The Local Marketing Stack
Zone 2 • Difficulty: • Sugg. D.I.Y. Monthly Budget: $200+
When thinking about their website, most small businesses understandably go right to its design. But in reality, designs can be updated relatively cheaply and easily at any future date–as long as you don’t shoot yourself in the foot with this component.
The choice of Content Management System (CMS) — the platform on which your website is built — is far more consequential and has far longer-lasting consequences than does the initial look-and-feel you choose for your website.
Too many small businesses are lured by slick radio ads or ridiculous marketing promises and don’t take a step back to think critically about the strengths and weaknesses of the platform they’re about to select.
Here are the most important considerations:
- How well does the CMS integrate with other marketing products?
While your website remains the central piece of your marketing infrastructure, these days more and more consumer activities are happening on other platforms. So it’s essential that your website “talk” to other platforms.For example, are there widgets that collect email addresses for a Mailchimp or Constant Contact campaign? Can you easily publish customer reviews as testimonials? Can you pull in a feed of your Instagram photos? These are just a few of the basic integrations that your CMS should offer.
- How well-supported is it?
If something goes wrong–and it will inevitably go wrong, no matter how good the platform is–how easy will it be to find someone who can fix your site? What about if you want to add bells-and-whistles? Can you hire a freelancer or an agency to change or add at low cost?Just because a CMS is cheap to set up or maintain does not mean it won’t be a costly long-term solution.
- How easy is it for you (or someone non-technical) to update content?
You shouldn’t be on the hook to hire a designer or developer every time you want to change a headline or add a new page. The back end of the CMS should be easy enough that anyone who’s digitally savvy enough how to send an email can update a website.
- How search-engine-friendly is it?
This is a harder question to evaluate if it’s a new or niche-industry CMS. As a general rule, though, there’s a clear winner on search engine friendliness: WordPress.
If you go with WordPress, there are plenty of free themes you can use to get started, but typically to involve a web developer will put you in the neighborhood of $1,500 – $3,000 annually. It may be just as easy to use Kick Point’s Squarespace service.
Other CMS platforms have monthly subscription services ranging from $20 – $200/month (which may end up costing you roughly the same as WordPress).