Content management systems are the backbone of building websites and web applications, and they are about more than just managing content or editing lightweight assets. In this webinar with Milestone experts Aparna Iyer, Sr. Product Manager and Gaurav Varma, Sr. Product Marketing Manager discussed the role of CMS for driving digital experience (on site experience) and digital discovery (search and SEO). The audience was able to learn about key changes impacting the CMS experience due to the impact of the pandemic and the critical features of a world-class SEO-powered CMS platform that drives immediate increase in revenue and leads while keeping the lowest cost of ownership.
This webinar provided the key components necessary to develop and manage a website so you don’t have to worry about speed, technical SEO, hosting infrastructure, or security while boosting your website traffic and leads by up to 20-30%
Key learnings from the webinar:
- Digital transformation and how it impacted the search and engagement experience
- What the key factors for selecting CMS technology are
- Why your business needs an SEO-first CMS
- Top features to look for in a CMS – AMP, PWA, schemas, Core Vitals, and more
- Case studies from top brands across hospitality, automotive, and finance
Here is the complete webinar transcript:
Today’s topic is the top tips for choosing the right CMS for your business. My name is Erik Newton. I’m the Vice President of Marketing here at Milestone. And today I’m joined by my colleagues, Aparna Iyer, and Gaurav Varma, Aparna is Senior Product Manager here at Milestone and she manages the CMS. Gaurav is a Senior Product Marketing Manager, and he also collaborates to manage and bring to market the CMS solution for Milestone. Today’s agenda is a little bit of an introduction to Milestone some points on digital transformation. CMS must-haves, and then focus on how a CMS interacts with digital discovery and digital experience. And then we’ll summarize with some key takeaways and, an offer for the audience. Milestone product solutions will fall into three categories. There’s the digital experience, which is CMS schemas and FAQ manager, and then digital discovery, local listings, and reviews, insights, and analytics. And to that we can add any, expansion of digital marketing services that our customers need from design content, SEO services, paid media, and analytics. And we have our roots in the hospitality industry, but in the last few years, we’ve branched out and we cover really all the industries that use digital marketing.
COVID has impacted our lives and it’s impacted how we interact with each other, as employees, and as colleagues. And it certainly had a big impact on how our customers interact with our service and product offering and research shows that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation by 5-8 years in just 1 year. So, we’ve really jumped forward in the percent of people that are shopping online, getting groceries online, people that are doing their financial planning or managing their health are using telemedicine. When we go to restaurants. Now, if they’re open in our area, we’re very often, given a QR code so that we have a touchless menu. we’re entertaining ourselves with a lot more over-the-top content than broadcast TV, or it used to be that one-to-many broadcast.
Now we have a say, and we curate the content that we’re going to our entertainment content to the point where we’re interacting, with groups and people and coaches for our exercise and for our cooking and whatever skills we want to learn. Of course, our offices are remote and we’re finalizing documents with digital signatures instead of ink signatures. These are just a few of the examples of digital transformation across different industries, but these are making our experience better. They’re addressing a need. We all have. And since digital transformation has accelerated, we need to invest more in the digital experience we provide to our customers because it’s a larger part of the business. Now I’m going to switch over to Gaurav and he’s going to take us on a journey of different CMS aspects to look at.
Good morning, everyone in the next few slides, I will talk about what a holistic digital experience really means. So, let us start. So, we see two big trends coming out of the pandemic that will make digital a paramount opportunity. First is the ability to do business without meeting in person. It has become absolutely critical. The second is how do you make sure that people are able to find and transact with you in an online environment? So, what does really mean for your brand? It means that people should be able to discover your business online, and we are top-notch, SEO, and content marketing, and then be able to interact with your full flow things like discovering park information prices, reading reviews. since you do not have the luxury of meeting people in person, your online experience should be able to solve all these problems like a charm. So, if that’s true, then how do you think of reinventing? So what’s important now is that you should be really thinking about reinventing your digital experience. We see that some industries are further along in this process and some industries are lagging, but it is imperative that all industries take this thing seriously and take, the digital and spend time focusing on digital transformation.
So where do you really start with your holistic digital experience journey? You start with your CMS or your content management system is your starting point for all digital experience, be it mobile or web or engagement apps built over these layers from the schema strong point. There are some critical factors which you should focus on. The first is speed. How fast is your web and mobile experience, then you should think of engagement? Do you deliver a compelling visual design, a conversion-focused UX, all of those aspects they’re offers. Are you thinking of meeting your customer needs and are you offering them the right products, which are there for transactions and personalization? Do you video message or is it, or is it standard, how do you communicate with the audience or visiting a website coming from say New York City what’s that somebody coming from San Francisco, is there any difference you should be thinking about all of those aspects?
So essentially a discovery is dictated by the CMS as well. So, what you saw in the previous slide was the first part of how CMS helps you dictate the digital experience part of it, but there’s a second part to this conversation. And that conversation is about the search experience. CMS also helps you dictate the search online search experience, your CMS powered website, plays a critical role as organic search matures. You’re looking in this, slide data that, 53% of traffic is coming from, from SEO sources. So, it is very important that not only you think about the on-site experience, but you also think about the search experience in summary CMS is incredibly critical. It delivers both your digital discovery and on-site interaction experiences. Erik mentioned initially digital transformation it has accelerated about 5 years.
If you think about it, it’s a, fairly monumental chain. And, part of it is the mobile behavior. This data is fairly recent or January, 2021. It is showing that in the past year, the mobile traffic has increased even further. And there we’re looking at almost getting to 60%, almost like 55, 60% of transactions happening, a mobile, the mobile experience is it pulls a lot of things. It covers conditional search, it converts voice commands. It covers such a brand information beyond just the website into the realms of social media. It also uses aspects like image recognition. So there is a lot of, aspect of mobile there. In fact, Erik and I often joke about this dichotomy that we often work on the computer on laptops, but we see this overarching trend of more than 50% of data coming through mobile.
Then we daily reminder sets of pull on mobile firms and make sure that, whatever updates we do to manage the Milestone website is optimized for the mobile experience as well. With that said, let me jump into what should be the there, what should be the CMS must have, what are the absolute must have you should have in your CMS experience? Basically, there are three core aspects in which you should look, your CMS first is basic features. So, these things are absolute must and most CMS deliver on them. Things like content creation, editing, collaboration, publishing, all of that, all CMS do that. Second piece is discovery features, which is essentially your technical SEO, all aspects of your, discovery with which part of discovery. And third is your digital experience features. These are content management.
How do you manage your assets, integrations, engagement features, and anything related to conversion on-site experience in summary, alright, I’m going to take you through now in detail, the digital, discovery part of it, and then pass it over to Aparna. Who’s going to talk to you about, the digital, conversion and sort of engagement and aspect of, the CMS. There are five aspects we’ll touch on. There are several, there are several more things, but we feel that if you, if you have to do any of these, then you should focus on these five. So, let’s dive in the first is technical SEO. So, in technical SEO, you should think about three main aspects. One is platform performance and site optimization. The second is crawlability that is your pages and content getting indexed in Google.
So no matter what work you do, but if they don’t get, if pages don’t get indexed in Google, it’s of no use and lastly search optimization while I speak about schema in the next slide, if there is anything you can take back from this presentation, you should think about adding schemas to your website. It is, basically behind all search experience in today’s world. So, let’s talk a little bit about schemas. Schema is the backbone of search today. Very simply you’re tagging the backend of your website content with tags that helps search engines understand the content. So, if you were to see, you schema has a tremendous impact on your SEO, it impacts your rich snippets, it impacts your FAQ’s. It impacts your voice query pretty much everything.
One example of the left-hand side of this screen, which you see, you can see an example of a user, doing a query of non-ticket, total packages and then, each it is showing up on the, on your Google searches. That’s what’s really happening is that how is this page showing up on Google, such as it is happening because of schemas? So, what happens is behind this page, we tag each aspect of this page, things like hotel, offer, details about a location, all of that is tagged via schemas. Therefore, when a query matches up, this feed is able to show the real, I would like you to focus now on the right-hand side of the screen, the real reason schema are so powerful is that what you see on the right-hand side of the schema, the different attributes, what this example shows is that different attributes are able to form relationships.
And therefore they’re able to feed back into Google and make Google understand that, Hey, what is this page really about? And, then they are able to match up, these relationships and throw it back, as a search result. So, schema, as you can see, it’s so powerful, it really make it’s really helping you make a sense of all what you’re doing from the search perspective. So, we’ve seen schemas, can improve, existing website visibility by as much as 25%. And it’s very powerful. We’ve we deployed schemas on pretty much every website we build, from small customers to, enterprise customers. We’ve been doing schemas for a long time. And have you seen that schema has been driving results over and over again, Core Web vitals is the next Google ranking factor.
This is going to get rolled out in, May or June this year. And it really focuses on the real-world user experience. It is about three core aspects. So, Google is basically saying that, you don’t have to chase the algorithm. All you need to focus on is what does your customer really want? And you should deliver that experience to your customer. So, you think about it, there are three things which they want to focus on. One is how fast does the page load? So, I think about a webpage, it has several aspects to it. There is an image block. There are content blocks, there are widgets, and then there are whole sections to it. So what Google wants is that, it wants all those aspects should get rendered very fast. The second aspect is how fast is a page get stable.
As you notice, there are these different pieces, all of them have to get loaded. So, from the loading point of view, it wants to make sure that, Hey, you’re loading these pages very seamlessly. And finally, Google wants you to track, how fast can you interact with the page? So, you have all of these elements in the page. Can you scroll the page? Can you click on the links? How fast can you get to the things you want to do? So if you think about it, Google is really, helping you quantify what comprises of a good user experience on a page. And it is helping you focus on loading intractability and visual stability and giving you real clear pointers in terms of where you should focus on. Normally Google rolls out several updates a year, and you don’t really pay attention to them, but this one in particular, you should pay attention because this is going to be a ranking factor.
And then if you are not optimized for core vitals, then your site rankings will get impacted. And therefore, it’ll have an impact in terms of, traffic and revenue. I was reading this, one stat, while I was preparing this presentation, it said that core vital scores, if you optimize core vital score, it can have up to 24 or 25%, impact and, on your overall sort of experience and, and customers may not abandon your website can think about it like one fourth of your transactions. You could save by optimizing for core vitals. Part of the experience, conversation is, AMP and speed. So, usually mobile and we’ve been talking about mobile for a very long time.
So what you typically think about mobile is that, typically people go to websites to complete transactions, but what people often miss is that people and how are people using mobile for? People use mobile for discovering, Oh, I was, the other day driving and in the middle of it, I realized that, Hey, is there a best buy near me? I quickly pulled out my phone and check about that piece. And then, I was able to get information and then I was able to, go home and then, think about that particular, product I wanted to buy and then complete the transaction online. So, when you think of mobile, the number one thing you think about is how is mobile impacting the discovery that people are using a mobile? The other piece is AMP. Amp is basically, it’s like a means to an end, kind of a technology accelerated mobile pages have really been optimized, HTML pages. They load really fast. I’m going to give you a demo of this really quick, look at this, look at this graphic on the right hand side. So, on the left is an AMP optimized page on the right-hand side is a, a page is not optimized for that.
As you notice here that the AMP optimized page really loaded in less than a second. And the, the mobile page took a long time. Therefore, we consider that, AMP is going to be a very, very important aspect if you’re trying to deliver and trying to chase a good user experience.
Lastly, I want to talk to you about FAQ’s. So, in a certain way, FAQ’s have been, the important FAQ is going up in certainly in every query, which you put out on the internet is an FAQ. So, what outdoor activities, you want to do near your hotel, think about, is there, things to do in San Francisco in, does my hotel have a swimming pool? , anything you think of in your mind is innovative and, FAQ’s also have this huge beauty that it helps search engine when you throw data out in an FAQ format, it basically you’re trying to help out, the search engine answer questions because, search engines cannot read all the, content pieces and take out a specific piece of information for you.
So when you, put content in the form of an FAQ, you’re really helping search engines, deliver the right experience that you’re looking for. And in previous slides, I spoke to you about why voice queries. So FAQ’s also helped in, voice queries. Once you wrap that thing up with schemas, then your voice activation and on voice devices, you’re able to answer a lot of queries.
All right, great. So I was able to take you through the key trends and the most important features that you need for digital discovery. Now, I will pass it on to Aparna who is a Product Manager CMS, and she will talk to you about engagement, and some examples of, our, customer case studies.
Okay. Thank you so much. What a wonderful introduction. So now Gaurav has talked to you about how an SEO first CMS enables discovery. So now we are on the outside, looking in, you want to get people from your search engine on your website. So, we talked about schema, we talked about core web vitals. We talked about and benefit you very important features to drive people onto your site. So now I’m going to talk from the inside out. So, let’s say, now they’re on your site. What are the key things that you need to have on your site in order to make an impact? And so, there are so many talk about, but we are going to focus here on the top five that we think will make really help you make an impact.
So, let’s start with the first one is content management. Now we all know that content on the site should be fresh. It should be on-brand, and it should be consistent, but there are some challenges with that. So if you have content on your site, and then you have content on your mobile or your app, and you have to update all three separately, then you’re wasting a lot of time and you’re struggling to keep it all looking the same. We believe that content should be centered. You write once and publish everywhere. That way you are sure that what you write is consistent across all devices. The second thing is about a centralized library for managing assets. So, your assets should, are probably the most important thing. People focus on images on videos, on all the digital media that you put on your site. Again, if you have a single place to manage that, we call that digital asset management. It’s been industry jargon called a dam, so that will help, the content or media content be central and shared according to the devices across all areas.
Now, this is easy. If you are easier, let’s say if you are a single person trying to manage all this, but imagine a lot of you will have teams. And now you have to not only manage the assets and the content, but you also have to have to manage teams doing the work. So, then what becomes very important is having a well-defined workflow. You want to have good publish approval moderation processes. So, you have a handle on the entire content of your brand that gets put out and you always look consistent everywhere, right? So that’s the first thing. The second thing that we’re going to talk about is engagement. And now this comes under consideration features. So, let’s say there are some long-tail search queries and you ranked well, and you’ve got people on your website. Now, the blog is such an important way to do that because the blog is essentially a conversation.
It helps. It’s a very long tail, long article. It’s very engaging. And you can see here from the stats that it gives people clicking, more links, you get more visitors, your pages are more indexed in terms of footprint. And obviously, you get more leads. So, the blog is such a great way. And especially if you wrap it with schema, now, you’re looking at a really powerful way to keep people engaged with your content, right, relevant stuff, and then drive them to the next level after consideration another thing which is looked at, very frequently in the hospitality industry, but not so much outside it, though, it should be is events. So events are a good way off, now publicizing, what’s going on your website or on your company very well through your calendar. The calendar keeps content fresh. You will write for good queries around that.
And it’s even, let’s say you are an educational institution. You are a community, you have some audience. You want to connect with events as such a great way to connect with that. Now, this is about events on location, but you could also look rank for events around you. If you have an important happening event happening around you, that you want to rank for, you could feature that on your site, the content is fresh. You have schema, and you’re going to do well on that query as well. So, these two are some very important features. We feel your CMS should have. So, under the next one of conversion, so we’ve talked about content. We’ve talked about engagement. Let’s talk about the four important things that we feel will help you drive conversion on your site. So, we know that people 75% of bookings don’t get completed in the first visit.
So what can you do about that? So, under revenue recovery, I have three features that we think really have. The first thing is abandoned transactions. So, you draw people back with good offers with emails and help them complete the transaction. The second thing would be site abandonment. They were browsing something, they were looking at stuff, but they went away. Now you can draw them back again with some exciting offers. The third one is I’m looking at some bookings, but I’m not ready to book yet because maybe it’s too far out in the future. I’m just browsing for rates at the moment then. Well, that’s not the end of it. I can set up a reminder, I’ll remind you, and then you’d come back to the site, and then you will be able to book so that I’ve converted you. That also helps a lot. You can see you have some very good numbers would come back within seven days and finish the booking.
The second thing would be, coupons and offers. So coupons and offers create a lot of excitement and a sense of urgency and then drive people to finish the booking. So one such feature is limited-time offers. You will have a countdown ticker running down. And if you book within that time, you get a great discount which wouldn’t be available. Otherwise, that really drives people well to book and finish the journey. The third thing which we have seen that has done really well during COVID is the high-value leads. So you’ve got, group modules, which are like vetting and meeting modules. We saw high-value requests about 270 of them, even during COVID that came. And this was pure because of good content, local search optimization, right? And schema that we able to drive and create this conversion.
The last point here is about PWA. So that’s a progressive web app. PWA, most people think of this synonymously with push notifications, but PWA is much more than that. PWA gives you an offline downloaded experience, very similar to an app. You have it available on your mobile home screen. It’s immersive. It looks and feels like an app. We can send notifications, you can browse it offline, and you will also, you will convert much better because it’s always there. So it loads much better than a website. It looks much better. And you can see here, 53% increase conversions with PWA. So you should do that. Definitely have all these photos in your hand. When you look at conversion on your CMS, the next thing we’ll talk about is integrations. Now gone other days where the CMS used to exist in isolation, you just had to put content.
It was somewhat like an online brochure. It’s not that anymore. You have a very good third-party ecosystem working for you. So that could work both ways. Now you have an upstream integration. If you require it, let’s say you are an automobile site. And then you want inventory coming in from some other third party that you have, or it could be downstream. You created some bookings, as you can see here. And then you want some CRM systems to manage the leads and manage the contacts. Or once you’ve accepted the bookings, you want to drive them to some loyalty, third parties. You should have all this available to you because the CMS is driving many other teams in your company to work. And if it doesn’t integrate, then you’re doubling or tripling the workload and not building on the efficiencies that you could have.
Now, these are some let’s say out of the box or simpler integrations that you could get, but what about something very custom that you need? What you do? So you should have a CMS and a service arm, which can enable you to do those custom integrations to your business case so that you can make the most of the website that you’re putting out and the leads that you’re getting on your site, that way, you’ve made the most of your online presence, right? So with that, now I’ll talk about headless. Now, headless sounds a bit graphic, but I’ll just simplify it by saying this. If you were to think of a system, a CMS as a human body, the head would be the display. And so earlier, as you can see the diagram on the left earlier, the display used to be very tightly coupled with the rest of the body, like in our case, but in the case of our CMS nowadays, you can’t just do it.
One head, you have to have multiple detachable heads and multiple heads working at the same time. You may have your Google lens. You may have a presentation layer, which is your website. You can have apps, you can have other third parties, your Apple watches, it could be anything. So you should have the ability for the same content central content we spoke about to be driven to all these touchpoints. So it all, yeah, it looks consistent. It all ties together and it all works optimized for that device. That’s what basically headless means. So whichever CMS you go for, it should definitely have headless capabilities. Do you can make the most of all these technological transitions and the digital transformations that are in the current year. Now with that, I’ll talk about some good case studies that we have, the show all the powerful features we spoke about being used and helping drive conversions.
But the first one we are looking at is the automotive industry here. We had, we did a bunch of integrations for them, both upstream and downstream, and you can see some very good numbers on how they helped drive traffic, drive the number of calls, and obviously increased conversions with the help of that. The second one is about hospitality. Now, in hospitality, we used group leads. One of the features you just saw to increase direct bookings could increase the number of bedding form submissions and website visits. The last one is Texas regional bank, which wanted a website to showcase all of its various locations. And we used a variety of the features we just talked about in order to increase the branded searches non-branded searches, and of course, increased visibility. Now you’ve got more, footfalls more visibility of your online banking presence as well. So this was a quick runner of what are the key features you should look at. So just to recap, before I hand it back, you should definitely have centralized content. You should have engagement features like blog, and you should add, look for engagement features like even calendar drive conversion in a variety of phases and look for any headless capabilities, which can help you transition into a variety of different display devices as we move forward. So with that, Erik, I’ll hand it over to you for any questions.
Aparna great information for, for the audience and for, us as colleagues, before we get to the questions I want to offer some new research that we have done here at Milestone research on the core vitals that I’ve talked about, what we found is that it’s in the mid-single digits is the number of websites that are truly ready for core web vitals. So it’s an opportunity to improve your user experience and improve your visibility. And this change is coming mid-year. And so, if you want to download this, you can see the URL right there, or you can go to https://www.milestoneinternet.com/resources/research-reports and look at this and other research reports. The next thing I want to offer on the next page is the first 10 attendees in the audience today that want to register for an audit, we will look at your website and how your CMS is performing in the digital experience.
It’s creating for you in the areas of technical schema, speed, local, and core vitals. And we’ll do this for you for free to help you get ready for that. So I’ll leave this on the screen while we take some questions. Some key takeaways from today is that the market changed that digital is a larger part of your, of everybody’s business. So digital transformation is the new normal. If you should start shifting more of your resources into getting that experience, right. And the foundation of that experience is the CMS for, for how people experience your content and its ability to drive discovery and get you visibility and top-of-funnel visitors. , and as you’re looking at CMS, we encourage you to think about SEO first, because it’s the largest channel that you should put the, SEO first at the top of your list or high up on your list of the things that you want included in your product and make sure that you add in or you purchase, or it has included the features that generate the high value leads that you need and want.
And you can partner to get best in class technology from providers like Milestone. So we can go back one page, we’ll leave the audit up there while we take some questions. A couple of questions have come in while the speakers were speaking.
Question 1. How fast in seconds should my mobile website be for 2021?
Answer: It should be around 2.5 seconds. that’s what should be the benchmark and you should be optimizing for that kind of an experience. Yeah. Yeah. We also have other research that says a one-second inquiry, a one-second improvement in page load time gives you nine or 10% improvement in conversion. So that’s a great way to increase the yield of your website without adding a lot more money into say, your media channels.
Question 2. What’s the difference between a site migration and a CMS migration?
Answer: Site migrations, if you think of a site as a bunch of HTML images and content, you could migrate it in a variety of ways. You could take it from one server and put it on another location. , you could migrate it to the same place. There are multiple ways. It’s just moving content from one place to another. But when you do a CMS migration, it’s a much bigger exercise because you are fundamentally changing the way you are structuring and editing that content. And that is a gigantic shift. So it could, it could have some impact on the way your content is indexed. It could have some B impact on the way you edit things, and how it has built up in the backend. So that’s definitely a much bigger exercise than just moving the content to a different place.
Question 3. Is, AMP still relevant. Does it have impact?
Answer: We’ve spoken a lot about speed, and optimization of the overall user experience. Even the core vital experience is around speed. So AMP primarily delivers on those aspects. So it obviously makes sense that if you’re optimizing for the overall user experience, then if you deploy AMP that you would be able to render your websites faster and you’ll be able to provide a better experience. So yes, AMP is definitely relevant even at baseline.
Right? And since Google is recommending AMP, you you’re getting a better user experience and you’re doing something that’s consistent with the market maker in search and local. That’s going to benefit you on traffic as well as like the, the engagement of the traffic. So I think we do see big games when, when we deploy AMP for websites, usually 20 to 30% increase in search appearance in non AMP and AMP non-rich results.
Question 4. Why not use free CMS software?
Another way of looking at it is, do you want to lead, or you want to lag? So typically free CMS have this thing that those updates take time to start rolling and all of that piece, if you’re taking an SEO for CMS, then it’s designed for a discovery experience. So that’s fundamentally different about, about choosing something which is focused on SEO, as opposed to, , installing a plugin and other pieces are that, when Google rolls out an algorithm update like Core web vitals, then it is looking for specific optimizations and, and, and, and then SEO for CMS is where the opportunity is because it’s optimized exactly for the parameters Google’s are looking for, against all the plugin. There is whole bit of risk in terms of, whether it would work or not for your specific use case, but that’s not the case if you’re, if you start right. Choosing an SEO first CMS.
Question 5. Do you have, do you have an example of integration and how it benefits the website a part now?
Answer: let’s say Salesforce are known, for a lot of CRM integrations. What that means is, you took a lead on the website, somebody entered the name and said, contact me. I want to make a booking. You want to follow through and make sure that you can work with them. So you would need to integrate with another system to be able to follow this up and then drive it through to that. It it’s finished now. , Salesforce integrations you’ve come in all shapes and sizes. They can be very simple out of the box, or sometimes in our cases, sometimes it takes a lot of investigation and custom work to make sure it works exactly for you. But when it does, you will see the benefits. You will see the efficiencies and the sort of scale that you can drive, especially for enterprise level clients that, that it really helps you cut down on the time, wastage on copying things over downloading things, opening up Excel sheets, all of that is gone. Salesforce will have it ready for you. We’ll feed it in the right format and it will work like a charm. So that’s one example.