If you’re like most, your website is the cornerstone of your business marketing. Because of this, your content management system (CMS) may come with a high price tag. But do you have to pay as much as you think?
Most companies go into business with zero knowledge of building a website and making efficient decisions about software and hosting. You may hire a developer to make most of your choices for you. Sadly, developers are generally biased toward the software they were trained to work with. Their idea of what’s best isn’t always best for you. They don’t necessarily consider your financial goals when planning your website design.
Don’t get me wrong, I sincerely admire web developers and could never do what they do; HTML and CSS are foreign languages to me. I know content marketing, which is where your choice of CMS comes into the picture. Here’s what you need to consider when deciding the platform where you will host your online marketing materials, products, and services.
What Can the Wrong CMS Cost You?
A few months ago, I was working with a B2B company that had major issues with its website. When their customers tried to place product orders, they were suddenly charged ten dollars more per piece than the actual product cost. When your customers are giants like Starbucks and Natural Grocers who want to place hundred-piece orders, that glitch can be detrimental to tens of thousands of dollars.
A colleague referred the company above to contact me about ironing out their shopping cart flow kinks. When I got into the site, which the developer pretty well barricaded, I found that the shopping cart wasn’t the only issue. An advanced CMS platform that costs $18K per year was used to host a five-page, one-product website; this was extremely expensive and far beyond the client’s needs.
I cut their annual cost by migrating the website to another CMS with a customizable eCommerce theme and a built-in, reliable shopping cart to £348 in hours. The glitches ended, and the company could return to business as usual.
This is How to Determine Your Opportunities for Savings
The above story illustrates how much you can save by exploring whether or not you are spending too much on your CMS. From a financial perspective, where do you begin?
First, Break Down Your Content System & Costs
Your content management system can be categorized into six parts:
- Website Hosting
- Main CMS Platform
- Secondary CMS Platform (for an external blog, etc.)
- Shopping Cart/ Payment Processing
- Plug-ins/ Add-ons
Write down which software you use for each item and how much each cost.
- Domain: Namecheap: £14.99/ year
- Website Hosting: Namecheap: £5.95/ month (£71.40/ year)
- Main CMS Platform: WordPress: Free
- Secondary CMS Platform: NA
- Shopping Cart/ Payment Processing: BluePay: £15/ month (£180/ year) + £129/ year for PCI compliance
- Plug-ins/ Add-ons: Misc: £59/ month (£708/ year)
If the above example represents your CMS system, your total annual cost is £1,103.39. Remember that this is the system, not including content creation and administrative expenses. This is a comparatively inexpensive system, and it still leaves room for savings.
Next, Shop Around for the Best Value
Sometimes you can find a free or inexpensive plugin that will serve the same function as a costly one you’re currently using. Is there another less expensive platform that provides all the tools you need? Investigate your options in each category; just remember to test new software before you publish on your active site.
For example, you could compare SEO plugins. Suppose you’re spending £89/ year on the paid version of the Yoast SEO plugin. In that case, you may be pleased to replace it with an SEO premium for £37/ year or even free with Rank math.
Then, Combine Software to Cut Costs
Explore whether or not you can combine some of your CMS costs. For example, some CMS platforms include hosting in the software cost. Some provide free shopping carts. You will save if you drop one external platform and utilize some options included in another.
This could seem like a measly way to save when working with add-ons that cost less than £10/ month. But, when you consider how long you could be using a tool, it adds up. At this price, you spend £600 after 5 years. And how many tools like this are you using? Four £10 add-ons could cost nearly £5K after 10 years. You will cut your software spending if you can consolidate the number of devices you pay for.
Finally, Should You Pay Monthly or Annually?
Most online SaaS companies offer monthly and annual subscriptions. As long as you’re sure you will have your website for the next year (hopefully this is the case), you are sure to save by paying upfront.
Look at Squarespace’s pricing or Wix, which they lay out nicely on their sales page.
For an eCommerce store, there are two options: basic and advanced. For each alternative, users receive a discount for paying upfront. So, pay your costs upfront unless you’re not sure you’ll still have your CMS in a year.
How to Get Exactly What You Need in a CMS
You see how this decision is critical. So, now you need to know what to look for in a CMS and why. Ask yourself the following questions to choose the right platform(s).
- How many pages does your website have?
A five-page website varies significantly from a 150-page site. Content management on the smaller side can be done without an advanced platform. Hosting in a progressive forum, you will also lose creative control to an expert.
- Do you plan on selling products?
When selling products from your branded website, choose a CMS that offers eCommerce themes and reliable shopping cart options. An excellent eCommerce theme provides all the bells and whistles you need to streamline product sales.
Here are theme features to look for if you plan to sell products on your site:
- Reliable, built-in shopping cart
- Simple navigation menu
- Search box
- Email subscription form
- Account/ registration pages
- Portable card reader for omnichannel integration
- Do you plan on hosting a blog?
If you host a blog, consider whether or not you want your article pages on a separate CMS and the total costs. Ideally, you will want everything in one dashboard. Choose a blogging platform if your blog is central to your marketing strategy.
- What types of add-ons do you need/ want?
Various CMS platforms have add-ons and plugins that allow easy access to helpful tools. Explore the marketing and design tools offered with the software you consider. Learn how to determine which add-ons and options a particular CMS provides and factor all costs into your final decision.
Here’s how you can find the tools a specific system offers:
- Check out the content management system’s main website.
- Find the available add-ons/ plugins and integrations pages.
- Search for what you need (ex: “social media sharing”)
- Research the main website of the feature you’re interested in (ex: Mailchimp, etc.).
For example, with some research, you will find that Magento, a popular CMS, offers an advanced filtering system with its menus, which is invaluable if you provide various product options.
When building a website, you either create an asset or an expense. Ensure you get what you need from your CMS to save your pocketbook and increase your ROI.