Getting To The Point And Getting It Right (with A Cms)
By Rob Rose
The new era of information exchange is complex but its possibilities are bright and exciting. Shifting markets put enormous pressure on firms to create a seamless and holistic approach to customer interactions. Online consumers are not always hard pressed for time; yet surfing habits indicate they have very little time to waste.
Content that is loaded with marketing hype and ad-speak can very quickly turn off these new consumers. A quick look at high-performing Web sites will underline the clever, minimalist approach that focuses on getting relevant content where it will be seen first. Everything else about the site – design, usability, look and feel – is arranged to make the content work. This is where a good Content Management System (CMS) can really make a difference. With the right CMS, it becomes simple to publish, track and optimize content to maximize conversions.
Traditional Media: Alive and Well
Interestingly, despite the boom of new media, traditional media have continued to grow and prosper. Media and research pundits have frequently predicted the demise of television, radio and print; but none of that has yet come to pass. The future may well see new integrations of traditional and new media, each reinforcing and complementing the other.
And if you really think about it, there is much to be learned about content from traditional media – especially print. The Society for News Design recently published the results of its 29th annual “Best of Newspaper Design Creative Competition”, naming the world’s best-designed newspapers; The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and the National Post stole the top honors. What did these publications have that made them stand out?
The best publications have an instantly identifiable and consistent design. This presentation of content and visuals is key to ensuring reader loyalty. It is a known fact that readers continue to buy a certain newspaper even if the writing standards have fallen, simply because they are so familiar with its layout and presentation. These attributes translate very well online – even if the experience is a little different. A Web site that looks good, makes relevant content easy to find and keeps these values consistently across time and location is more likely to be successful.
The best newspapers know how to tell stories. Readers can get to the core of the story quickly, and can choose to browse through more elaborate opinion pieces as well. Web real estate may be somewhat truncated in comparison, but the values of good narrative are the same. Tight, focused writing that involves readers usually wins.
Getting to the point
Headline writing is a recognized art. And for the busy online reader, a long-winded approach is usually unwelcome. People’s attention spans are also getting shorter, especially online. It is thus crucial to express more value with fewer words.
There is a certain aspect of trust that print media have been able to generate, simply by virtue of their authenticity. The Web 2.0 world is still working on this one.
Surprise and courage
Effective publications typically have innovative ideas, and use images and graphics to cleverly illustrate the story being told. A lot has been said about using pictures instead of words – but what’s more important is knowing when, and in what context. The element of ‘courage’
Applying the Learning Online – with a CMS
Journalists and columnists create the content in a large newspaper organization. They are seldom concerned with layout, typesetting, and the actual printing process. But for the smaller publications, it would not be uncommon to find writers also being involved in the technical aspects of getting the words to the audience. This rule of thumb works for the online world as well. Subject matter experts are best utilized when they are doing what they do best – creating content. But given the limitations of time, resource and budget, many organizations simply do not have the extra resources to focus exclusively on publishing, organizing and tracking the effectiveness of content.
A CMS allows even non-technical users to create, manage and publish content quickly and easily. It also helps marketers to configure and stream campaigns and analyze results by automating the process and integrating it with the content-publishing workflow. Significant savings in time and energy are realized. The CMS can also leverage high-value content to quickly and efficiently deliver a relevant personal customer experience. The ability to “write once, publish many times” allows for rapid deployment and effective distribution of tailored communication. Benefits like these certainly provide a key
competitive advantage to firms aspiring to profitably capture growing market opportunities.
The added online dimensions of search and quick cross-reference ability can also be fully leveraged with a CMS. For example:
Content Groups: The CMS aligns each content area to desired analytics content groups, which automatically set the appropriate content group tags on each page. As new content is added, the content groups are dynamically added and fed directly into reports. This significantly reduces ongoing tagging work.
Page Titles: The CMS ensures meaningful page names and automatically adds them into templates. As content contributors add content, those page names will be automatically associated with each page, which makes page titles more relevant and useful.
Custom Metadata: A CMS also describes additional types of data. For instance, the organization may want to track the popularity of specific authors across its site. Because authors can belong to multiple content groups, a custom variable can be set on each page which identifies the author and feeds into a specific report. As new authors are added, pages are automatically tagged and fed directly into reports.
The CMS automatically provides optimized content for all of the different keywords on your Web site, and more importantly generates the huge number of different search queries by adding the different keywords together. This ensures that the site is organically listed on the front pages of search engine results. The CMS also supplies tight control over the brand experience across channels while empowering marketers to directly manage integrated campaigns to effectively reinforce brand positioning statements and ensure brand consistency across multiple media types.
Choosing the right CMS
The right CMS is the one which:
• Can easily integrate with the existing system to ensure a quick and smooth transition
• Makes it easy to update content without needing to format changes or alter design
• Automatically optimizes all new content added (PDFs, blogs, news, special offers, etc)
• Saves time and money within the marketing department
• Provides quick results
Among the many available CMS models today, the on demand or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) CMS seems to offer the right combination of speed, functionality and cost. Easily scalable from small-to-midsize businesses all the way to large global enterprises, the SaaS model is fast gaining traction and looks set to dominate not just the CMS world, but other application environments as well.
Content management technology will play a crucial role in enabling a seamless customer experience at every touch point by providing the right content to the right audience at the right time.
The enterprise’s capabilities for multi-channel publishing will determine who is nimble enough to effectively compete in today’s dynamic marketplace. However, in the complex and diverse realm of services, it is ultimately the attitude - combined with a pervasive commitment - of the organization’s people that determines if the published content produces the desired results.
This article is contributed by Rob Rose - Vice President of Crownpeak.A good Content Management System (CMS) can really make a difference. With the right CMS, it becomes simple to publish, track and optimize content to maximize conversions.