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.

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.

Avoiding Website Performance Bottlenecks

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In a world where multitasking is more prevalent than ever, enterprises are asking more and more from their websites. Unable to keep up, site functionality is exploding while optimization is falling flat. And it’s not only e-commerce sites that are failing at performance. Industries of all types are experiencing web performance bottlenecks caused by slow page load times and sluggish user interaction.

Whether it’s the hefty amount of images, plugins or JavaScript getting fancier, it is clear that some major factors are interrupting the flow of website optimization. With site functionality only continuing to get more complex, resource requests dramatically increasing, and the growing trend toward personalized experiences, performance is taking a huge hit.  Unfortunately, this trend is negatively affecting user retention – ultimately affecting your enterprise’s bottom line.

Yet considering how important a website can be for any given enterprise, it seems only natural to take the extra care to ensure the website is not only running fast from the desktop site but from a mobile perspective too. The number of websites still not optimized for a mobile experience is astounding.

People Are in a Hurry Even When They Are Sitting On Their Couch

In the fast-paced era we live in, anything more than three seconds for a page to load is too long. Studies show that potentially upwards of 50% of users click off the site if the page takes too long. Additionally, 30% will jump ship if a shopping cart isn’t optimized for mobile.

This leads to lost sales, competitors winning over your customers, and overall missed opportunities. When you consider the the number of visitors, your average revenue per customer taking into account your attainable conversion rate, and then subtract everything lost from a website bounce rate of 40% when your site loads slowly, you can quantify the amount of lost revenue pretty quickly.

Increase Brand Engagement

Your brand will be much more likable if you offer an equally satisfying, personalized experience for both mobile and desktop sites. Whether a user visits your site from their smartphone or desktop, the experience should be optimized for functionality and brand consistency, so it fosters trust and affinity with your users. Most users regularly go between devices so if you are not able to provide what they need than they are more likely to go to a competitor rather than wait until they get back to their desktop to make a purchase. Not optimizing your site results in lost opportunities and losing customers permanently to competitors.

Optimize Your Site, and Business will Grow

To keep your users engaged and continuously coming back, you need to optimize your site performance and a modern content delivery solution is the most effective way to pull this off. Despite many performance optimization techniques manually performed by developers, hand-coding pages for performance is specialized, time-consuming work. When it comes to intensely involved sites with hundreds to even thousands of dynamic components per page, this can be an eternal task. As both browser requirements and page requirements continue to develop the work can seem never ending.

Therefore, consistently faster page loads and a more reliable site starts with a blazing fast content delivery platform. We built the world’s fastest dynamic content delivery solution with Crafter Engine, which now serves some of the largest and fastest sites on the globe.

Think your website performance needs a boost? Contact us at info@craftersoftware.com for guidance or download our white paper Building and Optimizing Multi-Channel Web Experiences to learn more!

The Future is Now: Virtual Reality Transforming Retail

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When it comes to brick and mortar retail, every inch of retail space is crucial to keep the business booming. So it’s no wonder that Happy Family, an organic children’s food manufacturer, decided to turn to virtual reality to help them gather data from 800 shoppers. Turns out this method isn’t just working for them, but it’s working for many other retailers too. It’s quickly becoming the future of retail with an international reach.

While it may seem somewhat futuristic, the truth is scenarios in which using virtual reality are beneficial, isn’t that far reaching. Combining virtual and augmented reality are already transforming major retail locations in every way — from the aisles, to store design and signage.

The Difference Between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Sometimes augmented reality and virtual reality are used interchangeably. However, there are significant differences that you need to know when using or discussing these technologies. Augmented reality is a blend of real life and virtual reality. In other words, the consumer is still in touch with the real world around them, yet interacts with virtual elements. Virtual reality, on the other hand, transforms the user into a different world. Goggles or some type of headset are required for experiencing virtual reality.

Virtual Reality is Here to Stay

Virtual reality is not just a hot technology item for gamers, and from the data, it doesn’t appear as if virtual reality is just a fad. While VR has been around for a long time, it has matured to something that benefits our work and home lives in addition to being fun for entertainment purposes.

With virtual reality constantly improving, it’s time for retailers to honestly consider adding the technology to the way they do business. It’s already been proven that brands who have embraced virtual reality have attracted a wider user base. In a world where technology is constantly evolving, consumers are continuously demanding more from brands. Keeping up with technology is how brands can stay among and ahead of their competition. Consumers are beginning to expect virtual and augmented reality as they do their online shopping.

V-Commerce is the Next Step

Clearly, a complete move to v-commerce is what lies ahead. Although the idea of new hardware may seem overwhelming to businesses, it really shouldn’t be. The concept is constantly evolving as is the equipment.  Because of this, there are multiple options with devices at different price points and even applications that allow smartphones to use augmented reality and virtual reality.

With this omni-channel strategy, consumers will be able to do everything from trying on clothes to looking at products or ingredients. With this technology, retailers will be able to deliver an in-store experience to users shopping online. The scenarios for using virtual reality are endless and the benefits for business success are priceless. From up-selling to cross-selling, virtual reality will allow consumers to engage more with the products and will help to create a much more personal experience. This will in turn, increase sales – a reality every business owner can get behind.

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.

 

User Experience: The Single Most Important Element of a Web CMS

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Because it affects how efficient your team works, it can be argued that the single most important element of a web content management solution is the interface used by the editorial team. If the user interface is meager, than the speed at which your team works will be slow, the quality of content produced will be lacking, and traffic to your site will ultimately drop.

Usability all comes down to the web CMS features. There are some features that will come second nature to your editorial team while others will be obtuse. Overall, a system that is user-friendly and embraces the most casual content editor is one that will make your editorial team most productive.  Likewise, you will be pleased because your team will be more efficient and more productive on a system that most closely matches user experiences they are comfortable with.

That said, when it comes to evaluating a new web CMS solution, a few key usability features that all clients should look for include:

Performance of the Editor’s Console: The fastest way to aggravate your users is to have a slow system. If the interface gets stuck or isn’t responsive during the workflow process, it will quickly cause frustration. This will, in turn, cause a lack of confidence in the entire system, and ultimately lead to a breakdown in adoption and use.

Window Management, Lightboxes and Transparency: Those who used a CMS solution in the late ‘90s may remember the annoying pop-ups. From editing an article using the in-context tool to adding a link, the constant pop-ups seemed endless. Now, interfaces that use JavaScript Lightboxes are much simpler because all edits are kept in the same window. This preferred solution is faster and keeps edits in the right order. Additionally, transparency is important.

In-Context Editing: Rather than the traditional model of opening a window to edit a full piece of content, this new feature allows for a faster, more intuitive style of editing. Users simply click on the article title and it becomes a text field for simple adjustment. Streamlining the editing process is a win for everyone.

Contemporary Design Features: Keeping the designs fresh and contemporary as possible is an ongoing task for CMS design teams. Whether it’s the simple features of rounded corners or the distinct single- and double-clicking responses, these distinctions are what make interacting with the software so valuable to editors.

Each organization has its own internal culture, from the work attitude to the comfort level with digital user interfaces. The best way for you to make the right decision for your digital content group is to try a CMS solution firsthand. Once you use it, you will see how it will work for you and your team. Contact us at Crafter to answer any questions you may have about a web content management solution for your enterprise, or to start a free trial today.

The Pros and Cons of a SaaS CMS

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A Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Web Content Management System (CMS) exists in a multi-tenant, fully cloud hosted and managed environment. Pricing for a SaaS Web CMS is usually based on a per-user and/or per-site basis that usually incorporates a baseline amount of data transfer (i.e., bandwidth to and from your site) and storage (for your content). SaaS CMS is not to be confused with Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), which is a single tenant system that requires more maintenance but also enables much more customization. Also don’t confuse SaaS with a “Managed Services” cloud solution for a CMS that is just a regular on-premise CMS deployment that may run on cloud infrastructure and be managed by a third-party, but provides none of the cost, agility and scalability benefits of a SaaS approach.

In this post, we will focus on SaaS. The following list of pros and cons will help you make the best decision for your enterprise.

Pros of a SaaS Web CMS:

1. Costs are kept Low

Because SaaS CMS is based on a subscription model, users are not faced with a large licensing fee upfront. In most cases a SaaA CMS project entails a small setup fee which covers the cost of a basic implementation.

2. IT Staff Unburdened

Your internal IT staff will no longer feel the burden when a support issue arises. Instead your SaaS vendor will take care of any issue, and typically at no additional cost. Also, upgrades and maintenance are automatically done by the SaaS vendor.

3. Accessible

SaaS CMS is a virtual product which means it can usually be accessed from any computer, tablet, or mobile device as long as an internet connection is available.

4. Easily Add-On More Users and More Sites

With a SaaS model, you can easily add new users as your team grows, and as your content needs grow. Similarly, adding more sites is as easy a click of the button as you want to spin up new sites — microsites, campaign sites, landing pages, etc. With a multiple-user and multi-site model, your price depends on the number of users and sites with access to the system. So you are only paying for what you use.

5. Up-to-Date Software

With SaaS you can count on new features being added in real time. The latest features and innovation are typically available to all users at no additional costs.

6. Security

As your SaaS vendor handles all the development and QA, you never need to worry about malware or buggy add-ons to the CMS. If the SaaS vendor releases it as a feature add-on, you can feel confident that it won’t expose your site to security threats of any kind.

7. Support Included

Support is included in the SaaS subscription so you can rest assured that any issues will be addressed promptly and effectively. With a multi-tenant architecture, if an issue is affecting one customer, then it’s probably affecting all customers. So the SaaS vendor is extra motivated to resolve all reported issues promptly and effectively. This also means you benefit from issues found by other users of the SaaS CMS, leading to a more robust CMS for all.

8. Implementation Speed

Launching a new website is faster than ever since the CMS is already deployed in its underlying cloud infrastructure. There is no setup and configuration for your Dev, QA, and Production sites. As a result, a SaaS CMS is much faster than traditional web and mobile app development.

Cons of a SaaS Web CMS:

1. Internal Control

Because IT departments are so used to have complete control, it can take a second to get used to a new system where  SaaS CMS platforms are built and housed in cloud infrastructure.

2. Subscription Fee

There are “free” and “freemium” systems available so it can be startling at first for smaller enterprises to choose a model with a fee. However it is up to you to decide if the value of the SaaS platform is worth it to your business.  Keep in mind the subscription costs include support too.

3. Closed Development

SaaS CMS platforms are typically proprietary systems that are under complete control of the vendor, and so they don’t allow for the benefits of an open source type development model. Crafter Cloud is one major exception in the industry, as it is a SaaS CMS solution that benefits from the open source development of Crafter CMS. Also, a SaaS solution does not allow for heavy customization (e.g., does not allow back-end code changes) because a multi-tenant infrastructure is, by its very nature, shared across all users. Again, Crafter Cloud is one major exception in the industry, as we provide a unique, secure, isolated development environment based on the Groovy scripting language that enables all kinds of custom development, all without sacrificing the benefits of a SaaS model. So your enterprise can deliver truly unique, branded, personalized experiences.

SaaS CMS solution can be ideal for certain applications and not so great for others, but it is up to you to consider the needs for your team and enterprise when determining different CMS options to find the solution that best fits your project.  Not one CMS platform is the universal choice for all websites and mobile apps, but a true SaaS CMS makes a strong case in most projects nowadays, so be sure you include it in your list of options.

To learn more about Crafter Cloud, the the groundbreaking SaaS Web CMS, visit craftercloud.io. If you need help determining which CMS approach is best for your organization, contact us directly or reach out to one of our certified consulting partners.

The Science of Personalization

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Most successful businesses strive to give customized and personalized experience to their customers. As a tech-savvy society, we have grown accustomed to services that take into account our interests and preferences to the point where anything less is simply unacceptable.

Fortunately, for marketers, modern technology has made it easier than ever to personalize home pages, landing pages, CTAs, and emails to better reach customers and mold them to anyone engaging with it.  The psychology behind personalization is fascinating and understanding it can improve your marketing techniques and the success rate at which you reach your customers.

Why Personalized Experiences?
Researchers out of the University of Texas took a closer look as to why personalized experiences are necessary and came up with the two biggest factors that play into our desire for personalized experiences; they include: a desire for control and information overload.

Starting with the desire for control, customers like personalization because they feel that they are getting something different than everyone else. For that reason alone, their sense of control is satisfied. While viewing personalized content on a site page isn’t actually causing your customers to make a choice of their own, the perception of having some level of control with the content in which they are engaging, is satisfying.  This sense of control is quite powerful and results in positive effects on the psyche.  After all, who doesn’t feel better when they are in control? That’s not rocket science.

When it comes to information overload, the study discovered that customers prefer personalized experiences because it helps reduce the amount of information they receive. The reduction of information overload lets customers only see the content that is tailored specifically for them – leaving out the content that they (probably) don’t want to see anyway. With personalization, customers aren’t presented with thousands of resources that they need to sort through to find appropriate for them. Instead, the content is presented in a way which is designed exclusively for them, so they never have to feel bombarded or “overloaded” with information.

Relevance is a MUST
The key, however, is to let your customers know they are receiving personalized information. Besides their name in an email, this can be somewhat difficult. After all, if someone is not aware they are engaging with personalized content, then the above-mentioned feeling of being in control and having reduced information overload may seem pointless. Yet, giving people personalization regardless of them being aware of it or not, is completely worth it, and in fact, necessary for the success of your business. It all has to do with your customer’s’ brain reticular activating system (RAS) – the gateway that information is passed through to get to your brain. It’s the filtering system that information goes through and helps us decide what we should and shouldn’t pay attention to.

To make this a little easier to understand, consider the concepts of “selective attention” or “selective hearing.” The ability to focus on some information while simultaneously ignoring others is controlled by the RAS.  Because of that, your customers will naturally orient to information and content they are interested in.

What’s in a Name?
A person’s name is one of the easiest sounds for the RAS to hone in on. So, when you use your customers’ names in various settings, it triggers a unique reaction in their brain. More specifically, hearing, or in the case of online content, seeing their name, triggers greater brain activation, particularly in the middle frontal cortex (most associated with social behavior). Additionally, the middle and superior temporal cortex (associated with long-term memory and auditory processing) are also triggered leaving your customers feeling fulfilled and attended to.

The best way to use this knowledge to the benefit of your business is to start using personalization in all your online digital channels.  One of the best ways enterprises can do this is to have a modern CMS that can automatically target your brand’s audience at any time, on any device and at any location. This will make it possible for marketers to easily connect and engage with customers. Allowing for not only a deeper connection but an increase in brand loyalty and ROI.

When you utilize smart content and technology, there’s absolutely no limit to your marketing abilities!

8 Innovative Web Design Elements That Drive Revenue

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Website design is evolving so quickly that if your site is more than two years old, it’s probably time for an update. Keeping up with these rapidly changing internet technologies can be tough, but with 68% of all Americans owning smartphones, systems like mobile marketing are a requirement for success on the web. Your consumers demand a modern design optimized for mobile, and the future of your company depends on it. The following are a few other elements required for modern web design worthy of your consideration this year.

1. CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (CMS)

Although CMS have been around for over two decade, they are still the most popular and most versatile way to allow for easy updates to your website content. With CMS, no technical coding skills are required because many systems provide the ability to easily drag and drop elements to easily create basic design changes.

There are many CMS platforms but Crafter Software is the difference your company has been seeking.  Crafter offers an open source, agile, and modern Java-based alternative to closed, proprietary WCM solutions from Oracle, Adobe, HP, OpenText, Documentum, and others.  And Crafter provides a much higher performance solution when compared to other open source solutions that are tightly coupled and based on SQL databases or JCR (e.g. Apache Jackrabbit) repositories.  Crafter leverages best of breed free and open source software, including the Alfresco content platform, the Spring Framework, Freemarker Templating Language, Bootstrap, Google Analytics and Apache Solr.

Keep in mind when considering a CMS platform that site speed is crucial for search and your web design should be properly optimized for it. A slow website will turn your current customers and potential customers away. Because of the importance of site load times on smartphones and tablets, having a responsive design is a must.

2. RESPONSIVE DESIGN

Making a responsive website is essential.  Mobile commerce is now 30% of all e-commerce with over $400 billion in revenue generated each year. Because of this, it’s safe to say that over half of your website traffic comes from mobile devices. Keeping your site load times at a minimum is as important as ever. If your site loads too slowly and customers have a difficult time viewing your site – especially on their smartphone or tablet – they may move on to a competitor’s site.

3. BUSINESS BLOG

A business blog is a great way for you to present relevant content to your audience while giving them a reason to continually come back to your site. It educates your customers and prospects with an opportunity to build trust and a relationship with your brand and business.

Because the blog content needs to be fresh and relevant, it’s smart to begin blogging when you have the time to devote to the long-term commitment. If now is not the right time to start, don’t wait too long. Your competition could be blogging and over time this will work against you while you wait, they will be gaining valuable market share, referrals, inbound links, and of course, customers.

4. SOCIAL MEDIA SHARING

Promoting your business via social media is a given. And, if you have a business blog, there’s no better way to reach your target audience than by promoting it on social media like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. In addition to promoting your content, social media is a great place for your customers and site visitors to connect and share your information.

Trust is important when promoting on social media, so be sure to take time to share relevant information to targeted audiences who will be interested and most likely to share. Avoid spam posts, they will only annoying people.

5. CONTENT PERSONALIZATION

Creating personalized content for your buyer personas will help increase conversions for your website. One great example of a site that shows just how content personalization works is overstock.com. Once you’ve created an account on the site, you will notice products you have shown interest in are recorded. By watching your behavior, the site is able to suggest and promote similar products.

6. CONVERSION PROCESS

The conversion process begins on the landing page. The sole purpose of a landing page is to convert visitors into leads. Your landing page can promote offers, be an opportunity to get site visitor information, offer whitepapers, ebooks, guides and other information.

Be wary of where you try to convert your website visitors into leads. Doing so at too many spots in the buyer’s journey can actually turn them away as they many find it obnoxious to be required to include contact information in order to simply get access to your website’s content.

You can work around this by promoting free offers that require no forms. By giving your visitors an option to see your site and become educated about your business while being exposed to your ideas, they can make the decision to subscribe further.

7. EMAIL MARKETING & NURTURING

After you have converted leads, you will want to offer additional content that they might find useful. By doing this, you are essentially hooking them and nurturing them throughout their buying journey. Email marketing is the best way to stay in touch and provide content that is useful to them. Again, you do not want to spam them or over email. Keeping their trust and building that relationship is key. Segmenting your leads by persona type and by stage in the buyer’s experience can help make your email marketing efforts more effective.

8. CONTACTS DATABASE AND CRM

For the best result in both sales and marketing, integrate your website with a contacts database. You will be able to store contact information for all leads and customers. You will also be able to store important information about how your contacts are interacting with your site pages, email marketing, and offers. This invaluable information can be used to create offers to your customers and leads at the most opportune times.

Integrating your contacts database with your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform allows your sales team to gain insights to each lead and where they are in their buying experience.

TAKEAWAYS

Websites are constantly evolving and are becoming more complex every day. Technology empowers customers in every part of the buying experience while also empowering businesses to provide better and unique user experiences. By embracing it, you give your company a better advantage over the competition and stay current with the latest trends.