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What is the ROI of a Content Management System?

Here, we’ll delve into how to estimate the ROI of CMS platforms including initial and ongoing costs, the metrics needed to calculate returns, and the types of benefits you can expect. We’ll also cover key ROI stats, how the right CMS can lower costs and increase conversions, and an example ROI.

Your organization has decided it’s time for a new content management system (CMS), and you’ve finally narrowed it down to a couple of promising options. But for many organizations that decision involves significant expense, and you will need to show a calculated return on investment before anyone will agree to the financial outlay of purchasing a CMS.

The problem is, calculating the ROI for CMS software is not so cut and dry. An “estimated” ROI is much more realistic than a “calculated” ROI.

You simply cannot know for certain that you’re going to get $Y back for putting $X into a new system. Every CMS solution and implementation is different. And you can’t know for sure the effect it’ll have on your unique association.

So how can you demonstrate that a new CMS is worth the investment?

The trick is knowing which metrics to look at.


How to Calculate the ROI of a CMS


When estimating the ROI of a CMS, you first need to consider the cost of purchasing, hosting, and implementing the platform. Then you have to think about routine maintenance to keep it performing optimally. Lastly, you need to track and measure conversions.


Cost of CMS Purchase, Implementation, & Maintenance


The cost of CMS projects is largely driven by the selected platform, but what about everything else? At Brightfind, we regularly take on CMS projects that range in implementation costs from $30,000 to $500,000+. 

Why is there such a wide cost range? Because there are just so many different cost factors that go into a website update.

For example, are you going to take advantage of the benefits of a cloud service provider versus hosting on-site? Do you have upfront content needs? What about design, development, integrations, testing, project management, and analytics?

You also need to factor in the ongoing time, cost, and resources to maintain your site to ensure it continues to perform well and delivers the maximum ROI. Resources like analytics to measure digital effectiveness, content development and optimization, graphics, SEO, and marketing support are all cost factors to consider.


Read More: Website Maintenance: 6 resources you need to maintain a rebuilt site


ROI Metrics to Consider

Once you’ve estimated the cost of implementation and maintenance, there are three other critical measurements you must nail down to estimate the uplift in revenue from a website change: baseline ROI, points of conversion, and the conversion value.

The three final metrics to estimate the ROI of your CMS include:

  • Benchmark ROI (i.e. you need a prior, baseline measurement for comparison).
  • Conversion points (e.g. identifying when a user takes an action that provides value to your association such as completing a form, making a purchase, registering for an event, subscribing to your newsletter, or enrolling in membership).
  • The value of each point of conversion (e.g. tracking and measuring conversion across channels and websites using Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics).

Once you’ve got these metrics dialed, all that’s left is actually calculating the ROI of your CMS options.

ROI % = (Return - Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment x 100


Key Stats on the ROI of Content Management


Once you’ve measured the ROI of a CMS, there’s simply no denying the decreased cost and increased returns of investing in the right solution.

This is particularly true if your organization requires a centralized CMS solution that allows you to efficiently create, reuse, and distribute content and branding assets across various channels and multiple websites.

Here are some of the key ROI statistics based on the new Forrester report on the Total Economic Impact of Sitefinity, a cloud-based “digital experience” CMS platform.

  • $1.3 million in productivity gains from improved digital efficiencies.
  • $1.6 million in productivity gains from improved integrations.
  • 600% increase in site traffic from increased site speed.
  • $557.6K efficiencies gained from internal redeployment of IT architects.
  • 245% ROI payback in 13 months

And here are the major ROI stats from Sitecore’s industry-based research findings on centralized content management solutions.

  • 30% increase in conversions.
  • 20%-50% reduction in IT costs.
  • ​​80% reduction in time spent on content updates and publishing requests.
  • 75% reduction in marketing overhead costs.
  • 30%-40% reduction in content creation costs.
  • 23% faster time to bring campaigns to market.
  • 20% reduction in customer service costs.
  • 10% increase in self-service on site.
  • 23% reduction in legal risk.

How a CMS Can Increase ROI


The right CMS system can help your organization decrease costs and increase returns by improving:

  • Findability of content and branding assets.
  • Branding consistency that reflects your organization's vision.
  • Campaign management and content automation across channels and websites.
  • Team collaboration and project visibility.
  • Data protection, security, and compliance.
  • Scalability of timely, consistent, and personalized messaging across channels and sites.
  • User engagement, acquisition, and retention by providing a more unified experience.


Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Websites for Associations


Example CMS ROI & Cost Savings


Forrester interviewed customers of Sitefinity's “digital experience” CMS platform and aggregated their results to create a single composite organization. The goal of the interviews and financial analysis was to better understand the benefits, costs, and risks of investing in a unified CMS. 

The organizations had previously been using a variety of unconnected web tools. The financial analysis found that the composite organization earned $3.4M over three years versus costs of $1M, adding up to a net present value (NPV) of $2.47M and an ROI of 245%.

The significant ROI is largely attributed to efficiency savings, increased productivity, and increased user engagement.

If you’re interested in comparing the CMS options and ROI for your association, then we’d love to talk. In addition to Sitefinity and Sitecore, we work with a number of different CMS partners to provide scalable, high-ROI solutions that integrate with the other software systems your organization uses to serve members. Get in touch with us.

Emily Shine

Topics: CMS

Written by Emily Shine

Emily Shine is a content writer and SEO strategist who helps purpose-driven organizations and entrepreneurs build their online presence. When she's not behind the computer, you can catch her in the park, gigging on a stompbox, or playing tennis.