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.

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/

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.

Digital Customer Experience Must Be More than Meets the Eye

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Today’s distracted, preoccupied, and unpredictable customers carry their high customer experience expectations with them as they effortlessly move across their devices and touchpoints. Customers are beginning to demand a unified experience from every company with which they do business.

In the age of the customer, digital transformation is as important as ever. Web features and functionality, design, native mobile apps vs. mobile web, etc. are all features in which we naturally think of in terms of improving the digital customer experience. Yet, everyone is working to improve the front-end experience, so it’s up to you to not only keep up, but raise the bar.

Online retailers such as Zappos and Netflix are obsessed with ensuring a great customer experience in both their behaviors as well as the digital experience. Large organizations like these have a lot of resources to invest in customer experience.  But what about the lesser-known companies that have worked just as hard, if not harder, to create a great digital experience for their customers? Consider New Belgium Brewing a company out of Fort Collins, Colorado. The company is owned entirely by its employees and their non-traditional business approach goes to their customer service as well.  This small beverage company is driving substantial company growth through their digital success. Because they invested in the front and back end and created a new website, as well as launched a new mobile site so their biggest fans could order directly from their phones,  they have seen tremendous revenue and profit growth. Since the employees own the company they are as invested as ever in ensuring it succeeds, keeping customer service on point, is a big part of that.

As an organization you may be thinking, that’s great for those companies, but how should my company invest in the future? One easy yet important place to start is to focus on two dimensions of your marketing: the digital customer experience and digital operational excellence.  You must figure out what you need to improve by leveraging data, assessing existing touch points from the perspective of your customers, and by giving your customers a more personal experience and reaching out to them.

Additionally, consider redesigning the experience you currently offer by adopting a proven user-centered design process.  You should be consistently assessing opportunities and restraints of devices and touch points, while continuing to enhance, test and understand your customers.

With your brand in mind, ensure the digital experience you offer your customers supports your objectives and supports the overall experience and ecosystem of the company. It should create metrics based on your business goals while unifying the overall customer experience in a seamless approach.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, due to the importance digital has in driving customer experience, as well as the major impact it has on company growth, your company should do whatever it takes for digital mastery. Each business should focus on their own set of customer needs, competition, and capabilities that lie internally.

It’s important to keep in mind that businesses should pursue both digital customer experience and digital operational excellence simultaneously. One is not more important than the other and both are critical to improving the customer experience.  By implementing these practical ideas you can make big impacts on both your business and your 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.

3 Can’t Miss Trends On Why Your Company Needs A Web Experience Management System

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As the internet landscape changes, adapting to new trends is not only necessary, but crucial to effectively engaging with clients and prospects. More than ever, in this age of engagement, we are expected to communicate with friends, leads, customers, critics and fans on their terms – be it their schedule, language, location, or optimizing for their device. Consistently the line between on-line and off-line is blurring, and the experience immersive.

The most recent trends that are swiftly defining the need for Web experience management include social, personal and mobile growth. While each of the trends individually play a significant role in user experience, they also successfully work together, emphasizing one another in a way that is fast-tracking the trends entirely.

The following are the three most fundamental trends driving your company’s need for Web Experience Management and why adapting to them is vital to the life of your business.

1) Social
Gone are the days of online anonymity. The Web is a place to be social, engaging, and community-driven. With over 900 million reported Facebook users and an estimated 150 million Twitter users, social media is ubiquitous and consumers are looking to the personal aspects of the internet to help them make their decisions. Studies show that although only 14% of consumers trust traditional advertisement, a whopping 78% trust peer recommendations such as those on Twitter and Facebook. The personal and relevant communication driven by peers leaves no question as to why social trends are so significant.

2) Personal
While the web is vast and continuously growing, it is also evolving users to become more local and personal with their experience. Today the internet delivers news, reviews, sales and services to users in real-time. Information can be personalized to each individual according to their personal choices and desires. The internet is consistently making the world smaller by personalizing user experience and increasing the information available to each of us.

3) Mobile
Users go from their desktops and notebooks to tablets and phones without skipping a beat. The Web is constantly at users’ fingertips thanks to the growth of mobile access. Users are always on or can be within seconds. While there are 6.8 billion people in the world, an estimated 4.7 billion people have access to the internet via mobile device. Whether standing in line at a coffee shop or taking a selfie atop Mount Fuji, mobile devices are giving users access to the internet at any time in any place.

Because these trends are in the forefront of the current user experience, your audience has easily grown accustomed to them. Therefore, meeting the demands of a new era of engagement means personalizing a coherent and consistent customer experience. Regardless if your audience steps into your store, logs on to your Facebook page or peruses your website, they expect uniformity. Adopting the changes associated with these trends should be on your short-list of priorities, even if it means tackling the job with limited resources. An effective strategy along with the right tools, can help you get the Web experience that engages your audience and keeps them coming back.

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.

Content.gov 2015 Recap: Taking Back Control Over Content

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Content.gov 2015 brought together industry experts, IT leadership and developers with extensive implementation experience who gathered to exchange ideas and explore best practices on managing content and documents digitally. Attendees learned from experts with extensive practical experience garnered from large real-world enterprise content management implemented into the public sector.

“Document management done well can bring order to an increasing volume of electronic documents, help organizations meet legal and regulatory compliance requirements, and reduce paper documentation.” Apoorv Durga, Analyst, Real Story Group.

This event showcased the undeniable growth of content and how new opportunities can emerge, especially in the public sector. One example illustrating this is the large growing number of content, documents and processes moving online. The government has the perfect opportunity now to build a better work environment through a modern, user-friendly and collaborative multi-channel application that allows for faster, convenient access to the growing volume of content. This approach will enable the public sector to become more effective and efficient, in organizing, securing, processing, and locating all of their content.

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Russ Danner, VP, Products, Crafter Software

Each year Alfresco’s Content.gov conference attracts leading vendors in the enterprise content management  space.  Crafter Software sponsored the event to share our expert knowledge on Web Experience Management solutions, and to demo Crafter CMS – our modern award-winning Web CMS platform solution for Alfresco, that allows organizations to build and manage rich online experiences on the web, mobile, social, and all digital online channels.

At the start of the event, attendees sat and listened to the to the first talk on “Modernizing Today’s Business” by Doug Dennerline, CEO at Alfresco. During his speech, Mr. Dennerline pointed out how enterprises can benefit in a number of ways by having all of their content stored digitally and located in one centralized place.

Next up were keynote speeches from Directors, Senior Architects, Program Managers, CIOs and VPs, with one common mission in mind: to show how companies can gain control over their content with a digital solution.

Lisa Haralampus, Director of the Federal Records Management Policy Section, Office of the Chief Records Officer for the U.S. Government, NARA, was truly passionate about document management. Her talk emphasized how large the government can be and made a simple point to explain that a one size fits all approach does not fit all in the public sector. She also conveyed the need to archive and classify all of the nations important documents and communications within National Archives and Records Administration. This is where Alfresco helps to solve this issue with their simple, smart and secure technology allowing the NARA to enforce the policies of Managing Government Records Directive in a way that is secure and easy, allowing stakeholders to access information across all departments.

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Candid shot of the Executive Panel Discussion

At the conclusion of keynote speeches, Alfresco and FedScoop held an executive panel discussion to answer questions and address key topics in the IT Government community related to solutions to manage all documents and content in a digital solution.

Event Summary: Intimate event hosted by Alfresco with ample time to talk with industry experts, IT leadership, developers and vendors, about enterprise content management in the public sector. Plus, the great location and food made for a relaxed learning environment.

Like to learn more about enterprise and web content management in the public sector? Check out Crafter CMS or email us at info@craftersoftware.