Ditch the CMS

Time is running out for large-scale CMS’ (Content Management Systems) – I’m pretty convinced, let me try and convince or at least persuade you towards the same conclusion.

I agree, it does sound like a pretty silly thing to say with the ever increasing volume of content that is being spewed onto the web every minute (including this post) – surely that increases the need for larger scale, robust CMS’ especially in medium to larger businesses?

I think it’s the opposite.

Focusing initially on the end user – or as they should be called – Customers. By the way – the phrase ‘Customer experience’ - which the digirati have taken on as their own has been a method (although not documented) engrained into any successful business over the last 300 years. Treat your customers well, give them what they need and they will come back and be more willing to purchase more from you, maintain loyalty and tell their friends about you. It’s just been called respect rather than ‘Customer Experience’ in the past.

Anyway, Customer Experience is (and as more communication mechanisms – including the web – have become available, increasingly) crucial across all channels from social to telephone, in person (face to face – that still happens right?), word of mouth (good or bad) etc.

So why would you completely rely on a piece of software that is looking after your web(site) space to be the single tool to guide and inform your customers through their web experience - when the very real likelihood is that your customers have already engaged/touched/contacted (delete as appropriate) you across a whole range of channels? When you think about that – I’m not sure it stacks up as a strategy.

I know we have engagement engines, marketing mechanisms, huge amount of ‘campaign management’ within some of the market leading CMS – but I am constantly reminded that the most popular CMS in the world is in effect a blogging tool called WordPress – and yes I know that it’s used by one man shows working out of a small bedroom – but nevertheless it is also used by some of the largest sites globally – Ted.com for example.

I’m not advocating the use of a specific ‘lighter’ CMS – either WordPress, Umbraco, Drupal etc. over the specific ‘enterprise’ CMS’ such as Sitecore, EPIServer etc. But I am suggesting that we need to start designing our technical framework for the web as part of a wider strategic appreciation of the customers true needs – which are multi-layered, multi-accessible and multi-channel.

Who really needs all the bells and whistles on a CMS today? Search, social links and good old adverts (as long as an ad-blocker isn’t being used) drive people to where you want them to go much of the time – that removes the need for anything more than a basic application to enable the creation of content and a site structure. Much of the integration between websites and back office applications is completed outside of the CMS using API, Web services and external databases and handlers.

A considerable amount of visual functionality and user interface interactions are driven by Javascript and more increasingly JQuery files and scripts sitting on cloud servers, ‘tracking’ of behaviours and analytics is completed by tools such as Google Analytics, any payment engines are outside of a CMS and of course core customer data sits in a CRM.

There are also a huge number of automated web marketing tools on the market from the simple email mail campaign management tools such as MailChimp, through to applications such as Pardot and Marketo.

So, I’m left with the question of what really does a CMS do in terms of improving the customer experience? Just as importantly how does it really provide information, data and assurance to businesses that they have a clear path to being able to improve their services that they could not get elsewhere.

Maybe we should look towards CRM’s to act as the foundation to all customer engagement. Use the huge amount of data that is stored within – from telephone calls, to actual mail-outs through to undoubtedly in some cases a huge amount of data that, if viewed with a different eye on in a different context could open up a whole new range of segments, preferences and potential engagement paths – In other words the key to the door of better customer experience.

Smart us of a CRM would I think encourage organisations to be subtler with the use of persuasive technology and the subsequent nudges, pushes, distractions, reminders that in some cases can interfere with people getting on with their daily lives – I know they do mine sometimes.

There is a problem with these general musings about where to invest in software. This approach is slightly different – this is not taking the usual digital professional view – as recently (over the last 3-5 years) CMS’, Social platforms etc. have homogenised the marketplace and to be honest good ‘old-fashioned’ CRM’s have been playing catch up. Also, to be honest more and more systems are encroaching onto each other’s technical territories, CMS’ that act as marketing platforms, CRM’s that act as CMS’ and blogs that act as everything.

But at the very core of every successful business, individual or collective that I have worked with or for – was a very clear and defined understanding of the customer – what they needed, what could be provided to them and how their experience could be enhanced by the services provided – this clearly is even more crucial today with the sheer level of competition in every single market – whether it is horizontal or vertical…

If the customer is at the very centre of business then surely any digital strategy and by default technical strategy should deliver the tools that are solely based for the management and understanding of customer data – just makes sense to me.


Bots for the rest of us

Taking the marketing out of Content marketing.