A great content management system is a pathway to great digital experiences for your customers. You already know this, and your content and development teams know it too. A big issue can be that your financial decision makers might not see the value yet. They’re the ones you need to win over when planning to invest in a new CMS.

Convincing these gatekeepers to support the investment is not always an easy task. A demo of the shiny new tools and features may be exciting for the creative teams who are in the trenches creating the brand experience, but you need to be able to break down the expected return on investment (ROI) in financial terms to win over financial specialists.

In this article, we’re going to dig into how to build a solid business case, based on three key pillars of CMS ROI:

1. Business impact

You need to build a case that explicitly connects the dots. The business case must untangle the complexity of a CMS implementation, while emphasizing the visible contribution it’ll make to revenue, conversions, and customer loyalty.

For example, you might want to build a case that outlines how personalizing content for your customers will drive more conversions by delivering more relevant experiences. Alternatively, your case might explain why managing customer experience improves retention rates and Customer Lifetime Value. Perhaps you would prefer to describe how the feedback loop between sales-related data and behavioral data generates customer insight. You might want to build a case that does all three of those things.

It is also important to not just list positive business impacts, but also point out the risks of doing nothing! One example might be to highlight the likelihood of losing your audience to competitors who are already invested in personalized, customer-centric digital experiences. Don’t be afraid to restate some basic truths to support your case.

Finally, make sure to set expectations around continuous improvement. Outline how you and the team will test and fine-tune content to maximize the potential impact on different audiences. This points to an ongoing return on the investment.

2. Operational efficiency

The productivity section of your business case is key to explaining how and why a new CMS will deliver those benefits more efficiently than your current system. This part shows that this investment will allow you to get to market faster.

Start by asking questions like:

  • Will a better integrated suite of tools allow my team members to run A/B or multivariate tests faster?
  • Will my content teams be able to experiment and work more productively while reducing their IT burden?
  • Will we be able to capture new types of data—like web interaction data—to grow product lines, add new features, and capture new revenue?
  • Will our teams be able to reach new channels and audiences with less investment?

Add any questions that get answered with a “yes” to this part of your business case as proof points that the new CMS platform will support more agile operations.

3. Technology savings

This part of the business case is all about highlighting why a new CMS might impact—and ideally, reduce—your current technology costs. This needs to be looked at both in terms of people and infrastructure.

You might want to frame this section around extensibility and connected functionality—for example, by pointing out that a CMS evolves over time, reducing the risks of future integration costs as you add deeper capabilities. You might also want to talk about software support in this section, highlighting the fact that a new CMS would reduce the need for IT support significantly during normal operations. Your IT team also wants to reduce the number of browsers, operating systems, and legacy software so that it can focus on the current modern technology adopted across the organization.

On an infrastructure side, you also need to be looking at whether your organization is moving all corporate applications to a cloud-based infrastructure. Being able to tie your new CMS initiative into this strategic business goal is always helpful.

What to do next

Now that we’ve taken you through the three pillars of CMS ROI, it’s time you put them into action. Start by going through the pillars again and taking notes on how they apply to you and your current content management system, if you have one already. The level of detail you go into is up to you, but the deeper the better.

You may also want to see how you can tie your points back to key goals or strategies for your organization. This makes sure the investment is aligned with the strategic direction of the entire company. If there are KPIs that could be directly influenced, this is a nice way to show that this investment will be measurable.

If you haven’t yet chosen a CMS, be sure to check out our next post in the series: “10 editorial features your content creators need in a CMS.” Then you can start narrowing down what you want.

If you have chosen a CMS, get excited! You’re a step away from building a strong, customer-centric digital strategy. When you get this off the ground you’ll be the champion in your organization, driving change, transforming the way your organization manages content, and setting up an agile foundation for the future. 

And check out our ebook “The definitive guide to choosing a content management system,” which includes a simple ROI calculator. Download it today and let me know what you think – you can reach me on Twitter at @AgileStCyr.

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