Your Content Management System (CMS) is the chassis of your content marketing campaign.
It doesn’t matter how great your content is, if your CMS can’t display and manage it right, it won’t have nearly half the impact it deserves.
This might sound like a moot point, but I’ve seen plenty of organizations plateau because their CMS can’t keep up with their ambitions or their growth. The fact that you can’t switch over your CMS with a flick of a button makes your choice all the more important.
So what should you look for when choosing a headless cms? What features should you prioritize? Should you opt for a SaaS or a hosted solution? What stakeholders should be part of the decision-making process?
Who is the primary stakeholder for choosing a Content Management System (CMS)?
Before you can even consider different CMS features, you need to figure out who decides what CMS to use.
This is harder than it appears. As the size and needs of your organization grows, so do the number of stakeholders. Your IT might demand a CMS that fits with their current infrastructure stack. Marketing might want something that plugs in with their marketing tools. Sales, on the other hand, would want CRM integration.
Keeping all stakeholders happy can be a potential minefield.
In fact, according to one Forrester survey, most web content management system initiatives fail because of internal politics.
This is why the first two steps in choosing a CMS is to:
1. Figure out stakeholders involved in the CMS decision
In most organizations, the following departments would be involved in the CMS decision-making process:
Since IT will be ultimately responsible for the technology and may need to maintain and modifying the CMS, then integrating them in the selection is vital for the success of a CMS deployment.
The CMS is essentially a marketing tool. For content marketing-focused organizations, it’s crucial that marketing gives the go ahead before making a CMS selection.
Close integration between the CRM and CMS will improve sales efficiency and effectiveness.
2. Prioritize stakeholder requirements
Every department involved in the CMS selection process will have different requirements. Ask them to prioritize their requirements (in terms of features and integrations) using the MoSCoW method:
Essential features the department can’t work without.
Features that are generally as important as Must-have’s but are not as time critical
Features that are desirable but not critical for the department’s functioning.
Features that are least critical, lowest payback or not appropriate at this time.
You might have a matrix like this after taking their recommendations under consideration:
Keep this in mind before you start the CMS selection process. Understand that a typical CMS selection process will take a significant amount of time. For a medium-sized business, you can expect 2-7 months between understanding requirements, writing the RFP and signing the final contract. Essentially, you’re looking for a solution that checks off as many high-priority features for as many stakeholders as possible.
What content management system should you use: SaaS vs. hosted vs. on-premise CMS platform
One of the most important decisions you’ll have to make upfront is deciding between a SaaS, hosted or an on-premise solution.
With an on-premise CMS, you buy a license from the vendor and install the software on your own servers or your hosting provider’s servers. The CMS provider is only responsible for maintaining and updating the software; everything from installation to security, and infrastructure upgrades will be handled by you.
WordPress and Drupal are two examples of on-premise solutions.
Cloud Hosted CMS
With a cloud hosted solution, you buy a license then install the software at a data center or web host where you lease server space. This works just like an on-premise CMS, except that it is installed on third-party servers you don’t directly own.
Typically, any on-premise solution can also be a hosted solution provided the web host meets the server requirements.
Hostway and WPEngine are two examples of hosted solutions.
To make a very simple analogy, think of the difference between taking an Uber and owning a car. With the latter – like on-premise CMS – you are responsible for the car’s maintenance, insurance, and fuel.
A Software as a Service Solution (SaaS) CMS solution is an emerging category that has risen to prominence in the past few years. The SaaS CMS works like any of your favorite SaaS tools – Salesforce, Google Docs or even Gmail. There is nothing to install, update or maintain. The CMS provider takes care of all technical issues so you can focus on creating and managing content.
You usually buy a subscription and pay on a monthly basis for your use of the CMS. There is normally no long-term contract or upfront costs before deployment. The Software is pre-built and you benefit from the ongoing enhancements and improvements made by the vendors.
Core dna and CrownPeak are two examples of SaaS CMS solutions.