May 29, 2018
The "All of the Above" Approach to Content Delivery

Your content strategy feels like it's all over the map. You need content for your website and email campaigns, your support team wants to create a customer portal that provides a knowledge base and customer community, Sales is looking for a range of product documentation, Marketing wants to elevate your customer experience for web and mobile apps that are owned by IT.

There's so much content, and it needs to go to so many places. Can your CMS do the job?

These are important questions for many organizations dealing with complex content needs from across the organization. It would be great if everyone could fall in line and follow one approach to content management and delivery, but the reality is that's not going to happen. And that's not a bad thing. You just need to be smart about your content delivery models.  

Content Delivery Models 

There is more than one way to deliver content from a content management system. Using the right delivery approach can be the make-it-or-break-it decision for your next digital project. It is important to understand all the approaches and to make sure that your content platform provides the flexibility you need to support all of your channels. 

Here are three of the most important delivery models for digital content: 

Static Content Delivery:

Some of the content you create and manage doesn't change very often, and you need a straightforward way to publish out to different locations like your website or a print-based document. Product material, company information, a digital magazine or a blog are examples of content that you write and publish in static format - as HTML on the web or as a Word or PDF document in print.

Although you don't change it often, you still want to manage this content in a content management system to ensure it is kept updated appropriately and is then republished out as necessary. 

Dynamic Content Delivery:

Dynamic content is used for marketing websites and "tightly coupled" customer experiences. On your website, personalized web pages that change advertisements or recommended content according to past visitor history, are common examples.

Dynamic content is assembled on the fly, leveraging a template that tells the delivery system which content to pull in and how to assemble it on the page. Some companies provide this capability to create dynamic "print-on-demand" documents - assembling a document according to a set of rules and then creating a printable Word or PDF document.  

Headless and Decoupled Content Delivery: 

Headless and decoupled is the fastest growing approach in digital content, and for good reason. Some applications or even websites simply do not fit a traditional content management system. It may be a complex website that is composed of applications, code that goes through managed build and deployment processes, offline mobile, or simply a bespoke customer experience that does not fit the module-based approach of some CMS applications.

There is also increasing demand coming from digital transformation and corner office customer experience mandates to elevate customer experience across all customer touchpoints in the organization. Does it make more sense to rebuild all these experiences in a CMS - or connect the CMS content with the existing applications?

This approach to delivering content to external applications is called headless content delivery, and it is quickly becoming a popular demand in organizations trying to support the content needs of diverse departments. With Headless, the CMS does not own and manage the presentation layer; rather it provides content to existing pages or apps via an API request that returns raw or templated content.

Decoupled content management adds a level of flexibility and benefits both fully managed websites and more agile content integration. In decoupled, the CMS is separate from the website but publishes content and resources used to build the website. 

You Can - and Should - Do It All 

If you take the time to examine all your content requirements, you'll find you don't just need one type of content delivery approach. You use each approach in different situations. Your marketing team uses both a static and dynamic delivery approach to website content and landing pages for email campaigns. If they are the owners of your mobile app, then they require a headless delivery approach.

Your support team owns the customer portal and depending on how IT built the portal they may need one or more of these content delivery approaches. And business owners need a headless delivery model to support the content management requirements of their web-based business applications.

There's no way you can enforce one content delivery approach across the board. You can't force business users to build content management into their applications or mobile apps. If you took this approach, you would have to deal with the potential of duplicated content across the organization with no method to synchronize it. 

Supporting Multiple Content Delivery Approaches

The best approach to content delivery is "All of the Above," i.e. support for multiple content delivery approaches. 

However, this approach carries a set of unique - but manageable - challenges. You know you need multiple ways to deliver content, but you don't want the pain of setting up and managing multiple content management systems, each providing one delivery method.

Maintaining several content management solutions means your content would be spread across multiple systems making it hard to manage and next to impossible to share, reuse and repurpose by users. That is a real challenge to your content strategy.

Unfortunately, there aren't many content management systems available today that support all three approaches. Don't try to squeeze your content delivery needs into one particular delivery approach; you'll only cause more problems.

As you plan your next digital project carefully consider the best content deployment approach and if your existing technology supports that delivery model. If it does, then you are good to move forward. If it doesn't, then it may be time to look for a new modern CMS solution.

This article was originally published on CMS Wire