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.

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.

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.

Is Your Enterprise’s Website Working?

“Is my website working?” In many, the answer is a resounding “no!” The good news is website analytics make it fairly easy to regularly rate your website’s performance. So, by simply taking a closer look, you can make the necessary changes for it to function efficiently.

For starters, you will need to begin by establishing benchmarks to conclude if your website is meeting your goals. Be it 10,000 more visitors a month or a day you’re looking for, the following are factors you will need to consider when creating these benchmarks.

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1.) How New is Your Site?

As you know, the digital marketplace is a pretty big beast, so don’t be surprised if it takes your new website some time to gain momentum. By setting benchmarks to gauge your progress, Google Analytics can help you measure how quickly you get there. While it may be tempting to set lofty goals, try to stay reasonable. For example, if you have a big sale in May, your visitor count may be much higher than in say June or July.  Keeping track of your analytics will help you keep it all in perspective.

2.) Are People Aware of Your Site?

Marketing strategies such as paid search and SEO can work wonders to improve the visibility of your site and help you gain more visitors. Brand awareness plays a big role here too. Name recognition will bring more consumers to your site and, in turn, increase sales. If you invest in these marketing strategies, you are more likely to see significant results.

3.) What is the Main Purpose for Your Website?

Simply put, is your website primarily intended for marketing, generation of revenue via traffic or for e-commerce? The analytics for these two are as different as their primary purpose. Websites heavy on content such as blogs, ebooks and other publications rely on traffic and customer engagement because of the correlation between hits and revenue. Page hits don’t matter as much to e-commerce sites because they rely heavily on conversions for success.

4.) Keep Your Ear to the Ground

Although it might seem archaic in our technology-first world, don’t underestimate the power of real life conversation and simply ask your customers about your site. You can gain some real insights that algorithms and analytics may not be able to identify. Asking a quick question or two can go far.

Is your website working for you? Let Crafter Software help you get better results. Crafter CMS delivers what no other enterprise Web CMS can because it’s built like no other CMS in its class. Crafter CMS combines user-friendliness, powerful enterprise features, and the highest performance on the planet.  So you’re able to easily deliver blazing fast, highly personalized digital experiences to your audience.

For more information head to http://www.craftersoftware.com/

 

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.

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.

Crafter Software Recognizes Top Community Contributors

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Crafter Software has had an incredible year of producing innovative technology and enabling digital business transformation for organizations globally. This year, we are thrilled to acknowledge the excellent performance and notable achievements of our top community members

The strength of open source software is the community of people who collaborate and contribute. This year we recognize the top community contributors for outstanding contributions of enhancements, fixes and community participation.

Top community contributors for the Crafter CMS open source platform are:

Want more information about Crafter CMS, the most modern open source Java-based platform for crafting personalized digital experiences at blazing speed? Visit craftercms.org for more info and free downloads!