Content management in the age of digital customer experience
How you should align the ideas of a great customer journey with traditional content management.
The world is changed. These are the immortal words of the elf Galadriel from the 2001 film The Fellowship of the Ring. In the early 2000s the world of digital experiences looked quite different, with websites presenting rather static content in colourful environs.
Where Galadriel could feel change in the water and the air, we—as digital experience professionals—can feel the change in the form of more advanced websites and apps, more channels, and richer functionality. In terms of content, everything has changed since the beginning of the millennium: the way we produce, consume, and distribute content has changed and is still changing rapidly.
So, the world consists of increasingly complex content models, advanced technologies, and more demanding consumer expectations and behaviours. Let’s see how we can keep up to date on content management in this age of digital customer experience.
However, no success without the right CMS:
Content management: What you need to remember
As most web editors can attest to, you don’t simply create a piece of content, publish it to the web, and be done with it. For instance, do you work in a simple CMS, a behemoth DXP, or a mixture? The tools you use determine how you can treat content.
No matter the technological progress or fancy new trends, there are some fundamental content management principles you always should remember:
- Know your organisation’s purpose and integrate your content strategy
- Establish and follow a publishing plan
- Assess and update your existing content periodically
- Acquire digital marketing tools that really help you solve your tasks
- Maintain an organisation culture of quality content
- Pay attention to digital trends
With a firm practice of these content management principles in place, you are ready to tackle the challenges of creating an excellent customer journey for today and tomorrow.
The modern customer journey
The customer journey is a concept for understanding how your potential and actual customers behave and interact with the touchpoints of your organisation over time, going from e.g. an unknown visitor to a lead, or from a regular customer to a brand ambassador.
In a classical approach, you make an inventory of all your touchpoints, like advertisements, search engine optimisation, social media efforts, blog posts, landing pages, calls to action, forms, website, emails, and so on. Then you plot these touchpoints to various stages, from awareness and consideration to decision and delight, attempting to map what actions your visitors do and when. Finally, you review the journey in order to rid yourself of customer friction and to enable delightful experiences.
The modern customer journey experience is hardly linear, but the essence of it is still captured in illustrations and flowcharts. The important part is to understand whether the right content and services meet the right customer at the right time. A thoroughly mapped out customer journey can be very valuable in this regard.
Learn more: Let Enonic XP drive your customer journey »
As if traditional mapping and content organisation weren’t complex enough, the modern customer journey must also take factors like omnichannel presence and self service into account. How your content is presented is no longer as relevant when it can surface in as varied channels as desktops, phones, wearables, IoT, digital signage, and snippets in existing websites. This is where headless come into play.
Delivering everywhere with headless and hybrid CMS
Where traditional content management systems kept a close tie between content and the way it looked on the web—its presentation—the rise of multiple channels and platforms have led to an alternative approach: the headless CMS. A headless CMS is essentially a database with content that can be distributed to any channel via APIs.
Going purely headless may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s where the hybrid CMS enters the frame. Recognising challenges with pure headless, like the lack of previews and difficult URL management, a hybrid CMS offers the best of both worlds: a traditional CMS with visual landing page editing, etc. when you require this—and a headless CMS with limitless content distribution when you require that.
In any case, cutting the tie between content and presentation creates many exciting new opportunities for content management and customer experience. As mentioned, the customer journey is more complex than ever. But being able to fill the previously empty spaces and blind spots with content—like relevant and timely content on your watch, AR glasses, or mobile push notifications—is now possible with headless technology.
How should you go about and plan for this fragmentary state of affairs, you ask? One possible option could be the atomic content design model, where content is split down into their smallest meaningful constituent parts, ready to be reused in larger contexts when needed.
Treating content respectfully with ContentOps
It is clear that modern digital customer experience is putting a strain on content creation. While delivery is handled by headless and APIs, and strategy is trickling down from the C-suite, the production of content is left in limbo. How do you plan and produce content in a headless world?
The principle of content operations (ContentOps) attempts to solve this particular challenge. It is a principled method for making three aspects involved with content production—people, process, and technology—work more closely and smoothly together.
You can get started with ContentOps by performing an inventory of the relevant people, processes, and technologies. Then you should strengthen or remove weak links, enable communication about ContentOps principles across departments, and start optimising content production for omnichannel delivery. Such optimisation can be ensured by making the processes, authors, editors, and subject matter experts, as well as the involved technology more quality-minded, repeatable and scalable.
More functionality with rich web front-ends
Digital experiences don’t usually consist of only content. All those features you have grown accustomed to—buttons, sliders, calculators, browser-based image editing, order forms, commentary functions, likes, shares—are all examples of services made possible by rich web front-ends.
To remind us all: A front-end implements the structure, design, behaviour, and animation of every element you see on-screen when you visit and interact with websites and apps. But what role does rich web front-ends play for content management and the digital customer experience?
For one, they enrich the total experience by offering more interaction and self service for your visitors. Rich web front-ends also make traditional websites into something increasingly resembling an app—progressive web apps being a prime example. This way, old borders are erased, letting you focus on the content to be delivered to any front-end headlessly, while your developers focus on the services. Both content and services meld and work together in a seamless experience that delights your visitors even more. What’s not to like?
Assembling the presentation with a design system
While headless gospels across the web tout the separation of content and presentation, and still more focus on content—there is no way around the fact that sometime and somewhere your content must be presented to someone. Protecting your brand across several different channels may seem difficult, but a design system can definitely make things easier.
A design system handles the visual and functional elements of your organisation, fulfilling brand principles through design, realisation, and development of products and services.
Design systems include many different elements, but the most common ones are sketch library, style guide, pattern library, organisation principles, best practices, templates, and even code snippets. This collection usually manifests as brand compliant components and patterns—readily available for designers, developers, and editors in different presets on your websites, apps, or other forms of presentation.
Don’t miss: Integrating Enonic XP with your design system »
Picture yourself working for a large international organisation: there are several websites, apps, and documents—all with different localisation. A design system helps your organisation keep a consistent brand and presentation of your content across the various regions and channels.
The experience cloud bringing it all together
As a finale, the technology responsible for bringing content management into 21st century digital customer experience is the digital experience cloud (DXC). But what is a DXC?
To build a great, lasting, and future-proof customer journey you need a platform to produce, manage, and distribute all your content and services. No surprises there. For years these tasks have been handled by digital experience platforms, but the time will soon come when the experience cloud will shape the fortunes of all.
Learn more: What is Enonic Experience Cloud?
A digital experience cloud is a fully managed platform where you can build and run digital experiences. Traditional content management and platform services are offered in one package, and lets you create, scale, and deliver content and digital experiences to any digital channel and touchpoint in your customer journey.
A DXC can help you save time and resources by letting seasoned experts handle demanding tasks like security, operations, deployment, back-ups, upgrades, and scaling. In other words: a DXC lets you focus on planning, producing, and distributing your content, while all the heavy lifting behind the scenes are left in safe hands.
Any organisation serious about content management today and tomorrow should therefore consider a DXC.