Tetley’s new website points to the next and rapidly emerging major area of innovation in online marketing: content management systems (CMS).
The problem with websites is that that they are sites. The pages are easy to build but quickly get out of control as they spread across business operations. That complexity is compounded by the need to link to social media platforms, multiple other websites, blogs, ordering, and third-party services; the problems of keeping the pages fresh, coordinating multiple authors, versions, updates and, increasingly, languages; ensuring consistency in logos, backgrounds, layouts, fonts, image formats; accommodating mobile displays, devices, operating systems.
If your tea business doesn’t already face these beyond-the-web-page challenges, it will. That is true for small as well as large firms, any that aim to make their content integral to their branding, customer relationships, and services. The code word for this is “the digital experience.”
That’s what Tetley is explicitly aiming at in its web resource expansion. Its design partner’s PR announcement is a little hyper-lyrical in describing this but signals the core aim of the new generation, which is to spread the brand, rather than the product experience across multiple Web sites, locations, and business units:
“The design re-envisions the online purchasing of tea by weaving captivating content throughout Tetley’s websites to create a sensory driven buying experience… visitors to the site will now be immersed in relevant, personalized content that will inspire and engage them as they make their purchasing decisions.”
It’s noteworthy that all the key words here are validated only by the customer not the provider: captivating, sensory, immersed, relevant, personalized, inspire, engage. They are all experiential and add a dimension to more objective product information. The current version of the site is as yet only lightly populated with features that build this relationship-centered invitation. One instance is “Calling all super moms”, within the main Learn and Explore menu tab.
“This weekend is all about you. Tell us about a super mom you know on our Facebook post and you both might #win a box of super tea!”
The image is first-rate graphic design and stands out on the uncluttered page. There are Like options and links to Instagram, WhatsApp, email and other social media. The hashtag #win accesses a wide range of posts.
This is not a web page or social media “site.” It’s an open-ended content platform. “Platform” has two connotations here: an infrastructure to support a wide range of functions and a launch pad for a portfolio of innovations. The packages are proven and there are many service firms offering cloud hosting, design, integration support and security. The best aim at “transparency”, buffering the user from any need to know about the technology. WordPress is an example. This is the indispensable tool of online bloggers, simple for any writer to use and wonderfully rich in basic platform features. It doesn’t make any sense to blog online without such a CMS.
At the other journalist extreme is the New York Times’ Scoop CMS: with over 1,000 users online at any time and publishing a mix of 700 print, web and mobile articles, 600 images, 13 slide shows and 50 videos. WordPress is a digital writer’s office and Scoop a global newsroom.
Order and Freedom
One software firm usefully summarizes the organizational goal of CMS as order and freedom. The order relies on appropriate centralization. Fragmentation and localization easily create operational inefficiencies such as multiple hosting arrangements, high maintenance costs and inflexibility in linking content, processes and systems. In addition, inconsistencies are inevitable. These are compounded by varying levels of development skill, a plethora of tools and an overall collection of sites rather than a clear brand image. They add cost, too. Articles and presentations on Tetley’s efforts to add coherence and coordination dating back to 2013 tally these plus the savings from rationalization, which seem to be around 25 percent.
Key CMS elements here are templates and metadata. The template is a graphic wrapper that usually looks the same on every page of the website, regardless of the content. It makes your website’s look and feel consistent. Tetley’s site is attractive, simple and engaging, as the two screen shots show. Metadata is data about the data. It is just one of the organizational features that provide facilities for categorizing and tagging content. It plays a key part in search engine optimization (SEO). This is the basic measure of performance: the relevance of the content and “hits” in search and thus the reach to potential customers. These components of the CMS contribute strongly to one of Tetley’s main goals: make it easy for local staff, brand managers agencies, social media teams, casual authors and any content providers to deliver, update and maintain the full inventory.
The Tetley website is the visible artefact and the CMS its platform base. The newsroom analogy is useful here. Tea retailers, online providers and brands need to think of themselves as being in the news business. They need content and they need to use this to create a newspaper/magazine and distribution that attracts readers/buyers. Tetley is a signal of the growing link between CMS and market innovation. It’s not the only fast-mover here. Tea Forte and David’s Tea are two other instances of Web site, CMS and CRM (customer relationship management) initiatives that now amount to early new best practices but are sure to become standard practices well within two years.
Here are some suggestions for getting ahead of the change curve:
- You must decide what you’re trying to brand: the product, service, deal, quality, price, or the shopping experience, relationship, innovation “buzz.”
- Innovation in products demands innovation in experience design. Keep them in balance and leveraging each other.
- If you’re in the news business, not blogs or on Facebook and Instagram recognize that news is timely, fresh and targeted to draw in new and old readers.
Overall, the message is clear. Your website isn’t good enough to meet the demands and opportunities of the era of innovate or die. Think content. Build a content platform.