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.

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/

The Rise of Virtual Reality Experiences

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When Facebook bought virtual reality company Oculus in early 2014, virtual reality blew up. Now users can experience anything, anywhere through the power of this new medium. Whether they are painting a picture with a virtual reality paint brush, walking through a building that has not yet been built, or enjoying their favorite video game in a more realistic light, virtual reality has changed technology as we know it.

As it becomes more mainstream, the virtual reality trend is becoming more and more popular – especially among a core, technology savvy subset, namely gamers. And, they are willing to pay for it. A recent study done by Newzoo indicates that 11% of people in 12 western countries are considering purchasing virtual reality gear by the end of the year. Already, the awareness of consumer virtual reality is higher than the average consumer may even expect. With viral videos displaying the possibilities, and individuals discovering for themselves how user-friendly the hardware is, the response is growing.

According to the insights shared in the Newzoo report, consumers are willing and prepared to spend some serious dough on VR products. High-end virtual reality hardware ($600 and more) has been available since the beginning of the year for pre-order and sales will inevitably skyrocket towards the holidays. The Newzoo report suggests that an unexpected 16% of Spaniards, 12% of Americans and 10% of British are stating their interest to purchase VR equipment in the next six months.

This year, virtual reality has made its way into the consumer marketplace where even the most inexperienced user can test it out and get a feeling for this progressive medium. Although in most cases virtual reality hardware is pricey, eventually it will become more affordable and lend itself to create endless options for businesses and individuals alike. Much like the iPod or iPhone back in the early 2000s, new and affordable virtual reality options are on the horizon. The virtual reality hardware we have today is unquestionably the best and most affordable VR technology of its kind. Yet, the opportunities for what’s to come are even greater (with growing potential) than anything we have seen up to this point.

So what does this mean for your enterprise? Although, in some ways, virtual reality has just arrived, there are already countless opportunities for your company to jump on the prospects. We built Crafter CMS to deliver high-performance, unique digital experiences across all online channels. And we are certain that virtual reality is the next big digital channel.

If you are interested in learning more about the current state of virtual reality or how the award-winning Crafter CMS platform can help your enterprise create virtual reality experiences, give us a shout.

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!

#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.

Drawing and Illustrating your Content Strategy Success!

Drawing is the ‘bones’ of art. You have to be able to walk before you can run. ~ Dion Archibald

Drawings and illustrations are two of the most common types of visual arts and the backbone of art. The first one involves observation, problem solving and composition. The second helps people further understand and visualize the accompanying textual content. When creating both, creativity, passion and perseverance are a must!

Just like in drawing and illustrating, creating content strategy combines the same principles. To achieve content strategy success, many tasks have to be planned and aligned. Continue reading

Enterprise’s Marketing Engine

A Modern Web CMS: Today’s Digital Marketing Engine

Engagement with customers and potential clients through digital marketing is easy to say but hard to achieve. There are numerous techniques that have emerged and digital marketers need most of them in order to develop a successful strategy for their enterprise.

Just as crucial as a modern car’s engine, a modern Web CMS is serves as the motor and heart of every enterprise that wants to succeed with digital marketing. All of the planning and execution of digital marketing can be more efficient and effective.

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Optimizing the Customer Experience through Personalization and Behavioral Targeting

In today’s Digital Era, enterprises need to personalize their content in order to maximize customer engagement. Without compromising trust (and without being “creepy”), organizations should pay attention to their customer’s behavior to the greatest extent possible.

Content personalization enables the dynamic delivery of customized content—anticipating what the user will benefit from – and enhancing the overall visitor experience.

Without personalization, the Web is static – where the same content is presented for every web site visitor. That is so 1999.

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