Does this sound familiar?
Have you been struggling to keep up with the digital presence that your competitors built?
Do you feel a twinge of jealousy whenever people rave about how amazing your competitor’s website looks?
Are you thinking the cost of upgrading and fixing the technical debt in your current CMS isn’t worth it, and it’s time to start fresh?
Whatever the reason, you’ve determined that there has never been a more critical time to begin your own digital transformation. Every digital transformation begins with implementing a new content management system (CMS).
The good news is that with the global enterprise CMS market set to nearly triple over the next decade, you’ve got a lot of options. There are significantly more content and commerce platforms today than there were the last time you made this decision. And a few of them are far more sophisticated.
So, how do you choose the right one?
From estimating costs to ensuring it meets all (not just some) of your requirements -- here is everything you need to consider.
1. What are your marketing goals?
The first question you need to ask yourself is this: Will you be using your CMS for commerce and content marketing, or content marketing for lead generation (without the commerce piece)?
The answer should guide your choice of CMS. Look for a platform that’s recognized for providing best-in-class capabilities to support your marketing goals, whether that’s content and commerce, or primarily content.
Also look into specific marketing capabilities and integrations supported by the platform. WYSIWYG content creation and basic SEO markup are table stakes for any CMS these days, but what else does the platform offer your marketing, sales, and customer service teams? If there’s a triple bottom line benefit, you’re a lot more likely to get the CFO to sign off.
2. What are your personalization requirements?
Is personalization a priority for your organization? If so, how do you want to do it? Do you have a sophisticated personalization strategy that requires AI, or do you just need something simple that allows you to set up a few rules?
Most organizations today fall into one of two camps. Either you’re not doing it now and you want to be, or, your current CMS platform is insufficient for what you want to do.
Look carefully into the personalization capabilities of any platform you’re considering. How granular can you get with your audience targeting? How do the A/B and multivariate testing features actually work? Does the platform allow you >leverage AI to individualize engagement and search results?
Some platforms, like Optimizely, are considered market leaders for their out-of-the-box robust experimentation and personalization features. With other platforms like WordPress, personalization is still possible, but you’ll need to put more effort into piecemealing your own solution through plugins.
3. Is multi-language a priority now or in the future?
The vast majority of enterprise organizations now serve customers around the world. Thanks to increasing globalization, even smaller organizations must now consider multi-language capabilities when choosing a CMS.
Each one of these international audiences expects to see localized content, in their native language, when visiting your website. Having your marketing team manually cut and paste content every time you need to do a translation is not a workable solution. If you currently market in multiple languages, or expect to in the future, you need a CMS platform that makes the process as simple as flipping a switch — like Sitecore’s automated global translation.
4. How complex is your authoring workflow?
Workflow and approval processes are now a common feature of any enterprise CMS platform. However, some are more flexible than others.
If your organization follows a strict approval protocol, make sure to ask about it as you talk to CMS vendors. Really dig into the complexity of what their workflow features are capable of. Also ask for examples of other organizations with similar processes to yours who have had success with their platform.
5. What are your security requirements?
Everyone needs security these days. But some organizations have significantly more security requirements than others — particularly those in regulated industries like healthcare, financial services, and government.
For example, if you have PII, PCI, or HIPAA guidelines you must follow, then you won’t be able to store certain data in the cloud. Out of the box, many CMS platforms don’t meet HIPAA or FedRAMP compliance, but it is possible to make these solutions compliant with an on-premise solution in a managed environment. You just need to choose the right vendor.
By that, we mean a vendor with experience in your specific regulated industry (be it healthcare, financial services, or government). Vendors with experience in these industries will be able to advise you on the best CMS for your needs. They will have case studies backing up their claims, and years of experience architecting implementations that are compliant and secure.
6. How many websites do you support?
Does your organization manage more than one website on different platforms? If you oversee multiple domains, websites, microsites, or landing pages, your team will have a lot fewer headaches if you bring them onto the same content management platform.
Many popular CMS platforms streamline content management across sites, including Sitecore and Optimizely, while others, like WordPress, are limited to a single-instance CMS.
7. What technology stack would you prefer?
.NET is an ideal enterprise solution because you can leverage Azure Cloud and .NET infrastructure, which is sophisticated yet easy to support, and has readily available resources globally. .NET is the technology stack of choice for most enterprise organizations, .NET CMS solutions include Sitecore, Optimizely, Kentico, Umbraco, and DotNetNuke.
While rare, there is a small group of enterprise organizations who prefer a Java solution like Adobe Experience Manager. There are also PHP solutions like WordPress and Drupal.
Before making a final decision on any CMS platform, make sure it has the flexibility you need to integrate your custom and third-party applications. Does it support your existing technologies and ALL the new ones you’re considering?
8. How important is customization?
We’re going to guess a lot. Most organizations require at least some level of customization from their content management platform.
When evaluating CMS options, check that the front end is decoupled from the backend. Systems like WordPress are built in a way that marry the two together, so it’s very difficult to rip a user interface off and create something different. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible; it just will require your implementation vendor and IT team to spend a lot more hours hacking and rewriting to get a module to do what you want. Plus, anytime you update WordPress, they’ll have to go in and QA everything that’s been custom-written to ensure it doesn’t break.
Headless systems like Sitecore or Optimizely, on the other hand, decouple the frontend from the backend, so it’s easy for your developers to make customizations and grab information from any data source. Because they’re designed from the ground up to be flexible, you can enjoy a faster time-to-implementation. You can also enjoy more security and stability, along with a shorter QA process, anytime you make an update.
9. What’s your budget?
At last, we’ve come to the money question, literally. There are a lot of costs to consider whenever you switch to a new content platform.
There are the real costs, like licensing, hosting, and load balancers. You’ll also want to factor in the cost of your implementation manager, and whether you’ll be investing in any new technologies like a Digital Asset Management (DAM) or experimentation platform.
There are also the less tangible costs, like the time it will take your team to get trained and learn a new system.
Finally, consider future costs. How do upgrades work? Does the CMS update on its own, or will you need to account for re-engaging an implementation vendor to upgrade your solution?
10. What level of ongoing support will you need?
Do you have the expertise internally that’s required to keep things running smoothly, and implement new features according to best practices (and without incurring technical debt)? Or will you be better supported by an external partner that can provide managed services?
Have this question in mind as you consult CMS implementation partners. Ideally, the implementation partner you choose also provides managed services. This way, if you need support down the line, you can leverage a vendor that’s already deeply familiar with your implementation.
To enjoy the most of your CMS moving forward, you want to have a reliable support team that supports whatever hybrid of internal and external support that you want.
Choosing the right CMS for you
At Engagency, we’ve spent over the past decade-plus supporting market leaders and underdogs with their digital transformations, from CMS selection to implementation, training, and ongoing support.Are you ready to begin your digital transformation? Let’s set up a time to talk.