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Headless customers are happy ones. Seriously.

28th Mar 2017
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Since the launch of the Internet, through the mobile phone boom, and into the current world of smart technology, it has almost become human nature to expect change and for technology to keep up. Such a pace can make one’s head maybe it's time to go headless.

The future of content

In 1977, Ken Olson, President of Digital Equipment Corporation, claimed, "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home." Now, 40 years later, the average US household has 13 connected devices. And to take that one step further, the first iPhone was launched on the US market on June 29, 2007—less than ten years ago. But now, iPhones and smartphones in general are synonymous with modern life and are becoming one of the most go-to channels for modern customers. Any company that wants to be successful with digital marketing must clearly factor this into their customer journeys.

Fast forward to June 29, 2027, and I wonder where we will be. We are already seeing Internet of Things (IoT) devices making their way into households. Shops are increasingly introducing self-service kiosks for browsing and ordering in stores. Virtual Reality is being utilised to give people a chance to experience the product or service before making purchasing decisions. And although Augmented Reality is still very much in its infancy, it has already found fame with the Pokemon Go app, which took 2016 by storm. In ten years' time, or probably much sooner, all of these could be at a level we currently experience with smartphones and wearables. And let's not forget that good-old-fashioned computers, laptops, and phones all continue to improve , too.

But why am I mentioning these devices? Each device serves the purpose of presenting the user with the right information at the right time in the right place. It is about making the customers' lives easier and more convenient to a point where they welcome and appreciate the interactions they have with you, rather than seeing your messages as annoying spam. Imagine you are walking through a city and get a message on your phone to tell you that it is going to start raining in ten minutes and there is a shop two minutes from your location that has a 50% sale on umbrellas. Awesome, right? Well, through a combination of your weather app and location tracking on your phone and some very good and smart marketing by the shop, this is actually possible today.

Event-triggered marketing is not the only awesome opportunity for our newly connected world. Imagine if you want to book a holiday but you are torn between two places. What if you could experience it before you buy it? Virtual Reality goggles can help. Travel agencies are experimenting in certain shops with virtual tours of holiday destinations where customers can see the area, experience the location, and make the right decision before handing over their hard-earned cash. And what about seeing valuable information in your own world? What if you are walking through Tokyo searching for a shop that sells trainers but you don't understand a word of Japanese? Introducing Augmented Reality—a view of your real world that is augmented by computer-generated content or elements. With your phone or AR glasses, you can view your environment not just with real-time translations of the shop names and signs, but even have personalised offers and content sent directly to your device as you walk. I bet you want to add all these things to your marketing activities now, don't you!

Headless CMS in a nutshell

So what is making all this possible? Good question. Headless CMS architecture is now being utilised in a way that was not needed in the past because the number and variety of devices did not exist for this concept to show its full potential.

In the past, a traditional CMS was used alongside a templating engine to render web pages to be displayed on desktops, laptops, and, more recently, on mobile devices and tablets. This template rendering is known as the "head" of the CMS and determines the presentation layout of the content. But with the template approach, you are always taking full web pages and trying to manipulate them to the device on which you want them to appear. With all the new channels and devices that are emerging, this is no longer enough. Trying to force a template to fit different layouts is neither efficient nor elegant and will lead to mixed feelings from customers.

The solution: separate the head from the body. Take the elements of your web page—title, subtitle, description, header image, list items, CTA buttons, and so on—and consider them as modules that can be used to build a new page. Figure out how you want to display them on any given device, and call the API to actually get the content from the CMS. Use the CMS as the content repository and management tool it is designed to be, while web developers concentrate on what they are good at—building applications for the channels you need. It gives you much more freedom to design appropriately for whatever display you choose. And on top of that, these pieces of modular content only need to be written once, and they can then be used on any display and in any layout you want.

All in all, it means that you can deliver the same content in the best layout possible, no matter which device you display it on. It improves the customer journey by making it more consistent and more appealing for the people seeing the content. And we are all aware of the impact an exceptional customer experience can have on your conversion rates, customer loyalty, and overall revenue. More importantly, we are aware of the impact a negative customer experience can have, too.

Customers won't see it but they'll love it

What‘s the key to a great customer experience? Enriching their lives without inconveniencing them. Add something awesome without them ever having to wonder how it worked. And, most of all, make sure the experience is an ongoing, lasting and consistent one.

The headless architecture is the means through which you can deliver this experience. By providing the right content in a consistent manner at the right time and in the right place, you make sure that the customer experience is a memorable one. That level of consistency also has a big impact on brand recognition and loyalty. People will no longer see mixed messages and will, therefore, recognise your brand more readily. And a recognisable brand is one that breeds loyalty.

Give people what they want when they need it, and they are going to love you for it. Take your brand into the headless world – it will blow your customers’ minds.

Original article by Stephen Griffin, Product Marketing Manager at Kentico Software

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