How your CMS can enhance the customer journeyVegard Ottervig on
Improve the digital experiences of your organisation by building customer journey touchpoints with your available tools.
A content management system can do more than just presenting the digital experiences of your organisation—it can improve every digital touchpoint for your customers, reduce friction, and create happy brand ambassadors in the process.
Being the engine behind your digital experiences, a CMS can be tuned to run fast like a sports car or slow like a Lada. Teaching yourself what a CMS could and should do in this respect can help remove the friction your customers and leads may experience in the face of your offerings.
Let’s take a closer look on how your CMS can enhance the customer journey, every step along the different customer stages.
CMS and awareness
A potential customer who is in the awareness stage is conscious that she has a task that needs to be solved, whether it is figuring out new working processes or discovering how to sell a commodity in a world of digital transformation.
What your CMS should do in this stage is to attract interested parties with useful content that identifies and explores their challenges. We’ll see how you can leverage this with CMS specific features like SEO, blog posts, and landing pages.
Search engine optimisation is the equivalent of having a store front, or even a window and a door into your business—preferably visible from passerby’s on the street. In our context, we want passerby’s on the web to discover our business, and this is done with various SEO tools.
Moz has a comprehensive list of the 60 best free SEO tools, which we highly recommend. Some content management systems come with integrated SEO tools to specify what title, description, and image you want shown on e.g. social media—as well as letting editors set keywords and review SEO scores based on linking, keyword density, and other factors.
However, most SEO tools are third party services, and therefore your CMS should support integrations with any SEO tools of your choice. This integration can be done through ready-made plugins, apps, or custom APIs built by your developers.
Make sure you have chosen the right CMS to begin with:
Blogs often provide the backbone of content on the web, something which is essential when you are trying to attract potential buyers to your digital experiences. Thus, the blog format has become a staple of the Internet, and consequently many CMSs ship with the content type as part of their default package.
The difference between a “blog post” and a regular “page” is that blog posts are timely, successive, and reflecting more current affairs, while pages are more timeless, fixed within the site hierarchy, and reflecting more general affairs. Blogs often have tags and can be navigated as chapters in a book or articles in a newspaper, while pages often are more independent and looser in style and form.
If your CMS doesn’t inherently ship with a blog post content type, it should be flexible enough to allow a developer to build one for you. In this way, you can tailor the content type to fit exactly what design you are looking for and what fields you require: content, author, comments, tags, dates, categories, and so on.
The landing page, or just “page,” is heir to the venerable HTML page we found on websites of yore. Most websites consist of one page or more—and if blogs are to be considered the backbone of digital experiences, landing pages must surely be the salt of the earth.
Almost any CMS in existence has some form of landing page content type, and maybe even a landing page editor. Your personal or your company’s preferences may decide what CMS and consequently what landing page editor you have opted for—visual, text-based, flexible, or set in stone.
Most modern landing page editors feature WYSIWYG, drag and drop, and very flexible section editing. Given that landing pages can be anything we imagine, from corporate descriptions and cooking recipes to large pillar pages and single-page self services, your CMS should support a landing page content type that allows for you to customise sections, columns, and rows with ease.
Learn something new: Short introduction to Enonic Content Studio »
CMS and consideration
In the consideration stage, a potential customer knows her problem and is looking for solutions. While blog posts and landing pages obviously contribute massively to this stage as well, a couple of new elements CMS-wise are usually introduced to help visitors convert and become leads.
Call to action
A call to action (CTA) is an element that prompts the visitor to undertake a certain action. The classical example is a button in a blog post that says “Download whitepaper,” where the visitor is given an irresistible chance to learn more about a given topic. A CTA can take many forms, like the mentioned buttons, plain text, banners, and pop-ups.
CTAs usually belongs to marketing automation tools, or at least marketing suites within digital experience platforms. Many CMSs don’t offer them inherently, but a great CMS should nonetheless offer an integration with your favourite tools through APIs. Make sure to verify whether or not this sort of integration is possible with your developers.
A form is such a basic element that CMSs actually are based on them to begin with. You insert information in form fields like title, text, author, tags, and so on, and then the information is stored in a database, ready to be presented to your digital experiences.
However, in our context we are speaking of forms to be used by potential customers on your digital channels, when they are ready to fill in their valuable user information in exchange for a premium content.
A basic form builder should be a given in your CMS, and it should be easily inserted into content types like articles and blog posts. Another alternative is yet again to use third party integrations, like a marketing automation suite that neatly ties forms into marketing efforts and your CRM.
CMS and decision
A lead in the decision stage knows the solution to her problem, and is now considering whether your solution is the right fit. While utilising all the previous CMS functions to enhance the customer journey up to this point, even new features make their appearance for full in order to create engagement.
While the website in reality has been important during the entire customer journey, it’s finally time for it to really shine. Now every content type in the CMS—like products, testimonials, recipes, and services—come together to impact the lead while she is carefully considering and deciding for what brand to choose to do business with.
Also, now it’s prime time for the search functionality of your CMS to shine. For instance, if a crucial moment of decision is upon a potential customer and you want to find the exact right content to leverage in a correspondence or a sales pitch, it’s essential to easily retrieve blog posts, images, PDFs, and other files and content types in your massive database. A search function with filters and fast results will surely help you on your way.
Feeling empowered by doing things yourself is something anyone can appreciate, and the same principle goes for the customer journey. If a potential customer can handle most of her investigations and actions herself, with minimal friction from your digital experiences, the better it is for every party. The lead feels empowered and you save time.
Find out what integrations you can implement to offer self service tech like order forms, design tools, workflows, calculators, user-friendly visual interfaces, AI, VR/AR, machine learning, and more in your digital experiences—across channels like web, apps, wearables, and beacons.
An integral part of modern marketing and digital efforts is the ability to personalise, to really tailor and direct the right content to the right person at the right time. This is done in part with personalisation technology—software that recognises users, connect them with defined demographics, and then connect the given demographics to selected content.
Some content management systems offer personalisation out of the box, but others require third party integrations. Whether you should choose a CMS prepackaged with “everything” or maybe choose “best of breed” solutions from third party specialists instead is up to you and the requirements of your organisation.
CMS and delight
You now have a customer. The contract is signed and you can just put it into a locker, throw away the key, and forget about further marketing toward the customer, right? Of course not. In order to create customer loyalty and brand ambassadors you need to work continually and not take your customers or business for granted. You need to delight your customers by providing them with helpful and relevant content on a regular basis.
Marketing automation has been mentioned several times already. Together with the CMS, it is the glue that keeps the customer journey together. While a CMS is the engine behind the digital experiences, a marketing automation tool enhances it and keeps track of both visitors and coordinated marketing efforts.
Some CMSs offer marketing automation functionality natively, but in most cases you want a pure CMS with all the strengths it has to offer in terms of robust database management and templating coupled with cross-channel capabilities, and an integration with a pure marketing automation tool. Use resources like Marketing Automation Insider to find the right tool for your organisation.
A CMS is obviously not an email client, but your CMS should in any case support capabilities for feeding its content to external services, like RSS feeds and, consequently, email digests. If your marketing automation tool or email automation tool is worth its salt, it should be able to dig into your CMS’ code and retrieve timely content—and deliver e.g. weekly or monthly newsletters automatically.
More self service
Keep your customers happy by continuously empowering them. Allow them to be independent and perform their tasks within your digital experiences, at their own pace and with user-friendly functionality and services. Adding a feature? Let them choose when and what. Increasing the capacity? Let them pick the most suitable option.
Don’t forget headless
The customer journey of today and tomorrow is channel independent, also known as omnichannel or cross-channel. This means that your digital content is expected to be experienced as seamlessly on apps, wearables, IoTs, and signage as on your traditional website.
A traditional CMS can’t do this. It has a close connection between content and presentation—your text, images, and videos are tied up to fixed templates meant to be shown on desktop or mobile.
A headless CMS is different. It is essentially a database with APIs that send the relevant pieces of content to the appropriate channels. This makes for a much more flexible omnichannel delivery, meeting your customers wherever they are. Headless CMS aren’t for everyone, though, so maybe a mixture between traditional and headless—a hybrid CMS—is the best option for your organisation.
Frequently asked questions
What is a CMS?
How to choose a CMS?
Consider the requirements of your organisation: your audience channels, your budget, self-hosting vs. cloud, and the UX of the CMS.
Examples of content management systems
WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Wix, Adobe Experience Manager, Kentico, Enonic XP, Episerver, Weebly, Sitecore, eZ Publishing.