Web CMS Budgets Increasing But Content is Still King
Okay, so we are already approaching the middle of April and most companies have already decided where they are going to invest and what programs they are going to drop over the course of this year

This probably means that a new survey from the Aberdeen Group (news, site) showing that 42% of those companies surveyed were going to increase Web Content Management budgets this year will probably have little or no effect on decisions that your company has already made – it being April and one third of the way into the year.

However, the survey entitled Maximize Business Results Online: How Web Content Management Technology is Transforming Digital Marketing  does have some interesting figures that might make companies think twice.

Web CMS-enabled Companies the Most Successful

Taking a sample of 157 companies that were classified as ‘Best-in-Class’ (defined as companies that had a 20% return on marketing investments and 11% growth in revenue in the past year) and which were not restricted to e-commerce, or online retail companies, it found that 77% of these companies had Web Content Management Systems that did not require intervention from the IT department for updating.

A further 85% said one or more full-time employees had responsibility for managing content in the system and 92% said they regularly track and analyze web traffic using their Web CMS.

While, it is clearly not possible to draw the conclusion from this that companies who did not make it into the ‘Best-in-Class’ category were companies that did not invest in IT and content managements systems, it can be said that companies who did invest appear to be the most successful, even if their success is only incidental to that investment.

However, that really is nit-picking, and it is probably safe to assume that consistent and efficient content management did contribute, at least partially, to their success.

Low Use Of Dynamic Features

Two other interesting figures also came out of the survey. Of the fifty-five percent of respondents who used a Web Content Management System, only 19% used basic features within the WCM, and only 15% used the dynamic capabilities of their chosen tool.

It also found that companies that concentrated on creating quality content tended to be more successful than companies that just caught any content they could find and threw it up on the company website.

From this, Aberdeen suggests that many companies,have yet to grasp the fact that a Web CMS is only a tool and that there is no point in investing in a content management system without investing in the provision of the content to be used.

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Survey suggests that even after investing in a WCM, many managers do not really understand what it does, or how it works.

While this is probably an obvious recommendation, the corollary of this would seem to suggest that even after investing in a WCM, many managers do not really understand what it does, or how it works.

Online Content Is 2009 Priority

However, another figure that emerged -- a figure that should make CMS vendors smile -- is that 70% of all respondents said that the optimization and distribution of online content is a high priority for 2009.

Other figures from the survey show that the top marketing channels for businesses attempting to develop and expand a wider customer base were websites (60%) and e-mail marketing (47%).

WCM Capabilities Not Understood

While this is all good news for vendors, there is a sting in the tail. In summarizing the results of the survey, the authors point out that while Web Content Management has the potential to turn a company’s website into a more engaging experience for the users, vendors currently risk developing the next generation of WCM capabilities before the market has learned to use the current capabilities.

All respondents saw huge value and potential in social media, rich media and dynamic content capabilities, but most non-techie users were struggling to manage basic content management challenges.

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Survey also found many companies were struggling to create 'intimate' experience for company's website users.

The obstacles, it said, were that respondents were struggling to improve the customer experience online, struggling to source and provide quality content, and struggling to provide a more personal experience for the user. In this respect it is worth noting that 68% of respondents still leveraged static websites that were rarely, if ever, updated.

"Web content management has the potential to transform the web into a more engaging intimate experience for visitors," says Ian Michiels, Research Director in Aberdeen's Customer Management Technology Group. "Leading organizations use of WCM continues to validate the value of WCM capabilities, even in newer areas like social media and rich media support.”

Content is Still King

Web Content Management Systems are great – we all agree. But what is becoming increasingly clear from this survey and other similar surveys is that while companies do need to invest in WCM, or other CMS, they also need to invest in the human factor.

All the technology in the world, this report concludes, while providing a major marketing tool in very difficult economic times is useless without people who know how to operate the systems, or people to provide content that can be manipulated by the systems.

*This report is currently free of charge on the Aberdeen Group website, but requires  registration(simple) to access it.