Table of contents

Table of contents

Quick insight

Rather than just comparing CMS features, look into whether those features will actually help you toward your business goals, now and over the next five years.

Chapter 1

Assessing your business requirements

What’s the best content management system? Well, the answer to that depends heavily on your organization. To figure out what you need, start by thinking about your current digital maturity. Have you mapped your customer journeys? Are you collecting data on the experiences you offer before and after purchases? Are you using that data to engage your customers by persona? What about one-to-one?

Once you’ve clarified the distance between your current customer experience maturity and your future ambitions, think about the features and available architecture that will help you close that gap. How far across the model you want to move will determine how complex your CMS needs to be.

What do you want to achieve with your content? Where are you now in terms of personalized relationships with your customers, and how far do you want to go?

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Chapter 2

9 CMS features you need

1. Creating and editing content

As a minimum requirement, your CMS should let you easily create, edit, and publish content. The easier it is to use, the more time you’ll have to concentrate on your strategy. 

2. Workflows, reporting, and content organization

Are there a lot of people involved in producing your content? Make sure your CMS can track the details of your content from start to finish, from authoring, editing, and approval to publication, promotion, and reporting.

The ability to customize and control workflows within your CMS will help everyone work together smoothly and stay on track with deadlines. And with features like intelligent reporting tools and dashboards, you’ll be able to keep tabs on different categories of content, like content that’s awaiting approval and content per topic.

If you often make urgent updates to your content, look for a CMS with strong organizational functionality, like link management, so that your content is automatically accessible even as it moves around or changes on your site.

3. User and role-based administration

Having control over who can access content and features will help you prevent mistakes. Choose a CMS with customizable user administration, including room to expand as your needs change.

Ensuring your chosen solution allows for role-based rights will help you scale as you grow, as it enables you to manage access for groups of people instead of individuals.

4. Security

Imagine this: you’ve worked hard to refine your digital strategy and build personalized relationships with your customers, only to wake up one day to discover there’s been a security breach. Protecting your data and your customers’ data will help you retain trust in the products and services you offer.

Some CMSs integrate with strong authentication mechanisms to beef up security and prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. Make sure your CMS integrates well with your chosen enterprise security provider or third-party authentication systems.

5. Multichannel scalability

Delivering content to many different channels, devices, and interfaces can mean a lot of work — unless you have a headless CMS that helps you do that efficiently.

A headless CMS separates content from its presentation. Content is created once, then rendered on any device or channel.

Certain CMSs let you create your content once and deliver it anywhere. Others make it easy to add new channels and simply load your existing content onto them. If your organization is looking to reach customers across many digital channels, prioritizing multichannel scalability features is a smart move.

6. Multilingual content capabilities

Before the digital revolution, marketers struggled to deliver their message far and wide. Digital marketing allows you to skip across borders and expand your customer base with ease. But no matter how great your message is or how easily you can deliver it, you won’t reach your audience if you’re not speaking their language — literally.

If you currently serve an international audience or expect to in the near future, make sure you choose a CMS that supports multilingual editing tools and intuitive translation workflows. Laws surrounding digital information and privacy vary from country to country, so you’ll want to look for a CMS with information governance controls that comply with local regulations where your customers live.

7. Flexibility, scalability, and performance

Your CMS is a long-term investment. Make sure your CMS is scalable enough to grow with your business. Some CMSs offer more flexibility than others, supporting an extensible range of APIs so you can do more with your content across different channels and devices.

Generally, you can either run your CMS from your own servers or on the cloud. A cloud-hosted CMS can speed up your time to market and also give you the agility you wouldn’t otherwise have to handle traffic spikes and changing demand.

8. Personalization and analytics

The future of digital marketing lies in building personalized, relevant experiences for your customers, no matter how they choose to interact with you. To do this, you need a CMS that can collect and process interaction data in real time, and help you interpret that data to understand where your customers are in their buying journey. With that information, you can then show them content that’s personalized to their situation.

You’ll also need to make sure you’re capturing their entire experience across all your channels, which is why it’s important to have a CMS that operates as part of a wider, centralized digital experience platform.

9. Content and commerce integration

With customers expecting more from their online experiences, it’s almost impossible to do e-commerce now without connecting it to appealing content. If you need a CMS for both e-commerce and digital marketing, there’s a whole subset of specific features to look for.

A single-pane-of-glass interface will help you unify disparate sources of data in one place. Additional features like seamless and adaptable inventory management, next-step automation, and easy integration with payment, shipping, and tax providers will help you bring a simple shopping experience to your customers. Check out our full-length guide to learn more about these features.

Chapter 3

CMS architecture: Why it matters

Content management systems can be built in three different ways: traditional, decoupled, or headless. In a nutshell, the architecture you choose depends on how complex your online presence will be. The architecture can also limit your flexibility in terms of how editors and developers work together, which channels you can deliver your content to and how quickly, and how easy it is to make changes to content across channels.

Make sure you understand the differences so that your CMS doesn’t hold you back from providing the best possible experience to your customers. Check out The definitive guide to choosing a CMS to learn more.