By: Dominik Angerer, CEO and co-founder of enterprise CMS Storyblok
Business owners have a flood of options to pick from as they build out their technology stack. New platforms are emerging everyday to help get the right content in front of the right audience. But as investment pours into digital ad spend and other areas, marketing teams in small businesses are all too often overlooking their core content infrastructure.
Unfortunately, the standard crop of tools that support content distribution aren’t up to the challenge of today’s marketing environment. Campaigns that almost definitely rely on mobile, potentially smart watches, and could soon need to reach customers using the Internet of Things.
Additionally, many are too outdated to cope with what marketers need today. In 2020, more than 50% of all website traffic worldwide came from mobile devices – not including apps! You’ve probably noticed that web experiences aren’t keeping up with the pace of technology. There’s a reason for that, and it’s down to outdated CMS and back end tools.
Getting to grips with the next generation of CMS
So what should marketers be doing?
Except in a few very specific use cases, it’s time for marketers to move away from monolithic systems to a more modern solution. A monolithic system does all of the work behind the scenes (called the backend) as well as what the viewer sees on the page (called the frontend). WordPress is the most common example of this.
The Headless CMS evolved as a solution to the shortcomings of the traditional monolithic systems. The headless system separates the presentational layer from the back-end. You can use the same core “body” (back-end) to create as many “heads” (front-ends) as you may need – websites, phone apps,
voice-activated assistants, smart watches, VR headsets to name just a few.
Think of it like future proofing your marketing infrastructure for whatever channels are leading the race in the next few years.
Understanding the benefits of headless approach
You’ve probably seen a headless approach in action without realising it – especially in the world of online retail. Solutions like WooCommerce or Magento are based on a monolithic architecture and handle the front-end as well as the back-end. But a growing number of eCommerce providers like Centry, BigCommerce or Shopify also offer a headless option with access to the store’s data via their API. In practical terms that means you can plug the content directly into your Facebook campaigns and Instagram ads and pull through all the data from one central source.
Apart from just allowing you to quickly connect with more channels, there’s a myriad of other benefits too.
There’s a misconception that headless technology is too technical, built for developers rather than marketers. While it’s true that developers do love headless systems, there’s now platforms that put a visual face on the editor. Going headless also saves time – no one enjoys copying and pasting content per page, device or location. That’s also how mistakes start to creep in!
Keeping all your content in one place means that you’re able to reduce the costs of running content on multiple platforms, you don’t need to build lots of different templates for each new project for example. Cost effectiveness is going to be key as marketing gets more complicated, so this start small and scale up approach can stop marketing budgets spiralling.
Marketers are also increasingly on the front lines of the security battle. Content is as much attack surfaces as they are a way to keep in touch with your customers. A headless approach reduces the number of entry points into your business – it reduces it down to just one. Keeping track of the constant raft of security updates, patches and plugs that comes with a traditional CMS is a full time job.
When not to go headless?
Marketers have an ever expanding to do list, so it’s a valid concern that adding another technology to integrate and learn might just complicate matters. Generally speaking, if your content will rarely change and you won’t be posting much, you’re happy with generic templates and are a non-technical user managing the entire system then a monolithic CMS could work.
Moving with the market
The truth is that the market is already moving to a headless approach. Managing content on the web is no longer about pushing out updates onto a static page once a week. It’s adapted, flexible and needs to be future-proofed.
The idea of a headless CMS has been around for a few years now. But as the pressure on content grows, they are really starting to build momentum. You can reduce the cycle of template redesigns, product changes, and testing out new platforms. Even monolithic CMS platforms are starting to change and offer a headless architecture, but they are constantly held back by their fundamentally traditional approach to web and content management.
Technology and devices will keep advancing, users are already frustrated when pages aren’t web optimised! It’s time for marketers to get to grips with the headless CMS and reap the cost, time and future-proofing benefits.