July 17, 2020

HubSpot CMS Hub vs Traditional CMS: A Comparative Analysis

We're often asked the question, where should I build my website? Should I use the HubSpot CMS or a traditional CMS, such as WordPress? It's an important decision to make when websites are generally redesigned every 24 months and are the hub of all your digital marketing efforts.

We broke down the key differences and decision points between the HubSpot CMS Hub and a traditional CMS. For the purposes of this post, we used WordPress as it's generally the other tool in the running, and its differences from HubSpot’s CMS are very similar to Joomla or Drupal so the same principles apply.

A Quick History of the CMS

CMS stands for Content Management System. These systems brought a major shift in web marketing, since they allowed non-developers to generate and publish content. There are many CMS platforms available today. Of many, WordPress is the most widely used open-source CMS and is both mature and robust, with numerous plugins to accomplish nearly any purpose.

HubSpot released the HubSpot COS (content optimization system) in 2013, which was an integrated website, blog and landing page system that was developed for marketers and worked in tandem with the Marketing Hub.

In 2018, they re-launched it as a standalone CMS, and in 2020 its features were expanded even further when it was released as the CMS Hub. The current iteration is a holistic platform that includes website pages, landing pages, blogging, A/B and adaptive testing, forms and reporting all-in-one. It also offers a full integration with HubSpot's other Hubs, allowing it to seamlessly blend with your marketing, sales and service efforts.

Now, let's dive into why these differences should be important to you and your business.

CTA website redesign

WordPress is a Good Platform...

Let me say that again, WordPress is a good platform. For years, it was our own CMS of choice at New Breed, and we still have customers that happily use it. The three biggest reasons are that WordPress is:

  • One of the most mature pieces of open-source web software
  • Simpler to develop on than Drupal or Joomla (in most cases)
  • Backed by a huge user base and development community

In addition to this, there are use cases where building your site on a traditional CMS, such as WordPress, makes sense. The two most common instances of this are:

  • If you are an e-commerce business, in which case a traditional CMS might be a better fit
  • If you're looking to build a personal blog, in which case HubSpot is going to be more robust than you need

...but the HubSpot CMS Hub is BETTER!

When it comes to designing a website built for lead generation, it's clear that HubSpot is the best choice. There are two primary reasons I feel this way.

1. The CMS Hub is holistic

While traditional CMS’s focus on letting people manage their websites, HubSpot's platform encompasses ALL components of digital marketing. Here are the biggest reasons why I see the CMS Hub being a better choice for B2B marketers:

  • All-in-one (websites, blogs, reporting, customer database, A/B and adaptive testing, personalization etc.)
  • Dynamic page content through HubDB 
  • Incredibly intuitive interface allows marketers to make drag-and-drop changes to layouts
  • World-class hosting and security
  • Managed hosting reduces IT costs to self-host and keep the site updated
  • Manage multiple domains from a single login
  • Natively comes with SSL encryption
  • Everything has a revision history (pages, posts, CSS, .js, etc.)
  • Log-in based membership content
  • Local development via the HubSpot CLI
  • Serverless functions to integrate with APIs
  • Ability to manage multi-language content
  • Amazing 24/7 support via phone, email or chat

Most importantly, HubSpot allows you to tie the entire buyer’s journey together, from a top-of-funnel website visitor down to a bottom-of-funnel closed-won customer.

2. HubSpot's CMS Hub is personalized

The CMS Hub is an invaluable tool for content personalization as you're able to segment all of your marketing data and digital body language to create relevant and personalized experiences for your site visitors. This can be done using any contact property, custom event or even referral source or device type. It's incredibly powerful and is one way that the best marketers differentiate themselves and their brands.

The CMS Hub does this in three key ways:

  • Smart CTAs: HubSpot allows for dynamic CTAs that can change based on previous user activity. For instance, if a site visitor downloaded an e-book that is an overview in using social media in marketing then they might also be interested in an e-book on using Twitter in the B2B space. Smart CTAs will dynamically change the CTA to download a Twitter e-book on that particular user’s next visit.
  • Smart content: To go a step further, the CMS Hub actually allows us to have custom, on-page content for specific buyer personas. If we already know that a prospect is interested in web design, we can push that type of content right on the homepage. 
  • Smart forms: Not only do these forms remember a user's information so that it doesn’t need to be retyped (allowing for higher conversion rates), but they also allow you to gather more information about a specific lead over time. The first time they fill out a form you might ask them for the most basic information (name, email, and title). The next time you can go more in-depth and ask them the size of their company, what market they are in or even a specific marketing challenge.

From planning to launch day, learn how to make your next redesign project a  success with our Website Redesign Guide.

Additional Benefits of the HubSpot CMS Hub

  • The community: The HubSpot community is one of the best we’ve ever experienced in the marketing universe. It’s full of people who honestly love marketing and are eager to exchange knowledge and learn together. This is seen in their knowledge base, Slack channels, community forums and partner ecosystem.
  • APIs: CMS Hub has numerous APIs that allow for integrations and extend the power of the platform even further.
  • New features: As a HubSpot user, you’ll also get access to new features as they roll out without additional costs. It's been amazing to see how much HubSpot has iterated and improved its platform so it can better serve marketers and developers.

Key Takeaways

The biggest takeaway here is that WordPress is great and is a good option for use cases such as e-commerce or personal blogs. However, for B2B marketers with lead generation goals, the CMS Hub is hands-down the way to go. From ease of use and full-funnel integration to content personalization, there's no doubt that it will serve you and your website well.

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This post was originally published January 5, 2016.

Christopher Mathieu

Christopher Mathieu is the Chief Services Officer at New Breed, an Elite HubSpot Partner based in Burlington, VT, which helps customers implement the right technology and strategies to unlock meaningful growth. With a background in design, technology, and demand generation, his over two decades of experience allow...


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