What matters to consumers
The average consumer will spend more time on their mobile devices this year than they will watching television. That’s a critical metric that any digital marketer needs to be aware of. Consumers have made their mobile devices their “go-to” devices. This does not mean that mobile is the only device marketers should worry about, but it does mean that it puts “mobile first” design for your website in an entirely new context. Consumers are also increasingly adopting voice technology. Comscore expects nearly 50% of search to be voice-powered by 2020. Gartner predicts that 30% of all browsing will be done on screen-less devices in the same year. The evolution of consumer behavior to a highly mobile, multi-device, voice-enabled world means that websites must evolve with those behaviors or risk getting left behind.
Consumers are also increasingly becoming channel agnostic. Whether the channel is Amazon, Booking.com, or a social media site, consumers are just as comfortable purchasing products directly from a business as they are from affiliates and distribution sites. In fact, according to a recent BigCommerce study, consumers, regardless of age, are likely to use physical stores, online stores, amazon, eBay and social media shopping venues in nearly equal proportion for their purchases. The physical location, however, is still critical. While 96% of consumers in the US have shopped online, 65% of a typical consumer’s shopping budget is still spent in-store. For digital marketers then, deciding where to send their potential shoppers is less relevant than creating the right experience to connect with modern consumers and drive product and brand awareness.
What matters to Google
In this case, Google is really any search engine – but as the dominant search engine, it defines what all other search engines favor as well. The modern search engine has a single goal: make it easy for consumers to find information. That means that the technologies and the factors that search engines will invest in will continue to evolve to get information to consumers more quickly and more precisely. Already, we have seen forays by Google into areas like travel-related bookings right from the Google search page. New technologies have been introduced to provide more “answers” to consumers in the form of “featured snippets” – the answer-like boxes that often appear at the top of a search result when consumers ask specific questions.
Think bottom up
Speed & CDN
Content Management Systems are great for making website management simple, fast and efficient. They tend to have a reputation, however, as being slow. The reason is simple, Content Management Systems add additional layers of code between your website content and the browser, often creating a sub-optimal experience. Ensure that your CMS is fast – ask your vendor for tests that have been performed with completed websites and comparisons, if possible, against competing systems. Your CMS-powered website should be able to meet or exceed Google’s recommended thresholds. Milestone CMS, for example, was recently tested, and across dozens of hospitality websites, we saw load times of up to 300% faster than industry average.
Related to your website speed, but independent of the CMS itself, you should ensure that your Content Management System can store your website content through a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Using a CDN is a widely used ‘best practice’ amongst large consumer-facing websites for a simple, but powerful reason. CDNs take content and store it across several servers across the globe. When a consumer accesses your website, your content is delivered from their nearest CDN instead of your website – making the experience fast and seamless for the consumer. Make sure your CMS includes CDN support and that the integration is simple and easy to manage.
SEO & Schema
Your Content Management System should provide a great deal of precision and detail functionality around Search Engine Optimization. From being able to set custom <alt> tags to your images to easily controlling critical SEO elements like meta tags, descriptions and so on, along with social-media critical tags like Facebook OpenGraph tags. Tagging your website pages and content is critical to ensure better search visibility and your CMS should be flexible enough to allow you to manage these critical aspects on an ongoing basis.
Make sure your CMS has advanced support for schema tags. What are schema tags and do we mean by advanced support? Schema tags are snippets of code that tell search engines what your content means – for example, your business address can be “tagged” as an address – giving search engines a clue about your business address. Don’t be satisfied with basic address tagging, however. There are thousands of schema tags available across many industries. Tagging your website with anything from product tags to reviews makes it easier for Google and other search engines to provide more valuable information to your consumers. Your CMS should provide native support for this tagging system to avoid the long, painstaking and error-prone process of manual tagging.
Consumers are increasingly relying on voice in order to find content and information. By 2020, comScore expects more than 50% of search to be voice-powered. Gartner expects more than 30% of web browsing to be performed using “screenless” devices – like smart speakers. Your Content Management System should provide features and technologies that make sharing your website data with voice assistants like Google Home and Alexa simple and fast. One such critical technology is support for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) wrapped in Schema tags. Your CMS should allow you to quickly create FAQs that are tagged with “question” schemas to enable business-specific questions. For instance, if a consumer asks, “Does Elite Bank have a zero-balance credit card?” where will the answer come from? If your CMS supports dynamic FAQs with schemas, you could easily add support for such questions and provide ready answers.
Nail the user experience
User experience (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 mandates that electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities. Check that your CMS allows you to create ADA-friendly websites. This is important not only to prevent legal problems, but also to cater to the 20% of Americans that have some form of disability who may not be able to interact with your website properly. When considering the ADA features of your CMS, don’t stop at the creation of content. Make sure that you can automatically check for ADA problems with automated scanning of your website. This way, if someone were to upload an image without a proper <alt> tag, for example, your CMS can warn you before it becomes a problem.
Mobile first, AMP & PWA
Does your CMS support a mobile-first, responsive website design? Odds are the answer is yes. In today’s world, Mobile first has become a “must have.” In order to provide the best possible mobile experience, however, your CMS must also support new technologies that are quickly becoming huge differentiators in a mobile-first world. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is the first. With AMP technology, your CMS must be able to publish faster, more readily accessible versions of your website using the open-source AMP format – a light-weight HTML format that is housed on cached Google servers. AMP pages are lightning fast, often loading in a fraction of a second, and providing that instant “app-like” experience for your consumers. To further enable app-like experiences, make sure your CMS can also support Progressive Web App (PWA) technology. PWA technology allows your mobile site to be stored locally by consumers on their mobile device – giving them access even without network coverage. PWA also enables notifications, giving you increased interaction capabilities with your consumers. While PWA notifications are not yet supported by Apple’s iOS12, it is widely expected in the upcoming iOS13 release.
Your Content Management System should also come with features that make it easier for consumer-facing businesses to optimize conversion on their website. Special offers module should make it easy for you to provide incentives for consumers when they are on your website. Shopping abandonment features should watch for specific clues that imply your visitor is about to leave your website, and in turn provide incentives to stay. Similarly, if you work with Affiliates and need to provide incentives for shopping directly on your site, a pricing comparison widget should make it easy for you to show price comparisons or provide “buy direct” incentives for consumers.
Make sure your website visitors get the best possible content by leveraging personalization. Whether it’s driven by the geographic location, or by identifying interest based on ads they clicked or keywords they searched for, your CMS should make it easy for consumers to get a deeper connection by serving up content that is most appropriate for their needs.
Much more in Part 2
in part 2 we cover the features that amplify your reach, Integration capabilities, and enterprise friendly CMS features. Choosing the right CMS is very important; for more help on this topic visit us at https://www.milestoneinternet.com or call us at (408) 200-2211.
Click here for part 2