A Cornerstone of Digital Marketing: The Content Management System
What is a CMS?
Most websites in 2020 use a CMS, whether their users know it or not.
A content management system (CMS) is a tool that streamlines the process of creating and publishing content online. Blogs, e-commerce storefronts, and contact forms are among the many types of interactions a website’s CMS can handle in an easy and integrated way.
The most prolific CMS is WordPress — a platform being used to power more than 36% of websites and holds more than 60% of the CMS market share, according to W3Techs. Other CMS platforms include Sitecore, Adobe AEM, Wix, and Squarespace.
CMS environments like these empower businesses to maintain their site without needing to write HTML or CSS code every time they want to make a change. This approach ensures ease and consistency. As a result, these platforms are integral to website owners who wish to automate their company’s digital marketing.
This white paper will illustrate and analyze the benefits of using CMS platforms, how they can be used to achieve marketing automation, and the pros-and-cons of some of the most popular.
CMS Platforms and the World Wide Web
As of 2020, there are more than 1 billion websites active on the Internet, according to Netcraft. Less than half of the world’s websites are completely built from the ground up and require custom coding to maintain. Therefore, over 50% of all websites utilize a CMS in one way or another. However, CMS application and implementation strategy differ between product and user.
One of the most basic outputs of WordPress is a blog post. WordPress has styled this part of their system to make posting a new webpage be as easy as composing a Microsoft Word document. A CMS like WordPress makes it easy for someone with no technical, coding knowledge to create a fully functional blog post. The process takes minutes for the user to publish the content and during this procedure, the CMS’s two core components are at work.
The content management application (CMA) and the content delivery application (CDA) are the two tools that work together when using a CMS. The first — the CMA — enables editors to write and design media like blogs. The CDA is the back-end delivery system that stores the content a website owner is creating/uploading and makes it accessible to the website’s visitors.
No matter the CMS product, this process is happening each time a blog is posted, a new page is published, or any time analytics are gathered. These platforms provide a base for digital content creation. What’s more, combining the use of a CMS with a plan for digital marketing automation will optimize resources when developing online media. CMS-created content driven by marketing automation techniques will ensure new and useful content is always available to the target audience.
The key CMS features are:
- Content Management & Integration
- Personalization & Governance
Content Management & Integration
It’s the titular and most obvious feature. The CMS platform that a website owner chooses will determine how flexible their site can be and the processes they will need to learn. Choosing WordPress would mean that a website owner can easily develop, edit, publish, and manage web content such as text, images, video, and/or audio, but just for WordPress. Each CMS has its own process to manage content. So, picking one CMS means an investment in learning its quirks.
However, no matter which CMS one uses, there is no way to automate the composition of the content itself. The best blogs are all independent ideas that are written by a real person. The CMS won’t write about interesting topics all on its own, but it can store a specific, reusable design to streamline the process. Using templates, a blog post’s design can be easily replicated. Even if an editor has a page design he/she likes, they can add onto or edit the template for future content as the situation demands.
Automation can be taken a step further once the collateral is created. Upon publication, the media can be posted in several online locations simultaneously. Posting a blog on multiple social media outlets like Facebook is a basic example of this aspect of automation. While Sitecore, WordPress, and Adobe all include the ability to automate Facebook posts, other CMS might require extra coding to get it to work.
When a CMS lacks a certain capability, or another third party’s capability performs better than what the CMS can do, it may be possible to customize the CMS to meet those needs. Adobe AEM and Sitecore are examples of holistic CMS platforms — the creators of these environments are hoping to minimize integration by designing the systems to be incredibly customizable upfront. WordPress, while versatile, welcomes the fact that its’ system won’t cover every capability that users are looking for. This is why WordPress allows users to build their own plugins to extend the functionality of their website on a case-by-case basis.
Sitecore’s CMS has its own email marketing system. This can send the end-user an email if that person has filled out a contact form. However, if a website owner would rather use third-party software like Mailchimp or Constant Contact — custom development may be needed to integrate the two. Third-party applications (like Mailchimp) can be integrated using an application programming interface (or API).
It’s a business need that will determine choice in CMS and whether it’s to integrate with third-party marketing automation software. Website creators have more tools than ever to manage content creation and create a seamless experience for their users.
One of the biggest concerns with content creation is making sure it’s easy to view no matter the device or form of technology the user chooses to view digital media. Over the last five years, website owners have realized the importance of having a responsive site that changes to fit the users’ screen (whether phone, tablet, computer, smart TV, application, etc.).
Due to the competition within the CMS market, each CMS platform is making great strides to allow website owners to develop media that displays or “fits” on as many devices as possible. Fortunately, WordPress, Adobe, and Sitecore are all great examples of this seamless presentation. These systems have gotten so good that presentation across devices has become a non-issue compared to websites of the past being painstakingly coded for each possible screen permutation.
In 2014, 10–12% of the Internet was made up of e-commerce websites pulling in at least six figures per year, according to a study by RJMetrics. In 2020 the revenue from the e-commerce market sits above $2.2 million, according to Statista. It’s safe to say that using a CMS that is e-commerce friendly is necessary for many businesses today.
As more “holistic” platforms, Adobe AEM and Sitecore both have built-in e-commerce capabilities that automate the process of listing and selling online products. For example, AEM Commerce gives sellers the ability to create product listings, automate product inventory when sales occur, store sales records, and allow for a customer’s shopping cart contents to be retained across sessions.
WordPress, on the other hand, doesn’t have a built-in e-commerce capability. However, one popular WordPress plugin called WooCommerce has much of the same functionality that AEM Commerce does. While these systems offer a great way for website owners to set up and manage an online store, marketing automation can be taken a step further by integrating third-party applications like Google Analytics. Using Google Analytics is just one way a website owner can track and report on their customers’ interaction with an online store. This combination of the CMS and marketing software gives business owners the ability to see which efforts generate sales and allows them to finetune the experience for their users.
Personalization & Governance
The key to marketing effectively to an audience is knowledge. When a website owner has automated the gathering of analytics, they will want a CMS that can precisely target certain end-users and showcase the content that is most relevant to that person. Personalization is yet another goal for website owners that can be achieved using a CMS in conjunction with marketing automation software.
Personalizing the end-users experience starts with analyzing consumer data, their location, and any past behavior on the website. WordPress, AEM, and Sitecore all offer ways to gather user analytics. Through a combination of built-in capabilities and third-party integration, website owners can use online reports to create personalized experiences for each user. What’s more, website owners will be able to govern which content can and should be viewed by different types of end-users.
Governance over a website can make certain pages only be available for certain users. For example, some websites have content that is only available to paid subscribers (like paid newspaper/media subscriptions). Furthermore, automation of governance allows website owners to determine when a piece of content is no longer relevant or useful to retire it. Personalizing and governing a website’s content aims to create the best experience for the end-user in hopes they continue to return.
A good website is on that is always evolving to meet the latest market demands and user expectations. Another important marketing automation perk is a CMS that will grow or scale back when and where the website owner needs it.
One common example of a CMS’s ability to scale content management happens when — for example — an American company begins catering to international clients. CMS platforms like WordPress, Adobe, and Sitecore offer the ability to support multilingual end-users with various automated translation capabilities.
The CMS and Automating a Site’s Marketing Plan
WordPress, Adobe AEM, and Sitecore are all great examples of content management systems that give website owners the ability to design effective content, integrate third-party software when necessary, and present media across multiple channels/devices. Furthermore, CMS platforms improve their adopters’ ability to conduct business, grow an audience, personalize an end-user’s experience, and scale at will.
WordPress differs from AEM and Sitecore due to the CMS’s capability for expansion through integration. The latter two platforms intend to be more holistic approaches to content management. Ultimately, a business’s industry and prior experience with WordPress, Adobe, or Sitecore should be a key factor for a person deciding which one to invest their time into.