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4 Reasons Marketers Need Hybrid Headless CMS

Modern consumers, whether B2B or B2C, demand something prior generations would have never even imagined: The ability to connect with your brand any time, from anywhere, via any channel, and on any device they choose

As far back as 2012, PwC made this eerily accurate prediction (PDF | 2.3 MB) about customer demand in 2020. "A new concept is now emerging, called omnichannel, which describes a channel-agnostic view of how consumers experience the retailer brand. Shoppers increasingly demand a consistent level of experience regardless of channel or mode by which the retail is accessed. Such shoppers avoid retailers who are ill-equipped to deliver a seamless brand experience online, in-store and across multi-channel media, both consistently and continuously."

Those PwC experts were right. Providing exceptional omnichannel digital experiences is imperative for businesses that are looking to not only survive but thrive. Here are just a few statistics that underscore the business benefits of providing great customer experience (CX):

  • In a 2018 survey of 2,000 CX professionals, 42% who identified their organization as having a mature CX strategy reported annual revenues of over $100M. By comparison, almost half of those who identified their organizations as having little to no CX strategy reported annual revenues of less than $1M.
  • Walker's 2020 B2B Customer Experience Survey (PDF | 3.3 MB) revealed that 62% of B2B companies are focusing on investments to help them understand individual customer characteristics, such as individual needs, challenges, and future direction in order to provide better customer experiences.
  • Harvard Business Review reported that omnichannel customers spend 4% more in-store and 10% more online than single-channel customers. For every additional channel they use, customers spend more money.
  • According to PwC (PDF | 5.3 MB), 73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions.
  • A 2019 study revealed that omnichannel marketing automation resulted in 250% higher purchase frequency and 90% higher customer retention rates.

Omnichannel Creates a Challenge for Digital Marketers

Clearly, giving customers a rich omnichannel experience is the way to go, but doing so presents some challenges for digital marketers. Marketers must react quickly to changes in the market, which, in turn, requires an investment in technologies that enable that quick reaction time.

For many digital marketers, the number one frustration does not come from trying to understand the needs of their customers. Rather, it comes from trying to provide high-quality digital experiences at the speed needed. Traditional content management systems (CMS) simply cannot deliver that level of agility. For example, it can take 1-3 months to take a new landing page design to production with a traditional CMS. At today's speed of business, 3 months is practically forever.

Headless CMS Enters the Marketing Fray

To help marketers cope with the fast-paced demand for ever more sophisticated material, headless CMS was developed.

Headless systems focused on just the back-end of a CMS. They freed up development teams to use the programming tools with which they were most familiar and deliver content via APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). Developers could execute quickly in code-only mode.

However, it soon became apparent that, while headless was a step in the right direction, this architecture came with a few drawbacks, including:

  • Difficulty supporting enterprise-class needs such as multi-site/multi-language capabilities, workflow improvements, security, translations, integrations, etc.
  • Inability to offer preview and edit functionality (particularly troublesome for marketers, who prefer a "what you see is what you get" type of functionality)

Because of these issues, non-technical personnel working on the front-end in content creation, design, and presentation had difficulty accessing the CMS in a meaningful way. That meant developers could get bogged down with change requests from front-end staff that slowed down content deployment and added expense via duplication of effort.

The Evolution of Decoupled CMS Offers Promise of Something Better

To deal with the shortcomings of headless solutions, something else was needed. Decoupled CMS had existed for some time, but with the advent of headless solutions, a new way of looking at decoupled CMS became possible. Decoupled systems learned from headless solutions and incorporated those capabilities to create a hybrid CMS to better serve the needs of modern marketers and developers.

Crownpeak has created a breakthrough innovation of this approach, which we call Headless 2.0. This platform offers the best of both worlds – the development flexibility of headless systems and the ability for front-end users to make content changes without IT.

By offering front-end functionality through decoupling the front-end from the back-end, Headless 2.0 systems rectify the shortcomings of the first generation of headless technology architecture. They enable creatives on the front-end to perform functions not available with first-generation headless solutions.

This hybrid CMS offers the benefits of Headless 1.0 systems, including a separate back-end and API use that allows different channels to access stored content. But it also supports front-end coding and presentation template functionality, which enables marketers to deliver content into a channel without extensive programming requirements.

Marketers looking to acquire a CMS or upgrade their existing system can benefit from the hybrid headless approach. It enables them to take advantage of the flexibility and rapid programmability of headless systems. It also retains the ability to make changes on the front-end typically associated with traditional CMS platforms.

Ultimately, hybrid headless CMS can deliver improved customer engagements and drive greater sales revenue. It gives marketers the ability to deliver more responsive and engaging digital experiences via increased control over the content experience. 

Below we take a look at four key reasons marketers need a hybrid headless CMS.

Reason #1: Front-end Flexibility

Legacy CMS were mainly designed to propagate content on webpages to be read on a computer. As content type and devices where content is consumed expanded, the inflexibility of these systems hastened the move to headless and decoupled CMS systems. 

Hybrid headless, or Headless 2.0, systems enable a company’s programmers to work with a variety of tools and use APIs to propagate the content widely. This means that front-end delivery is not limited by the capacity of a legacy CMS. It can extend to any channel or device an API can reach – which is just about all of them.

As a result, a single piece of content can be released on a variety of channels without the need to customize it for each. Using a Headless 2.0 system enables non-technical staff to deliver content without relying on the programming staff. Thus, it saves time and effort compared with legacy CMS.

Marketers can leverage the flexible front-end frameworks of these advanced CMS systems and APIs to go beyond static web pages associated with traditional CMS. They can also use the best programming languages out there. This frees them from having to adhere to proprietary development rules. It makes it easier to develop stunning, seamless customer experiences that can be deployed on mobile apps, websites, digital signs, etc. The end result is more marketing options that reach out to more customers and drive more product demand.

Reason #2:  Marketing Velocity

Time-to-market, also known as marketing velocity, is crucial in today’s world, where social media-driven trends can sweep around the digital (and physical) world with lightning speed. Marketers must respond to these changes in as close to real-time as possible to ensure their content stays relevant. 

Traditional CMS makes it difficult to rapidly distribute content because programming assistance is often needed to prepare content prior to distribution and omnichannel distribution is by no means easy. Headless solutions appear faster to implement at the beginning because they allow developers to move faster. However, because marketing is even more dependent on development, ongoing improvements and deliverables after the first implementation tend to be slowed down and create tension between marketing and IT. 

Crownpeak’s Headless 2.0 approach allows marketers to be fully empowered to move faster and developers to move faster, creating increased marketing velocity and agility throughout the lifetime of the implementation.

Reason #3: Improved Efficiency

A big advantage of a hybrid headless CMS platform is the ability it offers marketers to create and maintain content without developer support. The use of APIs in the product delivery process enables marketers to create content and experiences themselves. They don't have to constantly send in a ticket to the IT department to do so. In addition to time-to-market advantages, this creates the opportunity to realize cost savings by reducing redundancies in the content delivery process.

This frees a company’s programmers to focus on higher-value software development and system issues rather than spending their time helping marketers manage the content creation process. 

These systems also free marketers from the rigid templates often associated with traditional CMS, helping them create better content utilizing best-in-class content authoring tools. They can also more easily personalize content, helping boost customer engagement and brand loyalty. 

Hybrid headless CMS overcomes the issue of presentation limitations placed on marketers by Headless 1.0 systems. With these 2.0 versions, marketers can make adjustments to the content display, avoiding the bottlenecks caused by systems where such actions require development assistance.

The efficiency benefits hybrid headless CMS offers as compared with traditional CMS can be summarized as follows:

  • New functionality is less expensive to develop because there is little need for developer assistance: Rather than having to code each new content piece, such as a landing page or product website, marketers can create this content directly in the CMS.
  • Lower staffing costs: Because duplication of effort is lessened and marketers can design and deliver campaigns directly, fewer staff members need to be involved in the process. Additionally, organizations no longer require extensive teams of experts familiar with the operational requirements of a legacy CMS.
  • Improved focus: Rather than spending precious staff time managing the operation of a legacy CMS, team members can now focus on higher-value functions. This is especially true in the case of developers, who no longer need to spend time coding content design and display changes that can more productively be handled by the marketing and graphic design staff.
  • Modern approach: Most headless systems are multi-tenant systems. Crownpeak's hybrid headless multi-tenant SaaS approach doesn’t require constant updating on the client-side.
  • Easy integration: Hybrid headless CMS has the flexibility to easily integrate with your existing business systems. Given that it doesn't have a fixed structure for which to code, your programmers have the freedom to code for a wide variety of integrations, including those with more complex systems. 

Reason #4: Omnichannel Marketing

The number of channels marketers need to support is exploding. It is hard to know which new ones will appear in the next few years. Headless solutions create the flexibility to deploy content to any channel by publishing in a decoupled manner.

However, headless vendors force their customers to create their own site generation. That is, the customer IT organization needs to create the infrastructure to publish content and deliver it to the relevant channel.

Through Headless 2.0, Crownpeak's own publishing layer renders static and dynamic content as required to any accessible end-point, providing robust future-proofing for new channels.

Headless 2.0 Efficacy with Crownpeak’s Decoupled CMS

Crownpeak is a barrier-free solution that enables your whole team to move rapidly to design and deploy content. 

Its unique combination of headless CMS flexibility and full-featured content editing tools enabled with enterprise-grade capabilities offers marketers the autonomy to design beautiful, engaging content. As a decoupled CMS, Crownpeak separates experience management from front-end delivery. 

This separation allows Crownpeak to deliver the complete set of benefits and flexibility expected from a headless CMS. All that happens without giving up preview and in-context editing, which are vital capabilities for modern marketers. 

The system is front-end agnostic. That means your team can continue to access your favorite tools and frameworks and seamlessly deliver content to any digital channel you choose using APIs.

To elevate your digital experiences and provide your customers with exactly what they want when they want it, choose the right digital experience platform. Download the ebook "6 Criteria for Choosing a Future-Proof Digital Experience Platform” today.

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