Todays’ marketing, e-commerce and business teams need to deliver inspiring content to their customers, regardless of which channel or device they may be on. Headless content management systems (CMS) have partially met this need, enabling content orchestration to occur independent of which channel requires that content. However, the areas where a pure-play headless CMS comes up short are more than addressed in today’s hybrid CMS. The hybrid CMS offers the complete solution, enabling companies to have the best of both worlds - a headless CMS and a “head on” (coupled or decoupled) CMS - to operate in any type of DX ecosystem and architecture, and without sacrificing the power of easy to use, enterprise-class capabilities that are expected from a traditional CMS yet difficult to find in pure-play headless CMS solutions.
The following infographic provides the story as to why the hybrid CMS will dominate digital experience creation in the coming years as part of a digital experience platform and DX ecosystem, including:
- The new market reality: Then vs. Now
- 3 things companies need to do in this new reality.
- How a hybrid CMS will meet digital experience needs, both today and in the future.
The New Market Reality
There’s no doubt that customers’ buying behavior has changed over the years, and this change has created a new market reality that opens up many opportunities for companies to turn customers into lifelong fans. This new reality can be defined by five areas which specifically impact content management:
- Buying Decisions: The number of functions and individuals on a buying team has increased. A Harvard Business Review article indicates that “the number of people involved in B2B solution purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today”. [source] The complexity of the buying process has been a major contributor to this increase in the buying team, as individuals spend more time learning about a greater number of buying choices. Vendors need to get more personalized and prescriptive content to their buyers, no matter what channel their buyers may be using.
- Buyers’ Research: Historically, buyers depended greatly on sales people as their predominant source of vendor insight. Now buyers spend upwards of 45% of their buying time conducting both online and offline research without even speaking to a sales person. [source] Therefore it is incumbent upon vendors to make their content available wherever buyers may be, and to personalize that content whenever possible.
- Buyers Want it Now! Not only is it important for vendors to make personalized content available wherever buyers may be, they need to ensure that this content is readily accessible. For example, 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. [source] And as the quantity of interactive images, shoppable videos and other types of visually stimulating content increases across different channels, load time will become a greater factor in information access.
- The Buyers’ Experiences must be Personalized: 73% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. [source] Therefore, AI-driven personalization needs to be at the heart of digital experiences to meet and exceed these expectations; and a next generation hybrid CMS as part of a digital experience platform (DXP) will achieve this goal.
- Purchases are Made on Many Devices: It is commonplace to move between our laptop, mobile device, wearable device and other channels and devices as we gather information about a purchase and finalize the transaction. Therefore, vendors need to ensure they can orchestrate content across all of these touchpoints for a connected omnichannel journey.
What do Companies Need to do in This New Market Reality?
Three strategies will help companies to turn their customers into lifelong fans:
- Create an Emotional Connection to your Customers: Product and price had historically been significant contributors to buyers’ purchase decisions; however, in today’s hyper-competitive environment coupled with the 5 drivers mentioned in the previous section, it is more important than ever for brands to establish an emotional connection to their audience. Today’s digital technology makes it possible for business users to easily add more lively and interactive experiences that engage, build trust and drive revenue; for example:
- Interactive images
- Shoppable videos
- AI-powered personalization for delivering individualized experiences
- Inspire Customers at Critical Touchpoints: Time spent by buyers on product research, both consumer and B2B, has increased, not to mention the number of devices used to complete this research and related transactions regardless of where these buyers may be. For example, 80% of shoppers used a mobile phone inside of a physical store to either look up product reviews, compare prices or find alternative store locations. [source] Vendors need to leverage technology and content to connect with these customers, delivering inspiring and relevant content that will meet and exceed their needs. For example, delivering product research to customers who are deep into the buying process to help them make purchasing decisions. Use of a hybrid CMS, with its headless CMS architecture, coupled with AI-driven personalization will enable business users to accomplish this objective.
- Connect Experiences Across Touchpoints for a Unified Customer Journey: Enabling content to be leveraged by any touchpoint using a headless CMS is only part of the solution. To deliver true omnichannel experiences in a unified manner requires use of a hybrid CMS as part of a digital experience platform (DXP). As presented in the infographic, the story of Lisa demonstrates how buyers use and are exposed to different channels and devices as they go about their personal or professional lives - and they expect their brands and vendors to deliver a connected experience across this entire journey, both online and in-person. (e.g., laptops, mobile phones, digital signs, wearables)
How Can a Next Generation Hybrid CMS Create These Connected Customer Experiences
Traditional, monolithic content management systems were designed for creating digital experiences on one type of channel: websites. As the number of channels and devices has continued to expand, in addition to buyers’ demand for relevant and innovative experiences, these “old school” CMSs have rapidly fallen short in meeting companies’ (and their customers’) needs. The first evolution of the traditional CMS was the headless CMS; which is now being replaced by the hybrid CMS, offering four capabilities to meet and exceed today’s buyers’ needs:
- The Power of a Headless CMS: A hybrid CMS offers headless capabilities to separate content management from the presentation layer, enabling content to be pulled into any channel or device. The advantages over a monolithic CMS/ include:
- Agility: The ability to manage content separate from presentation, enabling rapid connection to any new touchpoint.
- Cutting Edge Digital Experiences: Headless capabilities of a hybrid CMS enable the latest front-end devices and programming languages to be used to create inspiring experiences without having to change your content management technology. (e.g., React, Vue, Backbone.js, Aurelia, etc.) Learn more about going headless with a front-end-as-a-service in this webinar by e-Spirit and Mobify: “Going Headless: An Enterprise Strategy for E-Commerce Growth”.
- [Power Tip] Edit Content Anywhere: Ensure that your hybrid CMS is able to view AND edit content on any channel or device. e-Spirit calls this Touchpoint Editing. (learn more)
- AND Deep Integration: A hybrid CMS takes the headless concept to the next level, ALSO offering deep integration with applications as needed. (i.e., coupled or decoupled integration) A key value of this capability is to optimize any digital experience ecosystem. Headless capabilities are leveraged to orchestrate content on any channel or device, while on the same hybrid CMS platform, deep integrating is offered into strategic applications to optimize technology use for business advantages. For example, e-Spirit’s hybrid CMS offers headless capabilities to integrate with Mobify’s front end-as-a-service for progressive web application (PWA) creation, while at the same time deeply integrating, in a decoupled manner, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud to enable businesses to utilize the full capabilities of Salesforce’s Einstein artificial intelligence capabilities.
- Enterprise-Class Capabilities: Only a next generation hybrid CMS can offer business users the ability to achieve their goals fast, intuitively and without coding, across business units, geographies and market segments. Pure-play headless CMS vendors simply haven’t matured to this level of scalability and enterprise-class support. The hybrid CMS enables:
- Empowered business users: Business users are no longer 100% reliant on developers, able to make changes to digital experiences without any coding for more rapid time to market. Business users become empowered to make their own design and content changes without relying on high cost, time intensive developer resources.
- Scaling with Ease: No need to make technology changes as your company grows, and collaboration and workflow across functions, regions and business units is simplified.
- Manage Fragments, Not Websites, for a Connected Customer Experience: A next generation hybrid CMS makes the full, fragmented customer journey manageable for business users. Fragments are the building blocks of digital experience, not websites, with many variants such as language, tonality, segments, sites, channels, etc. Smart algorithms, included as part of a hybrid CMS, assemble holistic experiences from fragments in real-time based on meta data and AI input. The result is omnichannel experiences at scale. [Power Tip] The best hybrid CMS vendors will also provide a dashboard to measure content-relevant KPIs, and enable orchestration and editing of content scenarios directly within the dashboard for each use.
Two resources to learn more about the hybrid CMS and how to ensure you’re next CMS vendor will help you build lifelong fans out of your customers include: