A robust content management system (CMS) is a crucial piece of the modern digital marketing infrastructure. It’s what enables today’s marketers to present pivotal information, share compelling content, and store important brand assets. Unfortunately, while most marketers rely on a CMS to accomplish their goals, they don’t necessarily find these ubiquitous platforms easy or enjoyable to use.
Too often, in fact, it’s just the opposite. Many marketing teams find themselves stuck with inefficient, frustrating, and rigid systems that don’t meet their needs. The truth is that choosing the wrong CMS solution — or failing to find the right agency partner to configure your system — leads to lost conversions, lower revenue, and frequent frustration for everyone on your team.
So how can your organization select the right system (or make the most of the one you already have)?
To gain new insights, we talked with marketing leaders in various industries across the US Midwest about their enterprise CMS experiences. And while it’s clear these marketers faced many challenges, their experiences and learnings add up to a wealth of insights for your team — insights that can put you on the path to a positive CMS experience.
Common Challenges Marketers Face with Enterprise Content Management Systems
To get a sense of how digital marketers are faring with their CMSs, we talked with marketing leaders from several large-scale enterprises in Chicago, Kansas City, and the Twin Cities. These seasoned marketers use a diverse array of platforms, including Sitecore, Adobe, HubSpot, WordPress, and Drupal.
Our digital marketing contacts shared their wins and frustrations related to their content management systems. While they had a range of diverse experiences, it quickly became clear that their pain points were similar regardless of the specific system they used.
Those common challenges included:
In large organizations, everyone on the marketing team is bound to use the CMS on a regular basis. This means that everyone should be able to learn the platform easily and navigate it intuitively. Unfortunately, many of the marketing leaders we spoke with reported that their systems are just the opposite.
As they tell it, unclear product design and a complicated backend often add up to a frustrating user experience for their team members. When that is the case, most marketing teams know they’re not getting the most out of their CMS platform. But they simply don’t have the bandwidth to learn a new system.
Poor integration and scalability
Many of the marketers we spoke with pointed to the need at their enterprise-level organizations for complex integrations that were beyond their technical capabilities. At the same time, they often struggled with unsupportive (or absent) agency partners.
This combination effectively left them in the lurch when it came to updating, scaling, or modifying their CMS platform. Often the issue was due to a previous version of the site having been set up incorrectly by internal development teams or incumbent agency partners or from a “stitch it together” approach. One marketer we spoke with stated that they had to invest thousands of dollars monthly “just to keep the site working.”
Most businesses today rely on their websites as a primary point of business-driving conversions. As a result, the data gathered by a CMS plays a major role in strategic decisions and benchmarking. If that data is incomplete or unreliable, businesses can’t make informed, strategic decisions. Unfortunately, many marketers say their system can’t organize, store, or analyze the data the way they need it to.
Reliance on inaccessible developers
When it comes to successful CMS agency partnerships, it all comes down to relationships. Unfortunately, our interviewees told us it wasn’t uncommon for vendors to leave them in the dust after the initial engagement is over.
Some were generally unresponsive when marketers needed help answering questions or troubleshooting issues. And others simply didn’t provide a high enough level of service to begin with, leaving users unable to make their required content edits. For many marketers, the lack of a trustworthy and reliable vendor relationship made for a poor overall CMS experience.
5 Key Takeaways to Improve Your CMS Experience
The challenges above don’t have to be your reality. In our discussions with marketing leaders, we uncovered five takeaways to ensure you have a better experience with your enterprise CMS. These include:
1. Start the right way
Most marketing teams are unprepared to go it alone when it comes to selecting, implementing, and developing a robust CMS-driven digital experience. Selecting the right CMS agency partner from the beginning automatically puts you on track for a quality user experience — both internally and externally.
All the major website management systems perform similar functions and boast similar features — which means they are all, to a certain extent, commoditized. In that sense, which platform you decide to use may ultimately be less important than who you decide to partner with along the way. The services and insights you get from your agency partners are what can make or break your content management experience. A good partner will be with you from beginning to end, available to answer your questions, train users, and troubleshoot issues as they arise.
2. Leverage marketer-centric tools
A large-scale organization’s web platform needs to be fast, user-friendly, and easy enough for any team member to jump in and understand how to use it. After all, content management platforms are a part of most marketers’ everyday lives. If the resources they use day-to-day are causing frustration and roadblocks, no one will be happy. Not only that, but these discouraged teams are also less likely to make as much progress on their marketing objectives and business goals.
When shopping for a web platform, look for solutions that include helpful training resources, are generally easy to use, and boast flexible design capabilities. Doing so will allow your team to get up and running quickly and seamlessly.
3. Seek out holistic solutions
Your CMS should be capable of flexing and scaling to serve your organization as your needs change. An open source CMS like Drupal, WordPress, or Joomla works well for marketers who need flexibility but don’t want to rely on a developer for special permission to make the changes they need.
Speaking of developers, your agency partner is key to ensuring your CMS evolves along with your company. Here as elsewhere, a strong long-term relationship with your vendor can spell the difference between stagnation and success.
4. Prioritize ROI reporting
Your marketing team is trained to measure the ROI of your marketing initiatives. It’s how you gauge the outcomes of your campaigns, determine budgets, track audience insights, and make strategic business decisions.
Most CMS platforms have the capacity to measure ROI. In many cases, it’s how your system is configured that counts. The right web platform and agency partner will work in tandem to give your team the tools necessary to quickly and easily measure the efficacy and value of your marketing activities.
5. Continually invest in your web properties
Marketers have learned that it’s not enough to redesign their website every three to five years. Rather, they must constantly update and optimize their websites in order to keep their digital properties fresh and on-brand. Your CMS should support those efforts by enabling user testing and adapting with data, too.
Choosing the Right CMS Vendor Can Make All the Difference
There was one common thread that stood out in our research: Marketers who enjoyed a trusting relationship with a reliable development partner were the most satisfied with their CMS experience.
The lesson? Your tech choices will influence your experience, but the right team can strengthen it. The question is how you can make that positive experience happen for your organization.
Focus on finding a web agency partner that really wants to assist your team for the long haul, not just in the initial pre-launch engagement. Ask prospective agencies about their philosophy and approach when it comes to ongoing support. If possible, talk to some of their clients and ask them to tell you about their experiences, both with the web developer and the CMS platform they favor.
The right partner will be attentive to your organization’s unique needs — and know how to configure your CMS in light of those requirements. In addition, they will stand ready to field your team’s questions, troubleshoot issues, and explore new solutions. In short, they will treat your success as their own.
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