Create Your Company’s Best Digital Future with a CMS

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In most cases, when companies set up their websites, they really don’t think beyond simply having an online presence. However, there is so much more to consider such as the mobile capacity of their site. Can a customer easily access the site from their phone or is it only meant for desktops? What about the hundreds of Google algorithms that power their search engine? These factors absolutely must be considered along with the best CMS (content management system) for the business. When setting up your business, asking yourself the following questions is a good place to start:

Will my company’s site give a premium customer experience on desktop as well as mobile?
We live in a mobile-first world. So much so, in fact, that according to Gartner, ecommerce-driven mobile revenue will increase by 50% next year alone. For that reason, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and mobile first indexing is becoming the main strategy for Google. In order for your business to keep up and offer a seamless experience from desktop to mobile, a quality CMS is key. Remember you only need one URL for all versions in order to keep in line with Google’s recommended best practice, URL architecture, and of course, keeping the site customer-friendly.

How do I get users to click my link first?
The better the meta description and title, the more likely a user will click on the link for your company instead of a competitors.  Unfortunately, it’s duplicated or missing titles and meta descriptions showing up in Google’s search for your company that often stand in the way of whether or not users choose your link. Luckily, this is easily resolved with a good content management system that allows you to change them quickly as well as check for missing ones.

Is my content reusable?
This is where it gets tricky. Many websites have content in multiple places simply because it is necessary. From blog posts to product descriptions, it’s not unusual for content to arise in more than one place on any given website. Yet when it comes to Google, these pages of duplicated content make it difficult for the search engines to know which option to show users. The good news is this will not affect your Google ranking, it simply just makes it harder for Google to crawl your website for highest value content. Again, a good CMS can easily take care of this for your company and make it much easier to manage and tag your content.

Is it possible to optimize my URLs for multiple languages?
In general, a website is done in one language. However, if you’re looking for multiple language options for your site, consider the use of subdirectories with generic top-level domains (gTLDs). A good content management system can easily set this up without requiring much maintenance.

Can I style my page for both Google and the human user?
Yes, this is possible with a good CMS. A good CMS will give you multiple options while allowing you to style your text with tags, even without knowledge of HTML or CSS. Remember, use your most important keyword in your URL, H1 tag, first line of text and, if you can, the alt tag.

Can my content be optimized for social media?
Again, this is tricky. Often, companies find that social media platforms won’t recognize a website’s headline or image, and then posts something completely different. It’s not what you want, and it’s certainly not enticing enough for users to click on. To avoid this, you’ll have to mark p your content using Open Graph for Facebook and Twitter cards. If this sounds daunting, it is, well, if you’re doing it manually. Yet, a good content management system can easily take the stress off your hands and do it automatically. The content is marked up so it looks great and can be easily shared.

As you can see, choosing a content management system is practically a no-brainer. Having a user-friendly and search engine friendly website is one of the best ways to ensure that your content will get noticed. A good CMS gives you the ability to produce superior content while also being readily available to the millions of people searching on the World Wide Web.

New Tool Tests Your Website for Mobile Friendliness

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A recent global mobile study has shown that, collectively, Americans check their smartphones 8 billion times per day. From shopping and checking social media to paying bills and responding to emails, that comes out to about 150 times a day per person. For those keeping tally, that’s up 33 more looks per day than last year. The frequency at which users look at their phones is a huge factor in the popularity of mobile-friendly sites. More than ever, companies are quickly discovering that their website speed and mobile-friendliness is a huge factor in sales and customer loyalty.

When things aren’t moving fast enough, users get frustrated and more than likely switch to a competitor’s site. In fact, according to Google, an average user will leave the site if it doesn’t load within three seconds. And, since more searchers occur on mobile devices than on computers, it has become excruciatingly clear that if a potential customer can’t get through to your company’s site in that timeframe, they are five times more likely to leave. Plainly, a good mobile design is crucial to the success of your business.

Because of this need, Google has come out with mobile speed testing tool to give enterprises an idea of just how fast (or slow) their site loads. They run all the numbers for you to help you take the guesswork out of it. You are even given a report showing where your site fails so you can upgrade your system.

The concept is simple. Using a scale of 1-100, the speed testing site takes your company’s URL and measures the loading speed and mobile-friendliness. Everything from HTML, CSS, and Javascript to how long it takes images to load (on both desktop and mobile) are considered. In addition to how well your site fares, you can also see the specific spots that need improvement. Knowing is half the battle, and seeking development in the inadequate areas as soon as possible will help you keep your company out in front of customers, and far ahead of your competitors.

Ironically, Google failed its own test receiving a 59/100 on mobile speed and a 66/100 on the desktop speed. Both are listed as “poor” ratings.  But these statistics are what Google will use to improve their site.  According to the tool, Google’s desktop speeds could be improved by optimizing images and prioritizing visible content. Certainly interesting (and no doubt humbling considering they got slapped on the wrist by their own site!).

In a mobile world, there’s no reason to have a slow, inadequate website. Allow your company to stand out by giving your users the mobile experience they are looking for – a fast, easy, user-friendly design.

If your company is one of the many out there that has a slow website or poor mobile support, rest assured, an upgrade to Crafter CMS will improve your website and make it mobile-friendly and blazingly fast.

Check out Google’s new tool here: https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/

Rethinking the Content Management System for Media and Publishing in the Mobile Era

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Ask anyone from the staff at Buzzfeed to the owner of your neighborhood antique store, and they will agree: it’s time to reinvent the CMS so every publisher has the same tools to succeed in a mobile world. After all, in a world of smartphones, users have come to expect a better experience on mobile. Whether they are flipping through apps consuming content from left to right or experiencing rich magazine-like features, keeping the reader engaged is a top priority.

When it comes to moving beyond the desktop, “themeing” in the CMS is necessary to build these experiences across multiple screens. The goal of responsive design is a good starting point, but it doesn’t do the job completely. We need to take it a step further with the CMS being WYSIWYG and component-based. By doing so, any publisher can deliver a rich, touch-enabled experience regardless of the screen or device or wearable the reader uses.

Creating richer experiences on mobile enables engagement, and even monetization, to live within the CMS. Up until now, most CMSs had monetization relegated to the right rail of the page, but with so many users experiencing sites via mobile, it’s become necessary to shift to in-stream experiences. Dynamic experiences and monetization is now living symbiotically with the content. While many legacy CMS vendors have created bridge solutions, the real solution in the long-term is to make the CMS the place where native advertising is created and trafficked in sync with a publisher’s existing ad server. And this requires a CMS built for today’s era of mobile engagement.

Of course, every reader has different tastes and expectations for any given site so in order for native ads to be a success, personal relevance should be a major factor. Rather than a chronological feed, a personalized feed directed at the user’s own interests is needed.  Personalizing the user experience for each individual reader should be at the core of any given CMS. This provides a superior reading experience and users are much more likely to frequently engage with the site.

It isn’t just responsive design that has changed, users have changed their online activity as well. They are no longer simply reading content, leaving comments and moving on. Today, they are sharing more than ever and CMS for the mobile world needs to offer the seamless ability to connect with the online community.

Additionally, writers or anyone interested in creating content should have the option to write on mobile. Unfortunately, CMSs built a decade ago are not a viable option on mobile. Authors should be able to write content from their phone as effortlessly as they tweet.

While we aren’t totally there yet, this reinvention will surely happen. Publishing has drastically changed since the mobile shift and there’s no doubt that reinventing the corresponding CMS software will occur in the near future.

To learn how Crafter CMS was designed and built for the modern era of mobile engagement, contact us today for a personalized demonstration.

 

Top 5 Capabilities Your Web CMS Needs

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Marketers expect much more from web CMS solutions now than they did five years ago. Today, web content management is much more about customer engagement and marketing activities than the publishing and content management it was a few years ago.

Because of this transformation, CMS platforms are becoming the central point for everything such as managing data from CRM, ERP, Marketing Automation and other applications, delivering personalized experiences, analyzing customer data and optimizing strategy, and even improving management of organization-wide digital assets. As customers come to expect, and often demand, a perfect experience every time, it’s as important as ever for enterprises to explore how today’s advanced web CMS solutions can help them achieve their goals. The following are 5 essential ways that CMS supports the digital experience.

1.  Efficient Management of Digital Assets
The use and management of both text and visual digital assets are easily done with CMS platforms. Everything from editing to resizing and previewing assets, as well as pushing media and documents to the web and social channels is simplified through the use of web content management. WCM allows enterprises the vital role of smoothly and efficiently delivering customized digital experiences.

2. Utilizing All Web Properties to Publish Content
At one point having multiple marketing teams for a wide range of products and global services may have worked, it just isn’t feasible now. That approach only causes redundancy of efforts, unwanted licensing and maintenance expenses from websites built on varying platforms, and outrageous marketing team sizes.

Ideally, with the right web CMS platform content will be automatically pushed to social media, public facing sites, internal intranets and any other channel that makes sense. This smoother process is not only more streamlined and efficient, but it also keeps the brand voice consistent across multiple platforms.

3. Optimize The Use of All Data
Once you have streamlined your ability to publish content, you will want to get a better handle on how you optimize the use of all that content and the user’s experience. CMS platforms that are equipped with full support for A/B Testing, customer engagement analysis, predictions and recommendations, goal tracking, campaign tracking and other actions related to analyzing customer data and customer journey tracking will significantly improve this optimization.

Additionally, CMS platforms offering intuitive backend interfaces with integrated BI insights as well as administrative ability to utilize the insights quickly will substantially enhance the process and raise the bar even higher.

4. Integrated CMS Platforms
To your customers, your online presence is not segregated into the web, social and other silos. To them, it is one entity. So failing to integrate CRM, portals, BI, analytics and other key applications will cause you to spin your wheels in your attempts to reach your customers from all angles in your CMS platform.

The task of integration is simplified with the use of out-of-the-box connectors while easily linking existing web applications through APIs. Everything from search platforms, e-commerce, language translation, major CRMs, analytics, databases and publishing platforms easily come together.

5. Personalized and Integrated Digital Experiences
Leveraging web CMS platforms is key for any enterprise managing multiple brands and/or products. Modern CMS solutions ease the ability to deliver personalized and contextual digital experiences by simplifying the process of personalizing the design and content for landing pages, making it easier to reuse code and display separate content to different user segments.

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.

7 Web Content Management Predictions for 2016

2016 is off to a roaring start and digital experience projects are at the top of the to-do list for most organizations. The following are 7 predictions in Web Content Management for this year and how these changes will affect you.

#1 Major enterprises will move WCM to the cloud
IT has been moving infrastructure to the cloud for years however for most of that time WCM solutions remained on premise. WCM has traditionally been left behind the cloud movement for three reasons:  The first is, that while there are many WCM solutions, few were really designed for the cloud. The second reason is a lack of support for integration.  Integration with enterprise systems like CRM, customer data, inventory, ERP and others can be difficult to integrate on the cloud and outside the firewall due to infrastructure and security concerns.  The third reason is lack of real development support.

Throughout 2015, we’ve seen a major shift in CMS offerings, both Managed Services and pure Software as a Service that now handle or claim to handle these concerns in a way that allow complex WCM environments to move to the cloud.  If you’re looking to replace or improve your digital experience platform in 2016 or beyond, you need to consider deploying in the Cloud.

#2 Content as a Service will become part of the platform
Over the last couple years we’ve seen a new “flavor” of CMS pop up called “headless CMS” that were specifically created for delivering Content as a Service (CaaS.)  Content as a Service is all about delivering content completely void of presentation via an API in a pure data-based format that can be requested and presented by the consumer in a way that makes sense for that consumer. While headless repository CMS solutions covered a real need and a gap in support for single page applications and native mobile apps, they also created a new silo for content in the enterprise.  Silo’d content greatly limits re-use and always increases the amount of process and overhead required to create and manage it. This year we will see most major CMS vendors include content as a service as a core part of their platform.  In 2016 you need to question any product that cannot address this concern.  New channels and delivery mechanisms spring up all the time so your WCM needs to be able to adapt quickly.

#3 Developers will demand WCM that is easy for them
In general, CMS’s are typically good for authors but not that great for developers. Most CMS platforms prioritize the author over the developer. From extending the CMS to building functionality in your digital experience projects, most CMS platforms have only limited extension points, lack support for native developer tools and require a traditional code deployment process that takes an excessive amount of time.  This is often even more true in the cloud.  Yet great digital experience and the CMSs that support them sit at the very intersection of creativity and innovation making ease of development one of the most important attributes of any WCM.   As the demand for faster innovation continues to mount we expect developers to put their foot down and demand better development support from their WCM.

#4 A return of the hybrid native mobile application
In 2012 Facebook declared the hybrid mobile application dead.  Native apps were faster and offered superior functionality to HTML5 based hybrid mobile apps. 3 years is a lot of time in technology. The networks, content delivery platforms and the devices that we use to deliver mobile content have improved drastically. Networks are faster, browsers are faster and more importantly browser based development is MUCH cheaper and faster. Native applications will maintain certain advantages but as the technology landscape continues to evolve, old assumptions must be questioned. In 2016 Companies seeking to gain the best of both worlds along with those who have avoided native development due to costs will reconsider previous notions that only a native experience will do.

#5 Employee experience will gain similar traction as customer experience
2015 was the year of customer experience.  We all have a personal connection to the importance of a great customer experience so it’s easy to understand why customers reward it with loyalty and are in recent years, beginning to demand it! In 2016 we will see the same shift take hold around employee experience. The reasons are simple. First, our employees are also customers in their daily life.  They want the same experience at work that they have outside of work.  Second, happy, efficient employees create happy customers.

#6 False standards will lose ground
With the introduction of faster, more flexible, more scalable content persistence, businesses will question the validity of and replace slower stores based on standards like SQL and JCR  (Java Content Repository.)  Standards like SQL and JCR gain traction because as standards they offer the potential speed development by creating a widely known interface.  Standards also incentivise innovation from vendors because they offers the potential for their solutions to be plugged in and at the same time a protection from vendor lock-in for the consumer due to that very same pluggable nature.  Standards are great. No issue with standards in general!  The issue with SQL and even more so with JCR is that in the WCM space the abstractions offered by these standards are at the wrong level that offer very little in the way of support for the performance, scalability, personalization and on-the-fly big data analytics demands of today’s digital experience.  There is a growing trend towards the use of much more scalable, much more powerful document oriented stores like MongoDB, Solr, Elastic Search (and others) for WCM solutions. I expect this trend only to accelerate in 2016.

#7 Customer Data infrastructure will become a leading concern
Content is king of this there can be no doubt. However personalized content and experiences require personalized data (a lot of it) as well as on-the-fly analysis of that data.  The need to drive a consistent customer experience throughout the entire customer journey will bring customer data management as well as all of its challenges including scale, security and user privacy to the very fore-front of the conversation for major enterprises. Master “customer” data management and integration of that data with your WCM technology is clearly going to be one of the most important areas of innovation for 2016.

What emerging trends do you think we can anticipate this year? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

About the author:
Russ Danner is VP Products at Crafter Software, a leading provider of open-source web content (WCM) and digital experience (WEM) management software. Russ is responsible for product management, product development and support and client and partner success.  Russ brings over 20 years of content management, software architecture, design, and implementation experience.  Russ has been active in the Open Source community since 2005 as a community leader, contributor, trainer, speaker and user group organizer.

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.