variety of benefits for both businesses and consumers.Innovation forward Because monolithic is so large and complex, most of the development time and resources are spent on upgrading the CMS just to keep up. Unfortunately, that leaves less time for developers to take a more forward-thinking approach. The rapid development time of updates and upgrades to a composable CMS means your team has more time to focus on innovation.AgilityWith monolithic architecture, even minor front-end changes can require significant updates to back-end code, and that means developer involvement — even for something as simple as updating site fonts or a carousel. With a composable CMS, the front-end and back-end code are decoupled, so front-end changes (i.e., changes to the presentation and delivery of the site to users) can be made without having to update the back end. This flexibility is crucial in the age of digital disruption, when organizations that are unable to adapt to new channels and behaviors can get left behind.Composable CMSs allow you to swap out modular components on the fly. This cuts down on development time and allows organizations to experiment with changes to a site or application before fully committing to them.Scalability A growing user base for your site or application is a good thing, but if you want to maintain that growth, you have to scale. Both monolithic and composable CMSes can scale horizontally by adding more instances of a high-demand function or feature. But in a monolithic CMS, everything is interconnected: if you need to run five instances of a specific feature of your site or app to meet demand, you have to run five instances of the entire application — even if you could meet demand for all the other features with just a single instance. Therefore, ensuring the performance of that one function could mean having to pay for five times more server or cloud storage than you really need.Composable lets you scale individual functions according to demand. It’s a more efficient and budget-friendly way to consistently deliver the digital experience users expect from your business.Enhanced capabilities Every monolithic CMS has its own unique pros and cons: Adobe Experience can handle a lot of site content, but it’s expensive and requires significant IT support throughout its lifespan. Sitecore can be scaled easily and is more secure than most other CMSes, but skilled developers are hard to find and transitioning to Sitecore is a lengthy and expensive process. With a monolithic CMS, the digital experience is limited by what that particular CMS does well. Composable lets you choose the best applications for each function and build a limitless CMS experience. Reduced talent costsTo maintain and upgrade a monolithic CMS, you’ll need developers and engineers who are experts in that specific CMS’ proprietary framework. Those specialized skills mean organizations have to pay more to attract and retain talent. In addition, it’s difficult to learn these complex and highly specific systems on the job, so organizations usually have to hire more top-dollar talent every time a member of the team leaves the company.With composable, organizations can access a much larger talent pool, making it easier to find the right people to handle each individual function — for the right price.Improved user experienceA composable CMS can make a major difference in the user experience. A monolithic CMS can usually only be customized via plug-ins, which negatively impact site loading and speed. This can affect your bottom line: recent research from Portent found that an e-commerce site with a one-second load time had a conversion rate 2.5x higher than a site with a five-second load time. Composable allows for as much (if not more) customization, but without sacrificing speed.Learn moreLearn more about composable architecture in our guide, “What is composable architecture?”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s content experience platform can deliver the benefits of composable to your organization.

Oct 24, 2022

Danielle Diliberti helms multiple market leading brands. Here’s how she empowers teams to make big changes

If there’s anyone that fully understands both the technology and business challenges of leading a modern enterprise it’s Danielle Diliberti. She is the CTO of the wellness brand and health club, The St. James, the CEO of the fast-growing marketplace, Sommsation, and Senior Director at the investment firm, Eldridge Industries. All at the same time. Danielle recently spoke with us about how she gets it all done, how she empowers teams to move fast, and the advice she has for other leaders making waves in their industries. Invest in alignment Putting a strategic plan in place requires balancing the goals of the organization, ideas of different stakeholders, data insights, and the practical aspects needed to execute it. As well as thinking about the order of operations along the way to make sure you’re not breaking one thing to fix another. The level of alignment and communication needed to do this can be especially challenging for companies with a diverse audience, a multifaceted business model, or a remote workforce.  One initiative that Danielle has found to be successful in getting everyone on the same page is internal summits: multi-day, in-person events that focus on a particular aspect of business such as engineering, sales, data and analytics, marketing, or operations. Dedicating time to dive into one area, as opposed to high-level status updates from every department, helps people better recognize where small adjustments to their own processes can make life easier for colleagues in other areas of the business. “When you step into the room and know that you’re talking about marketing, the accountant can take off their accountant hat and think about it from a marketing lens,” explains Danielle. “That creates not only some continuity between different business groups, but I’ve also seen that it really helps the culture because people can connect in a different way.”Pass the torch As a company changes and grows it’s important to make sure individuals also have the opportunity to evolve. Giving people the time and attention to develop skills requires investing in knowledge transfer instead of doing it yourself. “If it’s something that I’m confident we know how to do, I usually step back and empower my team to move it forward and hone in on their skills,” says Danielle. “If it’s something that I have experience in, then it’s important for me to understand where people are on their learning curve and set them up for success in that specific situation.” Throughout her career, whether learning a skill or teaching it, Danielle has approached knowledge sharing with the “3-3-3 rule”. To teach a skill or transition a task you must first have done it at least 3 times yourself, then have the learner shadow you 3 times, then shadow the learner 3 times. Setting the 3-3-3 rule as a company standard encourages people to speak up if they feel stuck with tasks that aren’t in line with their skill sets or goals, and makes sure that responsibilities are transferred in a way that gives the learner time to feel confident in their new role. “Passing the torch really does help everyone,” says Danielle. “The whole team gets smarter, the business becomes more valuable, and you can move a lot faster. That investment up-front will really pay dividends in the long run.” Find partners to grow with Enabling an organization to move quickly is not only about developing the right skills in the team, but also making sure they aren’t spending time reinventing the wheel. Leaders should have a good awareness of what’s happening in the market, which organizations are interesting to partner with, and how these partnerships could best serve the business.“Really leverage them in a way that makes you feel that you’re letting go of some things internally in your organization,” says Danielle. “Especially in the technology space, there’s so much out there and we’re moving so fast that trying to do everything internally doesn’t make a lot of sense anymore.” With a background in investment, it’s no surprise that Danielle evaluates potential partners with future value in mind.“Understanding the management team of our vendors and our software is really important to me,” says Danielle. “Knowing what their roadmap is and making sure that there is alignment long-term as opposed to just looking at the features that you can deploy right now.” Finding partners that have similar goals to your organization ensures that you have a network of tools and support that can grow alongside you as your business needs evolve. Make your toolkit API-first Part of what makes leaning into the partner ecosystem so attractive is the rising availability of modern, agile technologies. Instead of having one large platform with a suite of interdependent capabilities, a stack of best-of-breed tools can be easily integrated via APIs and swapped out as needed. Companies can leverage solutions from multiple partners while keeping their processes technology agnostic, removing the risk of becoming too reliant on any single vendor. “You won’t be able to compete as an organization if you don’t have API-first, cloud-based tools. That’s just the reality of where we are in the world,” says Danielle.An API-first, cloud-based toolkit allows organizations to quickly change directions when new priorities arise.  Danielle’s team at The St James had built out their API-first technology stack with the intention of digitizing the member experience, making it more convenient to book classes and amenities across the health center. A year into that transformation the pandemic hit, safety was suddenly the number one priority, and the team was able to use the new architecture to quickly spin up solutions for equipment reservation, contact tracing, and capacity management.  “Customers entered the doors knowing they were safe,” explains Danielle. “Had we not had an API-first infrastructure that would have never existed.” 

Oct 19, 2022

What is Agile content marketing?

Does your organization clamor to keep up with requests to create more relevant online content? Does your marketing team work tirelessly spinning content for different personas and managing content for multiple channels?Because the enormous demand for digital content continues to grow, these problems are very real for marketing teams at organizations of every size. According to Pew Research, in 2021 one in every three U.S. adults reported being “almost constantly” online.This heavy online presence produces a plethora of data, from geolocation tracking to Google Analytics to consumer reviews and much more. Yet much of this data is overlooked or not fully utilized when making marketing decisions, especially with the traditional waterfall marketing approach. Yet many organizations still handle their marketing this way — the same way it’s been done for decades. This is not all that surprising given the lightning speed at which technology creates new ways to communicate with customers. Trying to outpace or even just keep up with the constant flux of change is challenging at best for most organizations.An increasing number of organizations, however, are realizing there’s a better way to manage their marketing with an Agile approach based on the abundance of real-time data and consumer insights that are available virtually 24/7.  We’ll tell you more about this shortly. But first let’s look at some of the main issues organizations experience with traditional marketing.Why traditional marketing doesn’t work in our data-driven worldFor most organizations, decisions about the type of campaigns to run and when to run them have traditionally been made months or even a year in advance. While these decisions may be made thoughtfully based on available insights at the time, there are clear disadvantages to marketing this way.Lack of flexibility: Firstly, there’s little room for flexibility when trends like customer expectations and sales change between the time decisions are made and when marketing campaigns launch. There’s no process in place to let marketing teams change their prioritized content or goals based on data or even current events.Difficulty producing content for multiple channels: Another key disadvantage of traditional marketing is it doesn’t provide an intuitive, easy process for repurposing content for multiple channels including websites, social media channels or e-commerce platforms.Lack of personalization: Savvy customers today expect content that relates to their lifestyles and needs. With traditional marketing, there’s no easy way to personalize content for specific customer segments with user stories of other tools. Instead, personalizing content becomes a laborious process that burdens staff with repurposing content and then making sure it gets to the right channels.Overburdened, frustrated staff: All the above issues affect the marketing team. From writers to project managers, team members may feel stressed, overburdened and sometimes disheartened because, despite all their efforts, the results they’re seeing are not optimal.What Is Agile content marketing?The Agile  methodology was first used by software developers who wanted to reduce the time it took to create new products and updates while retaining flexibility. Agile was designed to break projects into manageable chunks, and at every step of the process, provide a process to implement necessary changes as they arose. Because of this built-in ability to pivot when needed, finished software products could be more up-to-date and relevant when released.Agile has since been heavily adopted to manage projects in the corporate world and government agencies. The methodology is used in a wide range of industries including financial services, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, engineering, aerospace and others.Desiring the same speed and flexibility, the Agile methodology has more recently been leveraged widely for content marketing. This is especially true in forward-thinking organizations looking for better strategies and technologies to help them accomplish their goals.To understand why the Agile approach is a perfect fit for content marketing, let’s briefly think about the onset of the pandemic. Whether B2C or B2B, every organization had to move fast to reach their audiences with content ranging from text messages and social media posts to website alerts and relevant articles and blogs. The world was changing rapidly and content needed to keep pace with the changes that were occurring from one day to the next.In an Agile content marketing workflow, cross-functional teams of writers, editors, designers, and other content experts collaborate on manageable tasks over a period of time called a “sprint.” Other cross-functional teams may work in parallel on separate but equally important tasks that may be part of the same larger project.Each team’s tasks are assigned based on priority by analyzing data, consumer feedback, recent trends, current events and other inputs. At the end of each sprint, content is sent to another sprint for improvement or launched with a specific goal in mind. Then both the work and the process are reviewed for possible improvements.In real life, an Agile marketing process might look like this:A marketing lead gathers data and customer requirementsThe data and user stories are prioritized by the marketing team and then broken down into actionable tasksThe team organizes tasks into one or more sprints based on content typeA cross-functional team works in tandem to execute their work during the sprintAt the end of each sprint, the work and the sprint planning process are both reviewed for possible improvementsThe next sprint to implement improvements and new tasks are assignedAgile content marketing: a game changer for your businessOne significant feature of Agile content marketing is that it involves a consistent cycle of producing content, then testing it to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Then simply do more of what works or what your audience wants and less of what doesn’t work. The benefit is more relevant content engaging audiences in meaningful ways.For instance, let’s say a marketing team created a blog post for one of its buyer personas. The post doesn’t drive a wide audience to the organization’s website. However, the social media post on Facebook to promote the blog got hundreds of responses and likes. Based on some of the comments, the marketing team gained some valuable insights into the products that potential customers wanted to learn more about. With Agile content marketing, it’s easy for the marketing team to prioritize more of the desired content in the next sprint, while deprioritizing content on a different topic that didn’t garner as much interest. Pushing successful content to other channels would be another available option with Agile marketing.Social media comments and shares, website page views and conversion rates, and video views are some of the many types of data that can be leveraged to influence Agile marketing strategy.Creating high-quality content not only engages audiences and helps to convert new customers, it provides a steady stream of new ideas for the marketing team so they know which strategies or topics to focus on next. 5 benefits of Agile content marketingAgile content marketing has many benefits. Here are the five that we believe are the most important. Greater success: Several research studies have proven that Agile marketing content is more successful than content created using the traditional waterfall approach. This includes the Standish Group Chaos Report 2020, which determined that Agile projects were three times more likely to succeed.Speed: The Agile approach enables marketers to launch content faster, especially when sprint lengths are tailored specifically to different content types.Efficiency: Agile marketing teams are able to do more with less because they can focus their full attention on the content that’s prioritized at any given time. The content creation process also becomes more efficient over time because it’s evaluated after every sprint for ongoing improvement.Greater flexibility: With Agile marketing, there’s a built-in process for changing content strategy or the content itself based on data, consumer behavior, current events and other insights.Happier marketing teams: Not only do Agile marketing teams report greater productivity, they’re also happier. Research has shown that they have improved morale.Learn more  Learn more about Agile marketing in our guide, “How to get started with Agile marketing.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable content experience platform can help jump start your agile content marketing strategy. 

Oct 18, 2022

How to choose an omnichannel marketing platform

Omnichannel marketing allows businesses to create customer-centric experiences that are personalized and consistent for each consumer across all channels. This modern way of thinking about content management can help your business build stronger relationships with customers and increase sales.Today's marketing professionals need to pursue an omnichannel experience that customers can use whenever, wherever they want. This approach means creating a consistent experience across all devices, whether customers use a desktop computer, a mobile phone, a tablet or a smartwatch. By designing an omnichannel experience, companies can ensure that their customers have a positive and seamless experience no matter how they interact with them. This article will explore what marketing professionals should look for when considering an omnichannel marketing platform.What is an omnichannel marketing platform and why do you need one?An omnichannel marketing platform allows you to connect with customers across all channels, including online, offline, and mobile. Using this customer-centric marketing approach, companies can provide a consistent customer experience no matter how the customer interacts with them. An omnichannel platform can also help businesses to better understand customer behavior and preferences, which can help to improve marketing strategies and ultimately increase sales.Omnichannel marketing is similar to multichannel marketing. Both of these strategies involve engaging customers across different channels. However, there are some critical differences between these two approaches. Multichannel marketing promotes a unified message using various channels. In contrast, omnichannel marketing takes a customer-focused approach. It adapts to the customer's cross-channel preferences, allowing them to move between channels seamlessly. This capability means omnichannel marketing is better equipped to provide a personalized experience. Benefits of using an omnichannel marketing platformAn omnichannel marketing platform can provide many benefits for your business. The products and services you offer, the customers you serve and other characteristics unique to your situation will determine the advantages that benefit you most. Here are the most common omnichannel use cases.Add virtual inventory to your store: Omnichannel marketing allows you to promote the idea of an endless aisle. You can use this virtual merchandise presentation to complement your real-world store's physical inventory. This type of shopping experience is nearly impossible to achieve without an omnichannel marketing platform.Recurring payment model: Recurring payments are becoming an increasingly popular way for consumers to pay for goods and services. This payment model allows customers to regularly authorize a merchant to charge a designated amount to their credit card or bank account. This can be a convenient way for customers to pay for monthly subscriptions, such as Netflix or Spotify, or for larger purchases spread over time, such as a new mattress.Recurring payments help your business build stronger relationships with your customers by making it easy for them to continue doing business with your company over time. Omnichannel marketing helps your customers move seamlessly between making an in-store or online purchase and establishing continuing services.Buy online for in-store pickup: This omnichannel feature has quickly become a staple of e-commerce. For many types of goods, if customers can't shop for items from the comfort of their homes, they will shop elsewhere.Increasing customer loyalty: A well-designed omnichannel strategy can help your business better understand customer behavior and preferences. You can use this information to improve relationships, fortify customer loyalty, and ultimately increase sales.Improving customer experience: By using an omnichannel platform, businesses can ensure that they are providing a consistent customer experience across all channels. This consistent experience can improve customer satisfaction.How to choose the best omnichannel marketing platform for your businessWhen choosing an omnichannel marketing platform for your business, the most critical consideration is finding one that is truly focused on the customer, not just brand-centric, using multiple channels. Brand centricity is all about promoting a unified message across various channels. At the same time, customer-centricity considers the customer's preferences and needs. Adopting this paradigm can be challenging for some marketing solution providers that cut their teeth on multichannel marketing. It's not enough to provide the same branding message across your customers' channels. A customer-centric solution helps you tap into your customers' historical behavior to understand their needs better. To provide your customers with the best possible experience, you will also want to consider how user-friendly and easy to navigate a potential solution is. The platform's ability to integrate with other software applications used by your company is also an important consideration. Once you have considered these factors, you can compare the different omnichannel features that are available. Reading reviews and comparing attributes is essential to ensure you choose the best platform for your business.Features of the best omnichannel platformsHere are some of the top features to consider when choosing an omnichannel marketing platform:The ability to provide a personalized customer journey across all channels: An omnichannel marketing platform should allow you to manage your marketing activities efficiently and effectively across all channels. This approach can save time and money.The ability to connect with customers across all channels: An omnichannel marketing platform should allow you to connect with customers across all channels, including online, offline, and mobile. This can help to improve customer loyalty and increase sales.The ability to understand customer behavior and preferences: An omnichannel marketing platform can help businesses better understand customer behavior and preferences. You can use this information to improve marketing and ultimately increase sales.What to avoid in omnichannel marketing platformsWhen considering an omnichannel marketing platform, it is essential to know the available features and choose the platform best suited to your business. However, there are also some things to avoid when choosing a platform.Be sure not to choose a platform that is too complex or difficult to use. The platform should be easy to navigate and use so that you can manage your marketing activities effectively.Also, avoid platforms that are too costly for your budget. It is crucial to find a platform that offers good value for your money.Finally, avoid platforms that do not offer good customer support. The platform should be easy to use, but if you encounter any problems, you should be able to get help quickly.Learn moreLearn more about omnichannel content management in this informative guide.Is your CMS holding you back from creating the omnichannel experiences your customers expect? Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s headless, composable content experience platform can transform your digital marketing strategy.

Oct 06, 2022

5 first priorities for business change

Bob Howland has helped drive business transformation in over 27 companies in industries ranging from retail to pharmaceuticals to software. In 2019 he joined Dawn Foods, the global bakery supplier, to do it again. As chief digital officer he took the 100-year-old company from a completely paper ordering process to a market ready e-commerce solution in just 22 weeks. We spoke with Bob about how he did it, why changing mindsets is often more important than changing technology, and what advice he has for other business transformation leaders. Turn executives into advocatesMoving a company to a new way of working is going to require high-level support and prioritization. Involve key stakeholders early in the process to close gaps in knowledge, collaborate on a plan, and ensure the executive team is confident in and excited about the changes ahead.For Bob, an early priority at Dawn Foods was to meet directly with the chief financial officer to create a business plan. Giving the CFO full, transparent access to the expected costs and intended outcomes makes it possible to fast-track difficult conversations and align on the right metrics for the project.The CFO can also recommend a trusted team member to act as the financial representative for e-commerce. By working with a finance partner to make estimates and approve any cost presented, you can build credibility within the organization as well as create a strong advocate in the finance department. Bob also recommends meeting with each board member individually to introduce the plan, address questions, and gather recommendations. These conversations give everyone a comfortable amount of time to get up to speed on e-commerce and, when it’s time to ask for approval, you’ll be able to present a plan that the board is already familiar with and has contributed to.Take a crash course from customers Internal sources can get you up to speed on past and current priorities of the business, but answers about its future are found out in the field. Speaking directly with customers can help you identify internal blind spots, validate the need for change, and allow you to truly speak to the customer experience when making decisions.Coming into Dawn Foods, Bob was well versed in e-commerce but not as knowledgeable about the bakery industry. So in his first two months he had “30 donuts in 60 days” as he visited dozens of bakeries to learn about the market, what customers valued most about the company, and what needs were going unmet. These market visits made it clear there was an urgent demand for e-commerce among customers and gave Bob a level of credibility with internal teams that helped get everyone on board with his recommendations. Prioritize people over paceOnce business transformation has customer validation and executive approval, you’ll need to work with people across departments to figure out the work it will realistically take to make it happen. Keep in mind that while the eventual maintenance of a new way of working might easily fit into a team’s responsibilities, the initial lift of the project can require a substantial shift in priorities, which can be met with resistance.“In many cases, these are muscles that people that have never been in an e-commerce company don’t have,” Bob said. “So to come at it with a mentoring, a sponsorship, a teaching and training perspective is very important.” Change requires long-term objectives that will take long-term business relationships to achieve. After decades in the business, Bob said he’s learned to give people the time and space to come around to new ideas on their own terms. While this might slow down progress for the first few months, it builds the trust needed to move faster in the long run.Make an MVP ASAPTaking e-commerce off the whiteboard and putting it in front of the business is a way to quickly highlight the work that needs to be done on data, data structure, pricing, images and other assets to enable e-commerce. Bob and his team created the first minimum viable product (MVP) in six weeks, with the goal of showing the best possible commerce experience the company could put out without making any changes to business. “That MVP, the beta project, was one of the most embarrassing things that I have ever put my name on,” said Bob, “but it did show the company the gap between where we were today and what we needed to do quickly to enable an e-commerce business.An MVP can also make it clear that the new way of working will affect many functions in the company. A visual, explorable product makes it easier for people to see how the change will relate to their own role and accelerates conversations about the collaboration needed from each department to bring a great experience to market. Remember, you’re just getting startedGetting the solution built is just the start. Transforming the organization and its mindset to one of continuous improvement is key to ensure you live up to customer expectations and demands.Bob knew he wouldn’t have all the right answers by launch about what e-commerce should look like at Dawn Foods because that information would come from customer feedback and user behavior. So the team first focused on speed, launching a market-ready solution in 22 weeks. “On the quality side, however, I knew that I needed to have the team and process in place to do an amount of development work post-launch so we could quickly address all the feedback from the customer,” Bob said, sharing that more developer hours were used in the six weeks post-launch than used to get to launch. To this day, the team continues to commit to that cycle of improvement, releasing new features every two weeks and rolling them out to customers monthly. “I built a whole army and process and protocol to get to launch, but before I launched I had already built the governance, the process, the protocol to run the business,” Bob said. “I think those two things combined are why we’ve been so successful as a company.”