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Headless CMS for digital agencies

Kaya Ismail

Staying on top of the latest trends is paramount for digital agencies. Whether focused on software development or digital marketing, things in the online world are constantly changing, and these companies need to continue innovating.

Digital agencies need to put their best foot forward when crafting their online presence. After all, clients come to them to see the possibilities for their own websites and software applications. These agencies need the right tools to help them create that digital presence, and a headless CMS can provide the answer. We’ll explain more about a headless CMS and show how it can benefit digital agencies that choose to adopt it.

Section titled What is a headless CMS?

In order to understand what a headless CMS is, a good starting point is to recap what a traditional CMS is. A traditional CMS, sometimes called a legacy or monolithic CMS, is a platform where the front-end presentation and back-end data storage layers are tightly coupled.

These traditional CMSs are made for publishing content to one channel, usually a website, whereas a headless CMS does more. A headless CMS is a content management system with just the back-end data storage layer. That content repository is separated from the front-end presentation layer, and content stored there can be accessed and delivered to different channels by using APIs. This headless approach to content management provides greater flexibility in managing content and many more options for content publishing channels.

A simple illustration showing the differences between Headless and Traditional cms. The same information is given as a table later in the article.

Traditional CMS vs Headless CMS

Section titled Does your digital agency need a headless CMS?

Digital agencies are likely to be some of the most frequent users of a CMS, whether they are building web applications for customers or launching marketing campaigns on their behalf.

Smaller agencies that cater to only a few clients or are very niche in what they do may find that working with their existing traditional CMS can be sufficient. However, others may find not having a headless CMS to be restrictive, limiting how well they are able to serve their clients.

Traditional CMS vs Headless CMS
Traditional CMSHeadless CMS
SynonymLegacy CMSAgile CMS
HostingUsually self-hostedSaaS with self-hosting options
ChannelsOne channelMultiple channels
Content modelSingular useReusable content
Project managementWaterfallAgile
Frontend framework optionsLimitedFramework agnostic

To answer the question of whether or not your digital agency needs a headless CMS? Well, it depends.

A headless CMS enables digital agencies to be agile and take an iterative approach to project management, which can be helpful as they juggle multiple projects. On the other hand, a traditional CMS might restrict how agencies manage projects and the types of tools and technologies they can provide for their clients.

For example, agencies that choose a traditional CMS over a headless CMS won’t be able to use modern web development approaches like Jamstack or publish omnichannel campaigns to websites, social media, mobile devices, and more all at once.

Section titled Why you should go with a headless CMS for your agency

A headless CMS allows agencies to remain competitive in the ever-changing digital experience landscape. Here are some of the benefits of going with a headless CMS instead of a traditional CMS:

Section titled Framework agnostic

A headless CMS is framework agnostic, which allows developers working in an agency to choose the tools that work best for them. This enables agencies to remain competitive and adopt the latest trends to benefit clients.

For example, modern website and software development approaches such as Jamstack or MACH aren’t applicable to a traditional CMS as a headless CMS is part of the requirements. Marketing agencies can also benefit from this framework agnosticism as they are able to create campaigns that leverage these new approaches.

Section titled Marketer-friendliness

A traditional CMS can provide user-friendly tools when there is one channel like a website, but what happens if marketers need to create content for a mobile app? Or if the campaign for one channel needs to be the same no matter where the client views it? A headless CMS provides marketer-friendly features so that agencies can launch campaigns faster for their clients.

Section titled Greater customizability

Every agency is different and has a unique way of working. A headless CMS provides the functionality for creating customized workflows to match the needs of each team. Plus, thanks to the APIs that make connections seamless, integrations with existing or additional software tools are more easily implemented.

Section titled Faster time-to-market

A headless CMS provides increased speed for digital agencies when working with clients, meaning that they can have a faster time-to-market. With the option for a more agile way of working, digital agencies don’t need to be bogged down with unnecessary steps and get finalized products and services to market faster.

Section titled Lead generation

As digital agencies are always searching for and trying to convert leads into clients, a headless CMS gives them an advantage. They can show clients ready-made examples of their own website, applications, and campaigns to highlight the benefits of adopting a headless CMS project and converting them into a customer.

Section titled Headless CMS use cases for digital agencies

A headless CMS provides several potential use cases for digital agencies. Here are some of the things you can build with one:

  • Websites: First up, a new website for the agency and new clients is possible with a headless CMS.
  • Mobile apps: A headless CMS enables agencies to create and launch their own mobile apps to complement the website.
  • Ecommerce stores: Launching an online shop that sells additional products and services is easier with a headless CMS.
  • Alexa skills: Alexa skills can be used to streamline business processes for agencies, and a headless CMS can help them launch these skills with ease.

Section titled Digital agencies that went headless

Are you wondering if your agency should make the switch to a headless CMS? Look no further than these examples of digital agencies that did just that.

Software agency Maker’s Den needed a modern website that was friendly to more than just developers and could win them more clients. They adopted a headless CMS and used a component-based approach and visual editor to get their website to the standard they wanted. Now, they can spend less time working with custom code and more time producing content for the website.

Story of AMS, a digital agency based in the Netherlands, leverages a headless CMS because of the improved functionality it provides for its eCommerce clients. It enables them to use headless commerce and modern development frameworks and provides a simplified visual editor for creating content.

Section titled Storyblok: An agency-ready headless CMS

As a digital agency, it might be time to replace your current traditional CMS with a headless CMS that helps you provide more value for your internal team as well as your clients.

Storyblok is a headless CMS that provides digital agencies the flexibility and innovation they need today. Marketers and editors can rely on the easy-to-use visual editor, and developers can benefit from the creative freedom and framework agnosticism.

Plus, Storyblok also offers a Partner Program which allows you to future-proof your agency and provide a better experience for clients. Partners also get access to several benefits, including revenue share and co-marketing activities. Learn more about our Partner Program here.