Headless CMS – Making Unified Brand Experience Possible!..Partially?

Headless has been all the rage recently in software development circles. For marketers it can still be a relatively unknown technology. In this blog post I will shine light into it and try to make a case when you should look into migrating into it from your current CMS solution. Also when you absolutely shouldn’t. 

Headless CMS offers one huge benefit over traditional ones. It can deliver content to multiple different platforms instead of you needing different editing tools for each of them. Meaning your content editors don’t need to switch between a multitude of tools to get for example a campaign up and running. 

Good thing to remember that CMS is only part of your brand experience. Then you have social media, sms, email and other digital and offline channels. However, it does take care of a chunk of them. Thankfully!

What is a Headless CMS

What does headless CMS actually mean. Let’s take a look into what it does compared to traditional cms in the picture below.

Headless CMS architecture

Headless CMS essentially means that content lies on the content management system but it has a completely separate presentation layer which gets the content it shows through APIs. With headless you can send your content to different platforms enabling easier handling of omnichannel world. One great example would be smart watch apps.

Traditional CMS architecture

When more traditional CMS also creates the page the content is showing on and doesn’t serve content to anywhere else really than your website. Like in the picture above.

Comparison

I hope this clears out what is headless CMS and how it differentiates from traditional content management systems.

Benefits of a Headless CMS

So let us focus on the benefits of headless CMS. Don’t worry I will get to the downsides soon enough!

One Platform For “All” Content

One editor interface and place for them to work on which delivers content to all the company’s platforms. For example, if a company has a TV app, mobile app and website handling the content on different platforms can be a nightmare. Keeping it aligned with your brand and making sure the customer journey and experience is unified can be extremely tricky and delicate work even on just one platform but think how hard it is when you have multiple platforms!

With headless cms you and your editors will have one and up-to-date view information on all your brands platforms customers are using. If you have it fully implemented. (It can be a long and challenging road. Trust me I know…)

Campaign Creation

When you have all content in the same place creating new campaigns can be fun and a fast process. Think about that! Also being able to reuse old campaigns or their setups will make your marketing department more efficient.

Martech Freedom

Often when you are looking into CMS one of your current vendors might have a solution they are pushing for. Like Adobe and Hubspot for example. They both have CMS with their marketing automation side and are heavily pushing for it. (Nothing wrong with that) Sometimes it isn’t the best solution for you and will move you deeper into vendor-locking. 

In some situations all from one vendor makes perfect sense. Often however, it does not. Having the possibility to change systems to best of your current needs is crucial to stay ahead of the competition. Changing from vendor-locked system isn’t easy nor is it fast in any terms. 

Think it through when you are changing a CMS or any part of marketing technology stack. Do you want to head for vendor-lock or steer clear of it. Future of technology is hard to predict for even 3 years in advance. 

Having chosen the best of your needs often leads to different vendors giving chance options more open and less costly.

Own Applications

When you have a headless CMS you don’t need to worry about where you are going to handle the content of your mobile app for example. CMS can take this role in headless world. Giving you more freedom to edit it in a faster way and not involving developers always.

This generally makes both parties happier when they can focus on their core work instead of prioritizing work to fit each others schedule.

Challenges of a Headless CMS

Implementing and keeping a headless content management system up to date isn’t all dancing in the park. It will require quite a bit of preparation and handling complex problems while having access to a development budget on different scale. These problems don’t really exist with traditional CMS which has its own issues of course. 

Content Management Complexity

When you are setting up a headless cms managing the content in a way that it can fit multiple formats can be a huge challenge. For that you need to create a content framework and have developers insert it into it. (Better have rules inside CMS for this than in people’s head. Trust me on this.)

Interface Building

Headless CMS doesn’t have many things from the get go so you will need to use development budget to take care of these. For example you need to build a preview view for pages/content you are working on it. 

Many things don’t exists ready in headless but things are also getting better all the time.This is something you will need to take into consideration when doing requirement mapping and budgeting.

Strong IT Support

As you might have guessed all of this work listed above will require you to have access to strong IT support as well. Software and systems are fluid things and are never truly ready. Constant development will take place as it does with marketing for example. It just isn’t something you can stop doing. 

Cost 

As you need strong IT and a lot of features to make headless CMS truly usable and be your competitive advantage you will need money for it. Which is why I don’t recommend it to all companies and generally bigger companies have the resources to pull this off. 

Exceptions exist of course. Maybe you could name one so I can take a look into it? Would like that a lot. 

Conclusion

If you have the resources to pull of implementation of headless cms is a robust way I recommend that you do it. It will take some time but the reward can be great. 

If you don’t have the budget currently or resources to do it, I wouldn’t fret on it. There will be time and place for everything. While you wait for your company to grow you can focus on a lot of other things to get you to a place where headless cms makes sense. 

Wondering which way I should go? Drop me a line and let’s discuss it! 

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