What is Composable Content?
Updated: April 17, 2023
Composable content orchestrates and structures digital content from any system, allowing teams to quickly shape dynamic experiences for distinct audiences.
What is Composable Content?
The market is transitioning from channel-first digital marketing to experience-first marketing that focuses on the customer journey as a whole, not as a series of websites, apps, emails, and advertisements. Connecting all these pieces into cohesive experiences requires companies to think and work differently. It requires new technologies that support a composable approach and composable content.
Composable content defined
Composable content is both the output and process of orchestrating and structuring digital content from any system, allowing teams to quickly shape dynamic experiences for distinct audiences. You can think of composable content as the door to limitlessly configurable content.
What sets composable content apart is that content creators, developers, and machines can all easily interact with it. It’s API-accessible so everyone who needs to can work with and use it — quite different from the content stored in legacy management systems.
Composable content also leans heavily on structured content — segmenting text, images, graphics, sound, and even data into small (but still meaningful) pieces so that they can be readily used in any number of combinations in any context, channel, or device. It’s pure content that can be used anywhere with any language presentation layer.
So you see, composable content isn't just a marketing slogan. It works differently and requires editors to author it differently than they would legacy content.
Composable enables a new way of working with content at scale
In the old way of working, first you pick a channel and then you create the content. So you might create a web page in a content management system. Then you need content for the mobile app, so you create that in another system. But then you need an email too, so you copy/paste content into another system. And if it’s for a global campaign, you repeat the process for each additional market, translating content manually along the way.
With a composable approach, you might start with a specific channel in mind, but you're also mindful of the other channels your customers will use to experience that content. This changes how you create content: you worry less about how the content will be presented, and instead focus on producing high-quality, engaging content. The goal is to create great content once and reuse it everywhere.
Instead of creating content in a big block, you have a series of smaller chunks, defined by your developer and information architect, that you fill out. Why? Because this enables developers to take your content and quickly integrate it into the frontend. It also means you and other editors can mix and match content to compose different experiences instead of recreating it for each channel.
For example, having two chunks called "product benefits" and "usage instructions" makes it easy to pull this content into a product page and combine it with content from an ecommerce platform. You can also quickly apply different visual styles to copy elements. If all that content was stored in the same field, it'd be extremely hard to reuse it in these different ways.
Employing a composable content method makes working with content more efficient. That means you can spend time on more interesting things — like localization and personalization.
Curious about how composable content works? Watch this demo with Ninetailed to learn how a composable content platform makes it easier to maintain and deploy content across channels and geographies that need localized content and a consistent brand message.
Why digital leaders are adopting a composable content strategy
Digital leaders are praising composable content and the broader composable approach it enables. Trading monolithic tools for a composable ecosystem is less about the technology and more about the digital transformation it enables. A composable content strategy changes how teams work and the digital experiences they can deliver.
Composability helps teams build more efficiently
Gavin Estey, VP of Technologies in America at Appnovation, says the power of composability lies in its ability to help teams “do things better than they did before — be that creating content and sharing content at speed or driving velocity and internal efficiencies.”
Composable ecosystems let teams combine the best of the best
Kelly Goetsch, Chief Strategy Officer at commercetools explains that the cloud changed everything, ushering in an era of purpose-built microservices. Shifting from a monolith to a composable tech stack means you can choose the best tools for every business function, such as ecommerce, content, omnichannel, advertising … whatever areas your business wants to optimize.
Composable content lets you appeal to customer emotion
Casper Rasmussen, Group SVP of Technology at Valtech, and president of the MACH Alliance, says that content is the key to injecting emotion. It takes flat copy and helps you connect with where each customer is on their journey. That sounds ambitious, but composable content makes your content modular and customizable. It makes omnichannel and personalization possible at scale. “If you can look at composability from a customer's journey perspective, you’re able to reuse your content in multiple different permutations and manifestations,” Rasmussen pointed out. “There’s more opportunity to inject emotion — the essence of your brand, its story, and authenticity.”
What are the benefits of a composable content platform?
Composable content platforms structure content and empower teams to build experiences customers will love from the building blocks they’ve already created. They are the technology that powers your composable strategy, connecting content to all of the other tools teams use to create compelling digital experiences.
Composable content platforms go beyond predecessors like headless CMS. They enable teams to orchestrate content, drawing content from many parts of the business and combining it in intelligent ways.
|The proliferation of digital content and channels requires tools that can connect all those content silos and enable teams to work with content across the business. What once required custom development now comes out of the box with the Contentful Composable Content Platform. Contentful allows teams to connect content across environments (including legacy CMSes), quickly create content with pre-existing content models, and build apps that can connect to any environment from a central place. Learn more about Contentful’s orchestration capabilities.
|Collaboration and coordination
|Composable content platforms connect everything (content, users, and tools) so teams can see the big picture. At the same time, they enable teams to focus on their piece of that big picture without unnecessary dependencies. This ability to zoom in and zoom out enables teams to work independently while staying aligned with one another.
|It’s impossible to keep adding people to manually manage all the iterations of content you need for global marketing, omnichannel, personalization, and localization strategies. Accomplishing these goals at scale requires tools that help teams work efficiently and deliver experiences that go beyond the scope of any one team.
|Freeing teams to compose new experiences with existing content is exhilarating, but much like ziplining or skydiving, you want some safety features. Composable content platforms include governance tools that make roles and responsibilities clear and easy to adjust as your strategy (or comfort level) changes. Flexible guardrails give teams freedom to work autonomously, yet in coordination with other teams. This means that teams are free to focus on creativity and delivering value without worrying that they’ll stray too far from the brand or - heaven forbid - break something within the tool itself.
|Speed to market
|Powerful tools, more efficient content operations, fewer bottlenecks, and the ability to work autonomously all add up to greater productivity for creative and technical teams. That results in accelerating time to market. With composable content and tools that cut across channel-centric silos, companies can organize teams differently, optimize workflows, and customize interfaces to help people deliver their best work — and generate results — faster.
Discover how Heap uses composable content to deliver data-informed digital experiences at scale
Heap delivers business-critical insights and analytics to its customers, empowering them to identify winning content and areas for improvement.
When it came to redesigning its marketing website, Heap wanted a platform that would enable the company to drink its own champagne. By utilizing its own tools to track and analyze site data, the company would be able to quickly determine which content and elements to optimize to enhance customer experience. Heap, however, faced digital roadblocks attempting to achieve this with their legacy system.
“We get data from Heap, but it’s useless unless you can act on it,” said Ben Lempert, Director of Web and Content at Heap. “Contentful lets us take action and quickly modify the experience we’ve created to satisfy user needs based on their behavior. This combination is really a supertool for delivering customers the value they’re looking for.”
Learn how Heap was able to transition their entire 600-page website in just three weeks with Contentful, leading to better alignment with user needs and expectations.
Key principles of composable content
A composable approach to content creation consists of a set of principles, processes, and tools that enable teams to work autonomously, while maximizing the value of content across the organization.
Designs for reuse. Reuse is not limited to content. Models, assemblies, apps, and architectures are all reusable.
Uses structured content. A content model provides structure for understanding, building, and effectively using content.
Connects content sources. Enables teams to use content from diverse sources, including DAM, PIM, CRM, commerce, and other databases.
Usable across channels. Content can be used in any digital channel or screen type, but does not need to be used the same way everywhere.
Enables independent work. Content teams build, manage, and use content independently from, but in coordination with, development teams.
Keeps teams coordinated. Manages the complexity of multiple teams and channels with strong governance, custom interfaces, and clear workflows.
What to consider when you’re evaluating a composable content platform
Just as everybody was quick to jump on the headless CMS bandwagon, everybody wants to offer composable business capabilities. Understanding what composable content is (and isn’t) is critical when choosing a composable content platform.
It’s separate from the presentation layer. In other words, if you have to copy and paste content from one format to another, it’s not composable content. Modern digital experiences are multi-channel. Composable content enables content creators to create content once and use it over and over in any channels they choose.
It’s pulled from multiple sources via APIs. Again, if you’re copying and pasting content, it’s not composable. Composable content is programmatically accessible in a predictable, universal format ( like JSON or GraphQL). Creators can pull content from multiple sources, and stitch it together into new experiences without introducing inconsistencies.
Developers and editors can use it. This is a critical test of whether your content is truly composable. Developers can mimic composable content by pulling content from multiple sources together into a new experience via code. But this isn’t scalable. Instead of creating frustrating dependencies between editors and developers, composable content empowers editors to easily manage this content and put it together whichever way they want, without the help of developers.
Content is easily discoverable and orchestrated across your digital portfolio. If you have hundreds of digital properties across different brands and markets, the content, apps, and templates you create should be accessible from one environment to another. This shouldn’t just be theoretically possible. Applying metadata to structured content makes it easy to surface the right content to users.
Adopt a future-proof composable content approach with Contentful
Nearly a decade ago, Contentful pioneered headless CMS, a cutting edge technology that propelled our customers into the future. We’re leading the way again with the Contentful® Composable Content Platform designed to help you deliver the next wave of digital experiences.
Orchestrate content experiences across teams, regions, and brands
Stronger orchestration capabilities help eliminate manual migration (the dreaded copy/paste), reduce custom development and maintenance of middleware, and launch new digital experiences faster, at scale. Teams can move and expand into new markets and channels at lightning speed as these time-consuming, repetitive tasks become a thing of the past.
Streamline content editing, publishing, workflows, and governance
Day-to-day content operations using disconnected solutions are a heavy burden on content teams, and especially draining for people who thrive on creating and innovating. specifically with content teams in mind. We've added more features so creative teams can easily access all the tools they need with much less reliance on developer teams.
Build any content experience imaginable with an extensible ecosystem
The verdict is in, all-in-one platforms are about as comfortable as one-size-fits-all clothing. It's never quite the right fit. We built the Contentful platform to be extensible by design so you can tailor it to a wide range of unique business needs and use cases. Thanks to the power of the Contentful App Framework, our robust ecosystem of technology and implementation partners, and the Contentful Marketplace full of ready-to-use apps.
We’ve been leading the way for more than a decade and continue to evolve our platform to keep our customers ahead of the competition. Learn how you can unlock the power of digital content with the Contentful Composable Content Platform.