How to Get Your Technical Debt Under Control
Unless you live in la-la land with a dream team of developers who write perfect code, it is impossible to avoid technical debt. It is a natural by-product of fast-paced development of any SaaS product.
As developers, we always have to choose between delivering on time and delivering with perfect code. It's a trade-off. In most cases, we choose to deliver on time, with a promise to deal with the byproduct later.
Technical debt also occurs because of reasons such as:
- Change in technology
- Development of annual frameworks and libraries
- Non-maintenance of codebase or libraries
- Introduction of new product features
- Addition of a new workforce to an existing project to ship faster
- Need for frequent releases and pressure of timeline
And so, technical debt accumulates. We can either ignore it until it snowballs into something massive or fix some of it to reduce its impact on current and future development.
I have seen teams try to figure out everything from the beginning so there is no minimum tech debt. But in an environment where delivery time matters, slowing down development could cause companies to lose opportunities or customers to competitors.
It makes more sense to come to peace with the fact that there will always be some technical debt. Acknowledging this and then defining some best practices to manage technical debt effectively can reduce its impact on your product.
10 Ways to Manage Your Technical Debt
1. Opt for Modular and Extensible Architecture
An excellent way to start a new project is by adopting an extensible architecture. This involves accounting for all our current requirements while extending the project to add new features in the future without any rewriting.
Start with identifying the various modules based on their functionalities. Develop each module so it is independent and does not affect the working of other modules. However, all the modules should be loosely coupled. By doing this, you can easily break the project into multiple microservices and scale them individually if the need arises.
2. Develop Only What is Required
To build a product or its modules with more flexibility (or to make the next release easy), developers may load it with extra functionalities. This is only effective if you are sure about the future requirements, which is never the case. These added functionalities build up over time, increasing your technical debt.
3. Plan Your Trade-Offs Carefully
Pick what matters the most. For long-term projects that have a high return on investment, carefully consider the design and implementation and minimize technical debt as much as possible. If delivery is the top priority and efforts to build are low, you can knowingly create some debt you can fix later.
4. Never send POC to production
Before developing a new feature or a product, developers build a proof of concept (POC) to check its feasibility or to convey the idea. If the POC is accepted, the feature is included in the road map.
At times, especially when it is working as expected, it is very tempting to put this POC into production.
However, that is a bad idea. A POC is just what it says: a concept, not a complete solution. While developing a POC, we rarely think of all use cases or scenarios because the focus is on writing the code to get desired results quickly. That code is never meant for production, and writing tests around it usually doesn't work. Most of the time, POCs don’t have proper structures, error handling, data validation or extensibility. Use it as a reference and only deploy a complete production solution.
5. Write Code With Proper Documentation
Good code with proper documentation offers multiple benefits, including quick handoff to others, increased reusability and reduced time to build more on top of your code.
There are two types of documentation: within your code and about your code. Both are equally important.
Some examples of documentation within your code are:
- Function signature
- Instructions for users
- Descriptions explaining confusing or complex pieces of code
- To-dos for future reconsideration
- Notes for yourself
- Comments about recent changes
Examples of documentation about your code include:
- Readme files
- APIs reference
- How-to guides
6. Request Early Code Freezes
Frequent releases (often with limited resources) are major contributors to the accumulation of technical debt. To meet tight deadlines, developers add hard-coded values or resort to quick fixes in codes. And there are always last-minute requirements or requests for change in functionalities. Over time, these quick fixes lead to performance, stability and functional issues.
A good way to deal with this is to introduce a process for early code freeze, so developers can focus on improving code quality and stability instead of adding code until the last minute.
7. Add Technical Debt in Sprint
Eliminating technical debt all at once is not feasible. Product managers are not likely to commit extensive resources since it adds no direct or immediate value to customers. At the same time, developers want to spend more time developing something concrete, from scratch, instead of reworking on the same code.
But there is a practical way out: Create a healthy backlog of debt items and a road map (with timeline) to replace the code's hard-coded, unoptimized and quick-fix scenarios. Add stories to every sprint so you can fix these debt items gradually and in a more organized way.
8. Version Your Code
Your code will likely change as you add new features to your application. One of the best ways to track and maintain these changes is to version your code.
You can create incremental code through versioning, leave behind some old code, introduce breaking changes through newer versions, give users access to multiple versions and stop support for older versions. All of this is in your control.
Versioning is probably the best process through which your code evolves. It is also the preferred way in the SaaS world to shape (or reshape) your product over time without piling up a lot of baggage from the legacy code.
9. Refactoring is Your Friend
Refactoring is the ultimate weapon in your fight against tech debt. How often you need to refactor the code is up to you, but doing this regularly is essential. Make sure you version your changes while refactoring. This keeps your code organized.
10. Balance is Key
Technical debt is okay as long as it's intentional and strategic and not the result of poor codes and design. As developers, our aim should always be to balance it and cushion its blow to the product.
Why a composable CMS is right for you
The average digital user spends 54 seconds on a page. That may seem like a short amount of time to formulate an opinion about your site, but from the user’s perspective, it’s practically an eternity. According to the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, 75% of consumers decide whether a company is credible based solely on their experience with the company’s site. And research from Google found that 1 in 4 visitors will abandon a site if it takes longer than 4 seconds to load.Your site has a very small window of opportunity to make a good impression. A composable content management system (CMS) can help your organization meet the needs and expectations of today’s consumers while remaining agile enough to adapt when those needs change. (And they will.)Here’s how.What is a composable content management system?Content management systems are traditionally built using monolithic or “legacy” architecture. With the monolithic model, entire applications are designed as a single unit: a monolithic CMS provides a suite of functions, all handled by a single codebase.This model worked well when the digital experience only had to be delivered on desktop browsers, but that changed 15 years ago with the release of the first iPhone. Monolithic was slow to adapt to mobile internet usage; since then, a slew of new channels has popped up, from smartwatches and gaming consoles to devices like Google Home and Alexa.Today’s consumers demand a seamless omnichannel digital experience, and monolithic struggles to keep up: a legacy CMS can be upgraded to fit new channels, but those upgrades are reactive, not proactive. Monolithic is slow to adapt to existing channels, let alone anticipate new ones. In addition, the inherent complexity of legacy architecture makes for a lengthy publishing and launch process, which affects the time to market on any upgrades. That’s not just inconvenient — it’s a genuine risk to an enterprise’s long-term success. That’s why more organizations are moving to composable architecture.How does a composable CMS work? A composable CMS is built using a collection of smaller, more manageable pieces, instead of the single large and complex unit found in monolithic solutions. With a composable CMS, organizations choose the individual systems and services that best suit their needs and allow them to build a custom digital experience. These pieces are tied together using an Application Programming Interface (API) that acts as a middleman for these smaller pieces to communicate and transfer information in a more efficient way.What are the benefits of a composable CMS?The modular approach of composable architecture offers a variety of benefits for both businesses and consumers.Innovation forward Because monolithic is so large and complex, most of the development time and resources are spent on upgrading the CMS just to keep up. Unfortunately, that leaves less time for developers to take a more forward-thinking approach. The rapid development time of updates and upgrades to a composable CMS means your team has more time to focus on innovation.AgilityWith monolithic architecture, even minor front-end changes can require significant updates to back-end code, and that means developer involvement — even for something as simple as updating site fonts or a carousel. With a composable CMS, the front-end and back-end code are decoupled, so front-end changes (i.e., changes to the presentation and delivery of the site to users) can be made without having to update the back end. This flexibility is crucial in the age of digital disruption, when organizations that are unable to adapt to new channels and behaviors can get left behind. Composable CMSs allow you to swap out modular components on the fly. This cuts down on development time and allows organizations to experiment with changes to a site or application before fully committing to them.Scalability A growing user base for your site or application is a good thing, but if you want to maintain that growth, you have to scale. Both monolithic and composable CMSes can scale horizontally by adding more instances of a high-demand function or feature. But in a monolithic CMS, everything is interconnected: if you need to run five instances of a specific feature of your site or app to meet demand, you have to run five instances of the entire application — even if you could meet demand for all the other features with just a single instance. Therefore, ensuring the performance of that one function could mean having to pay for five times more server or cloud storage than you really need.Composable lets you scale individual functions according to demand. It’s a more efficient and budget-friendly way to consistently deliver the digital experience users expect from your business.Enhanced capabilities Every monolithic CMS has its own unique pros and cons: Adobe Experience can handle a lot of site content, but it’s expensive and requires significant IT support throughout its lifespan. Sitecore can be scaled easily and is more secure than most other CMSes, but skilled developers are hard to find and transitioning to Sitecore is a lengthy and expensive process. With a monolithic CMS, the digital experience is limited by what that particular CMS does well. Composable lets you choose the best applications for each function and build a limitless CMS experience. Reduced talent costsTo maintain and upgrade a monolithic CMS, you’ll need developers and engineers who are experts in that specific CMS’ proprietary framework. Those specialized skills mean organizations have to pay more to attract and retain talent. In addition, it’s difficult to learn these complex and highly specific systems on the job, so organizations usually have to hire more top-dollar talent every time a member of the team leaves the company.With composable, organizations can access a much larger talent pool, making it easier to find the right people to handle each individual function — for the right price.Improved user experienceA composable CMS can make a major difference in the user experience. A monolithic CMS can usually only be customized via plug-ins, which negatively impact site loading and speed. This can affect your bottom line: recent research from Portent found that an e-commerce site with a one-second load time had a conversion rate 2.5x higher than a site with a five-second load time. Composable allows for as much (if not more) customization, but without sacrificing speed.Learn moreLearn more about composable architecture in our guide, “What is composable architecture?”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s content experience platform can deliver the benefits of composable to your organization.
Danielle Diliberti helms multiple market leading brands. Here’s how she empowers teams to make big changes
If there’s anyone that fully understands both the technology and business challenges of leading a modern enterprise it’s Danielle Diliberti. She is the CTO of the wellness brand and health club, The St. James, the CEO of the fast-growing marketplace, Sommsation, and Senior Director at the investment firm, Eldridge Industries. All at the same time. Danielle recently spoke with us about how she gets it all done, how she empowers teams to move fast, and the advice she has for other leaders making waves in their industries. Invest in alignment Putting a strategic plan in place requires balancing the goals of the organization, ideas of different stakeholders, data insights, and the practical aspects needed to execute it. As well as thinking about the order of operations along the way to make sure you’re not breaking one thing to fix another. The level of alignment and communication needed to do this can be especially challenging for companies with a diverse audience, a multifaceted business model, or a remote workforce. One initiative that Danielle has found to be successful in getting everyone on the same page is internal summits: multi-day, in-person events that focus on a particular aspect of business such as engineering, sales, data and analytics, marketing, or operations. Dedicating time to dive into one area, as opposed to high-level status updates from every department, helps people better recognize where small adjustments to their own processes can make life easier for colleagues in other areas of the business. “When you step into the room and know that you’re talking about marketing, the accountant can take off their accountant hat and think about it from a marketing lens,” explains Danielle. “That creates not only some continuity between different business groups, but I’ve also seen that it really helps the culture because people can connect in a different way.”Pass the torch As a company changes and grows it’s important to make sure individuals also have the opportunity to evolve. Giving people the time and attention to develop skills requires investing in knowledge transfer instead of doing it yourself. “If it’s something that I’m confident we know how to do, I usually step back and empower my team to move it forward and hone in on their skills,” says Danielle. “If it’s something that I have experience in, then it’s important for me to understand where people are on their learning curve and set them up for success in that specific situation.” Throughout her career, whether learning a skill or teaching it, Danielle has approached knowledge sharing with the “3-3-3 rule”. To teach a skill or transition a task you must first have done it at least 3 times yourself, then have the learner shadow you 3 times, then shadow the learner 3 times. Setting the 3-3-3 rule as a company standard encourages people to speak up if they feel stuck with tasks that aren’t in line with their skill sets or goals, and makes sure that responsibilities are transferred in a way that gives the learner time to feel confident in their new role. “Passing the torch really does help everyone,” says Danielle. “The whole team gets smarter, the business becomes more valuable, and you can move a lot faster. That investment up-front will really pay dividends in the long run.” Find partners to grow with Enabling an organization to move quickly is not only about developing the right skills in the team, but also making sure they aren’t spending time reinventing the wheel. Leaders should have a good awareness of what’s happening in the market, which organizations are interesting to partner with, and how these partnerships could best serve the business.“Really leverage them in a way that makes you feel that you’re letting go of some things internally in your organization,” says Danielle. “Especially in the technology space, there’s so much out there and we’re moving so fast that trying to do everything internally doesn’t make a lot of sense anymore.” With a background in investment, it’s no surprise that Danielle evaluates potential partners with future value in mind.“Understanding the management team of our vendors and our software is really important to me,” says Danielle. “Knowing what their roadmap is and making sure that there is alignment long-term as opposed to just looking at the features that you can deploy right now.” Finding partners that have similar goals to your organization ensures that you have a network of tools and support that can grow alongside you as your business needs evolve. Make your toolkit API-first Part of what makes leaning into the partner ecosystem so attractive is the rising availability of modern, agile technologies. Instead of having one large platform with a suite of interdependent capabilities, a stack of best-of-breed tools can be easily integrated via APIs and swapped out as needed. Companies can leverage solutions from multiple partners while keeping their processes technology agnostic, removing the risk of becoming too reliant on any single vendor. “You won’t be able to compete as an organization if you don’t have API-first, cloud-based tools. That’s just the reality of where we are in the world,” says Danielle.An API-first, cloud-based toolkit allows organizations to quickly change directions when new priorities arise. Danielle’s team at The St James had built out their API-first technology stack with the intention of digitizing the member experience, making it more convenient to book classes and amenities across the health center. A year into that transformation the pandemic hit, safety was suddenly the number one priority, and the team was able to use the new architecture to quickly spin up solutions for equipment reservation, contact tracing, and capacity management. “Customers entered the doors knowing they were safe,” explains Danielle. “Had we not had an API-first infrastructure that would have never existed.”
Choosing which mini digital transformation is right for you
If you think about it, the concept of “mini” is very popular today. Mini donuts, mini candies, MINI Coopers…Even “mini transformations.”On the newest People Changing Enterprises episode, Danielle Diliberti talked about taking on a mini transformation right before the pandemic as CTO at The St. James.The St. James is an upscale health and wellness brand for athletes, including gyms. If you know the health and wellness space, you know most of the industry still runs on desktop-based, legacy systems. At this time, The St. James was like every other company in their space.They yanked out the old, clunky desktops and on-premise servers, replacing them with cloud-based, interoperable technology.Everyone thought she was crazy — they had only been in business for a year. Then, the pandemic hit, and that move allowed them to continue serving their customers and growing the business by spinning up new digital offerings that would have been impossible with their old technology.Which got me thinking about mini transformations compared to the bigger beast we call “digital transformation.” What is a mini digital transformation?Digital transformation can be daunting — it seems expensive, slow, and challenging. But its bite-sized counterpart is more digestible and can bring quick gains when it comes to internal buy-in and customer satisfaction.Danielle Diliberti and The St. James team replaced any technology that wasn’t cloud-native and API-first. It could be accomplished on a fairly short timescale and quickly improve their customers’ experience.That’s not to say that a bigger digital transformation doesn’t have its time and place — it definitely does. Just listen to what Bob Howland and the team did at Dawn Foods. Their transformation involved a complete switch from legacy systems to composable architecture. They moved from pen-and-paper methods to launching a product catalog from scratch, optimizing people processes, and evaluating strategic opportunities for their customers. Within six months, Dawn Foods published six major releases and transitioned over 50% of their customers to online buyers. That’s big.The St. James’s transformation gave them the speed and agility to meet their customers’ needs like they never had before. It was smaller, but it was a win that eventually led to other wins.If you’ve decided the “mini” route is right for you, here are a few guidelines that may help you choose a direction. The right one will…Clearly deliver a great outcomeRisk is always present where change is required. However, your mini transformation should have a high probability of success. If it doesn’t deliver what you promised, securing buy-in for future projects will be that much harder.Moving from legacy to cloud-based systems was something Danielle knew would be a win. By that time, cloud technologies were not new and partners had a portfolio of experience in mitigating risk in that area. She knew that if she told stakeholders they were going to see ROI from moving to the cloud, she could deliver.Even better, moving to the cloud increased the St. James's ability to better serve its customers. Customers no longer had to come into the facility or call for appointments at the spa or their restaurant; they just had to go online.Create value for the wider businessSomething else to consider: the mini transformation must impact internal stakeholders outside your team. Ask yourself: if we complete this project, will other departments also succeed? Will that success help overcome any resistance to change?I was talking to a prospect the other day at a massive organization. At any time, about one hundred developers are working on their 1.6 million pages of content. A mini transformation on that stack would be noticed in a big way. For example, moving their landing pages to an API-first, cloud-based solution would shorten the time to publish for marketers and developers. Speed is an invaluable advantage, especially when it comes to 1.6 million assets.When we develop Proof of Concept (POC) projects for customers, we often have one or two champions that are fully committed to the transformation. You always have the doubters; it’s human nature. But when they see the results, they’re sold on the value. After they replaced their old systems, the team at St. James catapulted business productivity. They were now able to create content and launch new initiatives much quicker than ever before. Serve as a stepping stone to the next miniOne last thing to think about when choosing a project is whether it will serve as a stepping stone to another mini. If the answer is yes, map out the best next step beforehand and the desired end objective. Think about what each mini should accomplish and how that helps achieve the end goal.The more mini transformations you complete, the more confidence and knowledge you gain to solve the next problem. Look at areas where the organization is obviously struggling: think bottlenecks that affect customers. Search for alternative options and see if you can get rid of the bottleneck. After Danielle’s team replaced their desktop-based tech and went cloud-native, they were ready to adopt other microservices focusing on personalized content experiences. This made the business more efficient and customer-centric. For the first time, they could make digital coaching available online and recommend workouts based on the customer’s previous preferences.Danielle said in the podcast, “You can’t fix everything at once. You have to think about the order of operations and what audiences you can serve, and build on that.” That’s the beauty of the mini transformation. It can be accomplished quickly, internal stakeholders and customers can reap benefits sooner, and it provides a solid foundation to jump to the next project. And then the question becomes: What can you accomplish next?
What is Agile content marketing?
Does your organization clamor to keep up with requests to create more relevant online content? Does your marketing team work tirelessly spinning content for different personas and managing content for multiple channels?Because the enormous demand for digital content continues to grow, these problems are very real for marketing teams at organizations of every size. According to Pew Research, in 2021 one in every three U.S. adults reported being “almost constantly” online.This heavy online presence produces a plethora of data, from geolocation tracking to Google Analytics to consumer reviews and much more. Yet much of this data is overlooked or not fully utilized when making marketing decisions, especially with the traditional waterfall marketing approach. Yet many organizations still handle their marketing this way — the same way it’s been done for decades. This is not all that surprising given the lightning speed at which technology creates new ways to communicate with customers. Trying to outpace or even just keep up with the constant flux of change is challenging at best for most organizations.An increasing number of organizations, however, are realizing there’s a better way to manage their marketing with an Agile approach based on the abundance of real-time data and consumer insights that are available virtually 24/7. We’ll tell you more about this shortly. But first let’s look at some of the main issues organizations experience with traditional marketing.Why traditional marketing doesn’t work in our data-driven worldFor most organizations, decisions about the type of campaigns to run and when to run them have traditionally been made months or even a year in advance. While these decisions may be made thoughtfully based on available insights at the time, there are clear disadvantages to marketing this way.Lack of flexibility: Firstly, there’s little room for flexibility when trends like customer expectations and sales change between the time decisions are made and when marketing campaigns launch. There’s no process in place to let marketing teams change their prioritized content or goals based on data or even current events.Difficulty producing content for multiple channels: Another key disadvantage of traditional marketing is it doesn’t provide an intuitive, easy process for repurposing content for multiple channels including websites, social media channels or e-commerce platforms.Lack of personalization: Savvy customers today expect content that relates to their lifestyles and needs. With traditional marketing, there’s no easy way to personalize content for specific customer segments with user stories of other tools. Instead, personalizing content becomes a laborious process that burdens staff with repurposing content and then making sure it gets to the right channels.Overburdened, frustrated staff: All the above issues affect the marketing team. From writers to project managers, team members may feel stressed, overburdened and sometimes disheartened because, despite all their efforts, the results they’re seeing are not optimal.What Is Agile content marketing?The Agile methodology was first used by software developers who wanted to reduce the time it took to create new products and updates while retaining flexibility. Agile was designed to break projects into manageable chunks, and at every step of the process, provide a process to implement necessary changes as they arose. Because of this built-in ability to pivot when needed, finished software products could be more up-to-date and relevant when released.Agile has since been heavily adopted to manage projects in the corporate world and government agencies. The methodology is used in a wide range of industries including financial services, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, engineering, aerospace and others.Desiring the same speed and flexibility, the Agile methodology has more recently been leveraged widely for content marketing. This is especially true in forward-thinking organizations looking for better strategies and technologies to help them accomplish their goals.To understand why the Agile approach is a perfect fit for content marketing, let’s briefly think about the onset of the pandemic. Whether B2C or B2B, every organization had to move fast to reach their audiences with content ranging from text messages and social media posts to website alerts and relevant articles and blogs. The world was changing rapidly and content needed to keep pace with the changes that were occurring from one day to the next.In an Agile content marketing workflow, cross-functional teams of writers, editors, designers, and other content experts collaborate on manageable tasks over a period of time called a “sprint.” Other cross-functional teams may work in parallel on separate but equally important tasks that may be part of the same larger project.Each team’s tasks are assigned based on priority by analyzing data, consumer feedback, recent trends, current events and other inputs. At the end of each sprint, content is sent to another sprint for improvement or launched with a specific goal in mind. Then both the work and the process are reviewed for possible improvements.In real life, an Agile marketing process might look like this:A marketing lead gathers data and customer requirementsThe data and user stories are prioritized by the marketing team and then broken down into actionable tasksThe team organizes tasks into one or more sprints based on content typeA cross-functional team works in tandem to execute their work during the sprintAt the end of each sprint, the work and the sprint planning process are both reviewed for possible improvementsThe next sprint to implement improvements and new tasks are assignedAgile content marketing: a game changer for your businessOne significant feature of Agile content marketing is that it involves a consistent cycle of producing content, then testing it to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Then simply do more of what works or what your audience wants and less of what doesn’t work. The benefit is more relevant content engaging audiences in meaningful ways.For instance, let’s say a marketing team created a blog post for one of its buyer personas. The post doesn’t drive a wide audience to the organization’s website. However, the social media post on Facebook to promote the blog got hundreds of responses and likes. Based on some of the comments, the marketing team gained some valuable insights into the products that potential customers wanted to learn more about. With Agile content marketing, it’s easy for the marketing team to prioritize more of the desired content in the next sprint, while deprioritizing content on a different topic that didn’t garner as much interest. Pushing successful content to other channels would be another available option with Agile marketing.Social media comments and shares, website page views and conversion rates, and video views are some of the many types of data that can be leveraged to influence Agile marketing strategy.Creating high-quality content not only engages audiences and helps to convert new customers, it provides a steady stream of new ideas for the marketing team so they know which strategies or topics to focus on next. 5 benefits of Agile content marketingAgile content marketing has many benefits. Here are the five that we believe are the most important. Greater success: Several research studies have proven that Agile marketing content is more successful than content created using the traditional waterfall approach. This includes the Standish Group Chaos Report 2020, which determined that Agile projects were three times more likely to succeed.Speed: The Agile approach enables marketers to launch content faster, especially when sprint lengths are tailored specifically to different content types.Efficiency: Agile marketing teams are able to do more with less because they can focus their full attention on the content that’s prioritized at any given time. The content creation process also becomes more efficient over time because it’s evaluated after every sprint for ongoing improvement.Greater flexibility: With Agile marketing, there’s a built-in process for changing content strategy or the content itself based on data, consumer behavior, current events and other insights.Happier marketing teams: Not only do Agile marketing teams report greater productivity, they’re also happier. Research has shown that they have improved morale.Learn more Learn more about Agile marketing in our guide, “How to get started with Agile marketing.”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable content experience platform can help jump start your agile content marketing strategy.
How to choose an omnichannel marketing platform
Omnichannel marketing allows businesses to create customer-centric experiences that are personalized and consistent for each consumer across all channels. This modern way of thinking about content management can help your business build stronger relationships with customers and increase sales.Today's marketing professionals need to pursue an omnichannel experience that customers can use whenever, wherever they want. This approach means creating a consistent experience across all devices, whether customers use a desktop computer, a mobile phone, a tablet or a smartwatch. By designing an omnichannel experience, companies can ensure that their customers have a positive and seamless experience no matter how they interact with them. This article will explore what marketing professionals should look for when considering an omnichannel marketing platform.What is an omnichannel marketing platform and why do you need one?An omnichannel marketing platform allows you to connect with customers across all channels, including online, offline, and mobile. Using this customer-centric marketing approach, companies can provide a consistent customer experience no matter how the customer interacts with them. An omnichannel platform can also help businesses to better understand customer behavior and preferences, which can help to improve marketing strategies and ultimately increase sales.Omnichannel marketing is similar to multichannel marketing. Both of these strategies involve engaging customers across different channels. However, there are some critical differences between these two approaches. Multichannel marketing promotes a unified message using various channels. In contrast, omnichannel marketing takes a customer-focused approach. It adapts to the customer's cross-channel preferences, allowing them to move between channels seamlessly. This capability means omnichannel marketing is better equipped to provide a personalized experience. Benefits of using an omnichannel marketing platformAn omnichannel marketing platform can provide many benefits for your business. The products and services you offer, the customers you serve and other characteristics unique to your situation will determine the advantages that benefit you most. Here are the most common omnichannel use cases.Add virtual inventory to your store: Omnichannel marketing allows you to promote the idea of an endless aisle. You can use this virtual merchandise presentation to complement your real-world store's physical inventory. This type of shopping experience is nearly impossible to achieve without an omnichannel marketing platform.Recurring payment model: Recurring payments are becoming an increasingly popular way for consumers to pay for goods and services. This payment model allows customers to regularly authorize a merchant to charge a designated amount to their credit card or bank account. This can be a convenient way for customers to pay for monthly subscriptions, such as Netflix or Spotify, or for larger purchases spread over time, such as a new mattress.Recurring payments help your business build stronger relationships with your customers by making it easy for them to continue doing business with your company over time. Omnichannel marketing helps your customers move seamlessly between making an in-store or online purchase and establishing continuing services.Buy online for in-store pickup: This omnichannel feature has quickly become a staple of e-commerce. For many types of goods, if customers can't shop for items from the comfort of their homes, they will shop elsewhere.Increasing customer loyalty: A well-designed omnichannel strategy can help your business better understand customer behavior and preferences. You can use this information to improve relationships, fortify customer loyalty, and ultimately increase sales.Improving customer experience: By using an omnichannel platform, businesses can ensure that they are providing a consistent customer experience across all channels. This consistent experience can improve customer satisfaction.How to choose the best omnichannel marketing platform for your businessWhen choosing an omnichannel marketing platform for your business, the most critical consideration is finding one that is truly focused on the customer, not just brand-centric, using multiple channels. Brand centricity is all about promoting a unified message across various channels. At the same time, customer-centricity considers the customer's preferences and needs. Adopting this paradigm can be challenging for some marketing solution providers that cut their teeth on multichannel marketing. It's not enough to provide the same branding message across your customers' channels. A customer-centric solution helps you tap into your customers' historical behavior to understand their needs better. To provide your customers with the best possible experience, you will also want to consider how user-friendly and easy to navigate a potential solution is. The platform's ability to integrate with other software applications used by your company is also an important consideration. Once you have considered these factors, you can compare the different omnichannel features that are available. Reading reviews and comparing attributes is essential to ensure you choose the best platform for your business.Features of the best omnichannel platformsHere are some of the top features to consider when choosing an omnichannel marketing platform:The ability to provide a personalized customer journey across all channels: An omnichannel marketing platform should allow you to manage your marketing activities efficiently and effectively across all channels. This approach can save time and money.The ability to connect with customers across all channels: An omnichannel marketing platform should allow you to connect with customers across all channels, including online, offline, and mobile. This can help to improve customer loyalty and increase sales.The ability to understand customer behavior and preferences: An omnichannel marketing platform can help businesses better understand customer behavior and preferences. You can use this information to improve marketing and ultimately increase sales.What to avoid in omnichannel marketing platformsWhen considering an omnichannel marketing platform, it is essential to know the available features and choose the platform best suited to your business. However, there are also some things to avoid when choosing a platform.Be sure not to choose a platform that is too complex or difficult to use. The platform should be easy to navigate and use so that you can manage your marketing activities effectively.Also, avoid platforms that are too costly for your budget. It is crucial to find a platform that offers good value for your money.Finally, avoid platforms that do not offer good customer support. The platform should be easy to use, but if you encounter any problems, you should be able to get help quickly.Learn moreLearn more about omnichannel content management in this informative guide.Is your CMS holding you back from creating the omnichannel experiences your customers expect? Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s headless, composable content experience platform can transform your digital marketing strategy.