If you’re invested in digital marketing, then you’re invested in multi-channel marketing and consistency of brand presence. Digital marketing channels like paid search, SEO, programmatic and social media advertising cannot succeed in a vacuum. Individually, these tactics can drive traffic to your site, but without a seamless digital experience and strategy reinforcing a core value message, you’re flushing money down the toilet. It doesn’t matter if your business is a travel booking engine, car dealership, insurance company with affiliate agencies or a multi-store brand.
Full disclosure, I’m the CEO of DevHub, a Content Management System (CMS) platform solution helping companies and digital agencies roll out and scale brand appropriate digital experiences. While, I’m clearly biased, I’m also highly experienced in the pitfalls and wrong turns that hamper product management, digital marketing and IT teams.
Creating customized, unique content spread across thousands of pages and hundreds of local sites can be a daunting task that can trip up even the nimblest marketing organization. Finding a flexible, scalable approach to rolling out and managing corporate and regional sites or customized landing pages is key for maximizing your digital marketing investments.
Scaling a Broader Multi-Site/Multi-Location Digital Experience
Based on our experience with digital agencies, publishers, franchise organizations and multi-location brands, here are a few key points to consider as you build out a broader multi-store or regional digital experience at scale:
Yes, you could easily continue taking the conventional CMS route that utilizes open source architecture and a developer community to address specific functionality needs, but (1) it’s not cheap in the long run and (2) you’re creating more work for your development team with integration, functionality and lack of flexibility issues. Here is where the product, marketing, development and IT teams need to dig in and outline immediate, mid and long-term needs to map out the functionality and requirements needed over the next 2-3 years. The goal is to choose a platform that is future proof, standardized, and has the flexibility to scale effectively.
Integrate with Key Business Systems
Choosing a solution needs to make life easier, not harder. It’s important that your platform of choice integrate with the existing business systems you log into every day. In order to have the system meet growing online needs, the platform must also have the ability to integrate with a host of other marketing platforms and systems allowing for seamless expansion of site capabilities and analytics. The last thing the Product Management team wants is a one-dimensional platform that can’t scale to meet new needs or is prone to integration issues.
A critical CMS platform requirement is the ability to efficiently scale the number and scope of sites a company develops and manages. When considering technology partners, be sure they offer a flexible options to ingest core data and automate (at a minimum) redundant tasks. In order to make life easier for the development and content management team, scaling options should include one or more of these options:
- Master templates or site “themes” created upfront allowing more people across the marketing and IT teams to make changes, simplifying content updates on the core site as well as seamlessly changing multiple local sites and landing pages from the master template
- The ability to clone sites creates faster scaling by allowing the platform to ingest existing site data and localize and index a network of managed sites to bring them up to date quickly and boost local search results
- Utilize an API approach where data is seamlessly shared, allowing for more accurate localization and personalization of multiple managed sites. Utilizing an API approach often means easier updates without having to enter the site builder or dashboard.
Time is Money.
DevHub recently won a contract from a group that had gone from managing single corporate sites to building and managing a large volume of corporate and local sites for multiple clients. The organization had tried using the long-established model of building one-off sites using current CMS platforms, then having to make individual changes across hundreds of unique sites. This became a nightmare of time and resources, impacting margins, timelines and campaign flexibility. Converting to a CMS platform that was able to quickly migrate existing sites and site data into one system allowed them to quickly and efficiently make core changes to hundreds of franchise sites allowing for local, regional and national variations to online campaigns and content.
The one thing multi-location brands need right away is a thoughtful and robust CMS platform flexible enough to handle the curveballs customers throw your way. Adopting a platform that allows for faster site builds and the ability to manage the content of hundreds of local sites and landing pages in one dashboard helps create better margins and revenue opportunities.
The best way to future proof your approach is to ensure that the CMS platform you’ve committed to has the capability of evolving with your longer-range needs rather than working against you. True martech and adtech partners and CMS platforms align with your current and planned site growth objectives and streamline the good work the marketing, IT and product team are doing. Picking the right partner and platform will help you build high-quality, long-term results, rather than simply addressing a short-term need.
Mark Michael is DevHub’s CEO/ co-Founder and a serial entrepreneur. Born in Berkeley, CA and raised in Richland, WA. he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Strategic Marketing Relations from Central Washington University. Mark has led DevHub’s strategy from working with traditional media companies, to performance marketing agencies, to adtech and martech providers. DevHub, under Mark and his longtime collaborator Daniel Rust (DevHub’s CTO/ co-founder), has grown to include Fortune 1000 brands, major franchise organizations and agencies.