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A CMO’s roadmap for upgrade success

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A CMO's roadmap for upgrade success

The recent security advisory from Drupal.org is clear: “Drupal 9 is end-of-life as of November 1, 2023. There will be no further development, security fixes, or enhancements; all support for Drupal 9 will stop.” Drupal is a widely used open source CMS.

This announcement is a critical signal for CMOs to prioritize upgrading to Drupal 10. The move is a technical and strategic necessity for upholding a secure, compliant, and advanced martech stack.

Urgency and opportunity: The Drupal 9 end-of-life

In the face of this transition, TMotions, a Drupal service provider, casts the end-of-life event positively in a blog post: “Drupal 9 EOL represents a new beginning rather than an end. It’s an opportunity for growth, innovation, and embracing the next evolution of Drupal. This transition opens doors to enhanced features, improved performance, and increased security, ensuring that Drupal remains a leader in web development.” This perspective is especially relevant as CMOs consider the broader implications of the upgrade.

Continuing to operate on Drupal 9 post-EOL increases the risk of security breaches, as vulnerabilities may become public that will only be patched in the more recent, supported versions of Drupal, as noted by Mark Dorison, CTO at Chromatic, a web agency specializing in Drupal migrations. While user experience and performance won’t degrade post-EOL, they will not receive any further improvements, emphasizing the need for an upgrade to sustain competitive advantage.

Conversely, migrating to Drupal 10 offers a chance to reassess and reinforce marketing technologies, ensuring that investments in the digital ecosystem are robust and future-ready.

Planning your Drupal 10 migration

Transitioning to Drupal 10 requires thorough preparations to ensure a smooth and successful upgrade. Key steps include:

  • Auditing your current Drupal 9 site and modules to identify high-risk or deprecated elements.
  • Testing upgrade paths in staging environments.
  • Establishing timelines aligned with business initiatives.
  • Assembling cross-functional teams with technical and business stakeholders.
  • Documenting processes and contingency plans.
  • Working with expert consultants to navigate complexities.

Investing in robust planning and diligent execution can minimize disruptions while allowing you to maximize the opportunities of moving to an up-to-date and supported Drupal 10 platform.

The upgrade path: Technical and strategic insights

Migrating to Drupal 10 is essential for securing your martech stack and maintaining a competitive edge. Expert guidance facilitates the technical process and ensures alignment with business strategy, enhancing your martech stack’s effectiveness. “Even skilled teams can benefit from Drupal upgrade experts,” noted Bob Watson, VP of client engagement and partner alliances at consulting and staffing firm Elevate Digital. “Their specialized experience smooths the transition by navigating complexities and avoiding pitfalls.”

Chromatic’s Dorison says the progression from Drupal 8 and 9 to 10 is designed to be more user-friendly, mitigating previous upgrade challenges. With features like the ability to configure the SameSite value for cookies, a more intuitive front-end theme, content management features, and the introduction of the Layout Builder, Drupal 10 promotes better user experiences and offers more control over site design.

Furthermore, Drupal 10’s commitment to ease of use and administrator efficiency is evident in its automatic updates feature, simplifying the management of security patches and core updates. Coupled with a comprehensive Content Security Policy, Drupal 10 ensures a more efficient, secure, and user-friendly platform. These advancements contribute to faster load times and improved response rates, reinforcing your site’s security and preparing it for a robust future online.

Bottom line. EOL for Drupal 9 presents risks in security, compatibility, compliance, and UX, but also a chance to upgrade and enhance the digital experience. With careful planning and consideration, you can migrate to Drupal 10 and ensure your website(s) remain compliant, performant, and safe.

The martech stack audit: A blueprint for future growth

A martech stack audit, conducted during Drupal 9’s end-of-life, is more than a technicality; it’s a strategic recalibration of marketing technologies for future trends and customer engagement. In the context of upgrading to Drupal 10, a martech stack audit is more than a routine checkup; it’s a strategic overhaul to ensure seamless integration and alignment with business objectives. Benefits include:

  1. Understanding Value and Operations. An audit helps clarify how each technology contributes to business operations and customer experience, ensuring that all tools are aligned with business goals.
  2. Enhanced Collaboration. By evaluating the martech stack, teams can better understand the tools at their disposal, leading to improved collaboration and efficiency.
  3. Identification of Gaps and Redundancies. Audits can reveal overlaps and gaps in the technology stack, allowing companies to streamline their tools and reduce unnecessary spending.
  4. Insights for Improvement: Through an audit, companies gain insights into their marketing efforts, which can drive strategic decisions and improvements.
  5. Driving User Adoption and Satisfaction. An audit identifies which tools users favor and why, which can inform training and adoption strategies.
  6. Optimization for Better ROI. By assessing the current stack, companies can optimize their tools to achieve better returns on their marketing investments.
  7. Future-Proofing. Audits offer insights into performance and scalability, preparing the stack to meet upcoming business challenges.

Dig deeper: What are headless or hybrid content management systems?

Integrating upgrade and audit: A strategy for sustained growth

The transition to Drupal 10 is more than an upgrade — it’s a catalyst for marketing transformation. The martech stack audit is critical to this journey, offering a lens to scrutinize and refine your marketing technology landscape. Both initiatives ensure your investments in your digital ecosystem are protected and primed to deliver maximum value. 

Adopting Drupal 10 transcends a mere upgrade; it’s an impetus for marketing transformation. Integrating the upgrade with a martech stack audit enhances your marketing technology investments’ effectiveness by treating them as complementary parts of a unified strategy. 

This interconnected approach assures that the new functionalities and efficiencies gained from Drupal 10 enrich the entire martech stack, leading to a more robust, agile, and future-proof digital marketing strategy. By aligning these efforts, CMOs can foster a more collaborative environment, streamline their technology ecosystem, and unlock a higher return on investment, all while setting the stage for the next wave of digital innovation and customer engagement.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes

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Why Even Crushing Content Failures Aren’t Mistakes

Did you follow the Apple iPad Pro content debacle?

Here’s a quick recap. A recent online ad for the new iPad Pro showed a large hydraulic press slowly crushing various symbols of creativity. A metronome, a piano, a record player, a video game, paints, books, and other creative tools splinter and smash as the Sonny and Cher song All I Ever Need Is You plays.

The ad’s title? “Crush!”

The point of the commercial — I think — is to show that Apple managed to smush (that’s the technical term) all this heretofore analog creativity into its new, very thin iPad Pro.  

To say the ad received bad reviews is underselling the response. Judgment was swift and unrelenting. The creative world freaked out.

On X, actor Hugh Grant shared Tim Cook’s post featuring the ad and added this comment: “The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley.”

When fellow actor Justine Bateman shared the Tim Cook post, she simply wrote, “Truly, what is wrong with you?” Other critiques ranged from tone-challenged to wasteful to many worse things.

Actor Justine Bateman shared Tim Cook’s post on X, which featured the ad, and added this comment: "Truly, what is wrong with you?".

A couple of days later, Apple apologized and canceled plans to air the ad on television.

How not-so-great content ideas come to life

The level of anger surprises me. Look, the ad does show the eyeballs on an emoji-faced squishy ball popping under the plates’ pressure, but still. Calling the ad “actually psychotic” might be a skosh over the top.

Yes, the ad missed the mark. And the company’s subsequent decision to apologize makes sense.

But anyone who’s participated in creating a content misfire knows this truth: Mistakes look much more obvious in hindsight.

On paper, I bet this concept sounded great. The brainstorming meeting probably started with something like this: “We want to show how the iPad Pro metaphorically contains this huge mass of creative tools in a thin and cool package.”

Maybe someone suggested representing that exact thing with CGI (maybe a colorful tornado rising from the screen). Then someone else suggested showing the actual physical objects getting condensed would be more powerful.

Here’s my imagined version of the conversation that might have happened after someone pointed out the popular internet meme of things getting crushed in a hydraulic press.

“People love that!”

“If we add buckets of paint, it will be super colorful and cool.”

“It’ll be a cooler version of that LG ad that ran in 2008.”

“Exactly!”

“It’ll be just like that ad where a bus driver kidnaps and subsequently crushes all the cute little Pokémon characters in a bus!” (Believe it or not, that was actually a thing.)

The resulting commercial suffers from the perfect creative storm: A not-great (copycat) idea at the absolutely wrong time.

None of us know what constraints Apple’s creative team worked under. How much time did they have to come up with a concept? Did they have time to test it with audiences? Maybe crushing physical objects fit into the budget better than CGI. All these factors affect the creative process and options (even at a giant company like Apple).

That’s not an excuse — it’s just reality.

Content failure or content mistake?

Many ad campaigns provoke a “What the hell were they thinking?” response (think Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad or those cringy brand tributes that follow celebrity deaths).

Does that mean they’re failures? Or are they mistakes? And what’s the difference?

As I wrote after Peloton’s holiday ad debacle (remember that?), people learn to fear mistakes early on. Most of us hear cautionary messages almost from day one.

Some are necessary and helpful (“Don’t stick a knife in a live toaster” or “Look both ways before you cross the street.”) Some aren’t (“Make that essay perfect” or “Don’t miss that goal.”)

As a result, many people grow up afraid to take risks — and that hampers creativity. The problem arises from conflating failure and mistakes. It helps to know the difference.

I moved to Los Angeles in 1987 to become a rock ‘n’ roll musician. I failed. But it wasn’t a mistake. I wasn’t wrong to try. My attempt just didn’t work.

Labeling a failed attempt a “mistake” feeds the fears that keep people from attempting anything creative.

The conflation of failure and mistakes happens all too often in creative marketing. Sure, people create content pieces (and let’s not forget that there are always people behind those ideas) that genuinely count as mistakes.

They also create content that simply fails.

Don’t let extreme reactions make you fear failures

Here’s the thing about failed content. You can do all the work to research your audience and take the time to develop and polish your ideas — and the content still might fail. The story, the platform, or the format might not resonate, or the audience simply might not care for it. That doesn’t mean it’s a mistake.

Was the Apple ad a mistake? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

Was it a failure? The vitriolic response indicates yes.

Still, the commercial generated an impressive amount of awareness (53 million views of the Tim Cook post on X, per Variety.) And, despite the apology, the company hasn’t taken the ad down from its YouTube page where it’s earned more than 1 million views.

The fictional Captain Jean Luc Picard once said, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness. That is life.” The Apple ad turns that statement on its head — Apple made many mistakes and still won a tremendous amount of attention.

I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t criticize creative work. Constructive critiques help us learn from our own and others’ failures. You can even have a good laugh about content fails.

Just acknowledge, as the Roman philosopher Cicero once wrote, “Not every mistake is a foolish one.” 

Creative teams take risks. They try things outside their comfort zone. Sometimes they fail (sometimes spectacularly).

But don’t let others’ expressions of anger over failures inhibit your willingness to try creative things.

Wouldn’t you love to get the whole world talking about the content you create? To get there, you have to risk that level of failure.

And taking that risk isn’t a mistake.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute 



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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

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