What Can a Headless CMS Do for Your Marketing?
Headless or monolithic CMS? That is the question. For marketers working in the ever-changing digital landscape, it’s a topic that’s garnering much debate. Research shows that the global headless CMS market is set to reach $605 million in 2022, with that figure skyrocketing to $3.8 billion by 2032. Substantial growth is clearly expected, but is headless the right choice for you?
What is a headless CMS?
Let’s start by briefly discussing traditional monolithic CMSs. With these, the frontend (the site’s structure and what people see when they load your website) and the backend (programs, software, access control and where you store your data) are bundled together as part of the same system. As such, the technology you work with is predetermined by the platform you’re using.
By contrast, a headless content management system (CMS) like Prismic severs the connection between the frontend and the backend, and consists of:
- A content management backend with administration and editorial capabilities (there’s no frontend built into the system)
- Application programming interfaces (APIs) to publish content, meaning it’s possible to distribute copy across different channels, with very little extra work
The front and back ends operate as separate systems, linked by APIs. Content and data can move between each side, but there’s no inherent dependency. Moreover, your developers take over the responsibility for building and developing the frontend, using a programming language of their choice. As such, they have greater freedom and agility.
Marketing challenges a headless CMS solves
If you’re a marketer who uses a monolithic CMS, you may find yourself facing the same issues time and again. Let’s dive into a few examples, and see how a headless system addresses them.
“We’re limited to a single technology stack that doesn’t serve the back or front end optimally.”
Headless works as part of a microservices architecture, meaning marketers can choose a vendor that best suits their content needs, rather than a solution that must work for both the marketing and development teams. A standout marketing technology stack helps you stay ahead of your competition, who may be constrained by an out-of-the-box CMS solution like Adobe.
“We’re fed up with waiting for developers to write the required code to deliver content.”
A headless CMS offers two major benefits: speed and flexibility. Because the front and back ends aren’t connected, content creators can write, edit and publish copy without having to think about the frontend presentation and delivery.
“We’re struggling to roll out an omnichannel strategy.”
These days, an increasing number of purchases are made online, whether that’s via mobile, tablet or desktop. At the same time, consumers are demanding more from their digital journeys.
To stay competitive, delivering a superior customer experience is crucial. That involves developing a seamless omnichannel strategy and harnessing the multi-pronged approach to create personalized journeys.
Where do traditional and headless CMS solutions come into play?
Traditional CMS platforms were developed when only one channel existed: the web. By contrast, the microservices architecture a headless system offers is designed for a multi-device world – web, mobile, tablets, the Internet of Things (IoT), and so on.
Users organize and manage content from one place (independent of the front end), ensuring content is reusable and easier to scale. Furthermore, the risk of content duplication across multiple pages is eliminated, because each piece of copy is saved just once. This cross-platform support decreases time-to-market and helps marketers better serve the needs of their customers.
“Our traditional CMS is slow, and I can’t scale up content releases fast enough.”
Monolithic systems are time-consuming and complicated to set up and customize, and scaling is complex because you’re tied to a specific platform. Conversely, an API-first headless CMS is made for scalability.
Headless systems are also resilient and high-performing, particularly when paired with a robust content delivery network (CDN). If the backend experiences issues or requires maintenance, the content team can continue to work on copy, and there’s no downtime for the frontend presentation layer – the live site.
“With our monolithic CMS, we’re concerned about distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.”
Headless systems offer an extra layer of security because the CMS database isn’t accessible from the content publishing platform – the microservices architecture makes it harder to infiltrate your entire system. Meanwhile, if you choose a headless vendor that maintains its content infrastructure in the cloud, you’re provided with further protection.
Headless as part of a broader microservices architecture
Headless CMS solves many marketing challenges, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. The broader picture involves a company-wide microservices architecture. Also known as composable, modular and MACH (microservices-based, API-centric, cloud-native, and headless), microservices are small, independent services that perform a specific task. They are integrated to form part of an application (or website), providing functionality. Microservices would be deployed to integrate the below things with each other:
- Frontend framework
- Headless commerce
- Content Delivery Network
- Customer relationship management solution (CRM)
- Customer data platform
- Analytics platform
By ‘composing’ or combining applications, and having the ability to choose best-in-class vendors for each area of your business, organizations can pivot quickly and with less risk as their needs change.