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Few people think of JFK and Web CMS in the same breath. But Dennis Shiao does.

The director of content marketing for San Mateo, Calif.-based DNN Corp. used the famous 1961 US presidential inauguration line from John F. Kennedy to illustrate how to make web content management technology work in the enterprise.

“Ask not what your CMS can do for you, ask what you can do for your CMS,” Shiao said during a May 7 CMSWire webinar. (You can watch the full webinar at the end of this story.)

“Technology is only part of the equation, but a great website starts with a great CMS,” Shiao added. “Our clients create great websites and our technology is part of the equation. The rest of the equation is provided by our clients.”

It's a Grind

So what can you do with a CMS? Shiao told the audience at the DNN Corp-sponsored webinar, “Why a Killer Website Starts with a Great CMS,” they must first recognize that technology is only part of the equation.

JFK’s message was that simply being American doesn’t make the country great for its citizens. Serving America does.

Serving your CMS does, too. And that means taking advantage of strong CMS capabilities and features -- which will ultimately translate into positive experiences for your customers and site visitors.

“A lot goes into this,” Shiao said. “It’s everything from the imagery to navigation to the content on the site to the overall emotional connection to that site. A lot goes into creating that experience.”

And it comes down to a team effort.

“A great website is rarely done by a single person,” Shiao said. “It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a great team to build a great website.”

Features You Should Use

What can CMSs offer?

  • Built-in content layouts can give you a headstart. It saves you time developing your site in your CMS. You don’t have to “code up HTML or hire a developer, or leverage your IT colleague to build HTML content layouts," Shiao said. “Many CMSs provide built-in content layouts."
  • Permissions features can help. They come at a very granular level, down to page level or even individual elements on a page. You can assign user personas. You also have workflow capabilities, where some users can have permissions to make changes, but others must approve before something goes live.
  • Personalization features can allow Web CMS users to target customers and give them product-specific offers based on, for instance, geography capabilities.
  • A great CMS also helps with SEO rankings. If you build it, they may not come, even if your website is great. A lot goes into ranking highly in search engines, Shiao said. Strong CMSs come with URL management structuring, meta element management capabilities, redirect automation to avoid broken links, sitemap auto-generation and customizable page settings.
  • Load time and performance must be strong -- and a killer CMS can help. Web farms help by using multiple servers to balance incoming traffic across multiple servers. Caching plays a part, too. It can save pages in a server’s memory so if something is requested it can be served up from cache rather than having to do it in the database.
  • CMSs can be revenue drivers, too. Some CMSs come with integrations into CRMs such as Salesforce or marketing automation systems like Marketo’s.

Personalization's Holy Grail

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What’s every digital marketer’s dream today? True personalization and one-to-one marketing.

Can a CMS provide that?

Jeff Cram, chief strategy officer for Connective DX, a Boston and Portland, Ore.-based digital experience agency, said CMSs can, indeed. But it's not that easy.

Not everyone’s quite there, he said.

“We’re in the early innings of folks organizing around how to actually produce personalized content,” Cram said, “and get processes and people in place.”

Vendors push the “right information, right person, right time” mantra today. But not many marketers are executing, he said.

“Maybe it’s their digital experiences are not quite as coordinated as well as they could be,” Cram said. “Personalization is the Phase 2 that never comes. Everyone wants to do it. CMSs have the capabilities to do it but it’s always something you prioritize after you get other activities done.”

However, Cram sees the role of CMS “dramatically” changing the past five years, but it still remains the “hub” of orchestrating great experiences and storing content.

“And for being able to deliver a large amount of these personalized experiences,” he said. “It serves a really big function.”
 
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by ell brown.