The digital customer experience has changed quite a bit over the last few years, and as this experience has changed, so too has the technology required to facilitate it. Today's consumers have more options to choose from than they ever had before when it comes to when, where, and how often they consume content. 

No longer do customers need to be at their laptop screen to get information on a product or to see what their favorite brand is doing. Instead, they can browse via their smartphone, tablet and even get alerts sent to their smartwatch or smart speaker. With over 6 billion smartphone subscriptions worldwide, according to Statista — a number which is set to keep increasing — today's multichannel environment means that brands need the right technology in place to cope with these changes.

They must be able to present content to their customers wherever they are and be prepared for even more channels to enter the fray in the coming years. 

What Is Headless CMS?

A headless CMS separates the front-end presentation layer from the backend storage layer. That back-end layer manages content and digital experiences, while the front-end layer delivers content to various devices through APIs. 

Those APIs also connect the frontend and backend layers, which is in stark contrast to traditional or monolithic CMS that have frontend and backend tightly coupled together. Unfortunately, this means that traditional CMS platforms lack the flexibility that brands require in today's multichannel environment. 

However, the API-driven approach made possible through headless architecture has provided brands with the capabilities they need to meet customer demand. 

Related Article: 34 Headless CMS That Should Be on Your Radar

Why Choose a Headless CMS

Headless CMS platforms have been growing in popularity and seeing increased adoption in companies of all levels, from SMEs to large global enterprises. According to data from Research and Markets, the market size is expected to grow from $328.5 million in 2019 to $1.6 billion by 2027

Some of the reasons why many businesses are moving to headless CMS include the following:

Increased Flexibility: A headless CMS doesn't limit companies to content on one channel, instead allowing them to display content on any device. This enables your developers to connect to any device and use the front-end technologies that are best suited to each particular channel. 

Speed: A headless CMS facilitates speed, enabling your team to make changes, innovate and speed up time to market for releasing new omnichannel, content-driven campaigns. 

Learning Opportunities

Integration Freedom: Since a headless CMS leverages APIs to connect the frontend and backend, this also means APIs can be used to integrate with other technologies. This enables businesses to create a best-of-breed tech stack that selects the best vendors for other core functions such as analytics, ecommerce, marketing automation, and more. 

5 Headless CMS That Make All the Lists

Here is a list of five headless CMS solutions that have been recommended by all three of the following analyst firms, Gartner, Forrester, and G2. Even though there will be differences in technology depending on your choice of vendor, the underlying headless architecture provides several advantages compared to traditional CMS platforms. 

Adobe: San Jose, CA-based Adobe Experience Manager, is part of the host of products offered by the Adobe brand. Ranked as a leader in the Forrester Wave for Agile CMS, Adobe provides content and asset management capabilities that enable brands to bring personalized experiences to life. Both marketers and developers are armed with the tools needed to create, reuse and update content across any channel or device. 

Contentful: Contentful is a Berlin-based API-first content platform built to create digital experiences. It enables brands to create omnichannel experiences, unifying content so that it can be edited from a single hub. Developers are able to leverage both RESTful APIs and GraphQL to manage content delivery, and marketers are provided with all the tools necessary for a global marketing strategy. 

Contentstack: San Francisco, CA-based Contentstack was founded in 2007 and empowers teams of developers, marketers, and other business users, allowing them to work faster and deliver high-quality experiences. Since it's made for enterprise companies, Contentstack's cloud-based architecture supports scaling and easy integration of preferred marketing or business technologies. 

Optimizely: Optimizely is a New York, NY-based and is recognized as a leader in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for DXP. The platform is open and extensible, enabling you to create and optimize digital experiences. It provides tools for both developers and content practitioners to feel at ease working in the platform. 

Sitecore: San Francisco, CA-based Sitecore is listed as a Strong Performer in Forrester's Wave for Agile CMS. Sitecore's suite of solutions, including Experience Platform, Experience Commerce, Content Hub, and more, enable brands to centralize their digital assets and provide rich customer experiences no matter which channel they want to target. 

Ultimately each vendor provides something unique, and the choice of platform will come down to your needs as an organization.