There are a lot of acronyms in the internet marketing world, but here's an important one: CMS. The following post is a 101-style article to dig into exactly what that means.

CMS stands for content management system , a tool that a person can use to design, manage, and publish a website. There are tons of CMS tools out there. Some are big, small, robust, simple, free, expensive, and everywhere in-between.

So how do they work? Well, each solution is a little different. For example, HubSpot's CMS tool has little modules you can rearrange and edit, like you would text in a Word document. Others may be elaborate and focus on detailed CSS (Custom Style Sheets), which is code that defines your website's "theme" -- color palate, fonts, etc. Some solutions are out-of-the-box and let you select a public template.

Now that we understand the different kinds of CMS tools at a high level, why should marketers and business owners care what a content management system is? Why might you need one?

HubSpot CMS

Here are a few thoughts:

1. CMS let marketers be nimble! Quick! You need to launch a new promo before the end of the month, requiring you to update your website immediately!

Have you ever been in that or a similar scenario? Sometimes being a good marketer means being nimble, and the last thing you want is to have some jumbo website-editing bottleneck. Some CMS solutions are made with average, less technical folks in mind and are relatively simple to use. That way you can be empowered to make website changes all by yourself -- whenever you need to!

2. Think about SEO as you create individual pages. Good CMS tools allow you to optimize for search engines within some of the most important on-page components, like URL structure, page titles, and headers. Extra credit if the tool allows you to easily add your own meta description and meta tags, but the SEO benefit there is pretty unsubstantial these days. However, a good meta description may increase the likelihood that a page is noticed in search engine results by a human eye and clicked.

3. Build with a marketing strategy in mind. Are you considering a website redesign or changing your website's structure? Become a pro user of your CMS solution and consider building your website yourself. It's powerful to be able to make a new site yourself with a specific marketing strategy in mind that best converts visitors into leads and leads into customers. Of course, before you begin your redesign, use web analytics to understand where your best traffic, leads, and sales are coming from, and use that data to define your goals and plans.  

Do you use a CMS tool? What features do you value in a CMS?

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Originally published Jan 26, 2011 8:00:00 PM, updated August 26 2017


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