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What is a CMS? A Guide to Content Management Systems

This guide covers the features, benefits, and popular examples of content management systems to help you make an informed decision.

In a contemporary digital business world that is highly complex and dynamic, managing and updating company websites is of the utmost importance. An effective online presence allows a company to engage in ongoing marketing operations, differentiate itself from its competitors, sell products or services, and share vital details with clients and customers.

However, the process used to manage digital content can be time-consuming and challenging, especially for companies updating their sites regularly.

Large firms rely on marketing, communications, and IT departments for website management.

On the other hand, small and medium businesses without in-house web staff need a user-friendly system that helps them maintain their brand identity and communicate their message consistently via their web pages.

Such a system should be intuitive enough for those with no technical background and with a limited amount of time for uploading, managing files, and publishing content.

A content management system (CMS) is a powerful tool that helps you create a website and manage its content. A CMS will not only help an organization's website to stay online, but it will also allow for easy and consistent updating of the user-side portion of the website.

Consistent publishing ensures customers and clients receive the most current information about products and services.

What is a content management system?

A content management system is an application that helps create, organize, and store media and other files for use on websites.

CMSs enable non-technical users to easily develop, edit, and publish content without needing to understand web design or coding languages like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

These applications are vital for streamlining web operations for companies of all sizes, but they are especially useful for small and mid-sized firms without a dedicated IT department. These companies can use CMS tools to manage the site in-house instead of having to outsource the work.

Here are some of the processes that a full-featured CMS can manage.

  • The CMS will often handle all the back-end and front-end coding to allow non-technical employees to focus on developing the user interface (UI) and producing content and pages that help their company grow and engage customers.
  • Popular content management systems also allow for collaboration. They enable whole teams to work together to generate, alter, arrange, and publish material. The content management system platform acts as a single repository for content and provides automated procedures for content curation and production.
  • CMS applications have administrative features that help manage multiple users. Employees designated as authors, for instance, can upload and store their work on the system, while editors can edit and publish it when it is ready. Administrators can do all of these things and provide other people in the organization with authorization to revise or update content.
  • A content management system is vital for marketing processes because it provides a platform to create and distribute content consistently. This content is a key element of successful marketing, so having an efficient way to develop and manage it can impact the success of campaigns and, ultimately, revenue outcomes.
  • With a CMS, marketers can create and publish curated content quickly, allowing them to make changes based on analytics after the campaign starts.
  • A CMS also makes it easier to track analytics and measure performance, which can help marketers understand what content is working and what needs to be improved. This real-time analysis and content publishing and management allow changes and corrections that can improve marketing outcomes.

Content management systems also have advanced features, such as the ability to display content based on user activity.

How does a content management system benefit our marketing teams?

A content management system allows employees to streamline content creation, editing, publishing, and updating web pages.

The system also facilitates search engine optimization and security and allows authors, editors, and administrators to manage media and files used to create site content.

Here is a closer look at how these benefits make life easier for your marketing team.

Simplifies content creation and publishing

A content management system can simplify publishing by providing a user-friendly interface for digital content.

Authors and editors with no coding knowledge can set up web pages, articles, and blog posts. Features include the ability to upload and insert media, create and format text, change page layouts, and schedule content publication.

The system also allows users to save their pages without publishing them. Authors and editors can work on the project on the web server or platform over time and save their work as they go.

The CMS will save time for the marketing team because they don't have to spend hours coding and formatting content. It also allows the company to work with people who specialize in creating digital content rather than those who have the technical knowledge of computer coding.

In addition, a CMS platform can help ensure a consistent look and feel for all content on the website, leading to more streamlined and uniform branding across the company.

Administrators can set text and header styles so that they appear by default on all content pages. They can also standardize image sizing, colors, and spacing.

Improves content management and organization

A CMS can also enhance your team's web content management and organization by allowing the editors, managers, and administrators to keep track of media assets, pages, and site formatting in one centralized location. Thanks to this accessibility, anyone who needs to make changes or corrections can easily search, find, and update content.

The content management system also logs changes made to published content. You can see who created or added to specific pages and track progress to ensure team members make the necessary contributions before publication.

Administration tools can help the entire team stay organized by giving permissions based on category (author, editor, or admin, for example). For instance, an author may be able to create a page and add content, but the system will not allow them to publish it.

Instead, once they are done, they save the page. Once they do so, the CMS automatically notifies the editor, who can check and add to the work before publishing or scheduling.

All media used on the page gets saved on the web server or platform, as well. Editors and admins can find images or videos, for example, and change or replace them if needed. For example, you might decide to resize images to change their appearance or to speed up loading time.

The media library streamlines such updates to site content because every file is categorized, searchable, and easy to find.

Facilitates collaboration and workflow management

CMS platforms are cloud-based, so employees who contribute, edit, or publish content can access it from any location with internet access.

Remote teams, contractors, and freelancers can add content to the platform and collaborate on projects with others even though they are not in the same location.

Also, these systems typically have features such as task assignments, custom calendars, publishing schedules, and file sharing. Managers can monitor the progress of projects through the platform and schedule publication in advance to ensure that everything happens according to the overall time frame and plan for the campaign.

Most content management systems allow administrators to automate processes and permissions. Employees can access assignments and complete them before passing them forward for the next step in the project. With proper planning, the entire project from the first assignment to publication can be managed on the CMS.

Provides insights into content performance and user behavior

A CMS can also have an analytics component that collects data on how visitors interact with your website.

It can count clicks, visits, time spent on each page, and other variables. In the right hands, this information provides valuable insights into content performance and user behavior and helps to identify over performing and underperforming content.

These insights can help your team create more effective campaigns in the future. However, because the data gets collected in real-time, it can offer insights that can lead to adjustments to current campaigns while they are still happening.

Marketing managers can use this information to set benchmarks for content performance and automate reporting so that they can see key performance indicators in real time.

Because this information gets produced automatically, it streamlines the reporting process. An employee does not have to spend time compiling the data manually and visualizing it.

Improve SEO with a CMS

A CMS can enable a business to improve its search engine optimization (SEO) in multiple ways, including assisting with on-page optimization, helping with the management and updating of metadata, and providing insight into consumer behavior.

Here is a closer look at these different functions and how they help improve search engine rankings for your web pages.

On-page optimization

CMS provides a platform to easily create and manage SEO-optimized web pages so that all content is indexed and discoverable by search engines. The system confirms that all content is tagged with the right keywords. Also, it can assess content for other essential variables, such as an optimized title, proper content depth, and keyword density.

You can use the CMS to ensure search-engine-friendly headers, calls to action, image tags, and media formats. Meanwhile, preview mode allows you to test page loading, UI, and user experience (UX) before publishing. Search engines like Google consider these factors when ranking web pages.

Also, site visitors expect a professional-level UX when they visit a business's website. They are more likely to stay on the page and interact with the business if the site loads quickly and is easy to view and navigate.

Manage and update metadata

A CMS comes with fields that allow users to manage and update metadata for each page.

Authors and editors can make these changes without any knowledge of HTML coding. Administrators can set fields on each page or blog post that authors need to fill in when creating their content. This setup ensures every page has proper metadata.

Also, editors do not need any coding knowledge to change the text in metadata fields. They can simply navigate to the page or blog post in the CMS, make the necessary upgrades, and re-publish the page.

In addition to altering metadata to improve the search engine ranking, you can make it easier for your audience to find your site.

For example, new keyword research might reveal popular search terms that the audience can use to find your site. With the CMS, you can immediately make these changes to the relevant pages so that the search engine crawler sees them the next time it assesses your site.

With analytics features on the CMS, you can assess the impact of these alterations to see if they bring the desired results.

Provide insight into customer behavior

A CMS can also provide insights into content performance by measuring user/customer behavior.

Through the application's analytics tools, you can gain valuable insights into how users are engaging with content, what content is working best, and which pages need improvement. This data can be extremely helpful for optimizing content for both users and search engines.

CMS platforms often include such analytics on easy-to-read information dashboards. In addition to being able to see statistics, users often have the option to visualize data to create reports for marketing decision-makers.

Leverage personalization and targeting

A CMS provides multiple avenues for leveraging personalization and customer targeting as marketing techniques. Why are these concepts significant?

Personalization is becoming more important in marketing. Not only does the strategy of targeting your audience based on their recent activity lead to better conversion rates and more sales, but many users expect such personalization when they visit a business's website.

Here is how a CMS can help facilitate content personalization.

Enabling dynamic content and personalization

A content management system enables the development of dynamic content targeting specific users.

Content creators make digital content for specific audience members and then use plug-ins to display it based on specific rules. For example, if a customer searches for a specific product on an e-commerce site, they could trigger a rule that tells future pages they visit to display similar products in the sidebar.

If a page designer employs multiple rules and adds dynamic content boxes to each page, they can create a highly-personalized browsing experience based on each user's viewing and search activities.

With a CMS, page designers can add dynamic content fields to their pages without having to know the coding language. The platform allows them to add fields or use a drag-and-drop method to place them on the page.

Facilitating targeting and segmentation of audiences

CMS tools can also be adapted to facilitate the targeting and segmentation of audiences by allowing users to create and manage content based on specific criteria, such as age, gender, location, interests, and others. Targeting can be based on a user profile or past activity on the site.

This enables marketing teams to create and place dynamic content that is tailored to their target audiences and ensures that content reaches the right people at the right time.

Provide insights into audience behavior and preferences

CMS tools can also provide insights into audience behavior and preferences by tracking user interactions with content. This allows users to gain valuable insights into their audience's behavior and preferences, which can be used to create content that is more effective and engaging.

This data can also inform the system about the type of dynamic content to display on a given page. The information can automate the entire process, giving each user a customized experience without requiring any input from the marketing team.

Integrate your CMS with other marketing tools

A content management system is an important tool for any business engaged in publishing and managing online content. In today's digital economy, all businesses need a website, regardless of their size, industry, and operational strategies.

By extension, a CMS is also necessary to create and manage a site that actually benefits your business. A quality CMS platform will allow you to create, edit, and manage your content from a single dashboard and provide you with the ability to organize media, pages, and posts for easy access and updating.

In addition, a CMS will help your business save time and money by streamlining content creation and publication and ensuring adequate website security. It also helps businesses create a consistent user experience across all platforms.

By providing an easy-to-use platform for content management and publication, a CMS can help businesses increase their visibility, reach their target audience, and improve their overall online presence.

A quality CMS is only one of the required tools for business success. MailChimp offers additional capabilities that you can integrate into your platform.

Mailchimp offers tools that you can use to further streamline and personalize your marketing efforts. For example, you can use CRM tools to collect and organize data about your audience. In addition to creating targeted content on your website, you can use this data for email content marketing automation or to create relevant social media content.

Mailchimp offers a complete set of tools to streamline your marketing processes and put the information obtained through your CMS's analytics platform to good use.

With a fully-integrated set of marketing features, you can focus on creating content and assessing performance while your automated systems and workflow management tools handle the details.

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