A content management system (CMS) is a program used for organizing, creating, editing, and publishing digital content. CMS software facilitates collaboration by giving multiple contributors the ability to work with digital content at the same time. While many CMSs are relatively simple, some are extremely complex and powerful. Most systems come with a variety of content marketing features, with each system allowing varying levels of control among administrators and end users. A flexible, robust CMS allows marketers to manage their websites without having to be experts in the complex world of coding. Another advantage to using a CMS is the ability to add content to a website from anywhere with an Internet connection, thus giving brands the ability to publish fresh content on a regular basis. Some of the most popular CMSs include WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, Weebly, and SilverStripe.
A content management system, commonly referred to as a CMS, stores and organizes digital content. Many CMSs are cloud-based, making it easy for employees to work in a collaborative environment. A CMS is of the utmost value in today’s digitally-advanced society. With almost all businesses having an online presence and visual identity, it is of the utmost advantage to use a CMS to store and organize all of your content content.
Different CMSs have different features, however, most support web-based publishing capabilities, format management, indexing, and more. It’s pertinent to become familiar with a CMS to reap the most advantages from it. When used properly, a CMS increases both the efficiency and effectiveness of online content management, including your visual media marketing efforts.
Who Uses Content Management Systems?
Both large enterprises and small businesses use CMSs. Even solo entrepreneurs, like bloggers, use a CMS to organize their digital content. In enterprise environments, CMSs frequently support enterprise content management (ECM) systems and web content management (WCM) systems.
An ECM supports a collaborative environment by integrating document management with records retention and digital asset control functions. ECMs support role-based access, making it easy to control and delegate access to different levels of employees. One employee may receive viewing access while another may receive editing permissions.
WCMs augment collaborative content creation and management for websites. Many ECMs support WCM publishing functions, however, ECM webpages generally stay behind the enterprise’s firewall.
ECMs and WCMs have two components:
- Content management application (CMA): Users don’t need any HTML knowledge or experience yet can still create, modify and remove content on a website.
- Content delivery application (CDA): Supports back-end services that enhance the management and delivery of content after its creation within the CMA.
What Does a Content Management System Do?
As noted before, both large and small businesses will benefit from a CMS. Even non-business entities, like students, can use a CMS to keep content pieces organized. Probably the most notable aspect of a CMS is the easy access and retrieval of content that it provides.
Although functions vary from one CMS to the next, almost all support a range of core functions, like search and retrieval and revision control.
- Intuitive indexing and search: A CMS indexes your content pieces for you and allows you to search for those pieces according to your own preferences, such as by date, name, last modified, keywords, etc.
- Format management: A CMS gives you the ability to easily change the format of a content piece. Let’s say you create a content piece in basic text but want to download it in the form of a Word doc; this becomes very simple with a CMS. You can even download the content as a PDF or HTML document. The ability to change the format of content pieces makes it very simple leverage each piece for multiple purposes without having to create different format versions from scratch.
- Scanning: Many CMSs sync with scanning devices, allowing you to turn a scanned document into a Word doc, PDF, etc.
- Revision control: This feature makes it simple to track the revisions among different employees. If you don’t like the changes an employee has made, you can “reject” those changes. Also, with revision control, you always have the option to revert the content piece back to a different version. Let’s say Susy makes changes to a document and Bob “accepts” those changes. With revision control, you can opt to “undo” Bob’s approval of those changes and revert back to the version of the content piece that existed before Susy ever made changes.
- Publishing: The publishing function on a CMS allows you to publish pieces on your website according to several pieces of criteria. You can choose publishing date, add tags, meta descriptions, unique URLs, and more.
Does a CMS Support One-to-One Marketing?
One-to-one marketing gives marketing managers the ability to tailor their content and advertising to a site visitor’s unique online behaviors and page sequence patterns. To perform one-to-one marketing, your site must plant cookies in a site visitor’s browser.
Some CMSs support one-to-one marketing.
Let’s say someone visits your site and you plant cookies in her browser (almost all web hosts automatically add cookies). The site visitor then goes to a search engine and performs a search for red lipstick. When the site visitor comes back to your site, your advertising banners feature red lipstick, thus increasing the likelihood of the site visitor clicking on one of your ads and making a purchase. You want this type of functionality because it helps you improve the money you earn from your advertising banners.
How can a CMS Improve Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is at the heart of expanding online brand awareness. Regardless of the field you work in, if you are in a position where you work with content that will go on the web, you need to ensure you use SEO tactics to expand its reach.
Fortunately, many of today’s CMSs include SEO tools to make it simple to optimize your content. Let’s take a look at WordPress, one of the world’s most popular content management systems.
If you create a blog post using WordPress, whether you create it directly in the WordPress system or import it from a connected CMS, like Google Docs, you have the ability to perform several SEO tweaks. First, you can create a unique slug. Secondly, you can add tags. You can also add a meta description and a focus keyword. All of these features and tools help improve the SEO value of the content piece.
Top Benefits of a Content Management System
Regardless of the industry you work in, working within a CMS proves of benefit for a number of reasons.
With a CMS, you can take advantage of user-friendly tools that make it simple to create text. You can even import or copy and paste images to your text, which is of extreme value when the goal is to provide a valuable experience to your audience. A CMS also makes it easy to go in and edit the content pieces regardless of your web development experience. You don’t have to have any coding knowledge to perform edits when using a CMS.
A CMS also simplifies downloading updates to your website. Many CMSs automatically download updates for you, which is very important in making sure a website provides a good user experience. These updates also prove of benefit because they keep your site mobile-friendly.
Imagine working on a project that requires creating a piece of content. It’s you and five of your coworkers creating the content piece. Without a CMS, you and your coworkers must all be present to create the content. With a cloud-based CMS, however, you and your coworkers can collaborate via a cloud environment. Even if one of your coworkers calls in sick, he or she can access the content from home and continue making contributions.
A CMS also enhances collaboration because it’s simple to share content pieces. Let’s say you’ve created a content piece and you’re ready to send it to your editor. With a CMS, you can click a few buttons and share the content via email or give your editor direct access to edit the content straight with the CMS. The edits he or she performs apply in real-time, allowing you to see the edits as he or she is making them. You can accept or reject the edits and hit publish as soon as you’re ready to make the piece go live on your company’s website.
Wide Range of Compatible Plugins
A plug-in adds features to a CMS. Depending on your exact needs and preferences, you will likely find a number of plug-ins to enhance the functionality of the CMS you use. Here’s a look at various plug-ins that sync with different CMSs and the features those plug-ins provide.
WordPress has a long list of compatible plug-ins. With bbPress, you can add forum and bulletin board capabilities to your website. The Yoast SEO plug-in is especially helpful in improving your site’s SEO value. The Contact Form 7 plug-in helps you manage multiple contact forms while Akismet helps you avoid publishing malicious content by checking contact form submissions and comments against a spam database.
The Facebook Events Calendar plug-in for Drupal creates a page on your website that displays all events found on your Facebook business page. ValidShapes CAPTCHA creates a touch-friendly CAPTCHA generator for your site to help you steer clear of malicious bots. The Twitter Feed & Slider plug-in creates a section on your site that shows your most recent Twitter tweets. There are lots of other tools and plug-ins you can use to better manage your content on social media.
Spinner 360 is a plug-in that allows site visitors to rotate images 360 degrees. With the URL Canonical plug-in, it becomes easy to manage duplicate and unwanted URLs. The Redirect Link Cleaner makes it a cinch to clean redirect links. With the Flexible Form plug-in, you can generate various types of forms and fields.
Another notable benefit of a CMS is the ability to set permission levels. This makes it easy to grant workers with access to a site while having full control over the actions they can perform.
Let’s say you’ve landed a promotion to a digital marketing management position. You have several copywriters creating content for your employer’s website. To expedite the publishing of high-converting marketing content, you give the copywriters access to your CMS, however, you don’t want them to have the ability to perform any action except uploading content and scheduling a publishing date. With a CMS, you can create customized permission levels on certain sections of the website. This allows you to rest easy knowing your copywriters can only perform certain actions.
How to Choose a Content Management System?
Many factors influence which CMS is best suited for your needs. If you’re working in a leadership position and tasked with choosing a CMS for your employer, make sure to consider these four factors before opting for a specific CMS.
With infinite monetary resources, you can opt for a CMS that provides today’s most advanced features. Fortunately, though, even those on a strict budget can still afford a CMS that supports a wide range of capabilities. WordPress, for example, is available for free. As with almost types of CMSs, though, you can choose a more advanced version of WordPress in exchange for a monthly fee.
Always make a list of the features that your CMS needs. Keep the list on you when shopping for a CMS as this will narrow your selection. Take for example you need a CMS that supports SEO. With this in mind, you can cross off any options that don’t support SEO plug-ins and tools.
Out of the box status
You will also want to consider whether you need a CMS that is ready out of the box. Joomla, for example, is ready out of the box, meaning you can start using it to publish content right away. WordPress is the same way whereas Textpattern is nowt.
Platform lock-in status
Collaborate with senior-level employees to determine whether you want a CMS that comes with a permanent lock-in status. Weebly is one of the most popular CMSs available, however, once you create a site on it, you cannot migrate that site to another platform without extensive work and potentially costly fees.
Excelling in your career always starts with familiarizing yourself with the tools your employer provides you with. If your role includes working with a CMS, it’s important to play around with it as much as possible to ensure you understand its many features. Many online resources make it simple to learn about just about any CMSs tools and capabilities. If you’re playing around with the CMS in its live version, make sure you don’t perform any actions that apply actual changes.