Everything You Need to Know About Content Management Systems

Learn how a CMS helps create, publish, and manage content to deliver personalized web experiences.

Every marketer knows that a lot of effort goes into the content process — from researching, creating, and editing to organizing, indexing, and publishing. Fortunately, there’s a useful technology that marketers can use to help manage all of this: a CMS, or content management system.
In this article, you’ll learn how a CMS can help marketers efficiently create, publish, and manage content that delivers personalized experiences to audiences at scale and more.

What is a Content Management System?

A CMS is a single content hub that allows users to create, edit, organize, publish, and update content digitally — without necessarily needing to code. CMS software makes the content management process easier by introducing visual content editors, drag-and-drop layout tools, and straightforward revision tracking and publishing workflows.
In addition to standard content management capabilities, many CMS platforms have more complex features that support indexing, search engine optimization, templates for landing pages and microsites, demand generation strategy, and digital experience creation.
According to the 7th State of Marketing report from Salesforce, 71% of marketing organizations use content management platforms. Marketers can use a CMS to build a variety of digital experiences for their audiences, including full websites, landing pages, and promotional microsites.
With a powerful CMS, marketers can create content in one place and easily share it across multiple channels, such as mobile devices, branded apps, or third-party platforms. In addition, content changes can be syndicated across every channel to reduce the need for duplicative edits.

Reasons to use a CMS

A CMS can offer many benefits to an organization, including marketer productivity, brand consistency, and faster launch times for new content and sites.
Most CMS platforms come with a variety of pre-designed templates for every possible type of digital campaign, and it’s easy to plug in additional templates to expand content even further. With intuitive drag-and-drop functionality, a CMS makes it simple to build web ads, emails, social posts, and websites — and improve workflows and boost productivity.
A CMS effectively eliminates the need for marketers to have complex coding skills. This means that instead of spending time checking lines of code, marketers can jump right into a CMS interface and start bringing their campaign ideas to life.
By connecting their CMS with other marketing technology such as a CRM, marketers can also ensure that they’re building relevant content based on customer data and that their brand messaging is consistent across every channel.

How a CMS works

Within every CMS, there are two key applications that make it work: a CMA and a CDA.
  • The CMA, or content management application, is what allows marketers and leaders from every line of business to create content of all types without needing to know how to code or call a developer to help.
  • The CDA, or content delivery application, is the publishing and updating function. Working on the back end of every content publishing channel (such as a website), the CDA allows users to automatically publish new content and scheduled updates without coding or the assistance of developers.

How to choose a CMS

Different CMS platforms come with different functionality. To make sure you’re choosing the right one, consider the following:

Assess needs

Choosing the best CMS really starts with understanding what your audience wants from your content — and what your business needs to do with that content. Once you know that, you’ll start to narrow down the selection.
If you need to create an ecommerce site, the right CMS platform could help you build and manage one without writing a single line of code. The same goes for a blog with multiple contributors or organizing different user groups and communities for your audience. A CMS can also help you create standard digital marketing content of all types for publishing on any channel.
It’s also important to assess your needs for ease of use, security, and accessibility. While most CMS platforms are very easy to use, include configurable security settings to protect company and customer data and offer accessibility features. This does vary between platforms. The best CMS is the one that’s easiest and safest for everyone on your team to use.

Understand scale

The content needs of a small- to medium-size business (SMB) are different from the content needs of a major corporation. And B2B companies often have different content needs compared to B2C companies. To choose the best CMS for your business, you need to consider both the current scale of your operation and how you plan to scale your content and campaigns in the future.
An SMB might always have SMB-sized content needs — but they also might have plans to publish a lot more content as they grow. Conversely, a larger organization may have a massive audience and need every piece of content to be multichannel — or they may sometimes want to reach a smaller audience segment with more specialized content. Whatever your plans are, your CMS needs to be able to accommodate them and grow with you.

Determine budget

Similar to scale, budget is an important consideration that is unique to your organization. A larger, more robust CMS will generally be more expensive, but it can accommodate virtually any possible content need your organization may have.
On the other hand, you may be surprised at how much you can accomplish with a smaller solution or a portion of a larger CMS platform. Fortunately, there are CMS options to meet every possible budget or use case — whether you’re starting from scratch or replacing an existing system.

Ensure integration

When considering new marketing technology (or martech, for short), it’s crucial to ask whether your new solution is going to work with the rest of your existing tech stack.
The best CMS is one that automatically works with your CRM system, your customer service tools, your digital experience platform (DXP), your communities, and more. While every CMS offers simple content creation with the option of no code, not every CMS integrates easily with other martech.

How CMS compares to DXP and WCMS

In digital marketing today, you may have seen CMS platforms mentioned alongside digital experience platforms and web content management systems (WCMS). These three platform types are all different and aren’t quite interchangeable. But they can be used together to create optimal content and experiences for customers.

What is a DXP?

A DXP provides technology that connects experiences; it may also include some content-creation features. It provides the tools marketers need to engage their customers with content (from a CMS) across channels, communities, and front-end digital experiences. It’s meant to be used with other tools, like a CRM or CMS, to bridge the gaps between customers’ digital experiences and facilitate personalization everywhere customers engage.

What is a WCMS?

A WCMS is a CMS that is specifically dedicated to creating and managing content for digital channels and the web only (instead of content for non-digital channels). The digital-first focus of a WCMS benefits businesses that don't need to produce any offline content and instead must prioritize content for digital experiences across connected channels and devices.

How Salesforce Can Help

Salesforce is home to a variety of easy-to-use software platforms that can meet the needs of your business, including Salesforce CMS and Experience Cloud, our DXP. In each of these tools, you’ll find intuitive drag-and-drop tools that will enable you to quickly and efficiently create the content and craft the experiences that your customers expect.

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