In a world where content is key, your brand will definitely benefit from a strong online presence. With digital marketing now a key player in a company’s marketing mix, it’s estimated that more than 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases according to stats by Hubspot. In fact, the same Hubspot article claims that 100 million hours of video is watched every single day on Facebook alone; four out of every five consumers believe that demo videos are helpful; and more than 96% of B2B buyers want more input from industry leaders. This means customers want more content from your business – and in return, you need a reliable way to manage it.
Content management, as defined by the Content Marketing Institute, is “a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, and social media posts) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services”. Content marketing is the at the heart of effective marketing and a key part in any well-organized marketing plan is the content management system a business uses to successfully position this content in front of potential customers.
So what exactly is a content management system? In simple terms, a content management system – or CMS for short - allows you to create and manage your own content, websites, blogs and sometimes even social media efforts. But with so many options out there, how can you choose the right one for you? Here we’ll break down some of 2018’s greatest CMS players for small retail businesses and what you can expect from each one.
Launched in 2003, WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems around, “powering 28% of the internet” with more than 22 billion page views per month according to their site. It gives users the ability to create engaging, versatile websites or blogs packed with videos, images, original writing, and much more. The ability to add in pre-made and third-party themes help you customize your content, while the free downloadable software lets you install it on your own server. There’s also a hosted small business option with a custom domain, Google Analytics support, full access to the theme store, and unlimited storage space for $24.92 per month.
FitSmallBusiness.com highly recommends WordPress as the best CMS for small businesses thanks to its wide range of features, strong reputation, flexibility, and ease of use. A great choice for beginners, users can get their blog or website up and running in as little as five minutes after completing a short registration. With more than 3,000 free themes and 44,000 free plugins, it’s no wonder why many consider it the world’s most popular content management system.
Another free CMS with a devoted community and strong support base is Dupral. It was initially released in 2001 and makes a great platform for blogs, forums, network sites, and more. It may be a little more technical than WordPress and does have a smaller share of the CMS market with only 2.5% of all websites and its plugins and advanced customization options make it easy to create a website as unique as your business.
While this level of design and customization does come with a little bit of a learning curve according to Maria DiCesare for the digital agency Vital, the ability to make an elaborate, rich website wins over some of the more simple CMS options. One of the most powerful elements according to Yokoco.com is the ability to easily add and define your own content types. You can put your own spin on one of the default types or you can create something entirely custom with the functions, features, and capabilities you desire. Plus, Dupral already has web form functionalities built into its platform which can be a major timesaver if you’re relying on your site for leads.
Weebly, another easy-to-use content management system, also lets users start building pages within minutes. It’s one of the fastest growing and strongest brands in the CMS world, consisting of an integrated platform that works seamlessly to feature fast loading speeds, built-in security and in-house hosting. Learning how it works is also easy thanks to info buttons and guided alerts. And if you get stuck, there’s an email support option and a lot of helpful tips in their knowledge base. It’s worth noting that paid users get to take advantage of email, chat, and phone support options, too.
A drag-and-drop style format makes adding features and media incredibly easy, and removal of anything you don’t want just takes a few clicks. Marketing educator and consultant Nate Shivar compares Weebly to renting an apartment in an upscale complex – you’re still in charge of how the interior looks, the cleaning and the furniture, but someone else takes care of the yardwork, maintenance and security. You might ultimately trade a little bit of control to enjoy a lot of added convenience.
Another huge perk of this platform is that everything is unlimited and already bundled. With no caps or storage space limits, ads disappear with the lowest-priced plan ($8 per month). Subdomain sites are free while paid plans max out at only $49 per month.
Launched in 2004 as a drag-and-drop website builder focused on rich imagery, a polished look and a complete experience for users, Squarespace is a good choice for any business that is very design-oriented. Currently, more than 1 million users pay to use Squarespace, enjoying desirable features like mobile responsive templates, extensive styling options and easy customization capabilities. As it bonus for small retailers, it also includes support for Apple Pay, Mailchimp and PayPal.
According to WebsiteBuilderExpert.com, it’s ideal for those who want to take an active role in crafting the look and feel of their business’s website: “Squarespace’s secret to making your website look like it was custom built is in their beautifully crafted design templates. With Squarespace, it’s easy for you to make a strong impression on your website visitors.” It is highly recommended if you prefer “minimalistic, clean and chic designs” or if your website is image-oriented or graphics-heavy.”
Thanks to some strategic advertising, like a 2017 Super Bowl commercial featuring action star Jason Statham, and a rock solid reputation, Wix now hosts more than 90 million websites. Mobile device optimization, compatibility with tons of apps from the Wix App Market and plenty of eye-catching layouts for a variety of industries are just a few of the reasons why small businesses, online retailers, bloggers, and artists make this their CMS platform of choice. The basic tools are free, but five premium plans deliver more professional features like your own domain name and priority support.
WebsiteToolTester.com calls this platform extremely flexible, noting that Wix is one of the few website builders that will even let you add animation to text and other page elements. Hundreds of apps in the App Market offer the ability to live chat, create corresponding newsletters and integrate your social media accounts. The smart assistant is a major plus, since it offers a guided approach to make website building simple and easy to understand.
Choosing the Right CMS for You
Content management systems make it easy to create, edit, and publish your digital content without coding skills – but keep in mind that not all CMS options are created equal. Features can vary quite a bit, as can ease of use, price, and supported plug-ins. Before you sign up for a CMS, make sure to do your homework and ask yourself which one will best fit your technological skill set, the needs of your small business today and the demands of your business as it grows.