Why It’s Time to Select a Headless and Content-as-a-Service CMS

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Believe it or not, your enterprise will soon need to move beyond the web. In fact, some companies have already made the move. So, what is stopping your enterprise from moving forward? Richard Jones, perhaps most known for his work as the technical director of Inviga, a London-based tech company specializing in content management systems, e-commerce and digital innovation recently spoke at a tech conference and offered his thoughts on the emergence of Content-as-a-Service (CaaS) and just how much it affects the creation of content. At the conference, Jones detailed how CaaS can be positioned as the digital hub of any given enterprise. Yes, even yours. But to add perspective to how to adopt CaaS and Headless CMS, it’s important to have a clearer understanding of what they are exactly. The following explanations should do just that.

Understanding CaaS and Headless CMS
CaaS refers to a use case in which the content on the web is created and written separately from the place it will be used. Its objective is that it will be consumed by a wide range of digital channels such as mobile apps, websites, social networks, virtual reality experiences, among others.

CaaS is only supported by certain, modern content management systems that provides robust APIs on the back-end. It is a component of a headless CMS. Unlike the original concept of a CMS, there is less concern about how the content will be delivered through a website’s pages, it has the single goal of providing content creators the tools to enhance their workflow to a point where content is ready to be consumed in any of a number of CaaS use cases.

Focused Content Creation
Irrespective of the technology they use, enterprises of all industries need to properly address and have a good understanding of their audience.  Not knowing the consumer is one of the biggest challenges, if not the biggest challenge for content creators. Additionally, the problem will only worsen as the Internet of Things (IoT) only gets even more embedded into the enterprise.

CaaS can enable the process of content creation for countless applications and devices. This means the content can be shaped accordingly to those likely to consume it. However, customer behavior is constantly changing – much faster than the ability of content developers have to keep up. Because of this, content creators are struggling to meet the needs of customers. There is a huge need to be innovative with the ways content is being brought to the consumer. But the questions remain, how do we present this data out to any given device? What are the possibilities and how might they change?

The Need for a Modern CMS
Organizations need CMS platforms that help them go beyond traditional static page thinking, the truth is, content creators need to think beyond pages, too.

Fueled by Mobile Apps, IoT, Virtual Reality, and other future digital channels, enterprises no longer have a choice — they must move forward despite their struggles with managing effective web presences and their natural reluctance to go beyond the web.  The sooner they make a change to a modern CMS, the better. The change is too dynamic to stop, and enterprises must jump on the bandwagon now to stay relevant and competitive.

To learn how Crafter CMS supports Content-as-a-Service and can prepare your organization for the digital future, contact us today.

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.

5 Rules for Creating Loyal Customers

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

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

#2 Make Content Engaging and Easy to Consume

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

#3 Personalize Without Being Creepy

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

#4 Reuse Content

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

#5 Be Easy to Use, Be Fast

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

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

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

6 ‘C’s for Great Customer Experience

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

#1: Contextual

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

#2 Consistent

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

#3 Conversational

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

#4 Cross-channel

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

#5 Convenient

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

#6 Cost effective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#1 Digital Marketing Investment All Enterprises Should Make

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Each year, enterprises are investing more and more in digital marketing technology, primarily due to the growing need to engage customers through multiple online channels. In fact, Gartner found that nearly two-thirds of marketers say their marketing budgets will increase in 2016. But the question on many marketers’ minds is: Where exactly should these digital marketing funds be invested?

So what is the number one digital marketing investment you should be making now?

#1 Digital Marketing Investment: A Modern Web Content Management System

Your website is still the number one digital touchpoint for your customers. And a modern Web CMS platform allows marketers to create and deliver personalized experiences, to the right person, at the right time, to the right device. This platform is vital for any enterprise, because a modern Web CMS doesn’t just manage content, but unifies the entire marketing technology ecosystem. Creating a consistent customer experience, no matter where the user is engaging with the brand.

Using a modern Web CMS to power your site could be one of the best digital marketing investments you make in 2016 – and your business. And you do need to invest – your website is the main digital touchpoint for engaging with your customers, and you want to make sure it competes in today’s era of customer engagement.

A modern Web CMS needs to marry both power and simplicity, so you can save time, money and focus on what is critical in growing your enterprise.

Here are a few key things to keep in mind when it comes to investing in the perfect Web CMS platform for your enterprise:

  • User-Friendly Content Authoring Tools – A platform that provides authors with powerful yet easy to use content authoring tools. An example of this would be, a simple drag and drop design and in-context review capabilities that anyone can use.

  • Easy Integration – You will want a modern Web CMS that can easily integrate with other best of breed technologies, including your CRM and marketing automation platforms to unite sales and marketing.

  • Multi-channel Experiences – It takes more than a responsive design to succeed in today’s multi-channel environment.  A modern Web CMS needs to be able to provide both “responsive” and “adaptive” design capabilities, and provide true multi-channel publishing.

  • High-Performance Content Delivery – So you’re able to deliver fast and highly personalized experiences to your target audiences.

  • Personalization and Content Targeting – The ability to engage your target audience with dynamic experiences that are immediately relevant to them with advanced targeting and personalization capabilities.

  • Modern Development Tools – Develop new experiences and services rapidly, by leveraging a Web CMS platform that uses leading modern development technology.

Need more information? Download our free White Paper for significant trends and principles surrounding Web CMS platforms.

3 Reasons to Upgrade to a Modern CMS

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The digital marketing world is quickly evolving as the era of engagement arrives. Customer engagement is the new marketing imperative. So as new technologies, channels and opportunities become available, enterprises are realizing the need for dramatically improved functionality, personalization, multi-channel delivery and speed from their content management systems (CMS) in order to stay competitive.

However, many enterprises still have a legacy CMS that may have been in place for a decade or more, and are in need of major upgrades or replacement.

As a result, leading enterprises are looking toward a modern CMS to create and optimize engaging digital experiences across all online channels.

3 Reasons To Ditch Your Legacy CMS

1. Support customers and their devices 

Thanks to the rise of mobile, social and cloud technologies, customers are changing the way they do business with companies. Today customers want to be to able access content and offerings anytime, anywhere and from any device or application. This has created a need for easy access to content across all online digital channels and devices. One way enterprises can engage customers is to adopt a modern CMS that allows for personalized experiences, multi-channel delivery, and blazing fast performance. After all, delivering unique experiences to every user across a multitude of channels requires robustness that yesterday’s page-based content management systems will never handle.

2. Integrating Modern Technologies

One important ingredient to a modern CMS is the ability to integrate with best of breed and modern open source software. For example, look at enterprises struggling to close the sales and marketing divide to generate leads and close sales. Traditionally they don’t use the same technologies; sales teams tend to use a CRM system to track sales opportunities, while marketing departments typically utilize marketing automation and CMS software to create and optimize digital content, promotions and experiences. However, sales and marketing must work together, and if disparate technologies do not integrate well, then bad things happen — leads are dropped, customer relationships are damaged, and revenue is lost. This insidious problem illustrates why a modern CMS that seamlessly integrates with all other enterprise software, whether on-premise or in the cloud, must be utilized to drive higher marketing efficiency, higher sales, and higher customer loyalty.

3. Personalized Customer Experiences 

To engage customers most effectively, you need to speak to them on a one-to-one basis. Not to a persona. Not to a geography. One to one.

The most innovative enterprises are now using modern CMS platforms to personalize customers’ experiences based on who they are, what they’ve been searching for, sales history, social media engagement, what’s in their cart, and so forth. Market leading enterprises can even use this information to choose which products and/or services to promote based on profitability. As a result, they have a higher conversion rates, higher margins, and more satisfied customers.

Need more information on how to upgrade your legacy CMS? Email us at info@craftersoftware.com or visit us our website at craftersoftware.com.

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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.

Web Experience Management for the Content Connected Enterprise

The following Guest Blog was written by Emily Long, Marketing Manager, Zia Consulting.

Learn how your organization can have Web Content and Experience Management that fits in to its overall content management strategy in a way that allows your teams to “work the way they do, using the tools they use today,” so users aren’t forced to use alternatives that don’t fit the company’s IT strategy.

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Crafter: Built on Alfresco

As a fully open source platform, we built Crafter to fully leverage leading open source software, including Apache Solr for search, FreeMarker for templating, and the Spring Framework for enterprise Java application development and integration.

Most significantly, we also built Crafter on Alfresco, the leading open platform for content management.  So naturally, one of the most frequently asked questions we get is: what features does Crafter provide, and what does Alfresco provide?

To help answer this question, we developed the following infographic to highlight all of the main capabilities of the Crafter Web content and experience solution, and to distinguish all of the features provided by both the Crafter application and the underlying Alfresco content platform.  Let us know what you think!

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