How Does a CMS Support Omnichannel?
By Venus Tamturk
September 12, 2016
B2B Content Marketing, CMS, CMS News, content management, Content Management System, Digital Experience, Digital Transformation, ecommerce, Enterprise Content Management, Mobile Content Management, omnichannel, Web Content Management
Omnichannel is being used as merely a buzzword to describe a true continuity of experience, across multiple interactions and consistent on multiple devices. Your customer is not interested in knowing your omnichannel strategy or your recent initiatives to speed up the response time of your site on mobile. All they care about is that the information they need will be there or if they have a question, they can easily find the answer. Basically, what they expect from you is to be accessible in any way they want you to be. Also, they don’t want to bother going through the same process when they’re reaching out to you again for this information, even if they use a different channel this time.
Research by Aspect Software suggests that about 91% of customers want to pick up where they left off, from one channel to the next. To put desired user experience into perspective, the consumer doesn’t care that whether they end up making the purchase on the company’s website or one of its social channels because the user experience is so coherent regardless of platform. To make this work, organizations 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. But let’s take a step back, and before discussing how to make a technology decision, let’s have a deeper grasp of omnichannel content strategy.
Just because your omnichannel strategy is not your customers’ concern doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care, it is the most important piece of delivering seamless and boundless digital experience. Brands need to create, manage and deliver content to inform, inspire and engage prospects and customers. Because, guess what? According to DemandGen Report – 2016 Content Preferences Survey, 47% of B2B buyers consume 3-5 pieces of content prior to engaging with a salesperson, and 51% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions than they did a year ago.
First things first, it is critical to identify what your primary objectives are and how your omnichannel content strategy helps you achieve these goals. After that, understand the reason behind your audience’s interaction with you. Clarify what your unique value proposition is to them and make sure they are aware of it. Finally, analyze their interactions with your brand starting with these questions:
Which steps happen online?
Which steps happen offline?
Is the entire journey completed through only one digital channel, say, your website, or do visitors wander among different platforms?
How do visitors react to the interactions – engaged or irritated?
For how long do they spend exploring your content?
After finding all the answers, connect the dots and map out the ideal customer journey. Ultimately, you should build in contextual awareness to meet or exceed your customers’ expectations by thinking of their needs ahead of time, as they expect brands to create what McKinsey calls frictionless experiences to cater to their decentralized customer journey.
It’s worth noting that 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.
Despite the fact that only 45% of retailers see omnichannel as their top priority, many retailers feel that they are lagging behind this important retail customer engagement strategy. In a recent study by SPS Commerce, over 37% feel like they haven’t nailed their long-term omnichannel strategy yet. Because, as with every single strategy, there are many roadblocks to omnichannel that organizations should overcome:
Incapability to provide all divisions with a single view of the customer across channels
Inability to understand the customer beyond their buying history
Lack of system integration
Lack of training, education, processes, and insufficient change management
Irrelevant content and offers
Disconnection between the marketing and IT departments
Better Omnichannel Experiences with an Intelligent CMS
Once just a tool for putting up content and images on websites, the online content management system (CMS) is no longer just for getting the content out, it now plays an influential role in the brand experience. It should maximize the profitability of engagement and deliver agile experiences which can turn into tangible outcomes for the brand.
To keep up with today’s customers’ expectation, it is essential to have a CMS that learns from every customer interaction, can drive visitor behavior through the right use of content, automate manual processes, and adapt content in real time to maximize shopper engagement. With these predictive and self-learning capabilities, brands can go beyond merely just having a presence on multiple channels.
In today’s ideal world, a content management system is expected to realize, say, what the summer season means for your organization or identify what the visitors’ intentions are during their session and present the appropriate content accordingly. Also before marketers can run a bunch of reports and spreadsheets to see whether customer engagement is declining, the system is expected to notify marketers proactively by giving a full insight on the lacking areas.
Bolstering your omnichannel commerce platform with content that is timely and relevant for each customer, regardless of the channel, doesn’t only give your brand an edge but also increases loyalty with your audience.
According to Andreas Knoor, COO at e-Spirit Inc., there are two types of campaigns that retailers run when it comes to omnichannel campaign management: Page campaigns and Themed campaigns. He warns that your content management system should support both. “For page campaigns, a good CMS will enable you to select a future date, preview the content scheduled for publication for that page and date, and work on the content as needed until launch,” he states. He also suggests a CMS for themed campaigns that can “give you centralized control to manage and preview campaign assets in the context of the pages where they reside, target the delivery by persona, and schedule assets to launch according to local time zones.”
Another important and must-have capability is personalization. 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."
Successful organizations recognize the importance of creating a consistent experience across all digital touch points, and useful CMS platforms incorporate omnichannel features to meet this demand. Here’s a quick look at three CMSes that really help retailers achieve their omnichannel vision:
Kentico's all in one Content Management System (CMS) provides a powerful business platform aimed to deliver an effective omnichannel customer experience. Kentico’s marketing and campaign automation is designed to help organizations reach their customers during multiple stages of their customer lifecycles through delivering the right content and initiating sales activities in a personalized way. Users can integrate all of customers’ digital contacts throughout their marketing journey into one single omnichannel marketing campaign. Those without technical backgrounds can easily change the campaign as necessary, depending on how their audience interacts with the brand.
The addition of Kentico's online marketing suite, known as 'Enterprise Marketing Solutions' (EMS), enables users to fully optimize customer experiences via integrated tools that track and manage customer interactions across channels including website, online store, email, mobile app and social media. As a result, users can monitor and track their audiences’ behavior to gain a complete view of their activity and levels of engagement, while visitors enjoy consistency and tailored content across channels.
If users want to combine it with your existing systems, Kentico provides integration options including .NET API, REST API, Web Services, Kentico System Integration Bus, RSS, and XML feeds. Duncan Hendy, Content Strategy Manager at Kentico Software said in an interview: “Digital Integration – it gives you valuable insights into how your customers are interacting with your content and allows you to build profiles and define personas so that, no matter which channel your customer views your digital content on, they get a consistent experience that is truly personal to them. By defining the triggers that form the basis of your marketing automation and leveraging your users’ interactions, you can outline an appropriate communication strategy based on their behaviour and deliver them content accordingly. Make sure you choose a platform that integrates effectively. Simply forcing together solutions based on how they function individually rather than as a whole results in a poorly delivered digital experience that frustrates your customers and fails to gather the data you actually need to improve it.”
With the platform, users can define custom pages without any programming. Every custom page has its own database table that is automatically created by Kentico. According to the company, this architecture provides many advantages over XML-only content storage:
High performance - standard relational database tables provide much better performance than XML stored in database fields; users can create their own indexes and optimize database performance.
Data consistency - all data is typed (text/integer/decimal/etc.)
Easy querying - users can easily write WHERE and ORDER BY expressions they know from SQL instead of using complex and often limiting XSLT expressions; they can also write custom SQL queries for selecting content.
Easy integration - since the data is stored in standard database tables, users can read them with other applications.
When it comes to multilingual content, every language version can have its own site structure completely independent from other versions. When a new visitor comes to the website, the appropriate content culture can be automatically displayed:
The CMS has multilingual settings not only for visitors but also users. The Kentico user interface is available in many languages so users can define a workflow process with different people for every language. For instance, if your organization has a German office that manages the German version of your website, they can use a different workflow than your U.S. office does. The platform also enables users to choose users authorized to edit a particular language version.
commercetools provides a cloud-based commerce technology designed to help brands create engaging shopping experiences for their customers and scale automatically. With its decoupled and cloud-based architecture, users can build highly individualized shopping experiences in a short period of time. Here are some benefits of commercetools’ Omnichannel Product Information Management platform:
Flexible product types and attribute sets
Publish catalog information across all channels like Web, Mobile, Print and POS
Customizable product catalog
Unlimited individual attributes
Data types such as localizable texts, money, lists, and predefined dropdowns
Product variant prices per currency, country, distribution channel, customer group, and timeframe
Fast search, filtering capabilities, and after-search navigation already built-in
Cutting edge NoSQL technology
Keep track of multiple inventories
Synchronize them with external systems (marketplaces, dropshipping)
Manage multiple product locations
Ability to maintain high-resolution photos and views with the pre-integrated CDN
Sitecore Omnichannel Automation
Sitecore believes that the always-on digital consumer has high expectations of the brands whose sites they frequent, and they don’t always learn about products from just a single channel. Therefore, Sitecore’s Omnichannel Automation capabilities are designed to help users orchestrate real-time interactions and automate responses and content based on how customers are interacting with their brand in the moment, by integrating the platform with its Content Management and Contextual Intelligence technology. Here are the Omni-channel capabilities that Sitecore can provide:
Execute cross-channel campaigns from a single interface. Create content, launch, and track multiple campaigns, automatically add new prospects or customers to campaigns, and trigger interactions.
Analyze and optimize campaigns, content, and experience automatically. Know what's working, what's not, where to improve, and respond in the moment effortlessly.
React to and nurture prospects based on their interests and where they are in the sales cycle. Go beyond email marketing automation and turn up your lead scoring by taking all of your prospect’s touch points across the web, email, mobile, e-commerce, and social interactions into account.
Sitecore doesn’t see Omnichannel Automation as just about email and landing pages, they believe it’s about a connected, contextual experience on any channel. Therefore, it decouples content from presentation and offers in-session personalization. Sitecore WXM natively handles multilingual content and the translation workflow and integrates with translation services, letting users share content across thousands of sites for a consistent experience on all of them. The device detection module enables users to automatically detect and optimize content for different devices, allowing them to preview how their content will look on an iPhone vs. a Surface tablet.
The more channels that emerge for customer engagement, the more omnichannel strategy becomes important, and content is at the center of every strategy. To support an omnichannel content strategy, organizations need agile technology capabilities that simplify global campaigns, improve the customer experience, and increase productivity for marketing managers. Because, for marketers, nothing is harder than dealing with the challenges associated with managing a multitude of content, and distributing that content globally in multiple languages if they do not have the right tools. Not to mention, how the result can have a direct impact on customer engagement.
Venus is the Media Reporter for CMS-Connected, with one of her tasks to write thorough articles by creating the most up-to-date and engaging content using B2B digital marketing. She enjoys increasing brand equity and conversion through the strategic use of social media channels and integrated media marketing plans.