Content is at the heart of any business marketing strategy. It’s what you use to put yourself in front of your audience, connect with leads, convert those leads into customers, and keep customers coming back. Content exists everywhere for your business, but one of your most important content sources is your website. Being able to add to, update, and improve your website is crucial for maintaining a healthy flow of business. This is where a content management system comes in. Read on to learn about what a content management system is, how it works, and why it’s important for business.
The only way a website can be built and accessed online is through complex coding. So how is it that anyone is able to create a website these days? Through content management systems. A CMS is a software that takes care of all of the backend coding for a website and creates templates so that an end user—without programming skills—can add words, images, buttons, and more.
A CMS is important first because without one, you wouldn’t have a website—unless, of course, you found the time (on top of running a business) to learn how to code. It’s also important because a static, electronic version of a brochure for your business no longer passes. A good business website must be:
• Attractive and professional
• Up to date and informative
Of course, these characteristics are not a must for your website, but they are if you want your website to market your business for you—that is, attract visitors, convert them into leads and customers, and keep them coming back.
Your website has a lot of information about your business—information that visitors need in order to make decisions to engage. A CMS helps you to keep your website up to date so that it can remain an effective and trustworthy channel of communication between you and your customers.
In addition to answering immediate questions about your business, your website should help visitors familiarize with your business, build trust with you, and see the value you add. Regularly publishing relevant, interesting, and informative content related to your industry through a blog is the best and most effective way to do this. Every blog post is a new page for your website, but with a CMS, you don’t have to build a new page every time. You simply populate a template with the title, body, and metadata to easily produce search engine optimized posts.
Not only does a CMS allow you to optimize your website’s lead-generating capabilities, but it also allows you to maintain consistency, which is crucial for gaining the trust of your audience, creating a positive customer experience, and building your brand. For example, rather than having to update every page of your website with a new color or font, one setting change will update all pages.
There are many CMS options out there because businesses have a lot of different needs when it comes to their websites. Not every CMS can handle every feature you might want, so it’s important to properly scope out your needs from the beginning. Some of the most important elements to consider are:
– Flexibility: Do you or will you need specific plug-ins (modules for your website like social sharing buttons or a blog)?
– Customization: Every CMS has a form of template that drives the creation of website pages. The template helps you get the job done, but you don’t want your website to look like a template. Make sure the CMS allows your site to reflect the look and feel of your brand.
– Ease of editing: Part of the goal of a CMS is to decrease the barrier to making changes to your website. Ideally, a non-technical person should be able to make any basic changes to a site. Even if you prefer to have a web design professional make changes, it should save that professional time.
– Level of support: When you choose a CMS, the range of support spans from none for some free open source tools, to high-touch phone support for some of the private label services. Be realistic about your own capabilities and make sure you have access to the right level of support.
– Level of search engine optimization: The technical architecture of a CMS and its plug-ins can have a major impact on how well your website ranks in Google. We’ve seen some pretty major mistakes by CMS providers, including a small piece of code that tells Google that the entire site should not be indexed. Do some research on your own or contact our marketing experts for some assistance in evaluating the level of search engine optimization.
One of the most common ways to find a CMS is through the person or company that designs your website. If you are working with a web designer, chances are that they will recommend a CMS to you that works for them. Take the time to go through the features that you are looking for and make sure that the CMS works for you. If they recommend against a CMS, you may want to consider a different web designer or at least understand what their rationale is for not recommending a CMS.
This post was originally published September 2011, but updated on January 22, 2018.