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Which CMS?

Choosing the Best Content Management System for Your Organization

A content management system (CMS) allows your marketing team to organize and publish content to end users without any background in coding or development. These platforms increasingly include suites of tools and integration capabilities that make them a central hub for day-to-day digital marketing work.

But with so many solutions on the market, and such a wide range of complex features, choosing the right CMS as your business scales and shifts can be tricky.

Which CMS you choose not only impacts your solution architecture, but also influences the scalability of your sales and marketing efforts. Our framework helps you think through different scenarios and pitfalls, so you minimize those growing pains and maximize your CMS return on investment.

Why Your CMS Matters

Is a Digital Experience Platform (DXP) the same thing as a CMS?

In 2020, Gartner made a bit of a stir within the industry when it announced it would retire its Web Content Management magic quadrant — traditionally the gold standard for ranking the best CMS platforms — in favor of a new category it termed digital experience platforms (DXP).

Gartner and many other industry leaders see the DXP as the next step in the evolution of content management. In this view, simple, website-based CMS platforms transform into DXPs by adopting tools and features that allow for the sharing of content across multiple touchpoints, personalization, marketing automation, integrated analytics, machine learning, and user profiling.

While many organizations are moving toward DXP solutions, others prefer building martech stacks around highly specialized, best-in-breed solutions versus relying on a single company and software to cover all their bases. Other companies simply don’t require that degree of integration and tooling, so moving to a DXP isn’t necessary or efficient for their business.

Signs You Might Be Ready for a New Cms

The Pros and Cons of a Headless CMS

Considering a Cloud-Based CMS

Choosing the Right CMS

Choosing which CMS is best for your company’s current position and future goals can be daunting and leaning into the pressure to choose the ideal platform can be uncomfortable. To escape the decision fatigue, some organizations rush into platform selection based on little more than a Gartner quadrant placement and ball-park price point. Unfortunately, that’s how so many teams find themselves saddled with CMS platforms they can’t fully use, features they didn’t want, and maintenance requirements that crush their current team structure.

How do you avoid that unhappy outcome in your own CMS platform selection process? While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, we’ve observed several key steps that characterize successful CMS selection and migration projects.

Defining business needs and customer needs will help you formulate your evaluation criteria. From there, you can put together your research summary, recommendations, and roadmap.

Finding your best-fit platform starts by gathering the right stakeholders. Core stakeholders usually include marketing and IT, but could also other business units and leadership. In your meeting, take time to define and align your requirements. This stage of the process should also include a careful consideration of your customer. If you’ve previously mapped your customer journey, think about the ways in which your new CMS would ideally support and accelerate that process.

As you go, keep the rest of your martech stack top-of-mind. Don’t think of your CMS in a bubble; make sure you’re considering how you’ll be able to connect to your existing martech platforms or scale to others you might have on your roadmap. Look for API-driven platforms or vendors with strong martech partnerships that fit your existing architecture.

Be wary of “unlimited flexibility” claims. There’s a fine line between feature sets that are “fully customizable” and “totally undefined,” and some vendors blur those lines to the point of deception. Keep in mind that the more customization you have to plan for, the more dollar signs you should be seeing. Look for a vendor that offers solid out-of-the-box features that support your core requirements, including relevant widgets, component sets, and design patterns that can keep you from having to build everything from scratch.

Take a test drive. Make sure your marketing team demos the authoring features of a CMS with all your top-choice vendors. The folks who will be responsible for the hands-on work will often be the first to flag potential issues or barriers. Similarly, if your vendors allow, get your developers hands-on with sandbox versions of the platform before taking the final leap. Not only can your dev team test the waters, but a sandbox can also serve as a playground for your marketing team to push the limits of the platform’s features.

Core CMS Decision Criteria

Which CMS to Choose: Evaluating CMS Platforms

Finding the Right CMS Implementation Partner

CMS vendors typically aren’t in the business of building websites – and even if they are, the needs of the mid-market will quickly out-scale their in-house capacity. That’s why most CMS vendors have partner networks that can manage migrations on their behalf. They don’t always publish an official directory of partners (Drupal, HubSpot, and Sitecore do publish their lists) but your vendor contact should be able to make suggestions. 

Partner networks typically tier their partners based on their experience – often based on both projects completed and certifications – and categorize partners based on different areas of expertise. When you decide on a new CMS, search for an implementation partner with expertise in that platform. Your previous vendor – or even your own in-house IT team – may not have the background to get the most out of your new tool.  

Finding the right CMS for a mid-market use case can be complicated, and most companies can benefit from a little bit of outside perspective. Along the way, a team of vendor- and platform-agnostic CMS experts can be helpful. Third-party consultants often know the ins and outs of platform discovery, rationalization, building use cases, and facilitating productive tech discussions across the business.  

Take the Right Next Step

After reading this page, you may be well on your way to rolling out a new CMS by next week. 

But, if you’re like most mid-market companies and enterprise-level businesses, that’s probably not your story. 

We get it. As a central hub for your digital marketing activities, the decisions you make about your content management solution can help drive (or stall!) your digital transformation progress. With more options than ever, and new and evolving industry trends to navigate, you might need help to identify and take the next step. 

Dig Deeper 

Explore CMS decisions in greater detail in our free guide. We talk through particular issues mid-market companies face and provide an example analysis of four popular CMS platform choices. Get the download with no strings attached — no email required. 

Get Some Free Advice

Have a specific question or need an inside scoop on a particular platform? We can help. Set up a 30-minute consult with one of our CMS experts to get your question answered — free. 

Develop Your CMS Scorecard

If you’re ready to get more concrete about your CMS selection, you might be ready for our CMS Scorecard Workshop. Schedule a half-day workshop or two shorter working sessions to kick off your CMS project. Depending on where you are in the process, we can help you and your key stakeholders: 

  • Solidify your business case for a new CMS 
  • Identify and prioritize key requirements 
  • Create a custom scorecard for CMS vendors based on your prioritized requirements 
  • Make the case for your platform of choice

Meet the experts

Amy Brown

Solution Director

Nathan Gifford

Solution Director

Ready To Talk?

Let us know how we can help you out, and one of our experts will be in touch right away.