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The Real Cost of Free CMS

Working in a small business, you’re always looking for ways to stretch your limited marketing dollars. Price is always a question, and “free” is often an attractive answer.  However ... once the costs of training, customizations, support, ease of use (or lack thereof), integration with other tools and web hosting are taken into consideration, “free” tools can turn out to be quite costly.   

But to be fair, sometimes free is fine. You can find helpful free online tools and free utilities that enable you to automate tasks or do things more easily. However, when it comes to a function that is strategic or mission critical, “free” tools are generally not worth the risk.

Your website is the core of your web marketing efforts. In fact, with more than 80% of all high-value purchase decisions now reliant on online research, you website could be considered the core of nearly all of your marketing efforts.

Free content management system (CMS) tools can seem attractive at first glance, but for something as strategic and vital as your corporate web presence, consider the risks and potential drawbacks carefully before relying on a “free” platform:

 

  • Complexity - Free CMS tools like Drupal and Joomla are complex and difficult for non-web developers to use and involve a significant learning curve. Even WordPress takes considerable time and effort to master. Your time is valuable; be sure to factor in the cost of learning to use the CMS in your decision.
     
  • Functionality - Free CMS platforms generally don’t offer extended web marketing functionality like customer relationship management (CRM) or email marketing, and can be difficult to integrate with those applications. Many free CMS tools also rely on third-party applications (e.g., WordPress plugins) to extend their functionality, for example, to create interactive forms. These external applications vary widely in quality and reliability, and sometimes stop working altogether when a new version of the CMS is released.
     
  • Support - Support for free tools is often limited to technical discussion forums. Getting answers to specific questions can take a lot of searching or require hiring a consultant.  There’s no vendor to ask for customizations or new features. An independent developer may be able to build these features for you, but they won’t be part of the standard application and can easily break when the core CMS software is upgraded.
     
  • Hosting - You have to make your own website hosting arrangements. If the web host ever decides to drop support for that platform (which can and does happen), you’ll either be “stranded” with a website that can’t be updated or forced into a challenging migration to another host. And most web hosts provide support only for their hosting services, not for the CMS platform.

This is how “free” tools can turn out to be costly. Your time to learn, integrate the needed functionality, and figuring out how to make all pieces work without support easily makes it not worthwhile and frustrating,

Fee-based tools that offer vendor support, integrated functionality and a reliable upgrade path often turn out to be a more cost-effective approach.  That's why we developed the Eproneur Web Marketing Platform to provide you with that ease of use, fully integrated functionality with all the tools you need for your web marketing efforts and a full commitment to support, including hosting! 

 




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Eproneur empowers entrepreneurs and small businesses to promote their business online in the most affordable and effective way.

Eproneur is a full service web marketing firm located in Princeton, New Jersey. We offer a powerful suite of integrated web marketing software tools, website design services, search engine optimization and social media services.

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