If you're still depending on the IT department or your 'web person' to update your website, make 2013 your year of web freedom. Take control of your website -- and boost your online marketing success by a mile. How to accomplish this? Invest in a website update or re-do that incorporates a content management system or CMS.
What's a CMS? It's website software that allows you to add or change content on your website without needing to be a techie. If you can use a word processing program like Word, you can operate many content management systems.
There are a number of CMS choices, depending upon the complexity and size of your business. We'll mention some of them later in this post. But first let's examine the benefits of taking control of your website for marketing purposes.
Here's a fact: marketing success goes to the nimble. To compete today, marketers need to be able to create and launch blog posts, email marketing campaigns, webinars, ebooks and other content with immediacy. They need to be able to optimize this content so that search engines can find it and serve it up in response to user queries.
There is absolutely no good reason today why marketing should miss opportunities to attract website visitors and convert them to leads because of someone else's schedule and work priorities.
The Internet has speeded up the pace of business and leveled the playing field for smart competitors at the same time. Although nothing takes the place of sound planning, once you have a marketing strategy in place, you need as much flexibility as possible to implement it. A CMS is the indispensable tool for turning strategy into sales.
Need to drive more web traffic quickly? You need to step up the pace of your blogging right away. Need to convert more visitors to leads? You need to post some useful premium content for them to download in exchange for their contact info now. Need to stay in touch with your existing contacts? You need to launch an email campaign with an offer that will keep them engaged with you and create a landing page where they can easily find and act on your offer.
For the most part, you can do all of the above on your own schedule with a good CMS. Here are some of the most popular and effective content management systems:
WordPress - My first blog was on WordPress.com, a hosted platform that can allow you to choose a design template and launch a blog and small site in a couple of hours. It's free, but I recommend paying a few dollars to redirect your WordPress url to a personal one. Example: Go from www.mysite.wordpress.com to www.mysite.com. It's more professional.
For custom designed sites and greater functionality, download a theme from WordPress.org and host it with a WordPress enabled Internet Service Provider (ISP) of your choice. There are robust plugins available like the Yoast plugin for SEO and icopyright.com for copyright protection and content licensing/syndication. I know companies with revenues of a billion dollars or more running on WordPress. So it scales.
Joomla and Drupal - These popular content management systems are a bit less user friendly in my opinion, and so are a bit more limiting for marketers. You may still need help from your IT person to add pages and change navigation. But you can certainly update copy, add images and media files and blog posts.
GX Software - For enterprise level users, the GX CMS from Netherlands-based GX Software has been steadily rising in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management Systems, a well-respected rating system for the large-user market. GX also offers BlueConic, innovative engagement software that enables users to provide the most relevant possible content dynamically to visitors across an array of web channels and via multiple digital devices. For full disclosure, GX is a client for whom I consult on content marketing for the U.S. The company provides its products direct and through significant partners like PB Software (Pitney Bowes).
HubSpot - This is the CMS I use for E.R. Becker Company. It was built to deliver on the new Inbound Marketing results oriented approach to marketing online. I can manage all of my online marketing from HubSpot by myself - blogging, social media, SEO, landing pages, email, content marketing and - most important - integrated analysis. And as I said earlier, I am neither 'techie' nor graphic designer.
You could cobble together seven or eight applications to try to approximate the all-in-one functionality of HubSpot, but you'd never get them talking to each other to measure success and marketing ROI. It's the most elegant solution I've found and so I became a HubSpot partner to help my clients implement HubSpot for their inbound marketing. HubSpot is getting into dynamic content delivery - still ahead of the curve. It scales from the single consultant/small business to the Fortune 1000.
What CMS are you using? If you have questions about which CMS would be best for your company feel free to ask.
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The image in this post is from the flickr photstream of Roger Schultz under Creative Commons license.