Today's consumers have more freedom to choose how to interact with businesses than ever before. Smartphones, desktop computers, tablets, kiosks, wearable tech and laptops are just some of the options consumers can choose to conduct research, make purchases or discuss a company's products, customer service or brand reputation. It has become increasingly common for customers to jump between devices as they progress through the various steps of their journeys from mild interest in a product to completing its purchase.
However, customers demand an experience that is engaging as well as seamless when they switch from one channel to another. This is where an effective content management system can help. Content management systems were once little more than a tool to make it easier to upload images and text. Over time, however, they have evolved to become the foundation upon which all Internet-enabled processes are built.
It is no longer enough to just have a website that will only display properly on a desktop monitor. The site must also render correctly on a smartphone, phablet or any other mobile device the user might prefer. New devices are constantly being released making it necessary to adapt content for each innovation.
As technology advances, new channels become available for engaging customers. In-store kiosks provide customers an opportunity to conduct online research about a product they are considering, verify inventory levels or order and pay for a purchase. I-beacons allow companies to engage customers while they are in the vicinity to encourage immediate purchases. Wearable tech is still in its infancy, but as its potential is tapped, it will offer additional channels that will need to be considered. The Internet of Things has seen explosive growth connecting everything from cars to home appliances to the web. Social media sites have become increasingly important for companies seeking to engage customers in the manner those customers prefer. Businesses will need to provide content for all of these channels as well.
How Content Management Systems Help
Content management systems can help provide a start-to-finish experience for customers. It can even go beyond the purchase to encourage return business and build long-term relationships with customers.
However, to meet the needs of customers, a CMS needs to be flexible and agile enough to adapt to fast-changing business conditions. A good CMS allows text and images to be uploaded separately and then automatically integrated for each different presentation on every channel. Manual inputting and editing can be reduced or eliminated, making each channel more responsive.
Data can be collected from all channels as needed. With centralized management, new channels can be added and new content published almost instantly and almost effortlessly.
Perhaps most importantly, CMS allows companies to personalize content for each customer or group of customers. All customers enjoy feeling that a company knows them and understands their needs and wants. Content management systems allow companies interact with customers in a more engaging, personal manner to forge long-lasting relationships. In short, CMS helps businesses give customers an omnichannel experience they will remember.
Tips for Using a CMS Effectively for an Omnichannel Experience
An effective content management system does not arise in a fully mature state from barren soil. Here are some tips for creating and managing a CMS across multiple channels.
- Take time to plan. Think about what you need to accomplish, now and in the future. Evaluate what you already have, whether it is your concept of your ideal customer or the technical skills of your employees who will be supporting your CMS.
- Realize that your CMS can help support a variety of business processes beyond marketing and sales. Your CMS can provide data for your research and development, financial and production departments as well. While planning your CMS, consider whether (and how) to provide other departments with access or information.
- Make sure that your CMS is scalable. You no doubt expect your business to grow, but regardless of how much your market share increases, you can be virtually certain that there will be new channels and additional content that you will need to support.
- An omnichannel experience tends to blur the boundaries between online and offline activities. Make sure that your CMS can support both. For example, you might want to print a brochure to place at the cash register and still make the brochure available through your website. Using CMS as a repository for all content makes it faster, easier and less costly to repurpose text and images whenever needed.
An effective CMS will provide you with continuous feedback from every channel. Businesses that analyze this feedback to adjust strategies can increase audience diversity, improve customer retention and offer all customers greater engagement. Customers are going to increasingly expect a friction-less omnichannel experience, and a quality CMS is an excellent way to meet their demands.