CMS is the very backbone of a content marketing campaign. The thing is that no business can do a proper marketing campaign without a good CMS set in place. It may not seem like it to the naked eye, but there’s a whole lot going on behind the actual content that the user sees.
As an e-commerce business, you need a great marketing campaign and everyone knows that there is no marketing campaign without solid, carefully thought-out content. To achieve this, you’re going to need to find the best CMS for e-commerce.
It’s All About the End-User
If you were to ask a marketing professional what’s the most important thing about advertising a business, they’d most likely say “content, content, content.” Well, they wouldn’t be wrong, really. Content truly is one of the most important parts (if not the most important part) of running a campaign.
So, if you have great content that should be it, right? Not quite. Of course, interesting, engaging, and visually appropriate content is still a must if you don’t want people scrolling past your posts, but it isn’t enough. The reason here is simple – if you don’t set up a proper CMS to display and manage the content properly, it won’t do much good.
In content marketing, it is all about the end users – your target group – and you want to occupy their attention and their social media feeds with your content. An ideal content management system will achieve the latter, but it’s not as simple as it sounds.
The Best CMS for E-Commerce
When you hear “the best CMS” nobody really means “the most expensive one out there.” This is not how it works. What a best CMS entails is a perfect fit for your business needs. Your CMS needs to be able to keep up with your goals and growth ambitions. Otherwise, your business will hit a plateau.
If your business hits a plateau because the CMS is a poor fit, you can just pick another CMS, right? Well, content management systems aren’t like your cloud messaging systems. If the online communication tool that you use doesn’t deliver ideal results for your business, you can just switch it up without much hassle. With CMS, things are more complicated. You can’t just switch out a CMS.
Choosing the best CMS is a long process that requires planning, preparation, and research. This is all done while a business is still in its early stages, preparing for growth, so it is crucial to choose wisely.
This has nothing to do with stocks or money. When choosing your ideal CMS, many team functionalities are at stake. The stakeholders are those positions inside your business that will be most influenced by your CMS choice. In other words, you’ll have to make the call on who decides what CMS your business is going to use.
This isn’t simple, not by a longshot. In the beginning, sure, if your business consists mostly of developers, you’re primarily going to consider their needs. As your business grows, however, the number of stakeholders will grow. The marketing team, the SEO team, HR, PR, etc. So, it depends on the type of a company you’re running, right? Yes, one could say that.
If you’re starting an e-commerce business, you are most likely surrounded by developers. This is the hard part – you aren’t choosing a CMS for your business at the moment, you are making a choice for what you’ve anticipated your business is going to become. Clearly, this can be a daunting task. It’s a long process that incorporates a lot of research and focus.
As a rule of thumb, the core stakeholders in most businesses are the IT, sales, and marketing departments. These comprise “the holy trinity” that you base your choice of CMS on.
For e-commerce, naturally, you’re going to focus on your sales department. For one, if you properly integrate your company’s CRM (customer relationship management) system and the CMS, you can expect the sales efficiency and effectiveness to improve. Sales and customer care are the two things that drive any e-commerce business, so the sales department should be your main focus.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that other employees within your business are irrelevant when choosing the perfect CMS. Far from it, you don’t get to just point the finger at your sales team and tell them “you have the green light, go pick a CMS.” No, above anything else, it’s you who has to decide about the CMS. Plus, it’s not all about the salespeople.
CMS is essentially a marketing tool. So, the marketing team should definitely be kept in the loop. Not only that, but they should do the research and make recommendations on which CMS is going to fit your e-commerce business and why. In fact, never settle for a CMS without receiving a consensus from the marketing team, first.
The marketing department should ideally play an important role in your CMS decision, e-commerce, or otherwise.
The IT department will deploy the CMS, in the end. They will perform maintenance and modify it according to your business’s needs. Don’t choose a more basic CMS on account of your IT department, at least not in e-commerce.
In fact, a huge chunk of IT duties in e-commerce businesses is CMS deployment, maintenance, and modification. Your IT team will and should be able to handle even the most complex CMS platforms, if the needs of your sales and marketing departments should require so.
Deciding on the Features
The main part of picking the best CMS for e-commerce is actually choosing the features. As mentioned above, in order to find the perfect system, you’ll need to involve every stakeholder in the decision-making process. Sure, the sales team’s needs might outweigh other departments if you’re running an e-commerce business, but this doesn’t mean that the IT department’s opinion doesn’t count.
Well, that was vague, right? That’s because picking the right CMS isn’t simple. It all depends on your business’s specific needs. So, how do you choose the necessary features for your future CMS? Ask each department to properly prioritize their requirements (features and integrations). To do this, use the tried-and-true MoSCoW method.
The must-haves are the essential features that the department in question simply won’t be able to perform their work without.
These features are just as important as must-haves, but aren’t time-critical. If you can upgrade to them at some point, you can postpone their integration. If not, they become must-haves.
Essentially, the could-haves aren’t critical for the functioning of the stakeholder department in question, but would be nice to have.
Here go the features that aren’t critical, don’t pay off, or simply aren’t appropriate at the moment.
After each department submits their MoSCoWs, sort each of the four categories as columns and departments as rows. Now, put the sales department towards the top, the marketing department below it, and the IT department at the bottom.
Make sure that you understand that these requirements may change over time, so keep the MoSCoW table close. Keep in mind that the CMS selection process can take anywhere from a couple of months up to an entire year, depending on the size of your business.
SaaS vs. On-Premise vs. Cloud-Hosted
Unfortunately, there are more choices to be made. Choosing the perfect hosting solution for your CMS is instrumental to a rock-solid content marketing campaign. Basically, there are three options to pick from here.
Short for software as a service CMS, SaaS is perhaps the youngest of the bunch. It has risen in popularity over the past few years and works like all other SaaS tools, such as Google Docs, Salesforce, Gmail, etc. The best part about this hosting solution is that you don’t need to update, install, or maintain anything.
This means much less maintenance-related headaches, as all the technical issues are handled by the provider. It works as a paid subscription service and is very simple and straightforward, requiring minimal technical knowledge.
On-premise CMS solutions are as simple as they come. This doesn’t mean that they are the best choice out there, though. How such a CMS solution works is, you essentially buy a license and task your IT department with installing the software on your servers. Your business is responsible for all infrastructure upgrades, security, and installation. On the other hand, the CMS provider maintains and updates the software.
These systems work pretty much the same as on-premise systems do, only the servers that the CMS is installed on aren’t your own, but those of a third-party company. A cloud-hosted CMS is a better solution than on-premise CMS in a sense that you don’t have to maintain it, although on-premise systems give you more liberty with tweaking and customization.
So, which type should you choose? Honestly, both options can work with your e-commerce company. It all depends on the size of your business and the technical prowess of your IT department.
If you have a strong, large IT department, they’ll be able to handle self-hosting. Alternatively, if IT isn’t your e-commerce business’s forte, a cloud-hosted CMS might not be a bad option. What about SaaS? Well, SaaS CMS platforms are a bit more complex.
SaaS is the bleeding-edge technology for almost every type of service out there and CMS is no exception. However, there are a lot of factors to take into account if you’re considering getting a SaaS CMS.
First of all, SaaS CMSs are flourishing with features. They are designed with ease of use in mind and come packed with useful features that can help drive your e-commerce business. Like Google Docs and Gmail, SaaS systems require no upkeep or maintenance; it’s all done by the platform developers. This means regular updates, frequent upgrades, and constant feature introductions.
Another fantastic aspect of SaaS CMS is that there is no installation required. Everything is taken care of by the provider and it all comes pre-built and ready for use. Using a SaaS CMS is as simple as signing up and signing in.
Also, SaaS systems have monthly payment plans. Each month that you use the CMS, you pay for. Each that you don’t … well, you get the drift. This can mean a lot in terms of trimming the business costs.
Additionally, SaaS systems have reduced security risks. They are installed outside of your premises, meaning that the processes and infrastructure that reduce security risks are pre-established.
SaaS systems are cloud-hosted, meaning that they are scalable on-demand. If you experience an unexpected burst of traffic on your e-commerce website, it won’t crash.
On the other hand, like the case is with most SaaS platforms, there isn’t a lot of customization involved regarding the application itself. You can’t just have your IT team jump in and fix the issue manually – you have to contact the tech support and go through layers of potentially bad customer care.
Finally, although the security processes and infrastructure are already in place with SaaS systems, you are still choosing to trust a third-party service with your entire business.
That being said, the above-mentioned downsides shouldn’t matter too much for your e-commerce website. So, going with SaaS is more than a reasonable choice.
It is vital that you always keep in mind that CMS is only a content management system. It won’t pull great content out of thin air for your business and it certainly won’t do the marketing for you. It is a mere tool that helps you get to your target end-users in the best way possible.
Content still remains king. Even if your CMS platform does a perfect job, bad content won’t get you conversions.
CMS for E-Commerce
When choosing the best CMS for e-commerce, keep in mind all of the above-mentioned factors. A good e-commerce CMS is lightweight, agile, and flexible. There are multiple ways of achieving this and all the options above are viable.
It’s not all about making choices; it’s much more about adjusting every aspect of the system and making the features work with each other. You should always think about where you plan to be in the future – switching up a CMS down the road is definitely not a good idea.
A good CMS is one of the pillars of your e-commerce success!