How to choose the best intranet CMS for an omnichannel strategy

Selecting the right intranet CMS can feel daunting. As the need for omnichannel internal comms rises, so does the number of players on the scene. To choose the best option, leaders must prioritize a checklist of features and digest several key recommendations.

Employee selecting the best intranet CMS for an omnichannel strategy

The early days of Content Management Systems

Content Management Systems (CMS) have evolved rapidly over the last two decades. It wasn't until the early 2000's that the first significant wave of open-source CMS offerings took form, starting with Drupal launching in 2000 and followed by WordPress three years later.

While the earliest systems were very manual, CMS options became more user-friendly as they evolved. Traditional systems connect the front-end and back-end of a website, allowing users to create and publish content through a front-end interface. For years, these tools were the dominant model for content management and with good reason: they streamline publishing processes.

However, the rise of mobile devices and omnichannel comms exposed the limitations of traditional CMS options. With their pre-built front-end interfaces, this type of CMS often provides insufficient flexibility for content creators looking to diversify their internal communications strategy. Many enterprises turned to a disjointed array of tools to satisfy various content needs, including the creation and distribution of email newsletters and audience targeting.

The evolution of the CMS

The omnichannel movement continued to gain momentum. By 2016, web access from mobile and tablet devices officially surpassed desktops worldwide. The need for a new, flexible publishing system was evident, and headless CMS options soon became the answer.

Unlike their predecessors, headless content management systems lack a default front-end system to determine how content is presented to the end-user. Instead, a headless CMS responds to API calls to retrieve the content for a breadth of channels. This front-end agnostic approach puts the ball in every content manager's court. Marketers and internal comms professionals craft a message, which can then be published on any device.

The rising trend of headless content management has recently encountered a new contender: the hybrid CMS. These options achieve the best of both worlds approach by combining an intuitive user interface with the API-powered freedom characteristic of headless CMS. By bringing together the omnichannel capabilities of a headless system and the user-friendliness of a traditional CMS, hybrid solutions have emerged as ideal.

Essential intranet CMS capabilities

Globally, organizations are gravitating towards hybrid CMS. However, choosing an intranet CMS comes down to much more than traditional vs. headless vs. hybrid. If you're looking to deliver a successful omnichannel strategy, you'll need to prioritize the following intranet CMS features:

#1. Ease of use

You want an intranet CMS that users can quickly learn and make their own. Look for familiar functionalities such as the ability to drag-and-drop elements into place. Front-end content creation eliminates the need for extensive technical expertise, lowering the barrier to entry associated with your CMS.

Unily's CMS is highly intuitive, making content creation, and content management easy. Use pre-configured templates to streamline the process of content creation, from news to creating drag and drop newsletters using our Broadcast Center, then preview and send when you're ready. Don't have time to go in the CMS? No problem, Unily gives you the flexibility to create content directly from the front-end.

best intranet cms ease of use

#2. Rich content types

Text-only content is less engaging than pieces enhanced by rich media, as audiences retain 95% of a message from video as opposed to just 10% from text. By utilizing images, videos, and audio, content managers can engage users across your organization. An intranet CMS should make it easy for these teams to mix up their content strategy without the need for IT support or coding experience.

Unily's CMS supports diverse, rich media, including images, video, and audio. Unily features native video capabilities, which means that you have full control over video management and branding while offering more consistent user experiences.

#3. Access rights

Content creation roles can vary greatly, from more administrative duties to creating news, to full-blown content management. Today's modern CMS needs to provide appropriate access rights, to include different job roles and teams. Crucially, this should be from one CMS, and not versions of the same CMS, or, worse yet, completely different CMS.

Unily's CMS gives you granular control over access rights, so you can empower your people with exactly the functionality they need. Best of all, you'll only ever need one Unily CMS across your entire digital workplace.

#4. Security

Security is now the number one concern for everyone working in enterprise organizations, a matter compounded by the shift to remote working. Simply put, an intranet CMS without enterprise-grade security is not fit for purpose.

With both ISO27001 and SOC 2 accreditation, Unily provides the highest enterprise security standards, ensuring that the content you create in Unily stays secure. Our multi-factor authentication, such as OAuth 2.0 in combination with OpenID Connect, gives your content creators extra peace of mind when creating confidential messaging or sending private documents.

#5. Create mobile responsive content

The mobile movement shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, from 2019-2020, the share of users accessing content via a mobile device increased by 10%. The quality of your employees' digital experiences should be consistent, whether they are accessing your intranet from their desktop or smartphone. Consequently, your intranet CMS must rise to the challenge by streamlining publishing processes across various media types for the authentic omnichannel experience.

With the option of creating bespoke mobile apps for any requirement, Unily can cater to all your teams, including frontline workers who may require mobile-only content. Unily's CMS gives you the option to duplicate existing content and tweak for mobile or create mobile-targeted content from scratch.

#6. Targeting

The ultimate aim of content creation is to connect content with people. To do that, you need to address this: how do you ensure your audience reads your content and that they are engaged? An intranet CMS with targeting capabilities will maximize the content relevancy by allowing users to message sub-groups, such as employees in different locations or various teams.

Unily's CMS gives you access to a host of targeting options, including the ability to target individual tiles or create targeted landing pages and new sites. This is perfect for catering to individual user requirements, or when you're scaling up. Choose from a host of targeting options, including job roles, locations, or interests.

#7. Personalization

Your employees have developed a taste for personalization. On the consumer side, news feeds and related product recommendations have become the norm. It's time to bring your digital workplace up to speed by giving your end-users total control over how they interact with content.

With Unily, every user gets to experience Unily their way, with news feeds and newsletters personalized for them. Our CMS gives you options to easily personalize both intranet content and emails so that your users feel a warm welcome to their digital hub.

#8. Multilingual capabilities

Eliminate language gaps as a pain point by selecting an intranet CMS with one-click translation capabilities. For word-perfect messaging, look for the option for manual translation.

Unily makes translation possible for both your intranet content and your social posts, so you can ensure your omnichannel approach is multilingual friendly. Once you've written your piece in the CMS, simply click one button to translate your content into any of the supported languages.

#9. Analytics 

Just as external marketers analyze the success of every campaign, internal content creators should have access to data that measures messaging performance. An intranet CMS with built-in analytics puts crucial metrics such as open rates, views, and click-throughs at your content manager's fingertips. 

Unily not only gives you access to analytics so that you can analyze and report on performance, but it also gives you the tools to build analytics dashboards. You could even create targeted analytics dashboards for the various roles or departments in your organization, so your internal communications team, for instance, can focus on the stats that are most relevant to them. 

Case Study

Stantec builds an inspired culture with a modern internal newsroom

Stantec has served as a pioneer within the world of design and consulting for over 65 years. After a period of rapid expansion, the enterprise's internal communications team was faced with the challenge of engaging 22k employees across 35 offices. ‘The Lens’ brings the enterprise’s inspired culture to the fingertips of every employee through compelling stories that spotlight the work Stantec is doing to shape communities big and small.

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Unily recommends: intranet CMS management

Choosing the right intranet CMS is only one piece of the puzzle. For a best-in-class omnichannel communications strategy, leaders must also consider a holistic approach to their intranet CMS management. Recommendations include:

#1. Training and support

Leaders should go the extra mile to ensure content producers are comfortable with their intranet CMS. This includes providing step-by-step guidance on building pages, sharing best practices for writing compelling copy, and reviewing the basics of using the intranet CMS. Without proper training, there's a risk that the quality of your content will suffer or that some admins will be reluctant to publish pieces.

Unily's customer community portal, Universe, provides a learning experience for all our customers. The Universe portal is supported by a dedicated team to answer any questions that customers may have about their intranet CMS. Customers also have access to hundreds of guides, including product guides and more specialist developer guides.

#2. Planning

Behind every great intranet is a central team that monitors the platform's progress and contextualizes project goals. There should be a shared vision, mutually agreed-upon objectives, and a universal understanding of what your enterprise's communications strategy looks like and how the intranet will support that. Your intranet team should continuously evaluate how content is performing, what challenges end-users encounter, and the steps needed to keep content fresh.

At Unily, Customer Success Managers collaborate with every internal comms team to maximize the value of their intranet. In the words of one of our clients:

"Our Customer Success Manager is wonderful. She is always keeping a lookout for new things we might be interested in and remembering the challenges we talked about months ago. It's great to have somebody partnering with you who you get to know personally and professionally and work with them to develop this product."

Unily client

#3. Governance

Specific standards and guidelines around content creation and publishing processes are non-negotiable. Your governance model should be communicated widely so that every employee understands where content lives and which colleagues are responsible for upkeep. Include design principles and style guides on your platform for anyone to reference.

Employ Unily's CMS to create a dedicated landing page in seconds, featuring your most up-to-date style guides. Then communicate your updates on Unily's social channels, to let your people know about any changes to your guidance and links to essential documents.

Start developing your omnichannel strategy

When it comes to crafting top-tier intranet content, a hybrid CMS and well-honed content management tactics are a winning combination. If you are looking to develop an omnichannel communications strategy with a feature-rich intranet CMS, get in touch with our digital workplace experts.

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