Here’s a fact no one will dispute: Your website is one of the most valuable assets your company possesses. After all, it’s often one of the first stops on the buyer’s journey (usually second only to Google). And based on the quality of content found within its pages, your website can encourage visitors to either stay longer, engage more and begin inching closer to a purchase decision or disappear forever.
Given that your website’s content can mean the difference between success and failure, it’s paramount it functions well. Yet when it comes to choosing a content management system for their organization, many marketing decision-makers are grossly underprepared.
To help make sure you’re equipped to provide a seamless experience for both your customers and your company’s content creators, here are a few tips for finding the best content management system.
Before you can choose the right solution, you first need to understand what this technology does.
Here’s a quick refresher:
A content management system (CMS) is a type of software an organization uses to create, store, organize, edit, publish and optimize all of its website content (including site pages, blog posts and more). A CMS usually includes an analytics feature that allows you to monitor how visitors engage with your content and how well certain pieces of content perform for specific keyword phrases.
Ideally, your CMS will integrate with other tools your business relies on, such as your customer relationship management (CRM) software, to ensure more accurate reporting and better marketing-sales alignment. In some cases, a solution may offer both CMS and CRM capabilities.
Now, let’s look at a few things you should (and shouldn’t) do when choosing a CMS.
Depending on the size of your organization, dozens of people will likely engage with your content management system regularly. This may include everyone from your content manager, writers and editors to your developers, marketing technologists and more.
That’s why when it comes time to begin comparing software options, it’s vital you ask representatives from multiple teams to weigh in on the decision. Ask about the experience they’re seeking, what would make their job easier and any sources of friction or frustration they’ve experienced when using a CMS in the past.
“One of the most common reasons CMS implementations fail is that decisions are made purely on the basis of technology or feature set,” says Forbes Technology Council contributor Petr Palas. “Then, when the content editors start using it, they find that it does not fit their way of working.”
Knowing what other employees want (and don’t want) can help you narrow down your choices and select software that meets your organization’s varied needs.
One of the mistakes organizations make when comparing content management systems is deciding to forego the search and cobble together their own solution. However, this can be a tremendous waste of your company’s time and resources.
Content management systems are highly complex, multilayered pieces of software continuously updated and refined to meet their customers’ needs. While it’s possible to build a simple, functional content management solution in-house, it’s much more effective to choose from existing software. And if you’re seeking something more bespoke, you’ll be happy to know most CMS solutions are highly customizable.
In most cases, the first question you’ll ask about a potential CMS is, “How much does it cost?” While it’s crucial you make sure your content management system fits within your budget, other factors can be just as influential.
Here are five questions you should ask when evaluating a CMS:
A good CMS can grow with your company and remain flexible enough to meet your evolving needs. Migrating to a new CMS can be a significant undertaking, and the last thing you want is to switch to a new software every few years because your existing solution has reached its limit.
In addition to your CRM, you’ll also want to make sure the CMS you choose integrates with other tools, such as e-commerce solutions, live chat software, account-based marketing products, internal communication tools and more. (In some cases, you may be able to find a CMS that offers all these features, which will give you even more bang for your buck.)
Every business is different, and there’s no single perfect way to leverage a CMS. There may be some features you’ll use daily and others you’ll hardly ever implement because they don’t support current efforts. The best content management system is one that can mold to your organization’s unique needs. Look for solutions that not only allow you to personalize how you manage your content, but also the dashboards and displays you see on the backend.
As with any software, implementing a new CMS can be a challenging endeavor and often requires advanced technical assistance. It can also take time to learn how to best use your new solution, customize it to fit your needs and onboard others. If you don’t have these resources in-house, you may want to consider reaching out to an agency that can help ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment and using it in a way that best supports your business objectives.
Because a CMS can be complicated, especially when you’re using it for the first time, you’ll likely have plenty of questions. Before you invest in this software, make sure the provider offers dependable support. Also, before you deploy, make sure you know exactly how to contact their support department and when they're available.
Because a CMS is such a critical part of your website’s success, choosing the right software isn’t a task you should take lightly. By including the right people in your decision-making process, asking the right questions and weighing both value and cost, you can find the best CMS for your needs.