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CMS is Dead... Long Live ECMS

Why you don't need to be an Amazon to play with the big boys in digital marketing anymore.

13 Apr 2015


A pretty pessimistic blog title from a company who develops web solutions, I know but bear with me...

My Dad worked in print production and I have fond memories growing up of pantone books, paper swatches and him digitally transcribing books in front of the glowing green screen of the home computer. Those were the days when VCRs and TVs had remotes but the remote was corded to the TV. My youth was dominated by either a screwdriver and masking tape, or a pencil and hours of sweating in front of radio working trying to avoid the Radio DJs voice over hoping my mum didn’t call me down for Sunday dinner during a song I liked. I realise that some people reading this won’t have a clue what I’m talking about, some of you probably felt this pain all too well.

Fast forward 10 years and those tapes are replaced with CDs and afternoons in HMV or swapping CDs between friends to get the latest Oasis album. Fast forward another 2 years and the CDs have disappeared, replaced with mini disks and hours digitising musical libraries creating our own playlists that suited our mood for that next day. Skip on a year and the game changer happened - the arrival of the iPod. Before you start, yes I said iPod, but it wasn"t the device that was the spelled out the shift into a new era for media - there were other hard drive music players before that - it was iTunes. All of a sudden we were able to access a MASSIVE library of music instantly, welcome to the digital era and say goodbye to the delayed gratification of buying a CD online and waiting days for it to arrive

Fast forward 7 years and we no longer buy music, we stream it. It"s a world even the iTunes visionary Steve Jobs couldn"t envisage. Over 60 million people use services like Spotify to stream or rent music, no longer tied to desktops or laptops to configure what music is played in advance, we have the ability to get access to millions of tracks instantly as our whim takes us.

My son is 7, when I was his age I was sitting in front of the radio waiting for the chart run down for hours on a Sunday, for him, getting access to the latest music is a 30 second task, power up his iPad, open the Spotify app and hit play, he’ll never know the hatred of DJs cutting short the end of Wonderwall with some cheesy comment.  I can’t wait to laugh at how he feels if he has children and is watching in bemusement at how his children consume media in the future.

So what has this got to do with CMS, well I’m getting to that.

Technology has changed at a phenomenal rate over the past few years, and popular culture reflects that. In 2000 we accepted that our websites were the remit of the IT department and reactive marketing online was a pipe dream of the crazy. But remember, that was in the day of dial up broadband, internet access was a commodity that only a few had access to. In the mid to late 2000s this changed, access to the internet was a lot greater, the CMS market had matured from simple changes in content in Static HTML table structures that took a day to make a simple change to a footer (let alone an understanding of tables and inline styling) to non technical users being able to create content dynamically and engage digitally using social media using rich media types.

Open Source CMS platforms such as WordPress and Joomla opened up a world of possibilities and allowed businesses and individuals a means to communicate with the world without the need for the IT department to update their content. (other CMS’s were around but Joomla and WordPress seen a massive market growth as these repurposed blogging platforms were used as a low cost entry into web presences).

This rapid evolution has led to our website users being preconditioned to needing to consume information instantly. If your website is slow or the information isn’t presented in a way that is easy to consume, the user will go to a competitor that does. 3 years ago we were starting to talk to clients about making their websites accessible for devices, now it isn’t a prerequisite that needs to be considered, its as fundamental as the company logo on the site. With this comes digital noise, a lot of it in fact. Because the internet is so readily accessible, everyone can have an opinion and share it with the world.

This digital clutter makes it harder to make your website stand out from the crowd and we need to look at smarter and more advanced ways to engage users that come to our websites making them use our site rather than our competitors. How does this work? Well the marketplace has matured, and so has the tools we have at our disposal:

  • IP Tracking - the ability to track every user on our websites to their IP address
  • Activity tracking - the ability to track an individual’s user history on the website
  • Lead Scoring - the ability to cut through the user noise and identify individuals on your website that are truly engaged or ready to buy
  • A/B testing - the ability to optimise content on the website in real time, with real users without them realising it
  • Content personalisation - the ability to display content tailored specifically to the individual users purchase history or user activities.
  • Drag and drop page builders - the ability to create pages by non technical users with dynamic content if required instantly

This evolution isn’t what's coming up, it's already happening. Which is why CMS is dead.

Don’t believe me, try this simple experiment for yourself:

Go to any big website like Easyjet or Amazon and start the booking/buying process...but don’t complete it. Then go back to the Easyjet website a couple of days later, watch how the banner and elements like the advertisements are all geared towards what was in your abandoned shopping cart. You probably will notice over the couple of days between that Facebook and other sites started showing you content based on that shopping cart abandonment, thats these tools in action. In the case of Amazon, they"ll be sure to tell you if your book has gone on sale... or perhaps suggest some similiar titles. Too expensive? Well did you know you can get that title and hundreds more like it via Amazon Prime? (Spotify for books... cue tailored ad). Audiobook version?!

Once it was only possible to achieve these things in one platform with a huge budget, unrealistic to most companies, or it was achievable by means of heavily integrating third party systems such as lead forensics for advanced marketing analytics, Hubspot for advanced marketing automation or Mailchimp for email marketing. The moment you have to pull apart a technology platform to make it do things it was never meant to do, its time to look at what is next in the web evolution.

At Simply Zesty we’ve been doing just that for clients, evolving our approach as this technology has. We’ve always strived to work with best of breed solutions that are looking forward just far enough to know where the marketplace is going but more importantly, developing a technology platform that facilities this all under one roof without the requirement for complex integrations with third party tools.

We are proud to work with one such vendor, Kentico, and have done since 2006. We’ve been part of its growth and seen it mature into a robust and feature rich tool which is why we recommend it to forward thinking organisations looking for feature rich technology solutions that retain the ease of use that is demanded by the user now, allowing, most importantly, the ability to access and manage these tools without technical understanding.

The evolution of CMS sees even more complicated technical solutions allowing for marketers to leverage the platform as an engagement tool rather than just a content tool to communicate with users on a one to one basis in a way that they can be reactive as the marketplace changes.

As a technologist and marketer I look forward to how this will evolve as the marketplace matures, satisfying the "inner geek’ knowing I can look forward to sitting my son down in years to come and saying in my day we had to optimise content based on market research and guesswork and had phones with buttons as he laughs and calls me old fashioned, just as I did when my Dad before me say down and explained how my first iPod could hold all his vinyl collection 1000 times over.

So as the saying goes, The King is dead…Long live the King!

!! Development