Your Content Management System Can Only Do So Much!
In the advent of technology, just like every single technology solution, Content Management Systems are becoming more and more robust, so much so that today, these platforms are considered the gravitational center of digital ecosystems and experiences. That being said, just because the democratization of its capabilities has provided greater agility for marketers doesn’t mean a content management system will magically develop a content marketing strategy, then create content according to that structure. After all, technology is inanimate, and we, as human beings, are supposed to breathe life into it. As a marketer, you may think that it is common sense, well then, congratulations as you represent only 46 percent of all respondents (411 marketers) indicating their organization has a documented strategy for managing content as a business asset, according to Content Marketing Institute's (CMI) Content Management & Strategy Survey.
On one hand, marketers are trying to take advantage of consumers’ obsession with their mobile devices but on the other hand, with these many channels and devices available, it is getting so overwhelming for marketers and content creators to be concerned about how every single front-end displays content. As challenging as it sounds, the CMS technology has caught up to address this emerging issue. Today, we have flexible content repositories that allow content to be published beyond a website to apps, channels, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Not only publishing but also marketers can get analytics insights for each channel from one single analytics source, instead of gathering and mostly duplicating all the data separately from different platforms. However, still, technological capabilities are one thing, a content strategy is another.
As Deane Barker, author of Web Content Management, beautifully puts it: “Effective marketing is a human practice involving a combination of aesthetics, sociology, psychology, experience, and intuition.” In his book, he explains further with a homebuilding analogy, saying that the home you live in is a rough combination of three things; the raw building materials, the tools and building equipment, and the human power. “None of those things builds a house by itself. You are the thing that ties it all together. You are the one that makes it all go. A CMS is just a tool.”
With the ever-rising influence of machine learning and artificial intelligence, we all keep discussing whether artificial intelligence will take over content marketing but to me, it seems that we have already given up on the domain of the human brain where personal experience, sense of humor, critical thinking, creativity, a wealth of knowledge, and other components of humanity come from. To back my statement up, let’s paddle back to the survey cited in my opening paragraph. Almost half of the respondents feel their organization has the right technology in place to manage their content marketing efforts, but aren’t using them to their potential. No wonder why marketers are struggling with proving marketing ROI of their marketing efforts.
This finding reminded me of the points James (Jim) Panagas, Director of PR and Analyst Relations at Kentico made on underestimation of the role of creativity during our conversation in Boston. “What we are seeing is that the marketplace is a little bit too heavy focused on just the technology and not enough, in my view, paying attention to content and creativity of the process,” said Jim. He spoke from his experience and reflected on his observation: “When I joined the marketing industry, it was much more creatively driven, today, on the other hand, it is much more technology heavy.” Therefore, he believes that organizations should ask themselves “Do we have a right mix of people and skills?”
What all these insights tell us actually boils down two educational needs:
How to Better Use Technology to Manage Content
To develop an effective content strategy, it is important to have a wealth of knowledge about the technology in place. I do not mean that marketers should get all techie, conversely, I think there is absolutely no need for marketers to know a broad knowledge of the CMS principles because the original premise of CMS was to allow the non-technical professionals like marketers and business users to get in the system and manage their day-to-day activities of their websites without the need of technical support. And, today, the capabilities that content management systems have to offer are good enough to free business users from technical help and deep understanding of platforms. The missing part is the lack of strategic relationship between IT and marketing departments which reminds me of a statement by James Norwood, CMO at Episerver, saying: “More often than not, the disconnect is a result of a lack of joined-up thinking. Business leaders must stop thinking about IT and marketing as separate silos and develop a more unified approach. This will not only help to accelerate the delivery of marketing campaigns, but also free up IT departments to manage more essential, technology-focused processes.”
I agree that in a world of over 5,000 marketing technology vendors, choosing the right technology that fits in with what you are doing is an overwhelming and intimidating task. However, jumping on the bandwagon without documenting a solid strategy and knowing what resources you already have or you can attain won’t move the needle either, yet you will minimize your marketing technology dollar’s effectiveness. Therefore, deepening the relationship between marketing and IT is critical for organizations to better use technology so they can better manage content as a business asset.
How to Build a Scalable Content Strategy
Businesses must deliver exceptional experiences at scale or risk losing customers to competitors. By now, as marketers, we all understand how prominent it is to deliver an omnichannel experience that is a true continuity of experience across multiple interactions and consistent on multiple devices. Therefore, it is important to find a highly scalable content platform for a broad range of content types, addressing use cases for WCM, digital asset management, and case management. Today, the data that organizations need to harvest is much larger than ever, yet it will increase even more rapidly. Gartner estimates that the amount of connected “things” in use will increase to over 20 billion by the year 2020, meaning it will simultaneously create an increase in data fragmentation and data volume. With these many channels and devices available, it is getting so overwhelming for marketers and content creators to be concerned about how every single front-end displays content. In fact, they should work with structured content and that’s where repositories come into play as they make any type of content structured and accessible.
To explain this point, in his latest piece, one of our contributors Dennis Shiao wrote: “To manage content in a scalable manner, it must be stored outside of an interface, and it must be ready for any interface. Instead of storing web pages, you’re storing the individual content chunks that comprise a web page. These chunks can be made accessible to a smartwatch, an Amazon Echo, or any other device, even a coffee maker!”
Economies of scale happen when you give your content multiple lives by reusing and repurposing what you create. Today, with a headless CMS or a decoupled CMS, organizations can operate much faster and at a fraction of the cost compared to legacy CMS providers. In other words, the separation between the content management and presentation layers allows users to rapidly scale and reduce time-to-market as it removes the worries about uptime, maintenance or upgrades for the customers. More importantly, as these platforms are developed to be a future-proof technology, they support today's and tomorrow's digital channels so businesses can scale their operations accordingly.
Before making a technology decision, organizations should first, truly understand what kind of message resonates with their audience, then which channels and devices they are spending their time on and from there, how they can integrate their message with those channels to deliver the most seamless and relevant experience, and finally how they can optimize those experiences for each consumer. And, repeat this cycle over and over again whenever they detect any change in their consumer behavior. Once they have found out all these tactics, based on them, they should make a comprehensive vision statement that includes their overall goals. It should be powerful enough to be their North Star reference point that they can always go back to and find their answer whenever they have doubts about the point of digital investment.
Since it may be the most complicated purchase and implementation that an organization would make, first and foremost, it requires a thorough digital strategy and roadmap as WCM lies at the heart of a digital transformation.