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Calculating the ROI on a CMS Implementation Project

17 Jul 2023

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You’ve heard the buzz about content management systems (CMS). But you might find yourself questioning the value of such an investment. How can we measure CMS ROI? And most importantly, how do we justify it to the powers that be?  

A great CMS goes beyond just a platform to manage content – it has the potential to transform your organisation's communications landscape, empowering your team to deliver exceptional digital experiences and reach your audience in a cluttered digital environment. In this blog post, we'll dive into the nuts and bolts of measuring, calculating and improving your CMS return on investment.

Identifying the Benefits of Implementing a CMS

In a world where digital technology evolves at a relentless pace, businesses need to stay at the forefront to maintain competitiveness.

A well-implemented CMS platform can provide this edge, driving not only operational efficiencies but also bottom-line results. This is particularly crucial for large organisations with a geographically dispersed workforce.

What are the top-level qualitative benefits of a CMS?

1. Increased Web Rankings and Traffic

The first major benefit of implementing a CMS is the potential for increased web rankings and traffic. A well-structured and optimised CMS can vastly improve SEO performance, helping your content rank higher in search results. This, in turn, draws more visitors to your site and enhances your business’s online visibility.

2. Reduced Web Development Costs

A CMS can also significantly reduce web development costs. With a user-friendly interface and a wealth of ready-made templates, content creators can publish and update content without the need for intensive coding or technical knowledge. This can minimise reliance on external development teams and save costs.

3. Increased Productivity of Content Publishers

A CMS enhances the productivity of publishers by streamlining workflows. Automating manual processes such as content uploading, scheduling, review dates, expiry dates, and formatting, enables publishers to focus more on generating quality content and less on administrative tasks. 

4. Increase Productivity and Efficiency Overall

There are a range of features and functionality that come with a good CMS out-of-the-box. Everything from online training manager and events manager, to forms and workflows and document manager, are included to make it faster and more efficient to deliver exceptional digital experiences.

5. Improved Customer Satisfaction

Finally, a CMS can contribute to improved customer satisfaction. A CMS that supports personalisation can help deliver more relevant and engaging content to your audience. This can improve the user experience and boost customer satisfaction levels.

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Steps to Identify the Benefits of Implementing a CMS

1. How is the Website Managed?

To determine if a CMS is right for your business, start by examining how your current website is managed. Do you rely on a web developer for every minor update? Are there delays in publishing new content because of technical limitations or availability issues? If your answer to these questions is 'yes', then your organisation could benefit from the autonomy and efficiency a CMS can provide.

For example, with Elcom’s CMS, non-technical staff can easily upload and format content, implement changes and even conduct A/B testing to optimise the user experience. This translates into reduced waiting times for content to go live and the ability to respond swiftly to market changes.

2. What are the Business's Goals, and Will a CMS Get Them There?

The next step is to identify your business goals and see if a CMS can help achieve them. Are you aiming to increase user engagement? Do you want to improve internal communication? Or perhaps you're aiming to expand into new markets?

For instance, if your goal is to improve internal communication, a CMS can centralise and streamline this process. Elcom’s CMS has an intranet platform that facilitates communication and collaboration, helping to break down geographical and departmental barriers within large, dispersed organisations.

3. What Audience Does the Business Cater To?

Understanding your audience is crucial. A CMS can cater to diverse audience needs – from language preferences to device compatibility. If your audience resides in different countries, a CMS like Elcom’s can manage and deliver multilingual content, ensuring your messages resonate with all stakeholders. Similarly, if your analytics suggest a high volume of mobile users, a CMS with responsive design capabilities will ensure your content looks its best on all screen sizes.

4. What Budget Can the Business Manage?

While implementing a CMS involves an upfront investment, the benefits and cost savings in the long run can be substantial. Remember, a CMS not only reduces web development costs but also increases productivity by automating routine tasks. To understand this better, you might look into how to calculate CMS ROI below. These calculations should include both the cost of implementation and the long-term efficiencies gained, such as reduced staff hours and lower reliance on third-party services.

5. Does the Business Have Technical Experts Readily Available?

Finally, take stock of your in-house technical expertise. While a CMS simplifies content management, it still requires initial setup and periodic maintenance. If you lack technical expertise, you might consider a CMS provider, like Elcom, that offers comprehensive support, from setup to maintenance, to training of your staff.

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Estimating Revenue and Cost Savings

When you consider ROI, it's not just about the immediate financial impact. An efficient CMS can streamline processes, enhance your web presence, and foster better internal communication. It’s a powerful tool that goes beyond dollars and cents, helping your organisation perform better at multiple levels.

The process of measuring this value involves carefully tracking CMS ROI metrics and making use of available CMS ROI tools. Remember, each business is unique, and it's essential to adjust calculations based on your specific situation. 

These estimations, however, hinge largely on your organisation's goals. If you're in marketing and looking to increase customer experience and boost lead generation, the focus would be on creating an engaging website or portal to increase the number of visitors, time on site and potential revenue. Your metrics could include visitors, time on site, number of leads and increased revenue / sales.

On the other hand, if you're part of the IT and Ops team and your goal is to offer a central hub of information and communication to improve workforce productivity and efficiency, then your focus would be on building an intranet that streamlines and automates tasks, houses knowledge online and integrates with other business systems. Your metrics could include time savings gained from using forms and workflows and decrease in internal support tickets.

Remember to tap into CMS ROI resources and case studies to get the most out of your investment. With the right understanding and implementation, the revenue and cost-saving potential of a CMS can be a game-changer for your organisation.

Here are some ways you can translate the benefits of a CMS into quantifiable revenue and cost savings.

1. Dollar Value of Organic Traffic Vs Paid

A well-implemented CMS can significantly enhance your site's organic traffic, reducing the need for costly paid campaigns. To estimate this saving, you can calculate the difference between what you would have spent on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to gain similar traffic volume and what you actually spent on organic SEO via the CMS.

Let's say your CMS and SEO efforts result in an increase of 10,000 monthly visitors. If your average cost-per-click in a PPC campaign is $2, you would have spent $20,000 to attract the same number of visitors. The savings realised in this case represents a portion of your CMS ROI.

2. Actual Web Development Costs and Hours

A CMS can drastically cut web development costs. To understand this saving, compare the costs before and after CMS implementation.

Let's consider an example: before CMS implementation, you relied on external developers to manage your website, costing $100 per hour. If you needed 20 hours per week, the annual cost was around $104,000. With a CMS, you can take most of that work in-house. Even if you still require 5 hours a week from an external developer, the annual cost drops to $26,000, providing a substantial cost saving.

3. Cost Savings from Creator Productivity

Increased productivity is another key advantage of a CMS. Content creators can publish more in less time, resulting in savings from reduced manpower hours.

For instance, if preparing and uploading a blog post previously took 5 hours and now takes just 2 hours with a CMS, you've saved 3 hours per post. If you post 4 times a week, that's a saving of 12 hours weekly. Over a year, this saving can amount to a substantial figure when multiplied by the hourly wage of your content creators.  

Estimate Cost of the CMS

Investing in a CMS can revolutionise your workforce, particularly if you're part of a large organisation with a geographically dispersed workforce.

In order to make an informed decision, it's crucial to understand and estimate the cost of a CMS.

This process involves considering the cost of software solutions, implementation, opportunity cost, and maintenance. Let's delve into these aspects.

1. Cost of Software Solutions

The first cost that comes to mind is the software solution itself. CMS prices can vary significantly, with options ranging from free open-source platforms to premium subscription-based services. Keep in mind that while open-source CMS might seem appealing due to the low upfront cost, they often require more hands-on management and technical expertise, which could increase costs in the long run.

Consider your specific requirements in terms of functionality, scalability, and security when choosing your CMS.

2. Cost of Implementation

A key factor to consider is the cost of implementation. Will you be doing this in-house or outsourcing the project? The cost will vary depending on your choice. Outsourcing to experts, while potentially more expensive upfront, can save you time and resources by ensuring the job is done right the first time. Vendors will have their own well established and documented CMS implementation process to assist you.

On the other hand, in-house implementation can be more cost-effective if you have the right technical skills within your team.

3. Opportunity Cost

Opportunity cost refers to other business operations that could have been done instead of implementing a CMS. For example, the time your team spends learning to use a new CMS could have been spent on other revenue-generating tasks.

However, keep in mind that this is a short-term cost. Once the team is up to speed with the CMS, the increased productivity and operational efficiencies can more than make up for this initial opportunity cost.

4. Costs of Maintenance and Support

Finally, there's the cost of maintaining the CMS. This includes the cost of a development team, updates, backups, and cybersecurity measures.

Depending on the CMS chosen, these costs can be managed in-house or included in a service package. Elcom, for instance, offers a comprehensive support service, alleviating the burden of maintenance and ensuring your solution runs smoothly.

Modelling the ROI of a CMS

Like any other investment, implementing a CMS requires justification, particularly when you're a part of a large organisation.

That's where understanding and modelling the CMS ROI comes into play.

To aid you on this journey, we've provided an accessible formula to calculate CMS ROI:

ROI % = (Income from CMS / Cost of CMS) * 100

CMS ROI Formula

Measuring 'Income'

Measuring the 'income' from a CMS is not always straightforward. There may not be a direct income stream resulting from the CMS, but the value it adds to your organisation can be considerable.

For instance, consider the time saved by your content creators, which is now available for other tasks. If the CMS saves each creator 3 hours per week, and their hourly wage is $30, the weekly value added is $90 per content creator. Multiply this by the number of creators and the weeks in a year, and you'll have a substantial figure to add to your 'income' from the CMS.

Increased web traffic leading to higher revenue is another form of 'income'. If the CMS helps improve your search engine ranking, attracting more visitors and subsequently boosting sales, this additional revenue contributes to the CMS 'income'.

Considering 'Cost'

On the other hand, the 'cost' of a CMS includes not just the price of the software solution, but also the cost of implementation, potential training, and ongoing maintenance.

Remember to factor in both the immediate and long-term costs associated with your chosen CMS.

Modelling ROI

Once you have a handle on these two factors, you can input your figures into the formula: ROI % = (Income from CMS / Cost of CMS) * 100.

Let's say, for example, your CMS has a total cost of $30,000 per year and the benefits (or 'income') it brings to your organisation amount to $90,000 per year. Your ROI would be (90,000 / 30,000) * 100 = 300%. This means you're getting three times the value of your investment – a compelling figure for any organisation.

CMS ROI Formula Example

But, remember, this calculation is a guide. There are numerous variables and possible benefits to consider, many of which are not easily quantifiable, such as improved employee engagement or better brand consistency. These elements may not have a direct monetary value but contribute significantly to the overall value of a CMS.

Consider the Intangible Benefits of a CMS

We often deal in the tangible. We're comfortable with facts, figures, and concrete metrics that justify our efforts. When calculating the CMS ROI, it's easy to focus on the easily quantifiable factors. However, it's just as crucial to consider the intangible benefits a CMS can bring to your organisation – aspects like brand reputation, customer loyalty, and employee morale.

Brand Reputation

A CMS allows you to maintain consistency in your messaging, visuals, and overall brand identity across your entire digital presence. This consistency contributes to a stronger brand reputation. Although it's hard to put a dollar figure on brand reputation, there's no denying its impact on your organisation's success.

Furthermore, by enabling you to update content quickly and efficiently, a CMS helps you maintain relevancy and timeliness, reinforcing your brand as trustworthy and reliable.

Customer Loyalty

The customer journey isn't linear – it's a continuous loop. Providing relevant, engaging content at every touchpoint is vital for fostering customer loyalty. A CMS supports this endeavour by making it easy to publish and update content regularly.

A CMS also enables personalisation, which has been shown to increase customer loyalty. Personalised content makes customers feel valued and understood, which in turn can increase repeat business. Quantifying customer loyalty can be tricky, but CMS ROI case studies have shown that customer retention is significantly less costly than acquisition, making loyalty a worthwhile investment.

Employee Morale

Don't underestimate the impact of a CMS on your internal team. A user-friendly CMS can drastically reduce the time and stress associated with creating, updating, and managing content. This ease of use can lead to improved employee morale, which, while intangible, is invaluable.

If your CMS is used to build an intranet, then it can significantly improve culture and morale and connection with each other and the organisation, especially if you have a geographically dispersed organisation.

Improved morale can result in increased productivity, fewer sick days, and lower staff turnover, all of which have a direct impact on your bottom line. While it might be difficult to calculate CMS ROI in terms of morale, the resulting efficiency and cost savings are substantial.


As we've explored in this post, from the qualitative benefits to cost savings, estimating costs, ROI modelling, and intangible benefits, each aspect plays a significant role in the overall picture of CMS ROI. Remember, the ultimate goal is to add value to your organisation, whether that’s in the form of time savings, cost reductions, or improved employee engagement. These best practices for CMS ROI measurement and tips for improving CMS ROI will hopefully guide you on this journey, and showcase the transformative potential a CMS holds for your organisation.

Need more assistance selecting the right CMS for your needs? Check out 'The Ultimate Guide to Selecting Your Ideal CMS'. Developed by experts, this guide is your essential resource for selecting and implementing the ideal CMS for your needs. It comes packed with ready-to-use templates for content audits, migration, and implementation plans, setting you up for success from day one. Simply fill in the form below to receive your copy.

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