Few marketers believe their current content is good enough. After all, the market never stays still, meaning that marketing content must always be getting better. And next year, the content will need to be even higher performing. How can marketing content continuously improve?
Michael AndrewsJan 11, 2021
When you can’t keep up
Marketing teams have trouble keeping up with the changing dynamics in customer expectations and competitors’ offerings. They’re often lacking a systematic approach that can respond to these shifting conditions effectively. Some individuals will tinker with their headlines and graphics and see if results improve. Others will react by prioritizing novelty: chasing the latest fads, cranking out content about short-term trends without investing in long-term goals.
Keeping up can feel like an exhausting treadmill. But digital marketers know they don’t have the luxury to slow down.
Given the relentless pressures to produce, marketers may not be eager to step back from their routine and retool how they work. Who has time for that? Teams may hesitate when hearing about a new approach: headless content management. It seems easier to stick with what’s familiar.
Yet it’s important not to mistake intense activity with agility. Teams may push themselves by increasing their level of activity in an effort to keep up with a changing market environment. But applying more willpower won’t change the outcomes much if they don’t have the right framework and process to execute agilely. Agility, ultimately, depends on sustainability.
How headless is different
Headless content management provides marketers with a framework and foundation to act agilely—and sustain that momentum. It does this by breaking down content into modular pieces.
Modular content—structuring messages and information into pieces—is a powerful approach. Many marketers don’t use this approach and miss out on learning deeper insights into what elements contribute to truly successful content. Others in the marketing community have recognized the benefits of modular content in recent years. But in many cases, their efforts to implement content modularity rely on manual, ad hoc processes, such as maintaining file folders of items intended for reuse and copying and pasting parts of content into other deliverables. Even when the value of content modularity is understood, marketers need a robust and scalable process in place to realize its benefits.
A headless approach provides a clear advantage here. It structures content into a system of reusable parts where each modular element can be optimized to ensure that every part presented to customers works effectively together. It systematizes and automates the creation and delivery of modular content.
Instead of creating a single large item, teams structure messages and information into modular pieces with clearly defined purposes. By doing so, they gain more control and precision in the messages they deliver.
By adopting a headless approach to content management, marketing teams produce items that are:
- Manageable to create, edit, revise, and track so that the content is finely tuned
- Aligned with the customer journey to provide the right narrative for the customer at each step
The headless approach supports the entire marketing team so they can continuously improve the outcomes that their marketing content delivers. Marketing content becomes nimbler and more flexible in the process.
Let’s look more closely at how structured content improves marketing outcomes.
First, it lets marketers manage and optimize critical parts of their information and messaging. They can develop and compare messages to see which ones are highest performing—attracting the most interest and driving the most conversion.
Second, it allows everyone to utilize high-performing information and messaging across the whole company so that it can be available wherever it is needed. Once specific modules addressing a message or key information are optimized, these modules can scale so they’re available to everyone. It’s easy for everyone on the marketing team to reuse items because they can retrieve the exact piece that they need according to its purpose.
When marketers need a testimonial, for example, they can locate and retrieve relevant ones—without having to look at all the other content that accompanies each testimonial. The one that’s selected can be used in whatever kind of content where it would be appropriate. Marketers can experiment with using different testimonials to see which one draws most interest from customers. They can also change the testimonials according to which audience segment is viewing the content and create tailored content variations based on the modular content.
Headless content management supports an agile approach to working with marketing content. It allows individuals and teams to:
- Test ideas for what messages to present and how to present them
- Place many small bets by creating alternate variations
- Make incremental improvements on specific content components
- Scale what’s successful by enabling easy reuse across different marketing content
Laying a foundation for continuous improvement
Emma Phillips, Head of Group Marketing at the IDHL Group, notes that headless content management opens new possibilities for marketers. She says: “I’ve worked on a traditional CMS, there have been a number of times where I’ve wanted to use elements from different pages to create a new page, but that functionality isn’t there to support me—I can only work with what’s available. Headless has been a game-changer in that way. I can easily duplicate existing pages or individual sections and remove the parts I don’t need to create the ideal page or start from scratch—it’s really flexible.”
While many kinds of marketing content are valuable, the landing page is among the most critical. Marketers often tweak aspects of a landing page to improve conversion. They may change a heading, an image, or the text on a button. While piecemeal tweaks can improve the performance of individual landing pages, they don’t scale. The changes that improved performance aren’t easily applied to other landing pages, especially by other team members. Teams need to approach this task in a modular way where they can optimize each aspect of the page to determine the optimal modules to support a specific goal.
Let’s look at some potential modules on a landing page. They could include a:
- Hook (a visual hero, a headline)
- Promise (benefits, guarantees)
- Proof (ratings or testimonials)
- CTA (a recommended action or the next step)
- Ask (a form, sharing links)
Once we have structured the landing page into a stack of modules, we can experiment with them. We aren’t stuck with a rigid template that’s inherited from elsewhere. The individual marketer is in charge: able to make their own decisions about what to include.
They can refine each module, testing different options. They may want to try out alternatives or rely on something already created that’s known to work well. They can reorder the modules to see if that influences conversion. They can experiment with different combinations of modules, deciding to include or leave out one.
For each module included on the landing page, the marketer can make choices. The structuring of content in a headless system provides granular control over different messages.
Once the marketer has experimented with different variations and options, they are in a position to build on that learning. They can share high performing modules with their colleagues and reuse them on other landing pages. But individuals also retain the ability to make their own decisions on what to use. They can choose to use a best performing module or decide to create a new version to test if it would perform even better.
The modular content supported by headless content management enables composite content such as landing pages to evolve so that the outcomes are continuously improving.
Structuring the content into modules makes getting performance feedback easier.
Headless content management can improve the performance of all forms of content where conversion rate optimization (CRO) is important, such as inbound campaigns and product trial onboarding. By breaking content into discrete modules, it’s easier to track the performance of multi-step content interactions and identify the modules that contribute to conversion.
Marketing teams can scale the application of high-performing modules across different content types. Compelling testimonials can be used in case studies as well as landing pages. High-performing wording in calls to action can be used across multiple items.
The headless advantage
Higher performing marketing content depends on two key factors: the ability to get precise feedback that supports continuous improvement and the ability to scale these improvements across the organization.
Your team may be doing some of these activities already, but headless content management makes them easier to manage and implement. That’s because the content is pre-structured, and the relationships between modules and larger content items are already defined. The modular approach to content management makes it faster to produce new content and make changes to live content. And it makes it possible to keep up with changing market dynamics.