How Your Web CMS Should Enable a Digital Experience

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Web content management is no longer about managing pages on a website; instead, it’s now at the center of where marketing activities and customer engagement is carried out. Once holding a focus on publishing and management of web content, marketers can now expect CMSs to improve the development and management of entire digital customer experiences. Digital experiences that are driven by content, optimized with data, and delivered across all online channels. Additionally, a modern web CMS will utilize and manage data from CRM, ERP and other applications to deliver unique, personalized experiences.

Consumers expect a seamless digital experience. The following are just a few of the ways your web CMS should be helping to make this a possibility:

Personalized Digital Experiences

Modern CMSs are making it easier than ever for small businesses to go beyond personalized emails to engage customers. They are able to design and content elements across websites, portals, mobile apps and more, create various user personas or user segments, display targeted and contextual content to these different user segments, and personalize the design on the basis of various criteria that has proven to work via analytics. Although it delivers profoundly better results, it is still by no means “easy.” Marketing managers still have their work cut out for them as they test and iterate working with CTOs to outline the depth of personalization while creating a map content to specific user groups and scenarios.

Multi-Channel

Instead of multiple marketing teams taking on efforts to globally promote an array of products and services on a single website, this should be done across various digital properties – microsites, mobile apps, social media, augmented and virtual reality, and more. A modern CMS natively supports an API-first approach to content management that enables multi-channel content authoring, publishing and delivery. Additionally, complete separation of presentation from content and data, and support for any type of UI development framework, combined simplify the task of delivering a wide variety of digital experiences across multiple platforms.

Data-driven

Everything a customer does on your web properties yields insights. This data can then be used to optimize the customer experience.  Because of this, you’ll want to look for CMSs equipped with full support for A/B testing, customer journey tracking, customer engagement analysis, predictions and recommendations, goal tracking, campaign tracking and other actions related to analyzing customer data. It’s in your best interest to go above and beyond and use CMS that offers intuitive backend interfaces with integrated BI insights along with the administrative capability to take swift actions on these insights by just a few clicks.

Ease of Integration

Your customers view your digital experiences as one entity. Because of this, if you do not integrate with siloed platforms like CRM, Portals, BI, analytics and other key systems and applications, then you’re just spinning your wheels. Your goal of reaching a 360-degree customer view will be in vain.

Modern CMSs enable easy integration by offering out-of-the-box connectors for major CRMs, search platforms, e-commerce, language translation, databases, publishing platforms, analytics, etc. Additionally, you need to be able to easily integrate with existing systems and web applications through APIs.

Next Steps

It is necessary for every company or organization to identify their own unique challenges, marketing objectives as well as their desired business outcomes, goals and expectations. This should be done prior to beginning the journey of selecting and implementing a web CMS. The key is knowing how to use your choice of tools. If you have any questions about how a modern web CMS can support your enterprise’s digital experience, drop us a line at Crafter. One of our professionals will be happy to discuss a solution with you.

Year of the Customer: Top 5 Customer Experience Trends Revealed

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We are well into 2016 and it has already proven to be the year of virtual reality among other new technologies aiming to deliver flawless customer experiences. The following are just a few more of the newest trends that are reinventing how enterprises spend their marketing dollars this year.

1. Getting Personal
Marketers are getting even more personal with their personalization and tapping into streams of first party data. From CRM data to Voice of the Customer (VoC) data, and leverage predictive modeling to create contextualized experiences, individually tailored experiences are changing the face of the customer experience.  With customer expectations higher than ever and their constant connectivity, hyper-contextualized personalization is on the rise to meet the demands and wants of the individual this year.

2. Entering into the Mobile-Mature World
Mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches because more and more individuals are connected on multiple devices and more websites are user friendly. In fact, Google made sure that websites were more mobile-friendly by announcing those websites that weren’t would be penalized in mobile search rankings. Finally, customers are getting the relevant, high quality website experiences they want across multiple devices. This year even greater innovation for mobile is taking place. Seamless integration between apps, eCommerce and social outlets is becoming a reality. Companies that provide excellent mobile experiences for their users will not only stand out from the crowd but grow.

3. Year of the screens
While more searches are being done on mobile devices, the trend is moving towards a post-mobile world where devices are meshing to expand beyond traditional mobile devices. From wearable devices to tablets, watches and the like, the number of screens users come in contact with on a daily basis is expanding. Because of this, marketers are faced with the task of creating and delivering seamless experiences that continue throughout all points in the user  customer journey. Keeping the experience consistent and complete is key. Brands that understand their users are interacting with numerous digital touch points will go further in keeping their customers satisfied.

4. Intent Data Will Drive Intelligent Retargeting
Retargeting is key to converting visitors to customers and those companies who are smart about the way they do their retargeting will succeed in 2016. This is done by recognizing needs and align campaigns to increase visitor engagement with pertinent messages and calls to action. Companies that take note as to why visitors are coming to their site – to research, browse or buy – are better able to guide them towards making a purchase by offering them a relevant incentive or by showing them appropriate content immediately. Even something as simple as offering free shipping or a discount can encourage a new visitor and retarget their customer experience. A more frequent shopper may need more aggressive retargeting.

5. Customer Experience Analytics Will Be King
Analytics is becoming crucial for brands to obtain a competitive advantage. By utilizing analytics, companies are able to better anticipate and deliver superior experiences to customers and potential customers. Although, at times, the data can be overwhelming, using the right type of analytics is key to extending the ROI of varying marketing efforts and creating a seamless customer experience. This year is all about using the right type of analytics streams correctly. One example of this is utilizing analytics to recognize and personalize in real-time.

This is an exciting time for marketers as they create one-to-one experiences for their customers, become more mobile mature, deliver consistent and continuous experiences, and become completely customer-centric through mastering the use of customer experience analytics.

5 Reasons Why Your CMS Should Move to the Cloud

The following Guest Blog was written by Stacy Weng, Senior Marketing Manager, Rivet Logic Corporation.

Why are a growing number of enterprise customers deploying their Web experiences in the cloud? In a recent webinar with Crafter Software, we discussed top reasons for moving a CMS to the cloud, how to craft a successful enterprise web strategy, and best practices for building next-generation web experiences.

The Modern CMS and Crafter

Your website isn’t just brochure-ware or a place where people go for product updates, but instead it’s the lifeblood of your company and acts as an important sales tool for that first initial interaction with your users. It’s also an engagement tool, with the ability to segment and build personas, to deliver personalized experiences that’ll keep your users engaged. From an integration standpoint, a web CMS isn’t just a standalone effort, but needs to integrate with various other tools such as CRM, marketing automation, and analytics.

Crafter Cloud is a full featured, enterprise SaaS-based content management system with user-friendly authoring tools, easy integration, high-performance content delivery, ability for personalization and targeting, using a suite of industry-leading development tools to enable delivery of omni-channel experiences. Crafter was designed with flexibility and scale and can be integrated with a variety of digital efforts.

Why the Cloud? 5 Reasons to Move Your CMS to Crafter Cloud

From our experience implementing CMS solutions, we’ve across 5 consistent themes for why customers choose Crafter Cloud when deciding to move their CMS to the cloud.

  1. Custom development experience in the cloud – One of the biggest benefits from both an IT and marketing perspective is the availability of a custom development experience, which provides the front-end team a personalized development environment with the ability to use any front end framework of their choice. This leads to shorter release cycles, which benefits business teams and keeps them excited about the CMS as new features and functionality requests are met in a timely manner.
  2. Full Featured CMS – As a full-featured CMS, Crafter Cloud has the design, integration and security features of an enterprise CMS that’s traditionally deployed on-premise with your own resources. The cloud CMS is a great option for customers with a lot of security and integration requirements to deploy the system without a lot of IT overhead. In addition, one of the challenges businesses face during a rebranding effort or site redesign is the ability of the CMS to respond appropriately. Not only are there desktop views, we now need to accommodate multiple screens and mobile devices, and each experience needs to be unique. Design responsiveness and the ability to create custom design and not be limited by the CMS and its features is imperative.
  3. Augment IT – Deploying your CMS in the cloud allows you to augment your IT and accelerate time-to-market. This means freeing up time and resources and limiting your IT overhead so they can focus on new features and the overall user experience.
  4. Cost – Deploying your CMS in the cloud is also cost effective, with savings from resources, time and energy it would take to build and deploy the solution. Crafter Cloud employs a flexible pricing model that allows you to scale and buy as you grow, limiting any over buy.
  5. Running your business at the speed of the market – Often times your public facing website becomes an afterthought if the CMS can’t keep up (e.g. the need for IT resources to make updates, design updates limited by features, marketing needs more data / analytics, etc.). Teams often end up walking away from relying on the CMS and addressing these tasks independently. Crafter keeps in pace with not just consumers but also the technology side of the house by allowing development teams to work with tools they’re familiar with.

Design & Deployment Considerations

When it comes to Web Experience Management (WEM), it can be broken into 5 categories, each with its own subcategories to dissect and think about your business and users (IT, marketing, sales, customers, partners, etc.).

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  1. Ease of use – Is it user friendly?
  2. Multi-channel – What are your multi-channel requirements? It’s no longer enough to say it needs to work on a mobile device. Mobile is a whole different experience to think through, and you need to make sure your CMS can be responsive and flexible in that sense. For example, a mobile experience for retail is very different from a services company.
  3. Personalization – Your site needs to be personalized to build engagement. A repeat consumer / site visitor doesn’t want to feel like they’re reintroducing themselves each time they visit your site, which can be very frustrating. You need a CMS that enables you to build the journey with the customer and not force a reintroduction at each touch point.
  4. Engagement – A CMS becomes a viable piece of your business when it can spark engagement, which comes in many forms. Engagement isn’t only about results in product buying, but also in comments, reviews, and feedback loops.
  5. Integration – Can it easily integrate with other third party systems – CRM, Marketing Automation, Analytics, etc.?


Who Are My Users and What Do They Need?

Users are typically divided between internal an external users. Internal users include Marketing, IT, and Sales, and all of these user categories have their own different expectations and opinions on how the site should be designed.

While IT wants security, Marketing prefers flexibility, ease of use and the ability to design and add new features, and Sales wants a site that’s captivating to bring them leads. It’s important to go through the process of defining and prioritizing expectations.

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As you narrow down the list, you need to determine if the CMS is able to respond to these expectations, as keeping the internal team happy is the first step to launching a successful CMS. When it comes to features, determine what the current CMS supports, features you wish you had but previously had limitations, whether it’s lack of IT resources for customization or lack of familiarity with the CMS’s integration points. You need an extendable platform that can successfully address these feature requests.

In addition, your CMS manages a variety of content, from blog posts to news articles, to products and press. Your CMS needs to be flexible from a content editing standpoint, where non-technical business users have the ability to edit, preview and publish without any additional IT support. Depending on the organization, IT may or may not be involved in the CMS, so it needs to be self-sufficient, with Marketing owning the solution.

Your external users include customers, partners, and other stakeholders, and you need to start thinking about perception and how users view your brand during their site visit.

To manage user expectation, you need consistency across each digital touch point. The experience from desktop to mobile to kiosk should be consistent so that users don’t need to learn a new UI at each touch point. In addition, if you publish a lot of content, users are going to have certain expectations around the frequency of your updates, and the context in which they’re consuming the content from. All of these points warrant discussions when it comes to your CMS process – it needs to be flexible enough to address most of these challenges.

Customer Win Patterns & Success Stories

Customers select their CMS based on a few consistent win patterns – full-featured with the ability to respond, ability to integrate, provides developers with development tools, limited IT overhead so IT resources can be reallocated to other strategic initiatives, fast time-to-market, and ability to consolidate various sites into one platform.

Our customers are leveraging Crafter Cloud to address a variety of business needs, including:

  • Rebranding a 30 Year Old Company – This health & fitness customer had many inconsistent brands, designs and technologies across their sites that needed to be consolidated into one platform. With a strict timeline and lack of IT resources, they started by deploying their core public facing website onto Crafter Cloud, with other web properties to follow, all accomplished within a two month timeframe.
  • Creating an identity in Ad Tech – This advertising technology company went through a rebranding to create a new identity. Design was extremely important and they needed a CMS to support pixel perfect design. With Crafter Cloud, their solution was up and running in under 1.5 months.
  • Enhancing a Global Platform – This customer already had an existing technology platform in place with high user adoption. They wanted to enhance their site with social capability without disruption. Crafter Cloud provided the necessary social features that were implemented with limited platform disruption.

These are just three examples that all come back to the consistent theme of full featured CMS in the cloud, low IT overhead, cost effectiveness, and speed of market.

Creating a Memorable Web Experience

The larger goal is to have your web presence create a memorable experience so that it reinforces your brand. Best practices to accomplish this include the three C’s:

  1. Consistent – Both internally (equipping marketing with necessary tools in one area to create these experiences and providing IT with the right development tools) and externally (across multiple devices)
  2. Contextual – Providing the right content in the right context
  3. Conversational – The ability to create conversations and enable engagement, and ultimately build a community around your web experience

To learn more, watch the webinar recording and download the slides.

For more information about Crafter Cloud, visit craftercloud.io.

Crafter Software Announces Annual Global Partner Awards

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Crafter Software recently announce our first annual global partner awards.  These awards recognize outstanding performance of System Integrator and Technology Partners. Partners are selected based on demonstrated excellence in the areas of customer satisfaction, innovation and open source community involvement.

“Crafter Software experienced over 200% growth in sales in 2014, in large part due to our exceptional partner ecosystem,” said Russ Danner, VP of Products at Crafter Software. “Crafter CMS is chosen by many of the world’s top brands for building next generation customer experiences because of its ease of use and its unique architecture. Our partners are instrumental in helping our customers quickly identify and implement innovative solutions that drive great customer experiences and better bottom line results.”

The following companies are recipients of the Crafter Software Partner Awards for 2014.

North America Partner of the Year Award: Rivet Logic
“Today’s content, data and user experience challenges require a new approach,” said Alaaeldin El-Nattar, Executive Vice President of Client Services at Rivet Logic. “Crafter CMS is the most modern open source and SaaS platform of its kind. Crafter enables our team of experts to deliver truly engaging websites, sleek mobile applications, and rich multi-channel digital experiences for our clients.”

EMEA Partner of the Year Award: Sourcesense
“Crafter CMS enables Sourcesense to meet the need for a full suite of WCM and ECM capabilities for large, high profile organizations throughout Europe” said Massimo Massacesi, Partner & Alliances Director of Sourcesense.

Crafter Enterprise Innovator Award: Blue Fish Development Group
“Crafter’s WCM architecture and integration with enterprise content management makes it possible to deliver a wide range of content solutions to our clients – including traditional websites, e-commerce, portal and other content oriented applications on premise or in the cloud.” said Jeff Philipp, CEO, Blue Fish Development Group.

Crafter Cloud Innovator Award: Tribloom
“It is no secret that many CIOs are moving their business systems to the cloud. Crafter Software’s SaaS and hybrid solutions provide a high ROI and allow organizations to focus their resources on what matters most to their business. Crafter Cloud is leading the way for the future of web content management.” said Michael McCarthy, CTO, Tribloom.

Crafter CMS’s award-winning web content and experience management solution, paired with our partners’ specialized experience in modern open source and cloud implementations, has helped leading enterprises reclaim freedom over their websites, mobile applications and multi-channel digital experiences.

To learn more about our exceptional partners visit our Partner Page.