The plugin dilemma
WordPress plugins are a big part of the platform’s attraction. If a certain piece of functionality isn’t available within the core architecture, chances are that there are a few options available that are either paid or free. A word of caution, however: not all plugins are created equally, and it’s important to choose options that have good ratings and support behind them, so that security fixes are provided in a timely manner. Be aware as well that adding too many plugins to your WordPress site can slow it down, or create conflicts within the back end of the site. This is why it’s essential to have a competent development team that can work with you to achieve the desired functionality while still maintaining the performance of your site.
WordPress is to other content management systems as Windows once was to desktop operating systems. It’s the 800 pound gorilla in the room and, as such, it is an appealing target for hackers. This means that it’s absolutely essential to keep your WordPress installation up to date as security patches come out. A hacked, outdated version of WordPress can rapidly turn into a headless bot site, ruining your online reputation, SEO, and email deliverability. Make sure your development team has a few hours every quarter set aside to maintain and keep your site up to date, or risk being marked on the Google search results page as a ‘hacked site’—a surefire way to kill potential traffic and leads.
Despite all of this, WordPress remains one of the best content management platforms in the world. It’s fast, easy to manage, and truly extensible. Plus, many young marketers have experience with the system, meaning that the learning curve for your team is likely small.
In 2014, HubSpot released the latest version of their content management system, the COS (Content Optimization System). Designed almost entirely for content marketers, the COS has features that few other systems do. A COS-driven site can tell who is on the site and whether or not they are already in your lead database. Based on any criteria in the contact record of that visitor, it’s possible to serve different content or calls to action. For example, someone who has already made a purchase from you has different requirements from your site than a visitor who has only just found you in a Google search. The same goes for a visitor who has already downloaded one of your top of funnel guides. There’s no need to show them the same guide offer again—it makes more sense to provide them with a link to a mid-funnel asset such as a case study.
This focus on optimizing the contextual experience of your site visitor makes the COS an excellent choice for marketers without major development requirements. WordPress integrates better with other tools since it is self-hosted, and there’s more that can be done to customize the platform. This means that if you’re planning to integrate with custom data, run an ecommerce platform that integrates with your CMS, or anything else of a particularly custom nature, the COS may not be the most extensible choice.
If, however, your core concern from your content management platform is serving appropriate content to the right people at the right time, the COS is a game changer. The Kula dev team has developed some custom WordPress tools that give contextual marketers some of the power of the COS when integrated with HubSpot’s marketing automation features.
Other content management platforms
There are hundreds of other content management systems available, from open source juggernauts like Drupal to insanely expensive closed source platforms like Ektron or Red Dot. In our experience, huge enterprise class systems make sense for almost no one. They are difficult to extend, have very little custom development support, massive ongoing costs with next to no benefit, and few agencies or firms can help with integration.
In the past few years, a number of small-business class hosted, closed source systems have come online, such as SquareSpace. These tools have a modest fee to use and a fairly limited feature set and templating system. They are, however, a great way to quickly stand up a good looking and easy-to-manage site. Just don’t expect to be able to easily customize everything in the site.
For many advanced digital marketers, the ability to quickly integrate new tools, enable ecommerce, and perform digital marketing means that they should stick with the most well-known platforms like WordPress or HubSpot COS. The choice generally comes down to what you want your website to do for you. If it’s a more complex, integrated suite of ecommerce applications, WordPress is likely a better fit. If your entire site is about moving visitors through a sales funnel, the COS will give you power that you can only dream of with other tools.