Introduction and CMS questions
Note: Our CMS business buyer's guide has been fully updated. This feature was first published in November 2012.
Content is still king when it comes to developing your services and products. Content, though, can be created in many forms. From websites to eBooks, what's needed to ensure all these assets are working as hard as they can for your company is a way to manage them efficiently. That's where a comprehensive CMS (Content Management System) comes into its own.
There are a number of CMS options to choose from – each aimed at a particular type of content:
Digital Asset Management (DAM)
All of these CMS's have easy to use interfaces that are ideal for helping your business manage the content it produces. WordPress is arguably the leader in this field, as it has been evolving for several years and remains completely free to use.
Other options can be more suited if you have specific needs, for example, Magento is ideal if you have an e-commerce enabled website, as the CMS includes specialist tools to make creating new content for your online store fast and easy to achieve. There are many systems to help you manage digital publications for in-bound marketing, and lastly if you have masses of images, text, video and graphics, a DAM can be a godsend.
When choosing a CMS ask yourself these questions:
How sophisticated is your content?
Large e-commerce websites or a simple blog can both be managed with a CMS. It's important to audit your precise needs now and what these may be in the future. The CMS you choose should offer the tools your business needs now, and allow a level of expansion.
How much can you afford?
WordPress is free, but is this the best CMS for your business? Many of the leading e-commerce CMS platforms are hosted and subscription-based. Look closely at the features on offer for the various levels of subscription the CMS boasts, and then match these to your business needs.
Do you need high levels of security?
If your content management system will handle materials that relate to personal customer details, the CMS you choose should offer high levels of security to keep this information safe from attack. And think about who in your business will have access to the CMS. Strong password authentication could be needed to ensure internal security across your business when the CMS is being used.
What level of support do you need?
Using a CMS to just update a blog your business maintains probably won't need detailed support. However, if your CMS is driving a large e-commerce site, prompt technical support may be needed when things go wrong. In this situation, look closely at the support clause on the SLA (Service Level Agreement) your business has with the CMS vendor.
Will you need to use plugins or extensions?
One of the reasons WordPress has become the world's most popular CMS is because of the thousands of plugins available that enable new features to be added with just a few clicks of the mouse. Look closely at a plugin you want to use and if your site will rely on this, consider whether it will continue to be supported and updated.
Does your team need access to the CMS?
One of the great things about all CMS offerings is the flexibility that they boast. Once the system is set up anyone can access it. Your business needs to ensure it has policies for who can use the CMS and processes to ensure content is generated within your business policy guidelines. This will avoid any content you didn't authorise becoming available to your customers.
Having a CMS makes the management of the content you produce efficient, but you still need to think about how to create high-quality compelling and engaging content that you use with the CMS you have chosen. The main components of great content include:
1. Search engine optimisation (SEO)
Google loves content, so the ability to have search engine optimisation included in the CMS makes sense. It will also save you money compared to the costs of employing an SEO expert.
Most SEO is achieved by linking the content with keywords and key phrases and with content tags into multiple sections of your site. For example, a page might be tagged as news, but it could also be tagged as a feature, and the keywords are likely to be things that describe what the content is about.
2. Connecting to social media
After SEO the next best way to use your CMS to communicate your content to customers and readers is by using social media. The CMS you choose should make it straightforward to link the content you have created to the leading social media networks including Twitter and Facebook.
Don't forget LinkedIn if you are a B2B company, and networks such as Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram to communicate image-based content. Making the link to social media within your CMS usually means installing plugins. The power of these features is that you create your content once, and then push details out to the social media networks often by simply ticking a box on your CMS.
3. Analytics and your CMS
How do you know how well your CMS is performing? It's great that you can now create world-class content quickly, and shout about this across social media, but knowing who is reading your content is powerful information to have.
Using Google Analytics in association with your CMS is a great and free way to analyse the content you are creating. The information you gain can then feed back to your content creation teams to help them improve future content.
Having the right CMS for your business is now vital. Content is often the most precious component of your business that supports many products and services, as well as forming the foundation of your company's marketing activities.
The future of CMS is more multi-channel applications, where content is created and then used across a number of outlets from web to mobile. Your CMS should boast multi-channel features to ensure your content reaches the right people, at the right time, and in the right format.