I have been using Salesforce products for more than 10 years, three of which have been with Astound Commerce directly trying to architect client content management applications using the built-in tools provided by Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC).
I have eagerly awaited a time when content among the various Salesforce products and applications was easily shared. Since being certified in the Salesforce CMS Academy program in the summer of 2020, I have become excited about the possibility of the suite of tools and services on the platform becoming more integrated with one another—from a content perspective. The capabilities for content management on the platforms continue to be upgraded in each release, and it’s starting to accelerate features and interconnections in the Salesforce content management system (CMS) world. In this article, I’ll take a look at exactly what Safesforce has to offer and what we might expect in the future.
If you have a Salesforce “org” like Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Sales Cloud, or Service Cloud that consists of the users, data, and automation corresponding to your organization, you already have a full-featured CMS available at your fingertips. It can be used to create pages for display and content to be shared with other applications like Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC). The integrations and capabilities across the various Salesforce clouds and orgs include both integrated and API-driven CMS capabilities. First let’s take a look at exactly what Salesforce offers as a CMS.
What Is Salesforce CMS?
Salesforce CMS is a hybrid CMS. It combines the features of a coupled CMS for some of the platform orgs you may be developing on (for example Community Cloud) but also a de-coupled experience for distributing that content to other platforms. The Salesforce hybrid CMS is also designed to deliver content to any touchpoint using a robust API offering that is developer-friendly and loosely couples relationships between data, content, and delivery. Content can be delivered with either clicks or code. The hybrid nature of Salesforce CMS means it can deliver a native experience directly to the Salesforce org that content is created on, but can also use a headless API structure to share that content with other orgs and other non-Salesforce channels. For example, SFCC or a mobile application can consume Community Cloud content using an API.
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The Best of Both CMS Worlds
Salesforce CMS offers a unified content repository for all of an organization’s marketing and digital content. It also offers a back end for authoring and management of content and a set of APIs to provide access to that content in a headless fashion. It is also natively integrated out of the box into multiple Salesforce application heads—customer relationship management (CRM), Community Cloud Experience Builder, Commerce Cloud B2C Page Designer—and is planned to be coupled in the future with more Salesforce Cloud products. This native integration simplifies content creation and distribution on these host platforms. Content can also be syndicated in a headless manner to both Salesforce and non-Salesforce consumer channels and touchpoints.
Salesforce CMS offers a single unified hub to author, manage content, and distribute it natively or in a syndicated fashion. This means that even though SFCC, for example, has an integrated Page Designer–coupled CMS, SFCC can also use content from the CMS in another org such as CRM or Service Cloud through an API and display it on ISML-driven pages.
What’s in It for You?
So how does this make your job easier? Here are just a few reasons:
It allows you to reach customers where they are, and where they go. Customers ingest content you create across many channels: email, social, websites like commerce stores, in a service community hub, and many other channels. You can give users the same messaging and content across all these channels whether or not they are driven by a Salesforce product. Salesforce CMS has a powerful but relatively simple interface to empower users to create and share content.
It provides flexibility to handle content from multiple customer-facing parts of your organization. Traditionally content management tools embedded into systems have been difficult to use and not compatible with one another. These systems tend to be very rigid and inflexible, which results in the same content being managed in multiple systems. Salesforce CMS allows the organization to have a single location for all content that users might interact with across digital channels and an easy way to consume that content on target systems.
You can use your CRM data for personalization. Personalization of content is either lacking in tightly coupled CMS systems or is not easy to use with other customer touchpoints for personalization. When you connect the Salesforce CMS to your Salesforce CRM data, you have a powerful suite of tools to reach and target customers across channels.
You can use it natively. You can reap the benefits of native clicks, rather than code integrations, across these platforms:
- CRM and Community Cloud. Use Experience Builder for creating portals, sites, forums, and mobile apps. You can easily incorporate any managed content into digital experiences directly from within the Experience Builder.
- Commerce Cloud. Use Page Designer for storefront content and promotional pages.
- Marketing Cloud. Use Content Builder for dynamic content-driven email campaigns.
You can use the API-driven CMS. Use code and headless API for:
- B2B Commerce (VisualForce)
- B2C Commerce (ISML templates)
- Lightning Apps
- Marketing Cloud, Exact Target, and Pardot
- Heroku apps
- Any third-party system
OK, So Where Is It Hidden? And How Do I Get Started?
It’s not actually hidden, so you can start getting the most out of the CMS right away. If you have a SF org, you might already have it installed. If not, you can ask your Salesforce rep about the plan that’s right for you.
Standard plans are free, and allow up to 500 content records and 20 custom content types. Paid plans allow you to have unlimited content records and content types and offer dedicated support plans for helping you get started.
You can check out all pricing options here.
Salesforce offers a very nice selection of free resources to get you started at cms.salesforce.com/s. There are also many partner and Trailhead documents and videos to get you on your way. Take a look at the success plans here.
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So far it seems that Salesforce is moving in a very positive direction with their CMS capabilities. Having been through the academy certification and all the Trailhead and partner trails, I’m very intrigued by what I see. I would love to get to the point where Community Cloud page content can easily be shared directly into Page Designer, for example, or Page Designer content can be easily shared with clicks into Pardot or CRM. Currently, the CMS API is the only way to explore doing these tasks, and while it’s interesting to explore, here’s hoping for more “clicks, not code” in the coming months, with the upcoming Salesforce CMS offerings.
That being said, if you have a Salesforce product and were thinking of adding a third-party CMS to your overall architecture, I’d take a good look at Salesforce CMS first. You might be surprised by the gem that is “hiding” in your org.
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