Uncovering the Hidden Costs of Headless CMS

Admir Mehanovic, CEO @ penzle.com

Admir Mehanovic

CEO @ Penzle
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A headless CMS has become one of the most popular architectures for modern applications. There are numerous benefits to using a headless CMS, like decreased development time, improved scalability, and flexibility of content delivery, but like so many technologies, these benefits come with a cost - both in money and time invested upfront. The initial cost of each Headless CMS may seem very affordable initially, but the costs can become very high over some time. In this blog post, I will highlight key points around these costs so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not this type of solution is right for your project. There are several potential hidden costs associated with using a headless CMS that current vendors are not talking about:

Third-party application

When it comes to website building, mapping out your requirements and factoring in third-party integrations is essential. Conversely, when designing bespoke software, including external services may not be necessary at all.

Behind a website's scenes, multiple small components need to be considered for it to offer an engaging experience. Content from CMSs must work together with other modules that create polished digital experiences and contribute towards business success.

If you want to create a successful website, you will need more than just a great landing page. To convert visitors into leads and leads into customers, you will need an effective strategy. There are many different strategies available for converting potential customers into loyal customers, the marketing funnel is one such example of a strategy that will help to convert potential customers into loyal customers:

Headless CMS marketing-funnel diagram.

The marketing funnel consists of the following steps:

  1. As a first step, strangers will come to your website from search engines (such as Google), social media, paid advertisements, or offline marketing in an effort to find out more about your business.
  2. Strangers become anonymous visitors when they visit your website.
  3. A lead is created when a website visitor registers their contact information.
  4. Whenever a lead submits a purchase order, you close the deal and they become customers.

For those steps to be successful, you will also need to include additional components such as:

  1. You will be able to pull relevant content directly from the CMS when a visitor visits your website. A successful website must attract and engage more visitors. Adding a personalization module is a great way to give your users the option to view personalized content, which can significantly boost conversions. According to research, personalization drives 10 to 15 percent of revenue.
  2. To ensure that your website collects valuable information about your visitors, you will need to set up a form module that will enable you to capture their contact information. Contact information should be saved into a CRM lead database for future use. With access to this detailed lead database, you will be able to build relationships easily over time.
  3. Delivering a warm thank you after someone submits your form is an easy and effective way to stay in touch with potential leads. Utilize effective campaigns to maintain relationships with leads in your database. A good email campaign management strategy can help you stay in touch with your leads. You will need an effective module to manage email campaigns and autoresponder emails.

Diagram of hidden costs of Headless CMS with supported modules.

As a result of this process, a headless CMS will be used to deliver content to your website. It is important to note that the headless CMS does not include follow-up modules. You might not be able to handle all of those steps at the beginning of your digital journey, but over time, you will need to support your marketing team for your company to succeed.

It is important to note that you will also need to include an additional cost for personalization, form module, CRM, and email management module as part of your headless CMS license.

Integration costs

You will need to invest in integration efforts if you plan to use a headless CMS along with other systems, such as a customer relationship management (CRM) or an email marketing system, to ensure that all of these systems work together seamlessly.

Several factors can affect the integration cost, including the complexity of the integration and the number of integrations required. The process of integrating a headless CMS into an existing website or application can be complex and involve several stages, which include:

  1. Configuring the headless CMS to meet the project's specific requirements.
  2. Integrating the headless CMS with the frontend of the website or application may involve using APIs or other integration technologies.
  3. Content migration between systems, if necessary.
  4. Testing the integration to ensure that it is working as expected. The cost of integrating a third-party system can be influenced by the level of support and assistance the third-party vendor provides and the availability of resources to handle the integration process. In general, it is a good idea to carefully consider the integration costs of a headless CMS before deciding to use one, as they can significantly impact the overall cost of a project.

The cost of integrating a third-party system can be influenced by the level of support and assistance the third-party vendor provides and the availability of resources to handle the integration process. In general, it is a good idea to carefully consider the integration costs of a headless CMS before deciding to use one, as they can significantly impact the overall cost of a project.

Training costs

In order to integrate with an additional system, your team may need to invest time and resources in learning how to use it effectively. This can involve training costs for both developers and content creators. When estimating training costs, you should consider the following factors:

  • Time: How much time will it take to learn and become proficient in using the system? Several factors may affect this, such as the complexity of the system, your team's existing technical skills and experience, and the availability of training resources.
  • Resources: What are the resources you will need to learn the system? Depending on the CMS vendor, training courses, documentation, and support services may be available to all users.
  • Opportunity cost: What are the financial costs associated with not using the system while your team learns it? The costs associated with this could include lost revenue, missed opportunities in the business world, or the cost of using alternative solutions in the interim.

Maintenance and support costs

As with any software system, your application will require ongoing maintenance and support to ensure it continues to function properly and meet your organization's needs.

In most cases, a headless CMS will require you to run your application in a different environment that consumes the content from the headless CMS. As your project evolves, you may need to invest in additional development resources to ensure that the application is maintained and updated as well as the hosting environment of your application. That can involve costs for bug fixes, updates, and other support services.

Some vendors offer maintenance support, including things like fixes, security updates, and technical support. The cost of vendor support should be included in the overall maintenance cost.

Scalability costs

The scalability costs will depend on the specific product you are using and the size and complexity of your project. If you need to handle a large volume of traffic or data, you need to scale the hosting environment of your application and headless CMS. Generally speaking, if you are using a cloud-based headless CMS, it is common that all cloud providers have data and traffic limits, which means that you will need to upgrade your vendor subscription in order to operate the system. As you look at each vendor's website, you will notice that they each have a data and traffic limitations, and you will need to calculate the cost of upgrading your license based on how your business grows.

Headless CMS price comparison.

Overall, the cost should be calculated based on the application and vendor license scaling, which will support the amount of traffic or data you need.

You may also need to invest in additional resources if your project scales as you will be required to maintain and update your application and integrate the headless CMS with other systems or APIs as your project grows.

How Penzle solves headless CMS challenges

The Penzle platform is designed to address the challenges and hidden costs associated with traditional headless CMS, making it an efficient and cost-effective solution for businesses of all sizes. As we explore Penzle's solutions in this section, we will take a look at how it solves the challenges outlined in the article.

Third-party application

Penzle is designed to be a one-stop solution for businesses looking to streamline their content management processes and reduce the need for additional third-party applications. To achieve this goal, Penzle provides users with several features and tools to manage and organize their content efficiently, minimizing the need to rely on additional resources or external services.

Among Penzle's many strengths is its wide array of built-in business-critical modules, such as marketing, forms, and CRM, which constitute one of its critical assets. Several of the modules are designed to provide businesses with the flexibility and scalability they need to grow their customer base and improve their company's bottom line.

Headless CMS marketing modules, email marketing and CRM.

Integration costs

Integration costs are addressed through its API-first architecture, allowing easy integration with other systems and platforms. In this way, it is possible to reduce the costs involved in connecting the CMS to other systems and simplify the overall workflow of the system by eliminating the need for additional development resources.

Penzle also offers a variety of official and community-driven SDKs and integrations with other technologies, such as .NET, React, Angular and more, which can be used to easily connect the CMS to other systems, reducing the need for third-party applications.

Additionally, the platform is equipped with a webhooks feature that allows developers to subscribe to specific events and be notified whenever they occur, making it possible for them to trigger specific actions in other systems, reducing the need for additional development resources on their side.

Training costs

Throughout the platform's development, accessibility guidelines and the platform's user-friendliness were considered, reducing the need for extensive training.

With its comprehensive documentation, developer portal, video tutorials, and API-first architecture, the platform makes it easy for developers and other users to learn and understand how it works.

Due to the API-first architecture, the platform is familiar to many developers and is easy to use for front-end developers, reducing the need for extensive training on the platform.

As an added benefit, the platform offers a variety of training options that can be customized according to a company's specific needs, making it an excellent cost-effective solution for businesses that want to manage their content without incurring considerable training expenses.

Maintenance and support costs

Considering that the platform is built on a modern architecture, it ensures that it is constantly updated and improved by the Penzle team, so you will never have to worry about the maintenance of the platform itself.

It is important to note that the platform provides multiple support options to assist users with any issues or questions. Penzle also offers a variety of support options, including email and phone support, which are available 24/7, and a dedicated customer success manager for enterprise customers.

In this way, Penzle can be viewed as a cost-effective solution for businesses that are looking for a way to manage their content and ensure that their websites or applications function properly.


Overall, while a headless CMS has the potential to offer many benefits, one important thing to remember is that there may be hidden costs that can result in a project's total cost being higher than initially anticipated.

It is important to note that these costs may include costs such as third-party applications, or development , integration , maintenance , training , and scalability costs.

Knowing these costs will help you decide whether a headless CMS is right for your project and which vendor offers the best value. Taking into account these costs and ensuring that you have a solid strategy in place to manage them is the key to ensure the success of your headless CMS project.

If you are having trouble finding a headless CMS that is right for your organization, Penzle can help.

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