This year, in lieu of the usual New Year’s resolutions, I embarked on an exciting new challenge as the director of platform strategy at Contentful. I spent my first 90 days talking to nearly 100 digital leaders and, I have to tell you, I’m excited for the future.
Leading brands and agencies are using Contentful to push the boundaries of what’s possible and redefine best practices for the digital-first era. After I recovered from 90 hours of conversation fueled by 150+ caffeinated beverages, I digested what I learned into five insights that propel companies into the ranks of digital leaders.
1. Balance project and product outcomes
Business outcomes are the why behind projects. They keep digital teams focused on driving results instead of making changes for change’s sake.
I’ve learned that Contentful customers have achieved and continue to achieve amazing results in the realm of project outcomes. With Contentful:
Project outcomes, namely schedule, scope and budget - have all been improving when Contentful is leveraged.
Schedule and delivery times go down.
Excellent and quality scope is achieved.
Budgets go down or get more efficient.
This is all fantastic.
However, as a reward for all of this success, customers have been granted tighter timelines, more scope and tighter budgets. Congratulations!
Market pressures continue to stay high and digital leaders are struggling to make the leap into more value-based business outcomes. To achieve the correct business outcomes, tie investments in new technologies and capabilities back to customer, business and technical outcomes.
For example, a project, such as implementing personalization, might be measured by how many pieces of content you can personalize, but the user outcome is customer satisfaction. The value and KPIs should include measures such as NPS scores, conversions and lifetime value.
We, collectively, need to shift the conversation and balance between the project outcomes, and talk more about goals and objectives. This will ensure the right projects are built with Contentful - ones that maximize value for your end users. At Contentful, we are building a KPI framework to help workshop and establish the right things to measure.
Digital leaders use Contentful to assemble a stack of industry-leading tools that delivers business outcomes faster and more reliably than a suite that just checks off the boxes for the next project.
2. Focus on high-value digital products and experiences in the first 60-90 days
Listening and learning from many conversations with customers and many more with internal experts, I have learned that there are three use cases and projects that generate the most return for our customers, and are grounded with end users at the center to support their needs along their journey engaging with a brand.
To unlock return on investment even faster, digital leaders focus on high-value use cases in the first 60 to 90 days. Think about products and experiences that have a far-reaching impact such as:
Agile ecommerce: Bang & Olufsen increased its ecommerce conversion rate by 60% and its average order value by 13% after merging its ecommerce sites and unifying content across Web and in-store digital touchpoints to deliver a seamless experience for discovering and purchasing its luxury electronics.
Global marketing: IKEA unified content on a global hub and 80% of that content is reused in local markets, in 34 languages, across 48 countries.
Knowledge bases: Lyft’s web and mobile Help Centers for major markets are powered by Contentful. Content is reusable across driver, rider and call center support audiences.
Prioritizing high-value use cases accelerates time to value and builds momentum for, and confidence in, new tools and processes. What’s more, these initial projects serve as blueprints for future use cases helping companies build and expand on the value of their investments.
To help, we are working on implementation playbooks, including reference architectures, project plans, and guidance on how to build the team to build against these objectives.
Also included in these implementation playbooks is a Contentful space architecture. Rome was not built in a day, and world-class digital experiences will also take time. This is how Contentful can support and scale your digital endeavours.
Start with a single high-value use case in the first 60 to 90 days to prove the value of new technologies and processes. With each use, teams iterate on capabilities gained in that first project, strengthening the foundation and gaining speed as use cases expand from a single product or experiences to multiple products.
3. Build future-ready software and experiences
The shift to the digital-first era has been marked by rapid change. To survive, brands must look beyond what they need today to prepare for future changes. This means building capabilities and adopting technologies that enable you to deliver better digital products and experiences, faster. In order to be ready for the future, you need to begin thinking about how the business can be composable to adapt to the needs and opportunities of their customers and markets.
Contentful can enable modular business capabilities by providing a consistent mechanism for content. Use spaces to be the powerhouse of a modular business capability.
Innovation is built, not bought. You can’t differentiate yourself with a better product or experience if you’re using the same suite of tools as your competitors.
Leading digital brands are empowering builders with custom stacks, composed of tools that work with them — not against them. They use API-driven platforms, like Contentful, that work with any existing technology, including legacy suites and industry-leading solutions. In this way, builders can focus on the customer experience instead of fighting technologies or getting tied up in lengthy migrations.
Contentful helps brands prepare for the future with superior cloud operations and the strongest developer ecosystem and tooling of any platform available. As of January 31, we had 689k SDK downloads. This is why the digital-first companies, such as Amazon, Spotify and Lyft, use Contentful. Our App Framework and Compose + Launch are all designed to help developers and content creators start building faster.
The success of our biggest deployments is often with the help of global digital agencies. Good partners rapidly extend your in-house capabilities, filling in gaps so that you can deliver products and experiences faster. They have the experience to help you bypass rookie mistakes for seamless delivery, while you build internal capabilities in parallel.
4. Find stability in an ever-changing digital landscape
The market is changing, technology is changing, customer behavior is changing. How do you find stability amidst all this change?
The best way to find stability and stay grounded is to ensure the customer is at the center of your technology universe. This will not only create stability for your business, but also for your customers and end users as they engage with your brand.
Whether that experience is a loyalty platform, knowledge base, landing page, commerce experience, product pages, or a global website - we have a point of view that the content you create, store, and distribute to your customers should be consistent, unifying and pleasant.
Focus on the simple truths that remain constant:
Companies exist to bring value to their customers, and
Content is the core of how you communicate that value to your customers.
Content is the key to every digital experience. Unifying content across products and experiences with a content platform connects customer experiences to create a seamless customer journey instead of a disjointed series of siloed touch points.
Like the tendons and ligaments that hold our body together, content becomes the connective tissue that gives your platform stability and flexibility.
Putting content at the center of your digital experience stack acts as a stabilizer for all of your digital investments. Whatever the future brings, you can add, remove and swap the components that tie into this stable foundation without disrupting your business or the customer experience.
Contentful offers a reliable and secure infrastructure that leading brands count on to help them deliver seamless customer experiences at scale now and in the future. APIs, cloud services and our App Framework make it easy to connect with your tech stack. Our API-first approach means we can federate content from other systems, including other CMSes or living alongside a digital experience platform that you have in place. In this way, Contentful meets you where you are at while accelerating your digital capabilities by empowering you to connect with the modern tools you need.
5. Support digital builders and digital teams
Digital builders and teams need support to transition to new ways of working at scale and adopt more agile business operations. The technical and marketing sides of the business need to converge around the customer with tools that empower them to act in parallel without unnecessary dependencies.
Developers should be able to make changes quickly, marketers need the ability to react instantly to insights and editors should be able to make updates and deploy content globally and locally without waiting on developer resources.
Tools that support agile workflows and enable teams to work in parallel minimize handoffs and reduce bottlenecks to unlock greater speed and productivity. A unified infrastructure bridges silos to give teams greater autonomy, while keeping them more connected. Everyone has access to the same content and visual assets for brand consistency, and new apps built by one team are quickly shared across the enterprise to support speed and quality.
For Contentful customers, connecting team functions, products, experiences and channels with a single content platform is a catalyst for motivating people to work in new ways. We build on this by offering a collection of free and paid resources to help builders and digital teams master the skills they need to excel in the digital-first era.
Resources for Digital Builders:
Learning Center: Free self-service courses and learning materials for beginners and for advanced users. With different learning tracks for content authors, content architects and developers.
Contentful 1-2-3: Our onboarding series for new users has separate tracks for developers, content authors and content architects.
Contentful Buzz: Our in-app notifications about new features, tips, best practices, learning resources, case studies, use cases and more
Certification: Customers and partners can take our certified professional exam to solidify and to demonstrate their knowledge of Contentful’s platform.
Sign up for a Contentful foundations workshop today by contacting your account or customer success manager. If you’re currently using the Community edition, contact us to upgrade your account and gain access to all of Contentful’s features and services.