Critical factors to consider when choosing a CMS
Customers are demanding personalized experiences
With digital technology, people have grown accustomed to convenience, choice, and immediate, personalized service. Consumers are now demanding more than a product. They want an experience where your organization knows who they are, what their history is with you, and what they might need.
Your CMS needs to be able to consolidate all their interactions with you — whether through your website, mobile apps, contact center, or in person — so you can anticipate their needs and offer them a direct path to getting what they want.
Globalization means you need content for multiple languages and countries
Globalization has made the world a smaller place for consumers, who can now easily get anything from virtually anywhere on the planet. But for businesses, marketing to international audiences brings its own set of challenges, like managing localized content in multiple languages.
A robust CMS will make a drastic difference in your ability to streamline workflows with translators and easily offer content in a language and tone that speaks to your customers.
Technology is constantly changing and becoming more complex
Advances in automation, personalization, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are fundamentally reshaping the marketing ecosystem. At the same time, people are incorporating more technology into their everyday lives, with voice assistants, wearables, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
With technology developing at a dizzying pace, you’ll want to look for a CMS that’s flexible enough to adapt right along with it. This way, you’ll be able to capture, analyze, and gain insights from the nearly boundless amount of data they produce.
Understanding data is key to connecting with customers
Every marketer today finds themselves with a huge amount of data at hand. Deciphering what that data is telling you, and using it to refine your digital content and marketing strategy, are key factors to successful campaigns.
A CMS with powerful analytics features will help you not only manage your data, but also make sense of it. You’ll be able to easily understand how your audience engages with your content, what’s motivating them, what their customer journey looks like, and most importantly, how to deliver the right message to them at the right time.
Content is king in the new digital future. Being able to accommodate more ambitious digital experiences is a critical component of any CMS worth investing in.
6 main steps to choosing a CMS platform
As a marketer, you know your organization needs a great CMS. But with myriad providers, niche offerings, a growing number of internal stakeholders, and a rapidly changing digital environment, the process of choosing a CMS can seem like a daunting task.
1. Get internal support and input
Any new CMS is a major investment that affects multiple parts of your organization, so you’ll need to make sure to get input and buy-in from key stakeholders. Assemble a diverse CMS selection committee and be prepared to hear different and often contrasting perspectives. Marketing will be eager to kick-start content production, while IT will want to conduct methodical risk mitigation.
Get the backing of as many senior leaders possible to push the project through. Make sure they understand why a new CMS is crucial to the company’s long-term success.
2. Evaluate your current and future business needs
As a group, establish how you will use your new CMS. Some useful questions:
- Will you be trying to drive significant growth in website traffic?
- Will your existing technology dependencies persist, or will they evolve with a new CMS?
- How many channels will you want your content on, and in how many languages?
- Will the CMS work with your company’s existing tech stack?
- What features might you need in the future?
- Will the CMS still be relevant for at least the next five years?
Your answers to these questions will help you draw up a list of requirements, which you can then use to compare specific solutions. See our full-length guide for an example of a requirements checklist.
3. Find an implementation partner
If your company doesn’t have a large in-house development team, you’ll want to hire an implementation partner or digital strategy agency. They’ll help you choose a CMS and make sure it fits within a larger digital strategy. Many partners continue to provide support after the initial implementation.
4. Put together a shortlist and do your homework
With your requirements list in hand, research potential solutions and ask your implementation partner for guidance. Analyst reports like Gartner’s Magic Quadrant or the Forrester Wave™ are a great place to start evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of leading CMS solutions.
But it’s also important to check in with actual users of each CMS you’re considering. Talking to a company that’s similar in size and needs about their experiences with their CMS will provide valuable insight into how the product might work for you.
5. Write a request for proposal
It’s not always easy to understand all the features of a CMS or how it will work in the context of your company. That’s where a request for proposal (RFP) comes in. A RFP is an opportunity for prospective vendors to demonstrate they understand your needs and objectives, and that they have the experience to deliver.
Frame your requirements in a way that encourages the vendor to explain why they’re right for you, and how they’ll help you meet your objectives. For instance, group a few related requirements into a use-case narrative that describes a particular challenge you need to address, and ask the vendor how they’d respond.
6. Evaluate vendor responses
Before you make your final decision, take a critical look at your top vendors and rate how they meet all the technical, functional, and business requirements for your CMS. Consider how much support and training each vendor offers, and whether there’s a vibrant developer community to ensure the solution will be practical and flexible for your needs.
Get demos from the vendors on your shortlist and be prepared to ask them tough questions to prove what each solution is capable of. Find out how the CMS integrates with other tools and systems and whether it’s scalable. Make sure the solution will grow with your organization and remain relevant.
A final word of advice
This piece of advice is simple, but worth stating at every opportunity — this process is going to take time. Think months, not weeks. Take your time and be careful about your decision. Getting the right CMS will pay off immensely in the end.