Most marketers would agree that a content management system (CMS) that can deliver content to any device or touchpoint without having to do extra work sounds pretty useful. But mention a headless CMS as a solution and the very same marketers can retreat due to misgivings about complexity. 

In this article we’ll clear up any misconceptions by breaking down what a headless CMS actually is and why it can free marketers from many of the challenges they face today, rather than add to them.

Traditional CMS: The limitations

When it comes to the content inside your traditional CMS, such as Wordpress or Joomla, there’s no flexibility. What you produce can only be presented in one way: through a template built for either desktop or mobile web browsers. This works great when building straightforward websites, but what about reaching the users attending big outdoor events, or listening to their smart speakers at home.

With a headless CMS, your content is no longer tightly paired with any template. Instead, your content is “headless” — meaning it can be given any required “head” or front-end template depending on the channel. Which is perfect for today’s omnichannel digital customer experiences. 

7 common misconceptions – and why they aren’t true

 A headless CMS:

1. Is only for developers

Some headless CMS solutions are built solely for developers, but this is only half the story. Because headless CMSs don’t always cater to marketers, it can seem like they’re out of reach and irrelevant to them. Sitecore’s hybrid-headless CMS solution caters to both developers and marketers, with marketer-friendly features such as WYSIWYG editing, inline editing, and even content previews — three features we’ll discuss below.

2. Doesn’t support rich text editing

Many pure headless CMS solutions can feel restrictive to marketers and having to input content into content fields can lead to heavy reliance on the IT team, even for tasks that with a traditional CMS would be simple. A hybrid-headless CMS like Sitecore, on the other hand, empowers marketers with features like WYSIWYG editing, digital asset management for inserting media, as well as inline editing. Sitecore’s Experience Editor comes with a number of presentation components and templates including content blocks, presentation prompts, and web forms to help you structure your content and its presentation.

3. Doesn’t support personalization

With a hybrid-headless CMS, marketers can maintain control of editing and content construction on the page, which means they’re still able to preserve personalization functionality and deliver content for every stage, and every device within the customer journey.

4. Doesn’t allow you to preview content

It’s true that in some headless CMSs you can’t preview content before it goes live. Without the front-end template system, marketers have to either publish content blindly, or rely on the front-end development team. Sitecore comes with a Live Editing feature that marketers can use to preview and edit content in real-time. To keep everything organized, only one content author can edit at any one time.

5. Complicates the martech stack

This is blatantly false. If there’s one thing a headless CMS does well, it’s integrations. Using the same technology that connects your content to any device, a headless CMS can connect with any application or martech tool on the market. You can even integrate a headless CMS into a custom-built application.

For instance, Oriflame, a Swedish natural beauty company entering the Chinese market, used Sitecore to connect with two popular Chinese apps, Alipay and WeChat. With Sitecore acting as the connector, Oriflame was able to integrate these two apps into their digital ecosystem in order to gather customer data and provide personalized content.

Energy firm Innogy used Sitecore in a similar fashion with custom-built IoT sensors that were installed on customers’ gas meters. With Sitecore’s headless CMS technology, Innogy was able to integrate with and push and pull data from these meters, providing their customers with real-time gas meter readings, as well as personalized tips on how to reduce their energy consumption.

6. Will further silo your marketing team

Another one that misses the mark by a long shot. As a centralized platform, a headless CMS allows marketers to produce content for all channels, devices, and touchpoints under the same digital roof. You no longer need to produce or duplicate your content inside different tools for the sake of using different channels. Once all your content is stored centrally, your broader marketing department can overcome inconsistent messaging, as well as the organizational silos caused by the spectrum of martech and publishing tools your brand is attempting to use now.

7. Is just a fad

This is, yet again, wildly inaccurate. It’s a necessity to keep up with customers and their regularly updated devices. Yes, a traditional CMS will still do its job just fine, but that’s not good enough. It wasn’t built for the IoT era. Channels such as an Alexa-enabled car couldn’t be further from the capabilities of a traditional CMS, which is bound by its rigid, pre-configured “head” and can’t push content to emerging channels, whether a smart car, a Virtual Reality headset, or a smart appliance. Marketers need to efficiently produce content once, ensure that content is ready the moment a user makes a request, and then distribute it across the continuously expanding spectrum of channels.

Conclusion

As you can see, a headless CMS doesn’t have to be daunting for a marketer. In fact, it’s an essential tool to help you grow beyond your traditional marketing channels, and reach consumers wherever they happen to be.

There are expected to be more than 64 billion IoT devices worldwide by 2025, with Statista predicting the global IoT marketplace will be valued at $1.6 trillion.

With a headless CMS, your omnichannel marketing initiatives can finally stretch to those devices — and all the devices we’ve yet to imagine.

Learn more about headless CMS.

 

Jill Grozalsky is a Product Marketing Director at Sitecore. Find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.