How Can Marketers Achieve Intelligent Capabilities?
Consumers do not really care whether they end up making their purchase on the company’s website or one of its social channels because they expect the user experience to be so coherent regardless of platform or device that they are on. In fact, research by Aspect Software suggests that about 91% of customers want to pick up where they left off, from one channel to the next. This situation puts marketers, website owners, and merchandisers under pressure as now they are tasked to create a seamless and shareable digital experience across all the channels they use, while it remains relevant to their target audience. Since the traditional approach when marketers were supposed to create relevant content for every single channel and platform hasn’t been productive or created a frictionless experience, a new trend is rising; headless eCommerce solutions.
To inquire about this trend of micro experiences and how marketers can approach intelligent experiences, CMS-Connected reporter Laura Myers reached out to Douglas Heise, Vice President, Global Marketing at CoreMedia AG, and Don Hoffman, Global Content Marketing Manager at CoreMedia AG, and they discussed both technical and business aspects of this emerging trend.
Douglas Heise told us a little bit about the background of where this concept emerged from and how companies responded to it, saying that even though the topic of microservices has been around for a while, last year they noticed a lot of headless eCommerce solutions were being announced, and this trend is bleeding over into this year. He sees the demand for omnichannel experience as the driving factor behind the hype. According to his experiences, today it may not be enough to send a plain video because it needs to include some interactive elements such as games or, it should be a shoppable video which blurs the line between moments of inspiration and actually buying, as consumers are able to click on the product that appears in the video to purchase it right away.
Marketers are continuously looking for ways to maximize the profitability of engagement, and deliver agile experiences that can turn into tangible outcomes for the brand. While doing so, they are supposed to deliver more content than ever before. Therefore, they need a web content management system (WCM) that is easy to integrate with whichever tools the evolving brand experience demands: whether it is an e-commerce, a CRM, or a sentiment analysis tool, marketers and merchandisers should be able to inject content and experiences into various environments such as email, applications, mobile web and brick-and-mortar stores. Douglas’ main point is that whether the content is as simple as a product slide show or as interactive as a game, marketers should be able to deploy it simultaneously across multiple channels and multiple apps without having to get technical support.
Another important and must-have capability Douglas and Don emphasized was personalization. They told us how difficult the implementation of personalization with the first generation tools has been but today, the capability is powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning which makes it much easier and less risky for marketers, as it anticipates every potential option. Douglas said: “Marketers need some system in place determining what the right experience is for each consumer. That’s why machine learning will play a huge role in the next five years.”
On a related note, without personalization, engaging with brands across touchpoints risks revealing the "ugly welding seams in the customer experience," states Gartner's Jake Sorofman. Customers shouldn't feel their transition between touchpoints, snapping them out of the customer experience. This personalization should happen in real time. "No website visitor should be treated as a disposable metric for future predictions," says Sorofman. "Each should be treated as a valued customer at the time of their visit."
WCM Vendors Provide Purposeful Omnichannel Capabilities
According to Douglas and Don, you have to have a system where the content is separated from the presentation because the traditional WCM platforms do not allow content creators to curate content for a website page and use it on, say, a mobile application without recreating or replicating it. With the headless CMS, conversely, content creators can create once and use over, and over, and over again in many different formats and presentations saving time and effort.
Since this approach makes it easier to interact with content-enabled applications via APIs, new or updated content can be automatically rolled out to new apps faster than ever. As a result, this creates frictionless experiences across all the digital properties with which it is connected. According to Aberdeen Group’s research, companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, compared to 3.4% for weak omnichannel companies.
Douglas also stressed the importance of delivering dynamic content for both consumers and brands by explaining with an example: “Let’s take a merchandiser as an instance and if a price on a product changes, with the traditional approach, they need to go back to all the channels and change it separately, but with the microservices, any update is automatically pushed across all the digital channels utilized."
Lastly, Don mentioned another emerging new trend in the space: Experience-as-a-Service (EaaS). The idea is that marketers need to take their assets and quickly turn them into digital experiences across digital channels. The industry insiders believe that CoreMedia has been very successful in providing these capabilities. On the flip side, Gartner cited in its MQ for WCM 2016: “CoreMedia's marketing efforts have not given it the same level of visibility as its direct competitors in the WCM market. Gartner often sees CoreMedia omitted from selection processes where its offering would have been a good fit” Hopefully, in the upcoming months, further recognition will be seen and the vendor will increase its brand awareness in the WCM space.
In conclusion, successful organizations recognize the importance of creating a consistent experience across all digital touch points, and useful CMS platforms incorporate omnichannel features to meet modern consumers’ high demand for the relevant and seamless experience. The Washington Post, for instance, analyzes tens of millions of events every night to improve content and ad relevance. Even though personalization, micro experiences, machine learning and omnichannel sound like buzzwords, the underlying idea of orchestrating them with a single platform means a lot to organizations can set their businesses up to remain with or ahead of the curve over the next 5 to 10 years.