A CMS, otherwise known as a Content Management System, is software used to develop and manage your content through various marketing channels. While most content management systems mainly focus on content management for your website, some also grant marketers the ability to manage content across multiple channels such as web apps, social media and more. A CMS allows for multiple users across your organization to collaborate on marketing efforts without requiring them to have deep technical or coding skills.
How does a CMS work?
A CMS helps guide content creation in an easy-to-use application by allowing users to create, manage and publish content with a few clicks of the mouse. Rather than building a website or landing page from scratch, a CMS removes the need for heavy development and simplifies content creation through drag and drop or WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors. This allows marketers to control more of the website, streamlining workflows and bringing both the business and technical teams together to collaborate in real time.
Evaluating what CMS you should use
Start by identifying the problems your team is currently facing and whether you’d benefit more from a SaaS or a hosted CMS solution. Be sure to fully understand your site and content management needs and the basic features you’ll require from a CMS before you begin your evaluation. We recommend making a list of need-to-have and nice-to-have features to assist with your evaluation.
Most CMS platforms will allow you to build web pages, save your favorite page templates, store and deliver content, allow you to collaborate with teammates and even create workflows, calendars and processes to help keep your team organized.
When evaluating the price of a CMS solution, you’ll need to consider more than just the upfront cost of the product. Not all CMS solutions come out-of-the-box with everything you’re looking for, some will require additional features or integrations and may have add-on costs for large support requests or SLAs, WYSIWYG editors and more. Consider all your business needs and be sure you’re aware of the CMS’s limitations and other costs that may come up.
Consider what kind of upkeep and daily management will be required. What will the creation and upkeep of the site look like after the initial migration and set up is completed? Will you need a developer to assist with your day-to-day tasks? How will this solution work with your team’s skillset(s)? Does the solution offer WYSIWIG or drag-and-drop type editors for your non-technical (non-developer) team members? Look at what kind of support is included or available as well and consider what would be best for your business. Do they offer 24/7 support, or will an SLA be required?
Be sure to evaluate whether this CMS can easily integrate with your current tech stack. If the out-of-the-box solution can’t solve some of your needs, how much customization is needed or available and what is able to be integrated? This is where you should consider all features (the need-to-have and nice-to-have features you listed out earlier) and see what will require additional integration or may have additional costs.
You’ll also want to make sure the CMS software is scalable. Find a solution that meets your current requirements, but always be thinking about future goals and where your site and company are heading and find a CMS software that can grow and adapt with you. What features will you need moving forward to assist with your company’s growth?
CMS software features for SEO & digital marketing
Not only will a good CMS allow you to create outstanding web content with ease, it should give you the ability to manage your site’s SEO as well. Basic SEO features include page titles, meta descriptions and image alt text. Think about how much control your team would like to have over more of the technical SEO features such as updating sitemaps, robots.txt, adding schema, canonicals or setting redirects. Being able to quickly make these changes without waiting for development can be critical for SEO success.
Page speed and mobile responsiveness are important factors to keep top of mind as well. Your site may look great, but it won’t perform well for users and may not rank as well on search engines if the site loads slowly or isn’t mobile-friendly. A faster site not only helps your search rankings, but increases user engagement and conversions as well as lowering your site’s bounce rate. If the CMS you’re considering comes with CDN capabilities, be sure it’s lightning fast with proven page speed performance.
Other features to consider include social media marketing/integration, site chat to assist inbound sales, e-commerce features, A/B testing, dynamic content for personalization, blogging capabilities, SMS functionality, CRM and sales features or email marketing. Will your team benefit from using features like content calendars or structured workflows?
As you review solutions, think about what will be most useful and relevant to your business. Does this solution meet all/the majority of your needs or will you need to add on products and features or need to integrate with other technology?
Every website will have different needs – some may require event registration while other sites may require e-commerce features or a site chat for inbound sales. Most platforms will allow users to sign up for free trials, or sandbox versions of the CMS software to get a hands-on experience to truly see if a CMS is right for you.