Arguments Against Industry-specific Website CMS platforms

November 10, 2015

whole brain marketing blog author


Posted by Jamie Cartwright

When marketers start talking about a website redesign, the conversation usually begins with the CMS—i.e., the content management system, the platform that houses and organizes website structure to make it easier on the manager.

Before content management systems, web managers had to be true webmasters; they coded every page, and added content directly to the setup they had manually prepared. CMSes changed what it meant to be a website manager and made it easier for strategists to directly engage with the content they wanted to disperse online.

Today, there are hundreds of different CMSes, ranging from proprietary platforms constructed for a single corporation to open source options such as Wordpress. As developers have produced new systems and niche needs have called for unique solutions, the number of content management systems has just exploded.

One interesting aspect of this explosion is the rise of the industry-specific CMS. These are website platforms "constructed for" a specific industry type, like non-profits, supply chain companies, SaaS companies, or the finance sector. As with products and services, specialization in the website CMS category is an attractive move. Just consider it. If you had never bought a website CMS before, would you rather purchase one that's tailored to your industry, or would you go with a general product?

Marketers Have Good Reason to Choose Industry-Tailored CMS Platforms, but...

In most cases, a website novice would choose the tailored fit, on the basis that the platform will be able to do more specific operations better. After all, every industry has its marketing worries that they want addressed. In finance, they worry about compliance. In the SaaS industry, they worry about software integration. In non-profits, marketers want donor management and giving pages. Rather than customize these needs, most marketers want their specifications available out-of-the-box.

The problem with this mindset is that marketers often don't consider what they aren't getting when they choose a vertical-specific website platform. Sure, your initial worries are met, but what other features does that CMS not provide?

What Industry-Specific Website Platforms Usually Can't Do

Generally-speaking, the problems with industry-specific website platforms is that in their efforts to serve niches well, their toolkit suffers. They don't innovate quickly enough to enable their customers to do the best in digital marketing they possibly can.

For instance, one content management system popular with chambers of commerce is called Accrisoft, which is serviced by sister company, Accrinet. As the platform's website says, Accrisoft's Freedom CMS is built as a "database-driven website." In other words, because chambers have lots of online users, Accrisoft's solution is designed to manage a website that includes the ability to have a database of users, job listings, login capabilities, etc.

However, with all of these neat features specific to a Chamber's needs, Accrisoft's ability to do advanced nurturing and personalization in digital marketing is limited. Compare the CMS with a full-blown marketing automation-enabled CMS like HubSpot, and the two don't even compare.

Why Niche Companies Should Use Generalist CMS Platforms

Your CMS is a Platform, not a Marketing Solution

The reason companies tend to gravitate toward industry-specific CMS solutions is because they want to make sure they're meet their customers' and prospects' needs adequately. However, it's a mistake to think a CMS will solve for those needs in and of itself. A CMS is a platform, but good use of the CMS with effective online marketing and sales efforts is what will close more deals.

That's why we recommend getting a robust, innovative CMS platform, then building out a highly effective marketing program targeted to your prospects needs. If legal compliance is an issue, put that control on marketing and build out your specific needs on top of a flexible platform; don't look for the CMS to solve the issues within itself.

Compete for the Future: Focus on Capabilities

Too often, company-side marketingt team don't look at their needs down the road. They aren't focused on where their website will be in 4 years. If you're looking for maximal ROI, you should view a website as having an expiration date. If you know you're going to be redesigning to meet next generation trends in 3-4 years, then why not choose a CMS for the next 8-10.

The problem with many niche CMS platforms is that they don't have the development power to build their capabilities as quickly as mass-market platforms. Today, marketing automation systems like HubSpot are leading the way the personalization capabilities and integrated social context capabilities. While these features may not seem important to you now, in 3-4 years, they'll almost certainly be the standard for success in online marketing.

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