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What is a Content Management System and How Does it Work?

Content is becoming one of the main ways businesses interact with their customers. Gone are the days that companies could regard content as a ‘nice to have’ on the side.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is growing fast, with an increasing number of companies having a mature content strategy.

But content doesn’t affect just marketing - it has become a core part of businesses and touches almost every department, including sales, merchandising and development.

This requires a solution that connects departments and ropes in pieces of content - allowing the content creators and development teams to work together.

And yet, 42% of companies indicated they don’t have the right technology to manage their content.

This is where a content management system (CMS) comes into play. A CMS helps you implement a comprehensive content marketing strategy and weave content into your commerce strategy

At the same time, your developers won’t be involved in the process of publishing content and can easily make changes at the backend, without disrupting content publication.

What is a Content Management System?

A CMS is “an interface that allows users to publish content directly to the Web”.

Although systems differ, most of them have these features:

 Helps creating and editing content

 Content storage

 Content sharing

 Version management

 Integration with other apps

 Consolidating large volumes of content

 User management: multiple user accounts, varying permissions, etc… 

Importantly, CMS allows marketers, merchandisers and other content creators to work with content directly, without needing to involve the IT department.

A good CMS can also be embedded within the existing architecture of a company’s backend platforms and integrates with third-party tools.

How Can I Use a Content Management System?

Let’s have a look at how different departments use a CMS in practice by looking at how they fit into the overall strategy and what that means for their day-to-day tasks.


How Marketers Work With A CMS

Most businesses incorporate content creation in their marketing strategy.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 57% of B2C businesses are expecting their content marketing budget to go up. Over half of businesses that use content marketing say they publish daily.

That’s a huge amount of content - trying to publish that much without a good system at hand means businesses are settinging themselves up for failure.

A content management system will help you set up and execute your marketing strategy, by allowing you to easily publish and change content, document changes and track performance.

This will help you improve your marketing stats, but also may allow you to secure a larger budget for content marketing within your company. 

According to a report by Deloitte, 64% of companies that use a well-documented content strategy have a dedicated budget to content marketing

Agile Content Development

As companies are moving towards agile content development, CMS has a huge role to play.

Customers have gotten used to continuously updated content, with new stories available every hour, if not every minute.

To stay front of mind for consumers, brands need to lead the way. This means being able to create and publish content very quickly.

As such, many brands use CMS to make sure  all relevant teams are involved, and content pieces can move quickly from the idea phase through to writing, editing and production.

📔Read this next: A Marketer's Guide to CMS


How a cms helps developers save time

Development teams need to create and customize new projects quickly and efficiently - they can’t afford to be bogged down with cumbersome tools.

A modern, headless CMS allows for the frontend and backend to be designed, coded and edited separately.

This can be done by using a microservices-based architecture that combines speed and flexibility.

This means that developers don’t need to be involved in changes to the marketing strategy, content updates or even the introduction of new products in an online shop.

🔧Read this next: The Definitive Guide to CMS Architecture [Blog]

Single Page Applications

As SPAs are becoming a standard feature of most websites, developers have found new levels of freedom.

However, SPAs usually need a developer to make changes and edits to the actual pages the visitor sees.

Marketers risk losing some functionality and developers risk spending a lot of time helping marketers optimize web pages. 

Luckily, a modern CMS that is part of a microservices-based architecture can help you solve this problem.

💡Read this next: How to Use Single Page Applications with a CMS [Guide]

Content-based CMS

The trick is to use a CMS that is content-based, not page-based - so content isn’t attached to a specific page.

This allows marketers to use one piece of content on different pages and for different touchpoints - without involving the development team.

What it comes down to is that you’ll need a Content Management System that has an architecture ready for SPA use.

This means it should be API-based, support Angular, React, Vue and other frameworks and decouples content from presentation.


How merchandisers benefit by combining commerce and content

Combining content and commerce is a great strategy, since consumers generally compare a lot of websites before they buy.

Competing on pricing alone is just not possible for most businesses, so they need to differentiate and add value in some other way.

This is a seamless, unified customer journey - content is an integral part of this.

Content allows you to reach out to your customers - show them you want to be a part of their decision making process by offering tips and tricks, ideas and videos.

By combining content and commerce, you’ll provide a smoother customer journey where buying isn’t just easier, but becomes a natural next step.

 🖥Read this next: CMS - A Critical Solution for Today’s eCommerce [Guide]

This starts by driving traffic to attracting new customers who find blog posts through web searches, but continues later on as well.

Indeed, content in commerce should be designed in such a way that it guides and supports the customers throughout the buying journey, nudging the customer ever close to the final buying decision - and optimizing customer conversion.

After the customer has bought one of your products, a robust CMS will help you stay in touch and point them to pieces of content - and products - that might be interesting to them.

But What About Security

Making sure your business is secure from cyber attacks is incredibly important. Not only do attacks interrupt the continuity of your business, but they also cost you huge amounts.

A recent report by McAfee suggests that up to $600 billion may have been lost in 2018 due to cybercrime. 

Cloud-based CMS systems are an increasingly common target for cyber attacks.

This results in a number of potential security issues, such as data integrity violations, unauthorized access to date and malicious codes and scripts.

Most CMS come with a fairly robust set of security features, such as advanced authentication, strict permissions, firewalls and protection against malware attacks.

When choosing which CMS to use, security should be high on your list of criteria.

So Where Do I Start?

Types of content management systems

There are six types of CMS, each with specific applications in mind:

 Component Content Management System (CCMS): Manages content at a granular level, storing words, phrases and photos in a central archive, to be used in different types of content across platforms.

 Document Management System (DMS): Allows to manage, store and share documents through the cloud.

 Enterprise Content Management System (ECM): Used to collect, share and organize documents relevant to a specific organization.

 Digital Asset Management System (DAM): Allows the collection, storage, organization and sharing of digital content, such as audio, video, presentations and other documents.

 PIM (Product Information Management: Focuses on products and product descriptions, including information on price, images and supporting collateral.

 Web Content Management System (WCMS): Allows users to change component of a website, without the need to get developers or IT support involved.

This article focuses on DAM, PIM and WCMS, although most ideas here could be applied to any type of CMS.

What Can I Expect From a CMS?

Although CMS has a lot to offer, it’s important to note that it isn’t a magic bullet - it’ll make your work much more efficient.

Managing and publishing content will be much easier for your marketers, and pressure is taken off your developers.

Still, it won’t create the content for you. You or someone on your team will still need to write the content yourself.

A Content Management System will help you with implementation but you’ll still need creative minds to design marketing, merchandising and development plans.

Marketers should continue to have systems of governance, making clear who has the authority to approve content, who has the last word on edits and who is responsible for driving the marketing strategy overall. 

Further reading

Truth is, you can’t really do without a robust, secure and agile Content Management System anymore.

By reading this article you’ve already taken a huge step forward. You might decide to do a complete overhaul of your current system or change what you have now step by step, everything is possible!

By reading this article you’ve already taken a huge step forward. You might decide to do a complete overhaul of your current system or change what you have now step by step, everything is possible!

In the meantime, have a look at these resources to read up on CMS:

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