3 Major Advantages of a Headless / Decoupled CMS

In a nutshell, a headless CMS, sometimes called decoupled CMS separates the content of a website from how it is displayed on separate independent applications.  The term “decoupled” has been increasingly used as a synonym for headless in recent years. However, “decoupled” is also used by CMS technologies that completely separate content authoring and delivery technology. This kind of architectural decoupling has its own set of advantages.  The term “headless CMS” refers to CMS technologies that are capable of delivering content that is completely void of presentation concerns and is delivered to a content consuming application via APIs / Content as a Service (CaaS.)

Headless CMS/CaaS architectures are the best choice for enterprises who feel limited by the front-end restrictions of a legacy CMS. Rich digital experiences, content apps, highly custom layouts and JavaScript MVC frameworks don’t really fit into the architecture of a CMS which closely controls how content looks and is rendered.  In recent years, the CaaS architecture has become so important that several CaaS ONLY CMS technologies started popping up.  It’s our belief that CaaS is an extremely important capability but on its own it creates yet another content silo.  Any CMS worth its salt needs to be able to handle both traditional content delivery as well as CaaS to deliver the true benefits of a headless architecture.

#1 Get More Out of Your Content

A headless CMS helps to reduce the quantity of managed content by eliminating duplicative content with slightly different presentations and at the same time and by the same means reduces the time-to-market factor. Content editors are freed from needing to worry about the exact presentation on every single front-end that consumes content. The headless CMS will push the updates across all the digital properties, so you don’t have to. By separating content from presentation, you easily save two valuable factors: time and money.  With a headless CMS like Crafter, the possibilities are endless when a single content item is combined with a number of different presentations.

#2 Author Once, Consume Anywhere

Captivating the general audience and converting them to be your brand advocate requires a Customer Experience Management (CXM) tool that goes beyond simply introducing them to your website. The most effective and powerful brands create interconnected, simplified experiences on all levels of customer interactions. This means that both in-person and web touch points are crucial to connecting with users and potential customers. Technical agility as well as the ability to manage content is key. This is best done by providing businesses with a platform like Crafter CMS that has headless CMS capabilities that enable marketers to push their content beyond the company’s website. With a headless architecture, you can more easily manage the entire user experience from one central location and serve that content to any platform throughout the customer journey.

#3 Build and Roll Out Content Enabled Apps FASTER with Content APIs

New content-enabled applications and use cases show up all the time.  The faster we can roll the out apps, the more we enable a great experience for our customers.  By supporting CaaS, we make it easier for our organizations to build content-enabled applications. Well defined APIs are what developers need in order to create applications quickly. A headless CMS like Crafter gives you those APIs and lets your developers focus on creating application features rather than re-inventing the CMS wheel or working around content deployment and presentation issues presented by legacy systems. Furthermore, APIs can be documented and made available to third parties or the public which opens the door for innovation outside your walls.  Simply put,  headless CMS technology speeds development and enables innovation.

5 Rules for Creating Loyal Customers

When it comes to attracting consumers, marketers are realizing they need to step up their game to keep up with the competition. Many of their competitors are undergoing dramatic digital transformations designed to increase customer engagement through targeted, individualized experiences across every channel and device (online and offline.) Brands are now doing whatever it takes to deliver standout service and capabilities to their desired audiences.  However, as brands scramble to go above and beyond, they often miss some of the most important rules on how to engage customers properly and thus don’t achieve the desired result. The following are 5 of the key guidelines to follow when designing digital experiences that align with your brand goals and customer satisfaction.
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#1 Be Helpful

When a customer has a need and you make it easy to fulfill that need you are well on your way to creating a loyal follower of your brand.  Start by creating a helpful experience that comfortably guides customers through the purchasing process. From start to finish, make it simple and helpful.  For example, once a purchase has been made, provide assistance, and do it across various channels.  In the confirmation email or on the “proof of purchase” page, help cover the unknowns. How-to videos, images and infographics are very powerful tools for extending the conversation and covering unknowns. Let them know they can reach you on social media. Customers enjoy being part of the process and will feel more connected to your brand when given access to exclusive content.

#2 Make Content Engaging and Easy to Consume

Designing for the small screen doesn’t mean the experience has to be sacrificed by eliminating important content. It simply means the content you include needs to be extremely engaging and on point for your targeted audience.  Consider being more concise, use 10-second videos rather than those lasting longer than a minute or more. Your content should be contextual, responsive, and most of all, as flexible as your users need it to be. It should be able to go across all channels and devices – online and offline. Your goal should be to create an environment that is specific for the device while also having the ability to go beyond into diverse environments, be it an in-store experience or virtual signage on a billboard and so on.

#3 Personalize Without Being Creepy

Personalization and automation provide a lot of value to the customer. Yet, today’s consumers are savvy and many of them are mindful of privacy concerns. The last thing they want is to be creeped out and worried about privacy issues. Some advertising can come across as a little too personal and downright annoying. Just because I looked at a product does not mean I want it. Today a lot of “retargeting” on social networks are guilty of this simple assumption.  While quick follow up and reinforcement works, the smarter you can be about what you chose to reinforce the more likely you are to convert a customer.  Being annoying might coerce a few new customers but it can also do the opposite and turn potentially loyal customers away. The magic happens when you are helpful and relevant to the customer.  The internet is rife with stories of large companies using purchasing histories to suggest future purchases that “crossed the line.”  Making recommendations can be extremely useful for your customers and amazing for sales but make sure you are constantly asking / checking that your analysis and algorithms are non-invasive, so you don’t overstep your boundaries and end up embarrassing or creeping out your customers and prospects.

#4 Reuse Content

While it may sound like a faux pas, it really is in your best interest to reuse content. Equally as important as creating easy-to-use experiences, using familiar patterns and repeating calls to action will give the perception (sometimes illusion) of a faster solution. Reuse content modules and processes because it reinforces your branding and attracts customers by increasing awareness.

#5 Be Easy to Use, Be Fast

Whether your site visitors are making a purchase or just browsing, one of the single most important things you can do for the user is to provide them with a quick resolution. Many websites make purchasing easy for their customers by keeping the experience to a few clicks. Not only is that convenient for the visitor, but makes the ordering process quicker and streamlined. Ensure that you have a highly scalable platform that is capable of delivering the site quickly and that your front end code (images, CSS, Javascript, etc.) are optimized to render quickly to your users.

Although it’s never easy to truly know every potential hiccup you may face, by understanding the above mentioned five aspects of a great digital experience, you will likely avoid them, which will keep both your business and customers happy.

Do you agree? Comment below and tell us what you think helps create loyal customers!

6 ‘C’s for Great Customer Experience

The type of customer experience your company provides to its customers can make or break the brand. The game has changed and the winners in today’s market are those who provide a great experience to their customers throughout the entire customer journey. Learn how to increase demand and encourage growth through great customer experience by leveraging these 6 ‘C’s of Great Customer Experience!

#1: Contextual

Are you sitting at your desk working?  Are you sitting on the couch browsing with your tablet?  Are you in a Uber hurling towards the airport and trying to move your flight departure time?  Where you are, what you are doing, what kind of access you has matters A LOT! Contextualization focuses the experience on where you are, what device you are using as well as preferences such as location, language, and time of day.  In a nutshell, contextualized experience is what brands use to go above the muck in today’s omni-channel, multi-device, multi-lingual, multi-step world to provide you with a more personalized and relevant experience.

#2 Consistent

A brand is successful by promises made and promises kept. By consistently shaping communications and interactions that highlight strong delivery and core themes brands set customer expectations and drive loyalty by meeting them. Lack of consistency and failure to meet expectations has the exact opposite effect. Have you ever dialed into an automated “phone-tree”, entered a bunch of information only to be transferred and then have to re-enter all of your information again?  It’s frustrating at best. A consistent experience delivers what you expect at every step in the customer journey.  At each touch point, it knows where you have been and where you are now.

#3 Conversational

The online world is much more social than ever before.  Marketing is no longer about one-way communication in which brands bark messaging at customers, it’s about engaging with them.  Today’s marketing is “N-directional.”  It’s an on-going engagement with the brand, a customer, and the brand ecosystem.  Everyone knows that good friends are the ones that know how to listen.  The same is true for brands.

#4 Cross-channel

Our customers have multiple ways to engage with us from traditional media advertising, mail campaigns and phone to digital platforms such as sites, applications, kiosks, digital signage, email, texting, social media and more!  Your customers want to engage you through the mediums and platforms that make the most sense for them in the moment.  Companies that truly get customer experience understand that offering the customer a great experience on the platform of their choice is a critical component for success.  Multi-channel isn’t just about a website responsive design that works on laptops and smartphones.  It’s about really being able to serve customers on any channel and further it’s about being equipped to add a new channel at a moment’s notice.  New channels emerge all the time, and it is the first movers in nearly all cases that dominate the new space.

#5 Convenient

Convenience is a no brainer. Customers love easy. You must reduce complexity at every step.  Make it simple for them!  Apple no longer has a checkout register. Any employee can help you complete a purchase.  Need to schedule an appointment? A couple taps of by an associate on an iPad and you are done.  That’s convenient and it’s enchanting.  Now compare your hailing a cab to requesting an Uber.  Hailing a cab requires good fortune or great patience. Uber by contrast puts mobility at the touch of a button, provides you with an ETA and requires no physical payment transaction.  That’s convenient and it’s enchanting.  Be convenient. Be enchanting.

#6 Cost effective

While great customer experience is vital for maintaining and obtaining customers, doing more (for your customers) often requires more time and resources.  The key to creating and maintaining a great customer experience is finding a cost effective way to make it happen.  The key to cost-effective customer experience is in the architecture of the platforms and solutions you choose to implement. Of course, the platform needs to enable you to deliver contextual multi-channel experiences that engage and enchant your customers. But it must also allow you to scale in an affordable way.  By scale I mean few things.  Scale as in volume.  You need to be able to add more capacity without breaking the bank.  Scale as in many birds, one stone.  The platform should be able to cover many needs.  Multiple sites, many channels within a site and so on.  Scale as in capacity to innovate.  Digital experience is a space of constant evolution.  You need to be able to quickly and affordably develop and deploy new value to your customers.

How have the 6 C’s for Great Customer Experience enhanced your business?  Let us know in the comments below.

Crafter CMS Drives Large Scale, Reliable Customer Engagement During the Big Game

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We’re happy to report that Crafter CMS powered some of the largest websites and mobile applications run by sponsors of a recent major sporting event that was viewed by over 189 million people around the world.

By powering their websites and mobile apps with Crafter CMS, our clients were able to deliver reliable, high performance digital experiences to all their customers. As television advertising drove surges of traffic throughout the event, our clients reported outstanding performance and a record amount of online customer engagement. Meanwhile, it was widely reported that several other enterprise and celebrity websites, which were running legacy content management platforms, crashed and burned due to heavy volumes of traffic. Based on our look at some of the sites that had performance issues, they seem to be running WordPress and Adobe CQ5 (AEM).

In contrast to most legacy content management platforms built over 10 years ago, the modern Crafter CMS excels at delivering reliable, large-scale Web content management implementations. And does so at a fraction of the cost of legacy, proprietary solutions.

Crafter’s innovative architecture provides marketers the easy-to-use tools they need to engage customers, provides developers with the agility to develop engaging website and mobile app features in record time, and provides IT administrators the scalable and performance to deliver highly reliable digital experiences.

Need a reliable CMS that won’t crash when you need it most? Check out our open source on-premise solution (http://craftercms.org) or our cloud-based, full SaaS solution (http://craftercloud.io) today.