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5 Salesforce CMS Features to Improve your Experience Cloud Site

Sending virtual hugs

First, let me apologize, as this post is long overdue. Salesforce CMS went GA in Winter ’20, which was in October of 2019. You deserve better; if this was a real relationship, I would have sent flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries. But unfortunately for you (and fortunately for me), this is a virtual relationship. So instead, I send virtual hugs and apologies, and a promise to do better.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, I need to make it up to you. So, I am here to let you in on a top-secret… well… secret. Of course, I have to ask that you keep this to yourself, but here goes:

You can do SUPER COOL things with your content within Experience Cloud (formerly Communities) with standard configuration. In fact, you don’t even need an Experience Cloud Site, and you don’t need GearsCRM or a developer.

Ok, so now the cat’s out of the bag (and I may be out of a job), let’s take some time to dig into Salesforce CMS. Even though CMS was GA in October 2019, I probably would have written an entirely different blog post back then since, over the last 1.5 years, there have been CMS enhancements in every single release (put away your calculator, that means 3 releases).

What is Salesforce CMS?

According to Salesforce, “Salesforce CMS is a hybrid content management system, where you can curate and share content, manage multiple language versions of your content, and control who creates what. Use Salesforce CMS to create, manage, and deliver content from a central location, and then share that content across multiple channels.”

Basically, this means you create rich content and extend it to ANY channel built on the Salesforce platform (Experience Cloud, Pardot, LEX, Marketing Cloud, Commerce Cloud, you name it). A wise man once said, “Content is King” (just a little unknown guy named Steve Jobs, NBD). Content connects you with your customers. It can keep your current customers engaged, and also can cast a wide net to resonate with your prospects. To be successful, your Site content should be consistent. It should represent your overall purpose and brand identity. It should be frequently updated, curated, and shared.

Up until now (ok, October 2019), Salesforce didn’t have a good way of creating and managing rich content. Yes, you could create files and upload them to folders, but it wasn’t a very rich or user-friendly experience. Even back then, with CMS Connect, you could connect with your CMS tool of choice, but what if you didn’t have one? Salesforce now offers an option for you, with Salesforce CMS giving you the ability to create Content directly from the Salesforce Platform. There is now no need to integrate with outside sources to offer your customers a rich and engaging experience.

Salesforce CMS Features

Salesforce CMS comes with a few core functions, which create more options for you to enhance your overall Site experience! I wanted to spend just a little time on these features and how they can add value to your customer engagement.

Connect to your existing CMS: I do feel like for the first release of CMS back 1.5 years ago, the real draw was connecting Salesforce to your existing CMS. So, if you are managing a blog on WordPress or Adobe, instead of managing that in two places, you could easily integrate that blog with your Salesforce community so users are seeing the same content in your Site that they see on your corporate website. Not only is this good for general consistency, but much like exercising, creating content can be time-intensive and laborious, so why do it more than once?

News & Announcements: I couldn’t count on both hands and feet how many times customers ask me for a way to present news and announcements to their customers without giving the creators of that content the keys to the Site kingdom** (ie. The All Powerful Builder). We could solve one part of the problem with standard config by allowing Users to utilize the rich text editor component, but then a content creator/manager would still need access to the builder. So typically, we would have to create a custom component and custom object to solve for this requirement. With Salesforce CMS, you can create a CMS Single Item or Collection, allow only certain people to edit it, and it lives OUTSIDE the builder. You can also make this dynamic based on audiences, which is a huge plus.

**Keys to the Site Kingdom now trademarked and the title of my first book

Collections: Similar to news and announcements, if a customer wanted to highlight certain products, we would be looking at custom tiles or a custom solution depending on the need. CMS Collections can now be created based on certain objects using LIST VIEWS. You can set certain images for those products, expose different data points, etc. So now instead of looking at a boring list view of information (not that there is anything wrong with that, but it’s not the most compelling experience), we can make rich tiles to represent the same thing!

Files & Attachments: Another use case we see a TON is downloadable FILES and the best way to expose them. The historical approach (and honestly, never my favorite approach) to this was to use libraries and library membership within a Site experience. However, the library/files components aren’t the best and there isn’t a ton of flexibility in styling. CMS will allow you to create a CMS Single Item to represent a file. You can add an image to represent the file, you can show a preview of the file, etc. Lastly, you can again use dynamic pages to expose different CMS File records depending on audience or profile.

Content Management Permissions: I think the biggest draw to Salesforce CMS vs. using HTML or Rich Content components in Sites is that content managers/authors do NOT need access to the builder to create content. Different users can have access to different workspaces and even more granular permissions within those workspaces. CMS also has out-of-the-box publishing workflows, allowing things to be in draft mode, and be reviewed by approvers before publishing to the various spaces. This is really the deal maker for Salesforce CMS. Being able to separate the building and maintenance of a Salesforce Site from the Site Content itself is a huge win. Typically those responsibilities are owned by two different teams, and now they can be separate in Salesforce as well.

So as you can see, while Salesforce CMS is a content management system in and of itself, it also can be used to enhance or even replace some standard, but less than ideal, Site components. It gives you critical flexibility that has been missing by allowing content teams the ability to control what your users see without editing (and possibly breaking) the actual Site. Lastly, it allows for a more rich, content-driven user experience. With regards to pricing, Salesforce CMS does come free with your org, but it is limited in content types and how many records can be created. There is an additional monthly fee for unlimited content.

Personally, I feel that Salesforce CMS is highly underutilized. Please feel free to contact us if you need assistance determining if there are areas where you could be taking advantage of the functionality, or if you have any questions in general! Also, stay tuned for an upcoming webinar where we will demo some core CMS functionality!

Jill Penfield

Jill is a 4x certified Solutions Architect, Experience Cloud Specialist, and Principal Client Director at GearsCRM. She is passionate about helping customers achieve their goals in new implementations and ongoing enhancements. Jill is knowledgeable in all the Salesforce clouds and loves finding the perfect solutions to fit her customers' internal processes, as well as meet the needs of their external audiences (Sites!). She has been working with Salesforce for 10+ years.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Good article! Thanks for the contribution Jill!

    A couple of quick thoughts:
    1) We run CMS campfires where you can get your hands on CMS in a safe, guided environment! These webinars occur twice monthly and you can sign up here: https://salesforce.zoom.us/webinar/register/8616128027836/WN_HF8IOkiyTWSj7CY1noWF-Q
    2) When using Salesforce CMS with Experience Cloud sites (formerly known as Communities), one killer additional feature is Record Collections. CRM can dress up your record list views to make them more compelling!

    1. Thank you Joe for your response! I’ve attended those campfires, they are a great way to get up to speed quickly! Of course, we will recommend to these to our customers as needed! As for record collections, you are spot on, this is one of my favorite features (I actually called them out in the Collections blurb by using list views to expose different objects and data, but “record collections” would be the accurate nomenclature there). There is a huge potential here to make for a very rich UI/UX, with not much effort. Super cool!

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