We’ve all heard that old saying – failing to plan often means planning to fail. When it comes to evaluating and implementing a CMS, failing to plan for growth is simply not an option. Your CMS solution has to be ready for every challenge, every opportunity that comes your way – or you won’t be able to grow your business to the meet the evolving needs of your customers and stakeholders. Playing catch-up can be a painful process, especially for your Marketing and IT teams.
Luckily, the pain is not inevitable. By understanding the different demands that growth places on your CMS, you’ll know what to look for when assessing your current system or evaluating a new solution. The goal is to build the foundation you need for long-term success, and with a little planning (well, maybe a lot of planning!), the goal is well within reach. Key areas to keep in mind include:
Scalability in the technical sense is an important part of the picture. For example, the system’s ability to scale geographically within a global enterprise. Can your ecosystem expand to support many sites with multiple languages, localizations and distributed authoring teams — all while maintaining acceptable performance? That’s not a given with a “typical” CMS.
Can the CMS host thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of pages without compromising speed and the user experience? Can it handle ginormous digital files? How about a doubling of traffic during the holiday season? All scalability questions to think about – and make sure your CMS has answers for.
Let’s look back to our scenario of geographic expansion. In addition to the technical chops to maintain performance, your CMS must allow a master site and local market/region sites to be efficiently built and maintained. That means the system needs to have the flexibility to support reuse of content where you need it, and allow that shared content to live side by side with unique content – with you calling the shots on reuse requirements and “rules”.
In this scenario, a CMS that separates content from presentation will be key and will allow you to take a building block approach to your site. Sitecore, for example, lets you break down a website layout into essential components that you can reuse throughout your site(s). Using the concepts of Atomic Design with Sitecore, you can create more functionality on a page by combining these simple building blocks. And, this flexibility in presentation allows unique styling requirements to be met by different flavors of the very same component within a single site or across different sites. What does that get you? Multiple brands with a variety of design standards across a global footprint – all with less reliance on your IT team!
Most CMS’s deliver basic capabilities around content authoring and editing, publishing, media storage and selection, user security/permissions, and more. But to support growth, some very specific functionality is also needed above and beyond the basics:
- Integration support: As your business expands, so will your technology footprint. To ensure your CMS is expansion-ready, start with an inventory of your current sales and marketing stack and any planned additions, and then move your view outward to other systems that may feed or consume data from the CMS. Get clarity on any standard integrations the CMS offers with systems that are important to you and on what it takes to implement custom integrations. If the CMS is not open source, for example, are there well-documented APIs?
- Customizations: The ability to customize the system without depending on your CMS vendor will give you the freedom to respond quickly to emerging business requirements. For example, you might currently have a blog that was built outside your core CMS and now you want to integrate it into your main website to amp up SEO. If your CMS doesn’t offer specialized blog layouts or components out of the box, you’ll need the ability to achieve this via customization. Otherwise, you’re stuck waiting for the vendor to accommodate your needs in their product roadmap.
- Workflow: Configurable workflow capabilities are a must have for managing and protecting content across multiple authors and distributed teams. More sophisticated user management and permissions capabilities are typically needed to support effective use of workflow, too.
- Translation and localization: Some CMS’s are architected to easily support multi-lingual content management and presentation, and offer standard integrations with translation vendors to help you create an efficient language management process. Managing and presenting localized content, which varies based on location, is even more complex and is best achieved with enterprise-scale CMS vendors (like Sitecore).
No one launches a site these days just to present a digital brochure. Tracking to KPIs is a must in order to understand and improve the performance of such a sizable investment. But there’s a challenge: the bigger and more complex your digital footprint gets, the harder it is to know how your sites are performing, create a single reporting language and identify where opportunities lie to increase conversion.
Some CMS systems make this a lot easier by integrating sophisticated analytics right into the platform. You can segment customers, deliver personalized experiences at the person or one-to-one level, score and measure content effectiveness, run A/B and multivariate tests and make adjustments to improve relevance to your customers. For example, the Sitecore Experience Platform learns from each customer interaction and allows you to offer personalized content based on the intelligent data collected from viewers. This allows you to tighten the focus on each customer with a highly relevant experience for them and block out the “noise,” even as your site grows exponentially to include diversification across multiple brands, lines of business, geography and more. The world gets bigger for your business, and yet even more personal for your customers.
The Opportunity is Yours
The CMS you choose needs to take into account what goals your company must meet today, how the CMS will be used moving forward and how to meet the many milestones in between. Choosing the right system and technology partner – one whose systems and processes allow you to anticipate the challenges of growth and prepare accordingly – can help you craft a differentiating customer experience.
Want to learn more about our approach to CMS selection and implementation? Or, are you interested in how Sitecore paves the road for business growth and agility? Check out our approach here or reach out and chat with one of our experts!