Getting More Content Bang for Your CMS Buck
What are the biggest challenges in managing a web and digital presence today?
According to a new study by Forrester Consulting, commissioned on behalf of Automattic, organizations struggle with development cost, finding the right practitioners, site maintenance, security, and lack of content performance.
Worse still, many organizations maintain multiple solutions in their marketing stack—e.g., separate CMSes—each with their own costs.
Join WordPress VIP and guest speakers Forrester Senior Analyst Nick Barber and Forrester Consultant Mary Barton for a conversation on the challenges facing today’s marketing teams and how organizations are rising to meet them.
Topics you’ll hear about:
- Top digital challenges and future trends impacting business in 2022 and beyond.
- How leading brands are successfully lowering costs, improving content performance, hardening security, and driving business growth.
- The total economic impact of adopting a more agile CMS solution, based on recent research.
Nick Barber, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research
Nick serves application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals. He specializes in video technologies, digital asset management (DAM) for customer experience, and personalization. In the video space, he covers online video platforms for sales and marketing and enterprise video technologies for training and employee experience. Nick also researches DAM, which has become a cornerstone technology for enterprises as they dramatically increase their creation of rich media content like images, video, and 3D assets. On the personalization front, Nick is exploring how personalized customer experiences live at the intersection of data and content and how the understanding of that content can be augmented with artificial intelligence.
Mary Barton, Consultant, Forrester Research
Mary is a Consultant on the Forrester Total Economic Impact™ TEI team where she develops the business use case for technology investments and initiatives. She has more than 20 years of experience assessing the value of technologies in the context of academia, litigation support, investor analysis, and business operations. Prior to Forrester, Mary managed technology initiatives in both the private sector and higher education
Jary Carter, Chief Revenue Officer, WordPress VIP
Jary is the Chief Revenue Officer of WordPress VIP, where he oversees Sales, Marketing and go-to-market strategy. He is also the Co-Founder of Oro, the creators of OroCommerce. Prior to founding Oro, Jary was the Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Channel for Magento where he was responsible for Magento’s commercialization efforts. He is a proven leader in open source with a clear understanding of Customer Experience Management. Jary received his B.A. in Marketing from Brigham Young University and his Masters of Business Administration from The Ohio State University.
Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, wherever you are. Happy to be with you. My name is Jary Carter. I’m the Chief Revenue Officer here at WordPress VIP. And I am pleased to be joined here today with two speakers. Nick Barber, who’s a senior analyst at Forrester. Hi Nick.
And Mary Barton, who’s also from Forrester. Hi Mary. Welcome. Welcome, and thanks for joining us.
[inaudible 00:00:36]. I’m happy to be here.
Perfect. All right, so Nick is actually… Just to introduce these two before we jump in. Nick is a senior analyst serving application development and delivery professionals. He specializes in video technologies, digital asset management for customer experience and personalization. On the personalization front, Nick is exploring how personalized customer experiences live at the intersection of data and content. And how the understanding of that content can be augmented with artificial intelligence, which is such a cool topic. I’m excited to jump into that a little bit today. Nick, thanks for being here.
Mary is also a consultant on the Forrester total economic impact side where she develops the business use case for technology investments and initiatives. Mary recently conducted a total economic impact report for us here at WordPress VIP, looking at the cost and benefits of adopting an agile content platform.
Before we get started with presentations from both Nick and Mary… And I’m probably just going to jump in and ask a couple of questions along the way as you all are presenting. We also want to give you all our participants the opportunity to ask questions as well. So we are going to have some time for Q and A at the end.
There’s a chat here and we welcome your questions in the chat. So there’s a Q and A section of here in GoToWebinar. Ask your questions there. We’re going to have them curated and we’re going to make sure we answer the questions at the end. Anything we don’t get to in the webinar, we’ll send a personalized follow-up between Nick, Mary, or myself, depending on who the question is to. So with that, I’m going to turn it over to you, Nick.
All right, well thanks Jary and thanks everyone for joining today. Taking time out of your busy day to hear from us around CMS trends as well as the total economic impact. So I’m going to be taking the first part of today’s presentation where we’re sort of set the stage for what’s happening around CMS digital experiences. And then I’m going to hand off to Mary who’s going to talk about some of the takeaways and some of the findings from our total economic impact study that we did.
Now I want to start with a problem that you all, as brands, are experiencing. You are hurtling towards irrelevancy. And we know that because our data tells us that half of companies on the S&P 500 will be replaced in a decade. And you might say, “All right, well okay. We might still be in business, but we’re not going to be the preferred brand for our customers to go to.” And what you need to do today is set yourself up so that you avoid that irrelevancy. So that you stay ahead of your competitors. So that you stay at the top of in terms of offering a differentiated customer experience. So what we’re going to talk about today is how smart investments in technology can help you stave off that potential future of becoming irrelevant as a brand.
This irrelevancy is real. Our data tells us that you have one chance to make a first impression with your customers. We know this because 60% of the online adults that we surveyed said, “I’m unlikely to return to a website that does not provide a satisfactory customer experience.” Now we can use websites as sort of proxies for all digital experiences. So it might not just be the website, but it’s also the app. It’s also a smart display or a voice assistant or a connected car or digital signage, so on and so forth. All of those channels that make up the Omni-Channel. And you’ve got just this one chance to make that first impression. Because if you don’t make a good first impression via your digital experience, then your competitors’ going to. And we know through this idea of hyper adoption and hyper abandonment that it’s really easy to adopt a new relationship with a new brand or abandon one with an existing brand.
Let’s sort of set up the backdrop here for what’s going on in this space. When we think about websites or digital experiences, they really used to be simple. 20 years ago, even longer, there used to be simple experiences where there was that B2C marketing site and maybe there was a authenticated experience. Maybe there was something else happening over on the B2B side. But oftentimes all of those experiences were managed individually. You probably had an individual team that was managing that experience and never did the data or the content or the best practices crossover.
Now fast-forward a little bit into the future. Well channels started to get more complex. We started to add things like apps and social and transactional experiences, still managing those individually and in silos. We started to add in segmentation to begin to deliver more personalized experiences to the different types or the individual groups that we were trying to serve. It started to get a little bit more challenging.
And now when we add in two other critical dimensions around space and time, all of a sudden digital experiences begin to look more like this than something that’s easy for us to solve. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been good at solving a Rubik’s cube. It always tends to stump me. But I would turn to AI and automation to help solve that. Digital experiences are incredibly complex. When you take into account all of the channels that you as a brand need to serve, all of the devices that you need to serve, all of the segments you need to serve, and you need to start now delivering personalization across all of those channels.
And what a lot of brands have done is they’ve tried to use old style of engagements. That just simply won’t work. This idea of, okay, here’s the brand, and the brand decides the way that the customer interacts with them. The customers are on the outside experiencing the way the brand wants the customer to experience. These old styles of engagement simply won’t work anymore. Instead, what needs to happen is the customer needs to decide how they’re going to work with the brand. How they’re going to go into engage with the brand. So brands need to think about, okay, when I create my digital experience, when I invest in technology, I need to make sure that that tech investment is going to be able to be flexible. So that I can adapt to my new customers.
One of the key things that we found here… And this is for those of you who are trying to make the business case, this is one of the key business case making slides. We know that technology helps solve complexity and smart firms have invested in it. So when we look at businesses across the board, we group them into different buckets around how they align with the principle that Forrester calls customer obsession. And you can see here we’ve got customer naive, customer aware and customer obsessed brands sort of increasing in their level of customer obsession.
And when we ask these companies, “How likely is your organization to use the latest technology to provide better experiences for customers?” 99% of the customer obsessed brands said, “Yes, that’s us. We are investing in technology to create better experiences for our customers.” 99% almost universally, are those customer obsessed brands investing in technology to create those better experiences. Because they know well technology is an enabler for digital experience and for customer experiences. Whereas less than one in five customer naive brands prioritize technology investment and that is part of the reason that they sort of live in that customer naive segment.
Now here’s the kicker. The other thing with this is that of those customer obsessed firms that invested in technology, one fifth of them grew 20% year over year. So now we’ve got sort of three pieces here. Smart technology investments, customer obsession, and now explosive growth all tied to investing in the latest technology to create better experiences. So again, kind of business case made right here. Customer obsessed brands in investing in technology and seeing explosive growth.
Nick, this is fascinating data and I hope you don’t mind me jumping in.
We hear customers saying things along the lines of customer experience is our only source of sustainable competitive advantage. Like brand awareness is waning. Even pricing. I think pricing competition… It really is less important than it used to be. It’s much more about customer experience and effortless. We hear words like effortless customer experience, convenience as like critical. Is this part of why you’re seeing this shift into and this hyper growth in this customer obsessed group? Because they’re actually taking market share from these companies that are going to be dying over the next 10, 15 years? Is that how you’re thinking about that?
Yeah, I mean it’s all of that. And it’s all around, how can we as a brand create experiences that are effective, that are efficient, that have emotional connection with our customers? Because those are things that unlock memory and trust and all of that goodness that brands are looking for. I mean also we know going back to this sort of basic marketing. We know it’s less expensive to serve our existing customers and keep them satisfied than it is to go out and acquire new ones.
So it’s that piece as well. It’s about creating that continued or that sustained positive customer experience that for brands… One of the things that that does is it builds up this reservoir of goodwill. So that when we’re in an innovation era, when a brand is looking to innovate or change or shift and they mess up, which they inevitably will. They can pull from that reservoir of goodwill that they’ve built up with their client base. So customer obsession does a lot in terms of serving the existing customers. As well as providing that buffer for the brand so that they can innovate and shift and not necessarily worry about being punished in the immediate short term if they screw up.
Got it. That’s fascinating. Thanks for sharing that.
Cool, cool. So one of the other things as I get towards the end of my presentation is this idea of digital maturity. Because for a long time, the most advanced digitally mature companies we’re few and far between. But we’ve seen huge growth during the pandemic. So when we look at companies in terms of their digital maturity, 31% are digital beginners. The bulk of organizations fall into this category of intermediate. And 24% fall into the level of digitally advanced.
Now the big takeaway here is that just two or three years ago in sort of pre-pandemic, that number of advanced companies was just 14%. Just 14%. So in two or three years it’s grown 10 percentage points, which is huge. And this reinforces our hypothesis. And what we saw, what we expected around the pandemic of the pandemic, as horrible as it was, and is, has started to rip the bandaid off of poor digital experiences. Because organizations that didn’t have buy online, pickup in store, they had to figure it out real quick in April, May 2020, in order to simply just stay in business.
So the pandemic has forced a lot of brands to push on their digital maturity and that’s great things. Because the more digitally mature organizations there are, they typically invest in technology more. They’re differentiating on customer experiences more via those digital experiences. So it’s all good things.
And the last slide I’ll leave you with before we transition over to Mary is what do you need to do in order to create this, what I’m calling intelligent content stack? In order to better serve your customers via digital experiences, via new customer experiences. So I’ll just build this out. You’ve got your touch points. Those are augmented by your… And all of this is augmented by your third party services, your SI’s, your partner ecosystem. But if we build this out in the middle here, you see how analytics, automation and embedded AI… Embedded AI filters throughout all of these as a way to uplevel the experiences.
So one of the things that we’re going to be talking about… Forrester is going to be talking about 2022 and beyond, is this idea of AI automation analytics. It’s not something that you need to go out and buy anymore. It’s already woven in the different technologies in your stack. And it’s about making smart use of those capabilities, AI, automation and analytics across your stack in order to better serve your customers via personalization.
So there’s a lot here obviously to unpack and we’re just scratching the surface. But if you take this sort of as a blueprint and you take the business case makers that we shared earlier, kind of your path forward towards differentiated digital experiences, towards more personalized digital experiences becomes much, much more… You can see it with much more clarity. So I want to thank everyone for my just sort of intro here around digital experience, around personalization, around some of the trends that we’re seeing in the market. And I want to hand it over to Mary to continue on in the presentation. Or it’s [inaudible 00:18:08].
Mary, are you there? Nope, it’s Mary.
Sorry about that. I was trying to not interrupt Nick. Thanks so much. I’m pleased to be here to present the findings of the total economic impact of the WordPress VIP. But in light of what Nick’s been talking about, I just wanted to start with this quote from one of the customers who participated in this study, highlighting how they think of their investment in WordPress VIP. And how it helps them provide a good customer experience today. But moreover, how they expect that it will continue to work with them as they drive themselves into the more advanced personalization of the experience. They say that… He expressed that he thinks WordPress VIP is ahead of them now. And they expect it will continue to be so as they develop new ideas and thought processes around their strategies. WordPress VIP will be there to support them with that. I just do want to note that this is an abridged version of the study that I’m about to present. And WordPress VIP can provide you with the full study, which will include all of the financial tables and the methodology.
The TEI is a proven consistent, repeatable methodology that Forrester uses to develop the business case in a consistent way. Considering the benefits, the costs, the flexibility that’s provided by a solution and the risk of an organization might see with their technology investment. We use standard financial methods and terms to explain that and it’s in the appendix to this presentation and in the full study. The approach begins with due diligence. We work with WordPress VIP to understand the impact that the customer might experience with the investment as well as other sources.
Next, we independently interview the customers that WordPress VIP identified. From the information that we gather from those customers, we create a composite organization that’s representative of those customers. We apply the data from the interviews to create the financial model, then we create the case study with all the assumptions. And again, that may be helpful to you in developing your own understanding of how WordPress VIP might impact your organization. WordPress VIP was invited to review the final document, but Forrester retains editorial control.
Just a disclosure, we did this work independently and we maintained the editorial control. The customers were provided by WordPress VIP. But they did not participate in the interviews and Forrester does not endorse WordPress VIP or any other product or service.
So who did we interview? We started with a group of customers that are experienced users of WordPress VIP. They’ve mostly been on using WordPress VIP for three years or more. They had varying deployment sizes from one site to double digits, several have global presence. We spoke with people at different levels of seniority within the organizations. And when we asked these WordPress VIP customers what their key challenges were, why they began looking for a better platform… Next slide.
They cited challenges such as disparate hosting solutions across the organization. We spoke with some companies that had had a lot of acquisitions and they came with sort of these legacy platforms. They wanted to bring them all together and standardize across the system. Some of the legacy systems had really complex development with very few skilled development partners to work with that led to lengthy and expensive development cycles. Just not very agile at all. There’s a lot of difficulty with maintenance. There were concerns with security. They felt like they didn’t even have any real transparency into what their security situation was and what vulnerabilities their sites might have.
And then finally, there was a difficulty in understanding how well any of their content was being received with a lack of analytics. And no clarity and vision into how content was being viewed by their visitors. So as we described in the overview of the TEI process, we created a composite organization that’s representative of the customers we interviewed.
The composite organization in this case saw a three-year impact from adopting WordPress VIP that resulted in an ROI of over 400% and benefits of around 3.5 million. One of the drivers of those results is the large WordPress VIP ecosystem. Next slide. And as this customer correctly stated, “40% of the internet runs on WordPress.” There are a lot of people who know how to work with it. There’s a lot of information. Other customers said things like, “There are already lots of apps and widgets and things to do. What we want to do without having to develop from scratch.”
The three-year risk adjusted benefits that this composite organization saw came from efficiency and cost savings, faster, less expensive development, better reliability and security, and then improved business results. The efficiency and cost savings enabled by the ease of use and maintenance interviewees estimated… Can we go to the next slide? That their organizations saved as much as 50% with WordPress VIP. Forrester conservatively modeled this assumption on 35%. But the impact was felt in the reduced maintenance burden to the organization. One aspect of this was the reduced maintenance. As a lead UX designer said, “I used to worry about maintenance a lot because I’d get a lot of emails from people on my team saying, ‘Oh, this thing stopped working or some other problem arose.’ But now it’s all handled by WordPress VIP or by the agency we work with. And they work so well together that maintenance and downtime have become a non-issue for us. It just happens quietly in the background and we never hear about it, so it’s perfect for me.” She was thrilled that she never had to think about that anymore.
But the other aspect of this was that the content… The associate director of IT said, “The content user interface is pretty intuitive. It’s customizable. It’s pretty easy. It’s so prevalent that a lot of people just already know how to use it. So there’s no training costs associated with it.” The faster and less expensive development, of course, arose from what we’ve already talked about with the ecosystem.
But the effect again, to this lead UX designer was she said, “Not only did WordPress save us potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of development costs, it was also the reason we could hit a super compressed timeline.’ She said, “If developers had had to code it from scratch, we would never have been able to meet that launch.” And in particular, this launch was critical to them. It coincided with a global introduction of a new initiative by their CEO. So they really had to have it ready on time. I asked her what she thought if she’d missed that deadline. She said, “Well, I’d like to think I’d still have my job.”
“It’s very clear…” Said another director in the news industry said, “It’s very clear that WordPress VIP is the best option to go with just based on the size of the development community and the possibilities that can be unlocked.”
As far as better reliability and security went, again, a problem that was identified was that we weren’t even sure what our security situation was. I was told over and over again. And when we moved to WordPress VIP, we discovered some of those vulnerabilities. And we’re really pleased with WordPress VIP’s commitment to cybersecurity. And the way that they store their data and all the various checks and balances to keep somebody from being able to get access to our site. You can understand how that’s really important to some of the customers that we spoke to, in particular the pharmaceutical industry. Where he said, “It brings regulatory issues for us if we can’t guarantee that the content that we put up is the content that’s still there. It just cannot change.” So this was critically important and the impact on the day-to-day was the senior director of marketing said, “IT staff no longer need to track those websites because there’s a dedicated team with WordPress VIP to do that for them.”
So again, that impact, we’re going to get back to how this ties into what Nick was saying about being able to develop that personalized experience. We have improved business results from analytics. This said, “Really, it’s about how you manage the content across the ecosystem.” What Nick again was talking about, the Omni-Channel. “Both social media as well as our own site. For us using Parsley to inform those decisions is ultimately what it’s for.” He described that the people in his organization have partially open all day every day so that they’re constantly monitoring how content’s being received. He says, “The data transparency and democratizing the data across the whole organization has been one of the biggest values.” He said, “We might see something and make a change in another channel to drive traffic to the content that we have.”
And finally, one of the things that we include in a TEI is the unquantified benefits. And we do cover the financial benefits, but there are lots of real benefits to an organization that customers just haven’t developed metrics for. And so they can’t track them. Interviewees oftentimes report to us that they’re no less real than the quantified benefits. And sometimes they may even have a bigger impact on the organization than those quantified benefits did, is that senior manager of marketing technology said about the scalability and performance. He said, “The fact that we’re able to bring those marketers to a more stable platform and give them the right to scale does impact the way those folks feel about the day-to-day job. It’s really freedom from not necessarily thinking about all the things that could go wrong, but rather to focus on the strategy and on driving campaigns.”
So if you think about the benefits of doing this, it’s extremely difficult to quantify it, but it’s very, very real. In the decreased time to market category, we hear things like we’re able to create a page and start the campaign within a few hours instead of having to wait weeks and weeks to be able to get it done on a different platform. Or they say things like, “We had a general data protection regulation.” This is from the pharmaceutical industry. “We have a banner. We created a plugin router for it, and marketing could deploy it in literally five minutes. With our previous provider, we would’ve been jumping through a ton of hoops to get it done, and that would’ve taken days.”
So this constant change in realtime development and launching of campaigns to drive that personalized effect finally it improves the content effectiveness. That director from the news industry said, “The realtime nature of the decision making is powerful. We produced 10 articles about an event. We can see what resonated the most with our audience, and then we can produce follow-up pieces around that. We can launch into our social media sites. We can drive content based on the knowledge of what’s resonating with our audiences.”
Another provider said, “It helps them financially.” They can’t measure it. But it helps them to know what to move behind the paywall on their sites since they have free content and then subscription content. So it has a real impact on financials, but also what Nick was saying. Bringing this back full circle to a personalized user experience, getting that real-time data allows them to do that.
And finally, in a TEI, we have to consider the costs WordPress. VIP costs are dependent on several factors including your output minutes per year. And that… Sorry, the financial summary. Again, this has just been a sampling of what’s covered in the full case study. So I encourage you to get a full copy for yourself. But again, an ROI of over 400% measured and a good 2.8 million in net present value with increasing benefits each year. And I think we have time for questions.
Thank you so much. Perfect. Let’s jump into some questions. We have some. So there’s a handful of questions that have come in and I’m just going to go through these in order. Nick, this one is for you. So you talked about the top technologies that customer obsessed… Or you talked about customer obsessed companies investing in technologies. 99% of them are investing in technologies. The question is, what are some of the top technologies that customer obsessed companies are investing in?
Yeah, so great question, and I don’t know if I have those technologies at my fingertips. I would lean on our data for that. But my expert opinion or my estimate would be there’s category technologies and then there are supporting technologies. And what I mean by that is that the category technologies would be all of those alphabet soup technologies that we’re familiar with around CMS and DAM and CRM and Commerce and PIM and all of those things. Those would be the categories of the tech.
And then all of the supporting tech would be the things that I talked about around developing that intelligent content stack. The AI, the automation, the analytics that get then woven throughout those tech categories. So I mean, I often get the question, what do we need to buy to do personalization, right? Well, it would be really simple to do personalization if you just need to go buy something.
But personalization is a strategy. Personalization is a strategy yet incorporates technologies. It’s going to bring in parts of CMS and email marketing and CRM and customer data and customer intelligence and AI and analytics and all of those things. So while maybe if you asked someone else, they would say, “Oh, well it’s personalization and it’s commerce. But we think that personalization is a strategy rather than a technology that you can buy off the shelf.
So I certainly think that right up at the top in terms of investment are all of the digital experience technologies that fall under the umbrella that we cover. So things like CMS and DAM and CRM and digital experience platforms and all the things that hang off of that around analytics and commerce and those sorts of things. Because I’ve been sort of asking this question a lot of, is content always in the service of a transaction? And I don’t think it always is. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s very closely aligned with a transaction or a conversion. But think about the post-sale experience. All of it is around enablement and things like that. So that just reinforces this idea of the importance of digital experience technologies.
Yeah, yeah. Thanks for sharing that. There’s an add-on question to that. Those companies still at the beginner and intermediate phase that are making the jump to those customer obsessed companies, what are the biggest hurdles that they face, from jumping from beginner to intermediate into customer obsessed?
Yeah, so I mean two different things here. I mean, one, we’re talking about level of customer obsession. And then other, we’re talking about level of digital maturity. And there’s obviously very close parallels there. Like are we probably going to see more customer obsessed organizations with higher levels of digital maturity? Sure.
Are we going to see more customer naive organizations at the early on beginner stage of their digital maturity? Probably. So I think as you look at those two cohorts, the big things would be one, moving away from this monolithic approach. A lot of organizations are still on legacy technology. If you think back 30 years ago, well most of your commerce was done through catalogs and some of those companies are still around and some of them are still using legacy tech. So one is shedding sort of legacy tech and moving towards more SaaS-based modern technology and architectures that’s able to support speed and scale. So that’s one of the things that helps organizations advance their level of digital maturity and also their companion customer obsession.
I think the other thing is really around… It could be something like org structure. So we did some interviews for some research and found that some of the leading companies like the Targets and the Home Depots of the world have not just looked at the technology piece, but how teams are structured. So that for example, okay, you do a buy online pickup in store campaign or you offer that capability or service. What happens with the digital teams and the commerce teams and the in-store teams? All of a sudden you’ve got now these teams that haven’t worked together now needing to work together in order to serve that customer experience. I mean, that’s just one example of how org structure influences that.
But I think that that is one of the maybe often overlooked capabilities around advancing that level of digital maturity. And I’ll throw in one other thing. The third thing that we also see with organizations that are sort of at the top tier of digital maturity is they leverage their partner ecosystem. They are along the lines of 40 plus percent more likely to work with third party services partners on co-innovation. So they’re engaging their SI’s, their consultancies, their agencies in order to co-innovate on the idea of digital experience. They’re vendors in order to co-innovate on digital experiences ’cause they realize they can’t do it all themselves. So those are sort of three things that we see around this idea of digital maturity and customer obsession.
It’s interesting that the things that you’re talking about really are business orientation issues and personnel and having the right skillset. And having the right partnerships in place to actually orient you to being customer obsessed versus, “Oh, if I just get this technology in place, we’re going to be customer obsessed.” It seems like it’s… Like anything else, it’s 80% business process and getting the business and the strategy and 20% technology.
I was just going to interject, Jary. That’s exactly what your customers were saying about their experience with WordPress VIP when you take all the maintenance off their plates and all of the technology gives them the bandwidth to go and become customer obsessed.
Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. This gets into… That’s a great discussion. I appreciate having it, and I totally agree with it. We see it in our customers, too. I mean, we’ll go into a billion dollar B2B traditional manufacturing customer and say, “Okay, where’s the team responsible for digital transformation?” And one person raises their hand and it’s like their part-time job. It’s like, wait, we’ve got to really rethink how digital transformation is happening from just an overall business focus investment standpoint.
You listed disparate hosting solution as a pain point that people have. Somebody says, “I use several CMS’s and I’m debating taking on a consolidation project. What are the pros and cons of a consolidation project?” Okay, so Nick, you actually just released a piece of research, something about a case for multi CMS strategy. Is that right? Maybe you should… Not to put you on the spot, but I think that probably is relevant.
No, this is cool research. And I did it because I kept getting the question of, “Is it okay for me to have two CMS’s or three or more or… What’s the right number?” And so we started to do some research. And this is some research that maybe bucks a bit of a trend because we know IT decision makers coming into 2022 within their top five priorities. I think within their top three priorities, they were charged with tech consolidation. This idea of slimming down their technology portfolio rather than acquiring more and buying more. So you’re sort of like, “Well, then why would I have multiple CMS’s?”
And we started doing interviews with companies and began to find real business reasons why organizations still go forward with multiple CMS’s. Now, was it five or 10? No, it wasn’t five or 10, but was it two or three? Yeah. We did find that organizations were going forward strategically with two or three CMS’s. So when I say strategically, they were doing this with a method to the madness. They weren’t just saying, “Oh, well you know what? It’s not in the budget this year to consolidate, so we’re just going to keep the three of them.” They were doing it for very, very obvious reasons. For example, we spoke with one hotel brand that was using a sort of big flagship CMS platform to power its dot-coms. But it was using another CMS to manage its spas, golf courses, street level restaurants, because they needed distributed authorship. They needed their marketers to be able to get content live quickly and easily and all of those things.
And their big flagship CMS wasn’t as maybe as agile as they needed it to be in that moment. So they looked at a complimentary CMS in order to enable those marketers to get those experiences to market faster. So now, I mean this whole idea of consolidation, do you want multiple commerce systems? Probably not. But could you use multiple CMS’s or other digital experience technologies? Yes. If they’re deployed strategically with a real business reason. Then yes, it makes sense. And it doesn’t make sense to consolidate to one just for the sake of consolidating to one if you’ve got multiple that are able to serve multiple use cases.
It’s interesting. This goes back to a conversation you and I had maybe four or five months ago where we were talking about headless and decoupled and the yes or no, and your feedback was both. We see actually folks running traditional CMS’s in the same business, and it’s just sort of different horses for different courses. And that’s what I’m hearing still in your findings.
Yep. That’s exactly it. Headless is something that’s come on the scene in the last what fiveish years really. We recently just surveyed 31 of the top CMS vendors in the space, and every single one of them said they can deploy headlessly. So it’s this idea of headless isn’t a market anymore, it’s now a feature that CMS vendors can support. And it doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone. I mean, we see headless mapping better in the advanced intermediate or the advanced level of digital maturity. Just because there’s certain development talent and there’s certain approach that you need to take in order to deploy headlessly. But not every experience needs to be headless. Not every digital experience should be headless. There should be that approach to there should be a hybrid approach in a lot of cases.
Yeah. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Okay, thanks for that. I appreciate you letting me put you on the spot. I remembered that conversation as you were talking about the case for multiple CMS’s. Just a couple more questions here and then we’re wrapping on time. “Of all the channels mentioned, are they all of equal importance or where should I prioritize?” So Nick, I think probably this is more directed at you in terms of all the channels that people were talking about. Where should folks prioritize energy effort there?
Yeah, so it depends on where you are. Depends on what vertical you’re in. It depends on what geography you’re in. It depends on which stage of a customer are you going after. If you’re in retail in North America and you’re looking at targeting top of funnel, then you’re probably going to be going on paid social or organic social. But if you’re a B2B manufacturer in Europe, you’re probably going to direct most of your effort on your website or your channel partners or things like that.
So it really depends. I mean, there’s a lot of facets around where you concentrate your effort. But it’s not like looking into a crystal ball anymore. It’s not saying, “Oh, well let me place my bet here and in six months figure out if my bet paid off.” no, it’s not like that anymore. Because the feedback loop on analytics is so tight and so close that you should be able to know in some cases, minutes or hours, in other cases days whether your approach is hitting the mark or not hitting the mark, and you need to pivot.
So what I would say to you is going back to this idea of automation, AI and analytics, leveraging those within your intelligent content stack to close that feedback loop or turn it into a feedback loop. So that you can say, “All right, I’m going to try this campaign on email with this type of content. And I’m going to know by the end of the day whether or not my engagement rate is better than it was here or there or previously.” Or “I’m a B2B software vendor. I’m going to launch a landing page for a webinar for bottom of funnel customers. And I’m going to know whether or not that’s hitting the mark.” So again, it’s complex. You look across verticals and geographies and stage of the funnel or stage of the customer life cycle. But analytics is your secret weapon around understanding what’s working where.
Yeah, that’s such an interesting point. One, I think the first point you made around just understanding where your customer wants to meet you and then really investing there is so important. Because there’s so many factors. No one can tell you where you should be investing in your customer experience except your customer. And so that’s one thing.
And then the analytics piece is something that we see customers… That is so important to our customers because you’re right, it’s not like, let’s launch a new site or let’s launch this new page, or let’s make the journey more cohesive. And then let’s wait six months to see what people say. We’re seeing our customers with Parsley analytics. They’ll come back in a matter of hours and have very clear understanding with how engaging the content is, where people engaged with it, how it helped them, and what they did next after. And so it’s really interesting you talk about that analytics piece because we’re finding that that’s the place of refinement. You just sort of put out the test and then you learn and iterate and iterate. And analytics is really… I mean, I’m just thinking about this out loud. But it really feels like putting content out into the world and then analyzing how people use that is actually part of the customer obsession that you’re talking about.
It is. It is. And we’ve talked about this idea of not just looking at the performance of the content via analytics, but also turning an eye to the creative piece around content as well. So where were the bottlenecks around getting that content to market or that experience to market? How much money, time, effort did it cost for all of those things to be built and launched and created? Because you can’t really understand the true ROI of your experience or your content unless you’re looking at both sides of that equation, both the downstream performance as well as the creative upstream. And that’s an area where I think analytics can grow into. But we’re also seeing a lot of inroads around automation, around basically helping creativity.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thanks for that. One final question. This one’s for you, Mary. “If I wanted to build out my own ROI model for my unique scenario, where should I start?” Do you have any tips, guidance on how to build out ROI models, Mary?
Well, I think we’re giving you a sample with the composite organization and you can scale it to fit what your experience is. You can adjust the numbers to fit your organization better, but it will give you at least a framework to begin thinking about it. And a pretty good way to go. And what’s more important to your organization than relative to the others.
Yeah, very good. Thanks for sharing that. And we’re always happy at WordPress VIP to help share learnings, benefits that other customers have gotten and our own perspective on how you can benefit from our technologies.
That’s our time today. I want to thank our speakers. Nick and Mary, thank you so much for being with us and participating with us. It was really insightful conversation. I really enjoyed the time. It was really valuable for me and hopefully everyone else. Thanks to all of our participants for joining today’s conversations, for the folks that ask questions. We will be sending out an email with this video and a copy of the Total Economic Impact report that we talked about today. So with that, thank you all. Have a great rest of your day.