Content, Communication & Compliance: Interview on the Web Relaunch at CMS
The update of the website of our client CMS Legal Services to the latest version of Ibexa’s Digital Experience Platform – eZ Platform – is another milestone in our long-term cooperation. Together we have greatly simplified the editing and publication processes and established the foundation for optimizing the SEO measures. A good time for us to discuss the effects in an interview with Jochen Lindmayer (Head of Marketing & Brand, CMS Legal Services) and Amsal Alihodzic (Senior Online Marketing Manager, CMS Legal Services) and to look back on what we have achieved so far.
Mr. Lindmayer, there were certainly both operational and strategic reasons for relaunching your website. How do you classify the project in your overall strategy, in which direction do you want to develop?
Jochen Lindmayer: At the beginning of the project, all the websites at that time were merged into one central website. That was a very important part of our strategy to depict CMS as "one firm" and not as a loose conglomerate of many independent "member firms". This enables us to control the issues of corporate identity, branding and corporate communication much better and ensure a uniform external effect. Of course, this also supports our strong corporate culture and commitment to shared values. Operationally, the update to the new version of the eZ Platform brings us easier editing and publishing processes. This gives us the opportunity to produce more relevant content and it makes it easier for us to involve all local editors.
You have made really great progress with the success of the project so far. What are the future plans for your website? What’s next?
Lindmayer: Our website is now the adequate platform to show the wide range of specialist knowledge of the CMS member companies in 19 areas of practice. We already have further plans. The company-wide introduction of a uniform marketing automation tool in connection with the eZ Platform and the optimization of the use of forms are on our list. With the eZ Platform, we have also created a central database with all the important data that we can use as a basis for implementing additional services and apps.
From a marketing point of view, I am particularly interested in whether merging the websites in a multisite system has met your requirements for the display of content? How do you see it, Mr. Alihodzic?
Amsal Alihodzic: Definitely! It is our aim for customers to easily find and contact the right expert for their problem via the website – in 40 countries and 9 different languages. It is very important for us to only show content on the respective regional website that meets the expectations of local website visitors and the requirements of local laws. The way eZ Platform can handle multiple languages and subpages in a single instance is of vital importance to us. With eZ Platform, it is easy to publish a page for one jurisdiction only, add another jurisdiction or another language if necessary. The effort is kept to a minimum.
How has the new structure affected your analytics options and SEO activities? What exactly can you do differently today than before the relaunch?
Alihodzic: With the global website instead of the many local websites, for the first time we were able to determine global KPIs that apply to all countries, such as PDF downloads or contact requests. We no longer have to add up numbers, but have a direct global view of all events on the website instead. We are on a whole new level in the SEO area. We have implemented structured data, hreflang tags and metadata templates, to name a few of the measures. Not only did the websites of the already strong countries such as Great Britain, Germany and France benefit from this, but also those of other countries that previously could not necessarily keep up with the local competition. If an international publication performs well in Germany, it does so in Austria too, because the rankings are divided due to the hreflang labeling. Overall, we’ve been able to dramatically increase our SEO visibility, which has resulted in organic traffic being our main source.
You mentioned the topic of global KPIs. Which are your most important?
Looking back on this rather complex multisite project, what tips do you have for success? What should you pay particular attention to, what are the hidden pitfalls?
Alihodzic: With such a large project in which many countries and stakeholders are involved, you have to make some compromises that are not necessarily beneficial for the user. In such cases, data that can only be collected over time will help. So, keep calm, be patient and then put forward the solid arguments. In general, you should keep an eye on your data in order to update the strategy if necessary and adapt it to the users. We have therefore created new categories on the website, for instance. "Insight", for example, offers a platform for current events such as AI, start-ups and Brexit. Last year we completely integrated our sub-domain eguides.cmslegal.com into cms.law in a new design. This enabled us to significantly minimize the costs of uploading an expert guide that shows the legal situation on a specific topic in different countries. Switching to a new navigation system without widgets is also a reaction to the findings from the analysis data. Many users do not get along well with the widgets because they do not resemble classic navigation and are easily confused with overview pages. The biggest pitfall would be to rest on SEO successes. The metadata must be constantly adapted because the search behavior changes all the time.
Mr. Lindmayer, can you add your own personal learning to these exciting insights from Mr. Alihodzic? Was there – with all the planning in advance – perhaps an unexpected result in the course of the project, or a positive surprise for you?
Lindmayer: A very topical example occurs to me, even if the background seems less positive. Like many of our competitors in the market, it was our aim to provide our customers and prospects with extensive information on a variety of subject-specific topics around the subject of COVID-19. The flexibility of the platform made it possible for our teams to bring very valid content to the website within a very short time and even to restructure the page in individual areas in order to offer the user the best possible and easiest access. And we were able to break a trend: In times of crisis, such as COVID-19, traffic generally goes down on all websites. We were able to create COVID-19 pages relatively quickly and, due to the SEO measures that we had already implemented, the visibility on search pages also went up quite fast. Our traffic has not only recovered, it has even increased.
Thank you both for talking to us!
The interview was conducted by our Marketing Strategist Tobias Kintzel.