Using a Modern CMS to Build Persuasive Digital Experiences

A conversation with leading analyst Marci Maddox

Webinar

With the massive shift to digital necessitated by the pandemic, it’s no longer enough for a company’s digital presence to be just “good enough.” 

The rise in consumer expectations of digital experiences, and the economic challenges of becoming digital-first, have forced businesses to build deeper digital experiences that provide exceptional customer experiences.

Content is at the core of these deeper digital experiences. And the market for content management systems (CMSes) has shifted, as new and different solutions have emerged to meet businesses’ diverse needs.

Learn how to separate hype from reality in content and digital experiences. Join our conversation with WordPress VIP CEO Nick Gernert and guest speaker Marci Maddox, author of the IDC MarketScape Worldwide Content Management Systems for Persuasive Digital Experiences Vendor Assessment.

Key takeaways you’ll hear about:

  • What persuasive digital experiences are—and why they are essential to today’s businesses.
  • How to overcome key challenges and pitfalls that hold organizations back in their digital transformation.
  • How the modern CMS has evolved to meet the needs of today’s consumers—and where each type of solution is best suited.
  • The key CMS capabilities that position organizations for success, based on IDC’s latest research.

Presenters

Nick Gernert, CEO, WordPress VIP

Nick is the CEO of WordPress VIP, the leading agile content platform. With more than two decades working across the open web, Nick is responsible for WordPress VIP’s overall business strategy. His passion lies in enabling enterprises to create valuable customer experiences.

Guest speaker Marci Maddox, Research Director, Digital Experience Strategies, IDC

Marci is Research Director for IDC’s Digital Experience Management Software program, responsible for research related to content and media assets that drive relevant, personalized, and engaging digital experiences research.  Marci’s core research coverage includes creative tools, web content management systems, customer communications, digital asset management and video platform solutions. Leveraging 18 years in content and experience applications, Marci analyzes impact that new technology entrants like AI and mobile have on the way organizations create and deliver persuasive content to improve customer lifetime value and user interaction. 

Transcript

Nick Gernert (00:00:05):

Welcome everybody. We’re going to take a few minutes here and let everybody filter in. I’m your host today [inaudible 00:00:14]. Myself I’m Nick Gernert, CEO here at WordPress VIP. So we’ll take a few minutes and then we’ll jump in. In the meantime, you need a water, you want to let your dog out or anything, that’s what I’m going to do here real quick as we go because now my dog is talking to me as we kick off. So give it a couple of minutes and we’ll get underway. (singing) If this is one of your first webinars with us welcome. If you’ve come to these before welcome back, it’s great to have folks joining us. I’d like to take some topics that we think are particularly exciting and interesting around the industry and help us all do a better job of connecting with our customers through it.

Nick Gernert (00:01:03):

So excited for the session that we’ve got going today and what we’re going to be able to talk about here. This idea of persuasive digital experiences and what we’re thinking about. So I’m thinking about this and just ways of moving beyond this idea that we tend to maybe thought of just maybe informing customers through things like the web or other touch points that we have digitally with our customers. And really this is just greater emphasis that we’re all feeling on like how are we building connections and actually really driving towards action and engagement with our customers. And so recently Marci Maddox, my guest here today on webinar has published some thoughts around this and done a bunch of research around this concept of a persuasive digital experience. And how we create that relationship with our customers with content?

Nick Gernert (00:02:02):

And so I asked Marci if she might join us for a webinar and she was great to oblige. So I think without any further ado we might actually kick this thing off here because I’m really excited for a lot of the content that Marci has prepared for us here. Marci is a Research Director at IDC. And Marci spends a lot of time thinking about things like content and all the things that live around content, and how it drives results for businesses really. So Marci it’s so good to have you here today and welcome and thank you for joining me.

Marci Maddox (00:02:38):

Thank you Nick, appreciate you coming and bringing me on. This will be good discussion, a little different than maybe you’ve done before. But I’ll be using a lot of statistics and things that we found in the last year and a half and there’ll be an opportunity for us to discuss them.

Nick Gernert (00:02:51):

Great. Can’t wait, let’s dive in. One thing I should know as we dive in is that we like to reserve some time at the end of these webinars for questions. So there is some functionality here in the webinar where you can submit questions to us. We’ll collect those throughout the session today and then we’re going to reserve some time towards the end. So probably won’t stop through today’s presentation to answer things on the fly, but we will get to as many as we can hear at the end. So with that right back to you Marci, let’s jump in.

Marci Maddox (00:03:22):

We’re going to jump on in, thank you. So as Nick mentioned, well, I’m at IDC, I cover the digital experience market. And for a long time customer experience and customer engagement has been top of mind for a lot of organizations. It’s been their board level discussions, it’s been their competitive strategy. And then we hit the pandemic. And things got a little shaken up. And so I’d like to share with you some of the results that we saw as 2020 really changed the way digital was used. And we really unfortunately, took a pandemic to push this catalyst for everyone to become more engaged online. And early 2020 we saw cloud, security, remote work, that was all top of mind for a lot of organizations. But by about mid year, we saw the customer experience was really back out in front again. And as the world lockdown unfortunately, a lot of websites failed both the businesses and the consumers.

Marci Maddox (00:04:28):

We saw online traffic spiking such that 40% of organizations said that they had significantly high to almost outage level demands. And with the cloud being available, about a third of businesses were looking to either replace some antiquated CMS or adding new sites. Now there has been a huge shift to digital channels and in many ways, organizations who had never considered being an online retailer before were now sort of thrown into this digital world. But it wasn’t just technology that changed during the last 18 months but also there was a human element too. In fact, IDC has done some recent research that baby boomers are now fueling the increase in B2B online commerce, almost to the level of the Gen Zers usage of it.

Marci Maddox (00:05:25):

And that means they’re not looking to interface with human salespeople anymore but rather through the digital channel. Last year when we surveyed them, they were looking to use online commerce 49% of the time. Today, it’s up to 64%. That’s a 15 point increase in just a year. And of course, the digital transformation that’s been happening and a lot of the digital experiences has placed a huge demand on content creators, because they’re trying to get more content into the hands of their customers, their partners, their constituents, all of these audiences. What we found when we surveyed was some of the biggest challenges was about the amount of time it takes an idea to get on to paper and out to the website to the mobile device.

Marci Maddox (00:06:16):

And many organizations are still depending on IT to do that last mile publication to get it to go live. So there’s one thing we’re going to talk about really today is about content velocity. How do we handle it? How do we create content, the democratization of content creation, what that means to organizations? In fact, when we ask a lot of organizations where this is going to take them in the future, they said they expected a 26% increase in the number of content authors that they are going to have added to their staff over the next two years. But it’s not slowing down which I’m sure you’ve also seen as well, right, Nick?

Nick Gernert (00:06:57):

Yeah, this increase 26% feels about right in terms of like what we’re seeing and just accessibility to content creation and the tools. And really the desire to put the power into more hands into your point. Like remove that sort of choke point that comes at the last mile on release of content or whatever it may be that needs to happen there. And so we’re absolutely seeing from our perspective how organizations are driving towards how do we put simpler, easier to use tools in the hands of more folks at our organization to create these touch points with our customers? So seeing the exact same things.

Marci Maddox (00:07:38):

Yeah, I do find that organizations are looking to remove the friction from a lot of the processes. And that way, almost imagine like a flywheel, the more that you get the flywheel going you have to accelerate up to some level and then it makes it easier because you’ve already got that momentum built. And you’re building on that kinetic energy that’s driving you forward. Now of course, as the market changes, we’re going to see more content, more things growing and we’re going to have accelerate a little more effort into that next, maybe it’s a process change or something else. But the idea if you keep that in your mind throughout this presentation, how do I improve my flywheel so that it is working for me the tool, which is the flywheel itself is working for me and not against me? Does that resonate with you Nick?

Nick Gernert (00:08:26):

Yeah, it does. And I think like what’s really critical to this from my perspective is just feedback loops as you do that. Because as you increase this velocity and as you really start putting more out into the market and you have potentially more touch points with customers, there’s also a greater emphasis on more deeply understanding like what is and what is not working, and really being able to then focus in on where we’re seeing success and really tightening those feedback loops there. So there’s this real need from our perspective to think about what do you look at in feedback loops? And then how are you iterating upon this? And then I think the additional piece there is just with an increase in scale and creation, comes like an increase having to think about how do you manage that?

Nick Gernert (00:09:09):

How do you service that? You’ve got now more that you have to put out there but also there can be more confusion that comes with having that greater scale and so how are you managing content at scale? And thinking about surfacing to your point and many other things that are relevant experience, the right content and all that for us is like coming back to like feedback loops and a deep understanding of what is and isn’t working and really doubling down on what is.

Marci Maddox (00:09:37):

Yeah, so maybe I’ll go on to the next slide here which is about how IDC views what we call this persuasive digital experience. And we’ve all been familiar with in the past where ERP systems and financial systems, they are all about business content, right? So think about those types of interactions, but to persuade someone in the experience that you have in guiding a customer along a journey where they can learn something, they’ll share, they will interact, all of it is fueled by this content. That we need to break it up sometimes and other times pull it together and assemble it. And we saw during the pandemic, many organizations had their website as their front face to their consumers. And unfortunately, sometimes the consumers were looking at their favorite brands where they have these highly personalized, interconnected and empathetic connections trying to move that physical into a digital space.

Marci Maddox (00:10:37):

And this puts a lot of pressure on content authors to find new ways to connect. And why do we do this, right? So we would look at where I mentioned, top of mine board level discussions is the customer experience which ties to customer satisfaction. We did a survey where we found that 82% of organizations are prioritizing customer experience for long term resilience and that success. Now, if you’re ever have ever done like a business case or why you want to move to the cloud, or why you want to move into a new modern CMS. Let me give you a few statistics here. For every dollar that you invest in improving the customer experience, organizations have come back to say 61% of them saw at least a 5X return on every dollar they put in improving that customer experience.

Marci Maddox (00:11:32):

And if you correlate that to the larger digital transformation which is everything from technology changes to process changes across the board, remote work and handling IT for accessibility there. That percent was a 21% improvement in customer satisfaction as an annual return rate. So these are not small numbers. This is great experiences coming back to you in terms of profit, in terms of closed transactions, better funnel conversions. And if we consider how can we add more value to our content and think of content as this value stream. Where every time that you use let’s say, a product description, or a video that you’ve created of your product or a customer story, all of those things are adding value to the experience overall and that journey the customer is going through.

Marci Maddox (00:12:28):

And so as we find to your point Nick that you just mentioned, where are the gaps, what’s working well, what’s not working well? Where is that content analytics that helps me as a marketer, or as a customer supporter of salesperson know this piece of content is what’s going to resonate well? Such that even on the machine side, that the next product recommendation has learned what works so that it is improved the next time and then the next time and next time. Remember our flywheel, we want to get that content building more and more value across the organization and how you’re using it.

Marci Maddox (00:13:03):

So here we do see that there are still a lot of focus areas for improving the customer experience. And these are what resonate with consumers is be personalized, be responsive, have that interaction that’s built on trusted relationships and it all comes down to how you present yourself through the web. Nick, I see you nodding here are there some of these things resonating for you?

Nick Gernert (00:13:29):

It does. I mean, it resonates and then I’m curious like as we think about like a digital customer experience. It’s a lot of different technology that comes together though that we’re serving on those things. And so where folks are seeing like this 5X return, what are the key drivers of that return? When you have a lot of different technologies coming together, I’m curious from your perspective is that simply in the CMS. Is that like look, we’re investing in something like a CMS and we’re getting that sort of return. Are there other areas around that customer experience that are also high contributors too that return from your perspective?

Marci Maddox (00:14:01):

There are a lot of components here, I’m not going to say that’s easy. You can’t just roll out a new modern CMS without looking at the entire picture. So it’s personal behavior, it’s the processes that we follow. It’s learning how to use the systems. It’s also about integrations, how easy it is to plug in a new commerce system, or if you move to the cloud, shifting to where IT is no longer having to maintain the backend. And marketers can realize, oh, great, there’s scale that I have here. So it’s everything all together. But of course, from my perspective, the CMS is the engine behind it, right? So if you don’t have the content where you’re easily able to access it and reuse it and assemble those pieces on the fly. In fact, the age of the page is gone. We are now in an elemental assembly of dynamic experiences.

Marci Maddox (00:14:57):

Sure, you might think, oh well my information contact page, that’s pretty static. Is it really? Like, when you think about what does that footer look like? Or you want to have any brand logo or a promotion, everywhere that you can automate, anywhere in this system and have that content just be available and accessible, then that’s where that improvement starts to happen. And the customers that you’re dealing with the audience’s out there are also going to realize that oh, look, more transparency to the information I was looking for. More control, more preferences, I’m getting information on my mobile device and it matches what’s on the website, it matches what’s in my social media. So consistency there as well. Not an easy answer their Nick for that.

Nick Gernert (00:15:43):

No, I get it. One thing that does stand out to me on this before we move on if you can, is just this key priority for improved customer experience you have trusted right in there. And trust is a pretty big concept and also something that I think like from a consumer perspective, is in short supply. So I’m curious as you think about this, what advice do you have for folks if trust is one of those key priorities? What are the ways that folks are being successful in that area from your perspective?

Marci Maddox (00:16:11):

Yeah, you hit the nail on the head on that one. And although I put it last, it really is first in being top of mind for a lot of organizations today. Is Data Trust is about ensuring something as simple as personalized, identifiable information PII. Has seen a change from third party cookie data now moving to first party data. Well, what’s going to make me as a consumer give up this information about me? I’m I going to get back an experience that’s tailored to me? Or are you going to abuse my information or not have it secured in a system? And then we start talking about data residency across different countries and a lot of organizations that want to have a global presence need to recognize the local laws and how things are going to be managed.

Marci Maddox (00:17:01):

And that comes down to an architectural and technical capability to handle data residency problems and challenges with regulations. So Data Trust comes to be personal, it comes to be a security, it comes also to building trust with a brand, right? I’m I going to have a good relationship with you, a loyal relationship? Do I trust in the products that you’re delivering, the services that you’re delivering? And the website is a way for us to communicate that and ensure as well that it’s all going to be locked down where it needs to be.

Nick Gernert (00:17:37):

Thank you. Thanks. This is like this is a big one, we could like probably do a whole future webinar just on the subject of trust and what’s the role of the platform versus the brand and all of that. So maybe you’re giving me ideas for other things we can explore in the future but we’ll keep going for now.

Marci Maddox (00:17:49):

Yeah. You talk a little bit about data which is a good segue into this next slide which is that bar for the customer expectation. It keeps rising, because every time a consumer has a really great experience on one web property, they’re going to expect it on every property that they go to. And so it keeps being elevated. And unfortunately, for marketing teams, content creators, they’re having to find a way to differentiate themselves among everything that’s being sent out there. I mean, we’ve talked about in the past being Zoom fatigued or digital fatigued, because everything has been switched to digital. And how do we get more of that physical environment, the emotion, the tone, the empathetic relationship that we want to have in a digital forum? And that’s how we build all these immersive experiences. And content authors they are looking for easier ways to create that. This new modes of interaction that can keep pace with these changing market dynamics.

Marci Maddox (00:18:55):

And it’s not just the content we’re creating, but also that which we are curating. That’s growing what IDC calls is the global data sphere. And we did measure this and we saw in our numbers that over the next five years, we’re going to have two and a half times more data than we did in the past 10 years. And that’s going to grow to about 180 zettabytes of data. So as you think about within your organization where, okay, when I had gigabytes of data, although now I have terabytes of data. We all sort of become comfortable with this idea of size, but it’s still difficult to search and find oh, where is that one asset that I had that was done last year that I want to put up on this campaign or I want to look at a hero shop that’s doing really well. And that has shown that in all this data is exposing inadequacies to the CMS the two might have in place.

Marci Maddox (00:19:51):

In fact, we found that one of the three companies are unhappy with their current CMS. And with the cloud they were able to look at opportunities to spin up a new property. And in fact, 40% of organizations expect to grow the 22 sites that they are managing today by another 25% in the next couple of years. So it’s just going to get much larger. So we need the tools, we need my flywheel to get bigger and bigger as we start to pull this content in. And realize that web, email, social, mobile, these are all table stakes. Like if you’re not already communicating to your customers across all of these channels, you are missing an opportunity to connect with them. And then you need to start looking even further into expanding into conversational interfaces displays other areas. Now, some organizations might think it’s just too overwhelming, right? How do I take this in bite sized chunks?

Marci Maddox (00:20:51):

So what we see is coming really to head is organizations moving out of that customer centric only approach to becoming digital first enterprises. And you said it earlier Nick, content creation and services at scale. And the scale is the really important part there. Now, some organizations, you may be perfectly happy with a basic publishing to a website or mobile app or even maybe a social site. But for many more organizations, we’re finding it’s a robust digital experience. Remember that dynamic experience that you want to integrate an e-commerce system, your campaign tools, your customer data, all of that is coming back to expanding on the value of the content. And we have to think about reimagining that content in the context of this contactless economy.

Marci Maddox (00:21:46):

Where we’re orchestrating not just the content author and marketing, because there are many different contributors that are responsible for the digital experience, the role has expanded. Where almost all of us are content publishers in one way. If you’re posting up in your own personal life to Facebook, Instagram, wherever it might be, how do we bring the modern CMS to make it easier for democratization of content creation? With controls, because we still need to ensure that information gets published on the timeline that it needs to and is secured. And we need to give the tools the opportunity to do that for us, right? You talked about earlier where do we see ways to improve that CX number, it’s about giving me the tools I need so I don’t have to do the mundane or repeatable things that a machine can do. I want to put more creative in front of mine.

Marci Maddox (00:22:40):

Which for some developers, we’ve seen a rise in front end development where they want to use their favorite gooeys. They want to have the right kind of code to present the brand experience the way that they want, but still leverage the backend CMS as an engine that gives them scalability at the edge. And [inaudible 00:23:01] I’m going to push you here as well, think about the edge. The mobile device is a caching mechanism for us where we can maybe take a picture and stream it directly to the cloud. How do we and use all of these different devices, not just the CMS with a web browser, but the omni channel experience that’s driving a lot of changes needed for architectures and a CMS to support it. And we also see that there’s this idea of an atomic data structure. I said earlier about we want to dynamically build these pages, pages being a euphemism.

Marci Maddox (00:23:37):

Because it might be a mobile device view, it might be a screen about some other sort. Where we want to have diversity of content, when you think about AR, VR, other types of audio that might be needing to be managed and presented in the right format and right context. And then there’s also the inclusion aspect, where we want to deliver accessible experiences for everyone. That means optimizing the screens, it means optimizing the content delivery. And finally, I want to talk about API frameworks. Because that as you mentioned Nick, the whole ecosystem really depends on that capability to customize the right experience, the right solution for your business. You can use the tools, there can be templates to start from. But ultimately, every organization is going to want to tweak it here and there.

Marci Maddox (00:24:30):

They are going to want to have a pluggable system that says, well, I was using this commerce system but now we’ve started to roll out another and that heavy transaction, I don’t need I just need a pay well, right here. So maybe you integrate a different one. And we have seen that it is no longer a single monolithic application but rather, brands are wanting to move to the cloud and use best of breed capabilities to meet the focus of a specific task. And the cloud in particular has been that opportunity to expand quickly and scale. So I’ll leave you with one final thought here is if you are a marketer and we’re about to head into the holiday season. Of course, that this is on demand and you’re watching it after the holidays you can think back. But if you’re a marketer and you’re preparing for as a retailer, you’re preparing for Black Friday, or maybe Cyber Monday.

Marci Maddox (00:25:26):

You want to have all of these promotions, you want all this great content to help sell your products on that day, which we’ll see how this year is going to be because last year was huge in terms of the amount of traffic for online purchasing. But what if your CMS didn’t publish the information or your IT team wasn’t available until the Tuesday after? You’ve missed a window of opportunity that won’t come back around for another year. So it’s very, very important that timing and being able to address these windows of opportunity. And the cloud gives that ability to scale and offer repetitive tasks to automate to the back end and leave the creative teams to what they do best and building up those experiences. So to turn back on, let’s talk a little bit Nick, what do you think about some of these statistics in this direction that I was mentioning?

Nick Gernert (00:26:17):

There’s a lot there to unpack Marci. I feel like in those like that’s the two action packs slides you just ran us through there. I mean, there’s a couple of things, this best of breed are leveraging a lot of technologies and coming together. I think from our perspective, this is something that we think a lot about because there’s some beauty in the simplicity of thinking about the monolithic stack like look, there was one thing I just knew I went to and it maybe didn’t do everything I wanted to do really well. But I at least knew that’s where I went to go do those sorts of things. To now really thinking about like, okay, I’ve got my customer data, I’ve got commerce, I’ve got content, I’ve got a front end, various front ends and things like this. And I want to stitch those together in a way that actually does create a better customer experience.

Nick Gernert (00:26:58):

And we’re seeing where folks are really creating better experiences through leveraging like the right tool for the right job. But still can see that this becomes overwhelming for folks in terms of bringing that together. And then also still really delivering on some of the fundamentals that you mentioned earlier on this in security and scalability and things like this. So when you’re thinking about like that big day if it’s a Black Friday, or if it’s a Cyber Monday, or an election cycle, or a big launch, or who knows, like whatever you’re doing, it can be a bit overwhelming to think, all right, I’ve stitched together five different things to deliver this experience and I really hope that all of those things come together. So that’s something that we’ve really taken to heart on this and think actually, from a WordPress perspective, there’s a unique angle on this because as we think about things on the WordPress VIP it’s look what’s made WordPress ubiquitous.

Nick Gernert (00:27:48):

Is this interoperability with just about anything and can be brought together with just about anything. And so there’s actual, you can create the better experience and you can also have a trust behind that integrated experience in doing that. But it’s really bringing folks through that and sort of breaking up what may have just been one platform before and saying, look, you’re going to have a great content platform that’s really able to sit at the heart of a lot of this experience, but then bring in those other elements there. So anyway, that resonates for me in terms of what you’re talking about on just that best of breed and the integrated. I think the promise of it into the future is really exciting. But I still I can admit we’re in this place right now where folks are feeling like an overwhelm in terms of how to bring all of that together in a way that still delivers on security and the scalability.

Nick Gernert (00:28:35):

The other thing you mentioned this personal publishing aspect, and I think we all feel this in our lives where a lot of the things we get to do personally through technology can be very satisfying, very streamlined, very quick, efficient, empowering, simple, easy to use, and there’s no reason that shouldn’t carry through into the tools we use in our day to day lives at work. But it’s unfortunate that we’ve been conditioned in a way historically to think that like, there’s a worse experience somehow and actually how now I take something and get it out to my own customers in doing this. And so again, I think that’s something that we are looking at really critically and things that get us really excited. We did work with the Democratic National Convention and one of the things they were saying around like all their work they were just like, it’s simple, it’s easy to use, we’re quick, we can take an image and move it from this and get it there.

Nick Gernert (00:29:24):

Or we can do a quick publishing aspect and we know we’re going to get it to other platforms and we’re not spending hours training folks. And we’re not lost in complicated interfaces and things like this. It’s really just about getting that job done. And so I think that idea of like look, the experience I have with personal products should be as I want that in what and how I do my work. Like we all want to aspire to that and really push towards that and deliver that because especially as we’re talking about content production at scale and everything else you’re describing like, simplicity scales. Like we can actually put more tools in the hands of content creators if they’re intuitive and if they’re actually enjoyable to use and do these sorts of things. So all things to really consider you and we encourage folks to consider as thinking about this democratization of the capabilities.

Marci Maddox (00:30:14):

Yeah, and I’m sure in that convention example that there were people who never had touched a CMS in their life or now sat down and said, here’s your job, right? This is what you’re doing. The timeframe was very short, you’re coming in maybe it’s an intern or someone. And to your point, there’s a lot of work that goes into building out a system behind the scenes that makes the front end simple and easy to use. And it’s a little tongue in cheek to say, easy to use, it is easy to deploy, easy to scale. Well, that’s what we want it to be. But under the covers and as I’ve seen with WordPress VIP, you put a lot of time and effort to make sure that that happens. So that the convention people can sit an intern down and start publishing content day one.

Nick Gernert (00:31:02):

They go from no one like from zero to like hundreds interacting with these things. And then it all gets torn down after but it’s a point in time where it’s like look, we have this moment and then that moment will be over. So we have like a finite period to actually do this. And so speed and simplicity are critical to that.

Marci Maddox (00:31:22):

And they sound like goes back to that trust in the tool that it’s going to do exactly what I want it to do and it’s going to guarantee delivery and put it out there when it needs to come up and come down when it needs to come down. And that level of data trust comes back to using the tools appropriately.

Nick Gernert (00:31:41):

Great.

Marci Maddox (00:31:43):

So you talked a little bit about what’s coming next. So I’d like to throw this out there as more of a discussion. So we’ve talked about where content is today, some of the challenges that organizations have, how they’re going to put processes, tools in place. But let’s look a little further out. Because we’re not just putting a CMS in place for today’s activities, you’re also putting in for that long term resiliency that I mentioned earlier, and driving customer satisfaction. So as we look to the future, you mentioned Data Trust, right? So we have to keep an eye on authenticity, right? Things like non-fungible tokens, NFT’s have come up in the last year, people never had heard of such a thing before. They now are saying that you’re validating video and making sure it’s authentic, hasn’t been tampered with. Some of the same concepts that have been in legal documents for decades is now moving into our digital experiences.

Marci Maddox (00:32:42):

And the second point maybe we can talk about a little more in depth too is in these generational gaps that are shrinking in this digital environment. And as marketers, let’s just choose that role here for a moment, you’re going to need to look at how do I address those baby boomers, at the same time trying to address the extent of the Gen Zers. But this might be a new audience that you didn’t really have before as pervasive in your experience journey description. And when we find that you have this larger audience of different types of content, right? You want to reuse content that was evaluated and insights to what works there. We also need to ensure as I said earlier in terms of the tools that we’re making it easier for you to do this. In fact, IDC found that 85% of organizations found that improving the employee’s experience and making them more engaged, drove better customer satisfaction, better customer experiences.

Marci Maddox (00:33:48):

So there’s that direct tie to the productivity side of the equation to the profit side of the equation with the customer and customer’s success. So we talked about engaging our employees with these types of tools, whether it’s in cloud or remote work, all of these different environments that we have to live in at the end of the day, we’re still trying to deliver experiences that shine and show our brand. So let’s take a few moments here and look at look forward to the future. Any thoughts you’d like to share first?

Nick Gernert (00:34:19):

Well, I mean, I would love to unpack some of this generational gap for engaging digital experience that you mentioned here earlier. You mentioned I think what this is going from 49% I want to say that was the statistic you said for boomers, and that that jumped up over 60%. So a big increase. And how does that or how should that be shifting an organization’s perception around like these digital experiences given that adoption in that demographic? Like how does that statistic from your perspective actually translate into actions we need to take and considerations we need to be making that maybe weren’t top of mind previously?

Marci Maddox (00:35:03):

Yeah, so I’d like to dig into that too a second because I’ve been talking about marketing, in terms of the public, front wait, website, mobile app, whatever it might be. We also have to remember the customer success team, the customer care team. So if they want to have these experiences online as well after you’re customer, let’s talk about loyalty and how those baby boomers in the past were very comfortable with picking up a phone, calling a company, getting their situation handled, whatever it might be. And in that case, the call center was a very expensive way to communicate that challenge. So now that we start to see that they’re moving into commerce for the front end, there I want to look at how the customer care team can have that same experience into the cheaper, less expensive way of doing it online. Where you’re answering questions maybe via a chat bot, or you’re having FAQs.

Marci Maddox (00:36:09):

Because this comfort level with online and the data that I’m going to get from that experience, I can trust the response just as much as I can trust a response if I pick up the phone and talk to somebody. I have two girls, they’re Gen Zers. And if I were to ask them to call the doctor and make an appointment, they’d be like, “Can I just text him? Like, why do I have to pick up the phone, I’m scared, I don’t want to say it.” Like it is a completely different environment when we think about generations. As we have to look at how that content needs to be formatted so that everything is answered in one place. I’ll give you one other example. A couple years ago, my husband was trying to change our internet package let’s say. And he was trying to figure out what we had, how many gigabytes or whatever we get. And he couldn’t find the phone number to call because he was comfortable doing that.

Marci Maddox (00:37:04):

And I said “Why don’t you just ask the chat bot, and maybe the chat bot will tell you at least what page will have the different packages?” And he kind of had the horn didn’t really believe me. And sure enough, he did it. And it came back and said, here’s the link, he clicked on the link, it had exactly the packages he was looking for. And he came back and he was like, “I’m surprised that actually worked.” And this was a couple of years ago. So now if we’re all building the content to be that assemble to find knowledge, the FAQs, wherever it might be that exposure through the web property whether it’s a customer support site, or a commerce site or a branded site, that’s where we need to get to be. Where you can trust the data that comes back out as accurate. Just a thought.

Nick Gernert (00:37:51):

Great. Now, and you would ask me just about other things maybe seeing looking ahead. And I think from my perspective, a lot of the stuff we’ve covered today but I think like looking ahead, really having to think about suffering sounds maybe too dramatic. But suffering the platforms and the tools that we’ve had today, a lot of that has been pulled forward over the last year. And a lot of the various pains that we’ve experienced or that we’ve seen folks experiencing and engaging with their own customers, has really been highlighted in and very acutely in the existing platforms. And I think there’s a big push towards, okay, how are we going to shift our organization to be able to adapt to unexpected things more quickly. And a lot of that does come from the foundation. But I think a lot of that and content platforms and things like this as the foundation. But I think as this like breaking up of monolithic platforms is really taking hold, it actually gives organizations a lot of freedom and thinking about this doesn’t have to be an overwhelming effort from our perspective either.

Nick Gernert (00:38:59):

And so the richness in API’s and the interoperability of systems now actually opens up the opportunity to have multiple platforms really coming together and starting to actually have chip away at the problem, not necessarily think about the years long epics have replatforming that we had seen in the past. And so a lot of that interoperability of these solutions can help us maybe get off center faster than we would have and start smaller iterating and learning along there. And for our perspective, that really does also just I think into the future, I think being able to understand what is or is not working. We’ve seen organizations like HelloFresh be able to start actually deeply looking at the results of their content production and like what it’s guiding and say like, actually, we were able to increase overall traffic by 60% by actually focusing on what was or was not resonating in what we were creating. Whereas before, there were modest gains in overall traffic and things like this.

Nick Gernert (00:40:00):

So I think looking into the future being able to really measure and reflect and iterate, it’s exciting because we’re kind of bringing together the marketers and the developers which from my perspective is like that secret sauce of like creating a tight feedback loop and not making it. Like oh, we have the engineering side or the IT side, or the development side and we have the marketing side. And we’re somewhat like, never quite aligned. But actually, like everybody is working together and we’re learning and we’re iterating quickly. And as a marketer I have all the tools I need to do this. And as an engineer, I’m actually enriched by the things I’m getting to build and leveraging newer technologies and pushing the capabilities, pushing my own capabilities through this. A lot of that becoming much more highlighted and not having to necessarily wait for some massive replatforming that’s happening in an organization to get there which is really exciting.

Marci Maddox (00:40:47):

Yeah, one other last thought on that, because you mentioned about the delivery of the content. And we haven’t really talked on the technology side of pushing content or updates to the front end. I mean that’s the benefit of the cloud is you can do that on a weekly daily basis if you needed to, you’re not limited to a once a year update. And I was talking to a retailer clothing manufacturer and they really felt that in terms of they wanted to bring a new supplier on board which meant that they had to add some fields to their data model. And they were able to do that in three weeks and get a new supplier on board, all the data starting to transfer between them.

Marci Maddox (00:41:29):

They didn’t have to wait six months or a year to update the CMS to have them all connected. So that to me is where when we talk about scale and ability to take these concepts live and faster to market. That’s where the rubber hits the road. When do I get the data available? How is this going to impact my day to day activities, we would have to sit back and be frustrated because I can’t do what I want to do today. And that’s where we see this real true benefit of modern CMS is in the cloud to be able to expand what you thought you could do yesterday and even do even more tomorrow.

Nick Gernert (00:42:03):

Yeah, great.

Marci Maddox (00:42:05):

Great. I know you are here in the next end of our time together. So let me just summarize before we move into Q&A. So you mentioned that there’s a lot of different ways to approach it, right? In terms of the CMS and the platforms and IDC. We look at the persuasive digital experiences as not a single platform, right? Because IT wants to spend less time as you mentioned integrating those different applications via custom code that they have to maintain forever. Instead, use a pluggable system, a broad ecosystem of technologies plug and play well together, that gives them maximum choice and flexibility. Maybe it’s through pre built connectors or a marketplace or trusted extensions. But the real value is when I can have the stack that I want as a IT architect, and it matches what marketing customer support partner teams what they need to have going out there.

Marci Maddox (00:43:01):

And we see that we categorize the CMS by the levels of control and technical skills needed at the content design and administration levels. So we break it in different categories. So as first templated builders, those are for quickly building pages that doesn’t require a lot of skill at all. On the opposite end are the headless systems which are pure development, right? We have a content engine but I want complete control of the front. Then you have the traditional web content platforms which were great for integrations and there was a time when I had one system to go to and even those are changing now to be morphed into a hybrid. And then you have what we call the hosted open source systems which is where WordPress VIP plays. And that system in the cloud is both looking at the ease of operations.

Marci Maddox (00:43:55):

And when I say operations, it’s the tasks to do the content side and the task to deploy and maintain the underpinnings from an administration perspective. And I want to pull out here, we’ve also seen a rise in open source. More and more companies are becoming comfortable with the idea of using open source technologies, because they’ve been proven that they are scalable, that they are secure that I can leverage from an innovation perspective the community to build on these tasks. Now of course, someone like WordPress VIP needs to maybe go through and certify the ones that they understand work well and are going to maintain going forward. But you still have the whole community that’s willing to build out all of these different tasks and having those options. So as we look at these reasons why open source is there, it is about that innovation. And I hold back into as you’re becoming a digital first enterprise.

Marci Maddox (00:44:55):

Let’s keep in mind the ultimate goal is to exceed your customers expectations, not just today, but how that expectation is going to change time and time again. And look for ways to improve both the operational side of creating content and let anyone create it, and then those four operations. In IDC we did this summary to start the very beginning of this webinar about and this is a marketscape, IDC marketscape on CMS is in particular. Because I wanted to look at the content engine that was essentially falling short on those web properties that had that demand and spike last year. And as you can see, we do have WordPress VIP under the parent company [inaudible 00:45:37] automatic and your position as a leader.

Marci Maddox (00:45:41):

And what we found in this evaluation is look, WordPress is well known in the market. Your standard, trusted brand, a lot of technology that’s there as you said earlier, you really built out that underpinning to make it easier and simpler to create the content. But we also found strengths in site administration using the popular GitHub repository or for the front end developer to use React to create those experiences that they want. On the authoring side, I barely touched on this idea of codeless authoring which means it’s a lot of drag and drop. I use components and pull the page together. The Gutenberg editor is one that has been highly praised. And its use of what we call reusable content blocks. When we talk about atomic content elements that are really small pieces that can be assembled.

Marci Maddox (00:46:35):

And that is also allowing us to create on the fly even those chat bots that need just a small web URL, they don’t need the entire page of information they are very specific. And finally, as we look to open sources I mentioned the open community and building on the base application. You can literally take this in any direction that you want, the sky is the limit, just build on that flywheel and get those tools underneath you to help you handle the content velocity as we move into the future, because it’s not stopping anytime soon. So with that, last comments, I’ll turn it over to you for questions Nick.

Nick Gernert (00:47:14):

Marci, thank you so much. Thank you for taking us through a lot of the research, there’s a lot here to digest. There’s also a lot of great statistics in here that I think can really help maybe motivate all of us to think about some of the things that we may be able to get if we’re able to prioritize certain actions. So thank you, and for also just helping kind of cut through I think something we all, there’s a lot of interest in this space right now. There’s the CMS, there’s digital experience platforms, there’s persuasive digital experiences, there’s leading customer experience, there’s lots of ways we kind of talk around the platforms and what we’re trying to build on top of these platforms. So it’s always good to like have someone like yourself just kind of talk us through also some of the real like meat that is behind some of the language that we’re leveraging here and how it’s actually coming to play for big brands.

Nick Gernert (00:48:06):

So thank you again for joining us today and chat through this. We have time for a few questions. So if anybody’s got some drop them in, we already have a few that have come in. So I am going to jump into this. And we’ll see how many we get to before the next 11 minutes. We had, there was one that is a bit more programming so you don’t have to do anything with this one Marci. But around the recording, and so this will be distributed. It will be available afterwards. And also that we are going to share the marketscape report after this as well. So everyone here can dig into Marci’s research as well as part of this report. So you will get copies of that as well. And then let’s see the one here. How can a modern CMS help with measuring content effectiveness?

Marci Maddox (00:48:55):

That is a great question and a lot of organizations are looking to analytics. Let’s take the simplest way. You can use the front end analytics, just basic search activities that are happening navigation on your site. WordPress VIP includes some standard analytics, you might also have marketing that has maybe Google Analytics and others to talk about content and how it’s driving into your site. That’s probably the fastest and easiest way to get an understanding. As we move along that line, the deeper that tools like WordPress VIP embed machine learning to those analytics that can start to surface, maybe heat maps to see where people are clicking. I was talking to my colleague yesterday about rage clicks and she’s like, what? I’m like, yeah, what if somebody keeps clicking on the same button because they are not getting a performance or it’s not doing what they wanted it to do and don’t realize that there’s an error above. So there’s a lot of customer experience there too.

Marci Maddox (00:50:01):

But you bring that in from machine learning to understand where the gaps are. So for example, if someone were to search on a gardener, so they’re searching a particular evergreen tree. And it’s not on your website but you have trees in general, then that’s an idea that you can go create a piece of content for evergreen trees because that’s what your search engine is telling you that people are looking for but there’s no content behind it. So when we talk about effectiveness of content that’s already there, then I would say, look to the analytics to surface, the click rates, the amount of content, how long they’re spending looking at a piece of content, you can get timing factors.

Marci Maddox (00:50:46):

If it’s video based content, are there certain areas that are watched more often? Click that, make that a hero shot on your webpage because people are watching it and you’ll see more turnaround. That will tie back into your customer let’s say your transactional serve your customer lead funnel or whatever you’re trying to, whatever tasks it is that you have, maybe it is a supplier getting their information. So look at those statistics coming from your analytics tools.

Nick Gernert (00:51:18):

Great, thanks for digging into that. Let’s see, this one references specific vendor. So I won’t go into a specific vendor because I don’t want to put you on the spot and comparing vendors in your report. So rather to anonymize this, what are the disadvantages of a monolithic setup when trying to navigate such a solution to be more agile in content creation and distribution? So think of maybe more of the monolithic platforms that maybe folks are already still leveraging today that are watching this and compare that. Like, what are those disadvantages that folks are going to be experiencing that they could potentially shift?

Marci Maddox (00:51:57):

Yeah, I mean, the monolithics, what we call web content management platforms have been around for a long time, right? And they’ve been building on this concept of the web page. And then a lot of the technology has been built to almost think of it if you’re one, this is a global audience so I’m going to use reference of bowling. But if you imagine that you have guardrails, so this little bumpers that go into the gutter, right? This is the path that you go to create your content. And if I want to go that way or that way, you’re sort of limited in where you can go because the processes have been built to create the content, get it approved, get it published, and now you need to do delivery somewhere else that’s customization. And customization is costly. And then we talked about costly in terms of administration. Let’s say I also want to have a staging environment, I want to test something for Black Friday does this work?

Marci Maddox (00:52:56):

Putting up a staging site on a platform is very difficult. Putting up a standard that you mentioned the convention, right? You spin it up, you bring it down, right? That’s one of the advantages of having a cloud based system is it’s used to services being scalable independently. And as the monolithic applications were built for certain tasks, even as they try to extend their capabilities, they are needing to add more and more infrastructure to support that. So we’re going to be stepping back in terms of size of the implementation, size of the architecture is to support the many different ways that you need to deliver your content. That’s a few ideas there for you.

Nick Gernert (00:53:44):

Great, thank you. All right, next one here in the last year or two, who have you seen be successful with their content and who hasn’t kept up?

Marci Maddox (00:53:54):

Cool. So those and I’m going to use content very broadly here. Should be no surprise the top of mind comes health care. Health care has had to turn on a dime in the last year in how they communicate. They had to go contactless, use more iPads, more pay less card systems for retailers as well. And so I think that they have truly embraced the idea of telehealth and other types of content that’s being created for a specific audience, for their patients, for their doctors. And even then they are dealing with remote employees too who are in the field they are in their hospitals, they are not knowledge workers sitting behind a desk, right? They have to think about this in a whole new way. On the flip side, I would say unfortunately government has been less of a innovator here because I’ve talked to even some of my friends who are developers in that world.

Marci Maddox (00:54:54):

Everything is custom built. And because it’s custom built, they’re limited by human, time or resources, et cetera. So I think that they’re the ones who are saying lowest. And we saw that with the PPP loans, unemployment, those are some of the sites that definitely went down during big spikes in content requests. So they are probably on the furthest end, the one that I’ve been most impressed by are the manufacturers. As I said earlier, some of that I talked to they would have never thought, I’m not an online business, they had to become an online at least communicator of their products because I couldn’t go into the showroom. I couldn’t have my supply chain invoicing happening on their old way of doing things. I walk into the office, everything had to be done digitally. And they’re the ones who truly tried to embrace and change the processes in ways that are more innovative I think.

Nick Gernert (00:55:56):

Yeah, thank you for digging into those. All right, maybe one or two more before we’re out. So I like this one, in terms of what’s holding companies back. How much of it is the technology? And how much of it is the people? Like what if this is really the human aspect of digital transformation rather than just like, oh, a technology is a panacea to all of my organizational laws and we’ll fix that and the customer experience will be fixed?

Marci Maddox (00:56:22):

Well, I’d like to hear your take on this too. But I see it’s both, right? Because you can only push humans to change just so far, right? We don’t really want change a lot of the time. Uncomfortable, this is how it’s always been, this is what I’m doing. The pandemic forced us to think about things differently. And in those cases, we found it was maybe somewhat better, sometimes not better, right? But at least it forces out of our chair to stand up and go move somewhere else and try something different. But we need the technology behind us to support that. Remember, that flywheel was talking about you start going and then you have to accelerate to the next level, that acceleration to the next level is where we add more technology behind us. The automation, the machine learning to give us better content effectiveness analytics, all those things that just make my job easier. Was it a change? Sure.

Marci Maddox (00:57:19):

But now you’re like, why can’t I have done this all the time? What where was this in the past to make my life easier? Great. Now, of course there was invest that they have you make that goes back to the leadership team recognizing that this investment in customer experience is going to pay dividends. And once you get that across and wherever in the organization is going to happen. Marketing, sales, support, wherever, that you’re deploying these sites, these new modern CMSs, everyone can now be that publisher that can be active in this role. And yes, it’s going to be change but if you make it simple and easy for them, I think it’s going to be a straightforward shot to success. How about you Nick? What have you seen in terms of is it both technology? People maybe, tech only?

Nick Gernert (00:58:10):

It’s both. But I think we tend to underestimate the people aspect of it if I’m like honest. I think that it’s easy to point to systems and say that systems are the choke point. And I do think like going back to our discussion earlier, there’s a big part of that. And that like I love this stat around employee satisfaction, also then translating into customer satisfaction. Because actually our employees are happier leveraging certain things and so they do a better job. I think we all can relate to that, we’re happier when we get to use things that are enjoyable to use and maybe not so and it’s maybe not the right tool for the job. However though, there’s a cultural aspect in an organization and real understanding of like, why does this matter and what is this?

Nick Gernert (00:58:48):

So I do want folks to encourage like to think beyond the technology aspect and think really to the people part of this. Which is both internal as well as external. Like, we can talk about things like headless delivery which has a lot of like incredible capabilities or potential for results or for organizations. But if we’re starting from the technology as our motivator and not thinking about the people aspect of this and actually taking that out to like, but what does this do for our customer? What does this do for us as a business? Like how is that coming together in that way, then we need to take a step back and like stop blaming like technology as a whole for maybe or making that the sole focus of digital transformation because both of these things have to come together.

Nick Gernert (00:59:34):

And I think as humans we tend to underestimate our own role in like, where our current state is. So human centric, like software things like this will be great to get us there. So we’re at time. So Marci, thank you again for joining us. My apologies to folks if you dropped a question in there. I appreciate the questions we just didn’t have time to get to them. But I really appreciate everyone joining and Marci thank you for all of this. So maybe we can jump in and talk security or privacy or any of those other things here on a future one but I’ve really enjoyed. So thank you so much.

Marci Maddox (01:00:10):

Thank you.

Nick Gernert (01:00:10):

And thanks everybody have a great day.

Marci Maddox (01:00:12):

Bye.

Nick Gernert (01:00:12):

Bye.

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