The Best Headless CMS for B2B SaaS
When it comes to a Headless CMS for growing and scaling B2B SaaS startups, we believe that Contento will emerge as the most logical option. Enjoying the best of breed features you’d expect from a Headless CMS, married to features designed specifically with the needs of B2B SaaS startups in mind helps ensure that the choice is made a whole lot easier as the sole vertical offering in the CMS space.
Co-Founder / CEO
March 7, 2023
When it comes to choosing a new Content Management System (CMS), the option set can be overwhelming. The market leader for CMSs, WordPress is 20 years old, and no longer fit for purpose for growing B2B SaaS websites. However, it does enjoy significant brand recognition in stark contrast to the wider competitive set helping to account for the success it has enjoyed. This short article outlines some of the options to consider as viable alternatives to WordPress.
Choosing a new CMS is challenging - especially for B2B SaaS companies.
For a start, there can be a mix of actors involved in the decision ranging from the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).
Lots of voices to consider.
Who leads the decision?
How to reconcile competing requirements from marketing and tech?
The first CMS is often chosen during a period of profound uncertainty (early stage B2B SaaS) where budgets are tight and the team is chronically resource constrained. Traffic will be negligible and the website requirements will be fairly modest.
As the company matures and grows, the site will evolve organically. There are no set rules as to when you should re-platform or upgrade your CMS. However, typical drivers include:
A new Chief Marketing Officer looking to make their mark
A fundraise where the ‘cheapest option’ is no longer the sole criterion
A brand refresh where the company is keen to portray a new visual identity
Where conversion rates need to improve and the site performance is a hindrance (website bloat can be a significant issue as Wordpress sites mature)
The fact the existing CMS is sucking too much time up or is constantly breaking (Issues with WordPress are significant)
Where security vulnerabilities are pressing
Regardless of the motivation, websites have a certain lifespan after which an internal project is put in place to make the necessary improvements.
So how can you evaluate the best option for your needs?
There are some assumptions I am making at this stage:
1- You understand why WordPress is not a viable option?
2- You are a growing B2B SaaS company
3- You are seeking a high-performance solution
4- Inbound marketing and SEO are cornerstones of your acquisition strategy
In recent years a new type of CMS has been emerging as a popular choice for those seeking to optimize for high-performance websites, where speed and security are key concerns. The curiously named Headless CMS relates to an API-lead approach that is based on the Jamstack.
Jamstack is an architectural approach that decouples the web experience layer from data and business logic, improving flexibility, scalability, performance, and maintainability. A Jamstack Headless CMS removes the need for business logic to dictate the web experience. It enables a composable architecture for the web where custom logic and 3rd party services are consumed through APIs.
— Source: Jamstack
With a Headless CMS, the front end and the back end are decoupled. Unlike traditional approaches (monolithic websites) which blend everything together, the clear delineation separates the content into a content repository where content can be produced, modeled, and stored before being fed to one of the heads via an API. From a marketing perspective, it means there is short-term pain - for long-term gain. The initial build will necessitate a structured content approach married to a front-end designer building the website. However, once live the marketing team will be easily able to manage and maintain the content.
A Headless Content Management System, or headless CMS, is a back end-only web content management system that acts primarily as a content repository. A Headless CMS makes content accessible via an API for display on any device, without a built-in front end or presentation layer. The term 'headless' comes from the concept of chopping the 'head' (the front end) off the 'body' (the back end). Whereas a traditional CMS typically combines a website's content and presentation layers, a headless CMS comprises the content component and focuses on the administrative interface for content creators, the facilitation of content workflows and collaboration, and the organization of content into taxonomies. A Headless CMS must be combined with a separate presentation layer to handle design, site structure, and templates.That combination generally relies on stateless or loosely coupled APIs.
— Source: Wikipedia
Key Advantages of Headless CMS for B2B SaaS
The advantages of Headless are significant particularly for the B2B SaaS use case referenced above and include:
Blistering speed - a Headless CMS based website benefiting from a Static Site Generator (SSG) and a Content Delivery Network (CDN) won’t be beaten on speed.
Robust security - When using a decoupled architecture, you can generally expect a higher level of protection against various types of attacks. Most Headless CMS platforms come equipped with access controls and single-sign-on capabilities, which minimize the number of login credentials needed and simplify the task of monitoring CMS access.
Flexible design - Your front end developer is not constrained by frameworks, technologies or templates freeing them up to focus exclusively on creating a beautiful design that converts.
Scalability - A Headless CMS is designed to scale effectively by efficiently managing large amounts of data and delivering web pages quickly.
Negligible Switching Costs - trying to migrate off some legacy CMSs is problematic to say the least. Baked into a Headless CMS website is the notion of allowing developers the freedom to choose which frameworks and technologies to use. Vendor lock-in is minimal and the front end design can be easily updated while leaving the content in situ in the Headless CMS.
Perfect for Omnichannel Marketing - Achieve API-driven flexibility by publishing to any frontend or framework.
Headless CMS and B2B SaaS
The key point with any CMS selection is of course recognizing that the vendor set needs to be narrowed aggressively depending on your unique particular circumstance. The context for this article is intended for growing B2B SaaS startups. For that cohort a Headless CMS solution is an ideal fit, however, a Headless CMS is not an appropriate option for a basic brochureware site for someone promoting their own sole trader business.
Best Headless CMS B2B SaaS
If you’ve decided that a Headless CMS is indeed the right route forward for your B2B SaaS startup then it's a case of short-listing some providers.
As a whole, the brand awareness for disparate CMSs outside of WordPress is fairly low.
Thus the names for a short list can are likely to come from a mix of the following:
Word of Mouth Referrals
G2/ Capterra Leader list
However, we believe that Contento earns a spot on the vendor list also. The notion of vertical SaaS is a relatively new phenomenon but it refers to the growing list of SaaS offerings built with one specific use case in mind.
Most vendors in the broader CMS space are horizontal offerings and are thus industry agnostic. Contento is different. It is built with one dominant use case in mind - a CMS for growing B2B SaaS companies. By selecting a narrow vertical, the feature set can align with a much more narrowly defined set of criteria. The approach is simple. Learn the lessons from what the other vendors have done (especially the mistakes they have made). Ensure the table stakes features (or core features) align with the leading solutions in the market and then frame everything through the lens of the dominant users (B2B SaaS in this instance).
Being able to make assumptions about the users and use cases provides significant clarity. Unlike other offerings which are more of a blank box, Contento can ensure the dominant use case is reflected in the UI/ UX so it is designed with the needs of marketing leaders (and their reports) in B2B SaaS. According to Josh Angell, CTO of Contento:
Sensible assumptions baked into our core product make building or using a marketing website more efficient, enjoyable and ultimately better. Most Headless CMS’ are an open box, a lot of classic CMS’ have too many assumptions in them (WordPress). We offer the best of both - a flexible, customisable base with sensible assumptions so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Why is Contento the Best Headless CMS for B2B SaaS Companies?
The following differentiation features thus help ensure that Contento is the best Headless CMS for B2B SaaS.
Baked in SEO as a default (not a Plugin). Map fields to SEO schema properties and pull a fully compliant JSON-LD Schema out of the API for every page on your site.
Tight 3rd party integrations for popular SaaS applications used by most marketing functions
Built for marketers and not just the techies
Preview your content in real-time with a seamless visual editing experience.
In short, CTO, Josh Angell puts it best:
Marketing people should want to use their CMS, without needing lots of mandatory training. Too often developers build a site, hand it over and then the end client is scared to use it as it seems complex or confusing. We’re building a CMS that works for both sides - usable and enjoyable for content editors, flexible, powerful and works with all the latest tech for devs.
When it comes to a Headless CMS for growing and scaling B2B SaaS startups, we believe that Contento will emerge as the most logical option. Enjoying the best of breed features you’d expect from a Headless CMS, married to features designed specifically with the needs of B2B SaaS startups in mind helps ensure that the choice is made a whole lot easier as the sole vertical offering in the CMS space. Finally, if the agency you approach suggests using WordPress I recommend you politely decline.