Choosing the right Content Management System for your Membership Organisation

Posted by Tim Chalklen on 03 January 2018

Choosing the right Content Management System (CMS) for your membership organisation is no mean feat and can end up being a costly exercise in terms of time, money and resource if done incorrectly.  Content Management Systems have evolved in parallel with the internet; designed originally to just manage digital content, they are now seen as an integral part of the digital marketing mix; the backbone of many membership organisations.  

There are two key components you’ll find in a CMS; a front end user interface (CMA – content management application) and a content delivery application (CDA).  A CMA allows the web manager to add, remove and modify content from the website without the need of a coding expert whereas a CDA compiles that information and updates the website.

Having worked with many membership organisations over the years, I see the challenges faced when it comes to choosing the right CMS.  With that in mind, I’ve put together some top questions you should be asking yourself and/or your digital agency when embarking on the search for a new CMS.

What do you want your CMS to do?

Take time to identify what your organisation and customers need from your solution.  Digital marketing initiatives are dependent on the right technologies that allow you to track and analyse customer interactions; this in turn gives you the tools required to deliver content that connects to their needs and interest.  Today’s all-in-one platforms provide a number of features including web management, social media management, e-commerce and online marketing with all customer data stored and centrally managed giving a complete 360 degree view.  Alternatively, do you just need to keep your website up to date with seamless integration to your back office systems? Be realistic about what your team can achieve.

Are you looking for a scalable solution? 

Business objectives are continually evolving in line with changing market conditions, customer demands and product offerings.  It’s therefore important to do your homework and explore not only how scalable the solution is but also the history of the CMS provider and its ability to keep up to date with the latest technological trends.  Ask yourself “what is the vendors’ road map and product vision and do they have a healthy future?”

How will you implement the CMS?

In addition to having a websites, many membership organisations have a number of other sites including online stores, community and forum sites, intranets, marketing landing pages, blogs and so on.  Choosing the right CMS that lets you manage all your sites from a single interface will help centralise resource ensuring greater efficiencies in terms of time and cost.

Would you benefit from a digital agency to help you and your teams get up and running?

If you’re unsure what your organisation and customers require then turning to a digital agency is a good place to start.  As digital experts, they will undertake a full audit identifying what’s working well and where improvements can be made.  Aligned with your business objectives, they will be in a position to identify and source the best CMS solution that satisfies your long term business objectives.

What kind of training will be required?

When deciding upon which CMS to choose, it’s vital you invest some of the budget into staff training.  The right training will ensure you get the most out of your solution faster and more effectively.

What do you need from user interfaces?

A well- structured user interface speeds up the completion of tasks and helps users track progress and results.  Therefore having a CMS with a friendly user interface will help marketers and content managers make a big difference in creating engaging campaigns and relevant content that’s delivered to the customer at just the right time. There may be a CMS offered alongside your CRM, but how much effort has gone into making the user interface work for managing content?

How important is content to your organisation when it comes to engaging members?

This is a very important consideration so when evaluating the different options available it’s vital to invite the relevant bodies to the table.  From a marketing point of view, will the new CMS facilitate campaign creation and management, content testing, website updates, personalisation, customer analytics, SEO and so on?  For new member acquisition, does the CMS provide a mechanism that highlights hot, warm and cold leads, will it allow for e-commerce optimisation?

Do you need in built workflows and collaboration tools to help your team?

Finally a modern CMS should support many kinds of collaborations between teams such as marketing, membership management and IT.  With so many content and authoring processes, workflow management for content creation and publishing is a must have.

Overall, the benefits of choosing a comprehensive CMS platform are plentiful. Having a central solution that seamlessly connects departments, sites and landing pages and social media will ensure you deliver on your business and member needs and expectations in the most efficient and cost effective way.  

If you’re thinking about upgrading an existing CMS or looking to a new solution, why not Contact Us today for some advice or take our Free Digital Audit which will help you identify digital gaps and what you can do to address them.




Tim Chalklen

Find more posts by Tim