Analysis of the Content Management Systems (CMS) of the Top 25 B2B SaaS Websites in Ireland (2023)

Alan Gleeson
9 min readFeb 19, 2023

We analyzed the performance of the top B2B SaaS Companies in Ireland and share the findings below.

TL;DR

We analyzed the top 20 B2B SaaS companies in Ireland to assess how they were built, what Content Management System (CMS) they used, and what key technologies were common. Unsurprisingly we found that WordPress was by far the most popular CMS, however, its performance lagged those sites on a Headless CMS by some margin.

Introduction

We analysed the Content Management Systems (CMSs) of the top 25 B2B SaaS companies in Ireland. We used publicly available software to assess the performance of the various websites (primarily speed checks) to see what conclusions we could draw from the data.

The 2023 Cohort

Tying down a list of the top B2B SaaS companies in Ireland is not straightforward.

What is the most appropriate way to measure?

Ranking companies on revenue would be the obvious route, but that data is not usually in the public domain. Instead, we relied on a mix of sources ranging from Get Latka, to Linkedin counts of employee numbers (as a proxy for revenue), to TechIreland to various online publications including ThinkBusiness.ie and Business Plus.

We discounted those that had been acquired e.g. Poppulo, Boxever, and iCabbi.

As for the Unicorns, we’ve included Intercom and Stripe as they have a strong Irish footprint, while we excluded LetsGetChecked [not B2B SaaS]. (Source: Businessplus).

The List

The following represents the list we identified as the top 25 B2B SaaS companies in Ireland (2023):

The Top 25 B2B SaaS Startups in Ireland (2023)

Accounts IQ, Bizimply, Brightflag, Browserstack, Channelsight, Coolplanet, Edgescan, Fenergo, Flipdish, Glofox, Intercom, Keelvar, Learnosity, Learnupon, Newswhip, Phorest, Social Talent, Stripe, Teamwork, Tines, Transfermate, Wayflyer, Workhuman, Workvivo, Zyte

The Aim of the Study

The purpose of the study was to undertake an assessment of the Content Management Systems being used, the performance of the websites (as measured via Speed Checks), and the core technologies being used.

Site speed is a key factor for B2B SaaS sites as it impacts everything from the user experience to conversion rates, to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) performance. Yet despite its importance, it tends to be an oft-overlooked element for marketing teams looking to drive growth.

As far back as 2018 Google declared that:

Speed is now a landing page factor for Google Search and Ads

They went on to add that:

Optimized web experiences lead to higher user engagement, conversions, and ROI; performance is a feature and a competitive edge.

Source: Google/SOASTA Research, 2017.

“Page speed is a critical factor in ranking your website higher on Google’s search engine results. If your website isn’t on par with the top 10 organic pages, you won’t rank on the first page. So focusing on page speed is paramount to having a successful company and a website that converts.” Neil Patel, NP Digital

In short, for larger scale-up companies with big ambitions — site speed is a key thing to optimise.

The Approach

The software we used to assess the data included a mix of publicly available tools including:

Caveats

There are some caveats to flag concerning the data.

  1. Speed tests are notoriously variable and thus they can jump around. These tests were conducted over a 2-day period in Feb 2023, from London.
  2. Secondly, as the sector relates to B2B SaaS I’ve used data related to desktop website speed rather than mobile. The primary use case of B2B / enterprise software is desktop use (unlike other categories incl B2C) and thus we have defaulted to desktop speeds. For the most part, mobile speeds are usually worse than desktop.
  3. Thirdly, I have focused on the homepage as a proxy for the rest of the site. A full audit would cover a lot more ground but as the homepage for a B2B SaaS site is it’s most important page I am focusing on that.
  4. Finally, the CMS used is one variable that affects site speed. There are countless others including image size, and compression. For the purposes of this research we are focused on where there are correlations between page load times and CMS’s used.

Our Findings

Content Management Systems (CMSs)

We first looked at the CMSs used by the top B2B SaaS companies in Ireland.

WordPress dominated with the category of Headless in 2nd

Unsurprisingly WordPress was by far the most dominant CMS amongst the Top 25, at 68% (a few sites were running more than 1 CMS), with the category of Headless being the second most popular with 16% as used by Intercom, Stripe, CoolPlanet, and Teamwork.

Headless CMS is a relatively new approach to managing content (Disclosure- the author of this report Alan Gleeson is the CEO of Contento.io a Headless CMS).
Headless CMSs include the likes of Contentful, Contentstack, Contento, Strapi, Sanity etc

See the footer to learn more about the category of Headless CMSs.

Significant Performance Differentials

In terms of site speed, however, the performance was markedly different.

The cohort on WordPress had an average site speed (US) of 2.49 seconds, whereas the average for those on a Headless CMS was a mere 1.1 seconds.

The sites on a Headless CMS were by far the quickest

Load Time is what we use to describe how long a specific page took to load in its entirety, this includes all images, scripts, CSS and third party resources (as well as the HTML of course) that might be found on a website. Source: Pingdom

What does this mean?

It indicates that from a CMS point of view, WordPress lags behind those on Headless CMSs by some margin (this is not unexpected given that a major advantage of Headless sites relates to performance).

What is troubling for some of these sites, is that the load time was over 3–5 seconds which is a significant issue.

Source: Portent, 2019

Similarly, the gap between US and UK tests was significant. 76% of the UK servers were faster, with those on Headless representing the Cohort that had faster load times when measured from US servers. Again this is a key issue. For most Irish B2B SaaS businesses, the US is a core market and thus extra attention should be paid to site speed in the US. This can of course be a blind spot — the website can load quickly ‘in the office’ — whereas it can be slow in the major market your target customers are based.

For those sites using a Headless CMS, the reliance on Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) means servers are distributed globally so browsers are accessing local servers (which reduces latency/ increases performance). This is a key reason the Headless CMS websites performed more strongly.

PageSpeed Insights Tests

When it comes to running PageSpeed Insights Tests on Google, 36% of the sites failed the Desktop test. These were all WordPress sites, with one other CMS also featuring (Ruby on Rails). Of those that failed, there was also a correlation with the number of technologies found on their site. The greater the number of technologies in evidence the higher the chance of a slower site.

It is worth noting that this test is not about ‘the score’. The real benefit of the tool is that it outlines what is negatively impacting your results so you can focus on fixing the key areas that are slowing down your site.

PageSpeed Insights Tests on Google

The High Performers

The top 5 fastest Irish B2B SaaS sites (in terms of site speed, and passing PageSpeed Insights tests) were:

The Fastest B2B SaaS Websites — Scaleup Cohort (Ireland 2023)
  • CoolPlanet (on a Headless CMS)
  • Intercom (on a Headless CMS)
  • SocialTalent (on WordPress)
  • Stripe (on a Headless CMS)
  • Transfermate (on WordPress)

They all passed the PageSpeed Insights test and all had speed times of under 1 second. This was achieved without compromising on design quality as arguably Intercom and Stripe have the most aesthetically appealing site designs (they also have the deepest pockets by far from all sites assessed which always helps).

The Stripe Website was high performing while also being beautifully designed.

The Fixes

For the remaining sites, primarily on WordPress, there are several things to consider.

Firstly, it is recommended these tests are run independently to validate the research.

It is also recommended that an audit of all technologies identified via Built With is undertaken, and any legacy code of software no longer in use is removed.

For those with particularly slow sites looking at the Time to First Byte (TTFB) Data, and the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) will help you isolate the key elements negatively impacting performance. An LCP score higher than 2.5 seconds means your site has poor performance that may negatively impact user experience and ultimately hinder your site’s growth. Reviewing image sizes and the use of plugins represent other key causes to look at.

Another option for those on WordPress is to flatten the site down to HTML and to deliver it from a Content Delivery Network (CDN). You can do this with Wordpress but it’s much harder to get it right compared to using a Jamstack-based approach which is built that way in the first place.(Headless utilises this CDN / Jamstack-based approach).

Of course, it may also be worth considering if it is time to finally move to a Headless CMS when you undertake your next site rebuild. Although others like Dries Buytaert (the founder of Drupal) argue that:

“…the performance of a website depends more on the HTML, CSS, JavaScript code and assets (images, video, fonts) than the underlying technology used.”

You can find additional tips on how to enhance performance on these blogs:

How to Increase Page Speed

How to Score a Perfect 100% on Google PageSpeed Insights

The Tech Stack

When it comes to the broader MarTech stack just over half of the sites reviewed had evidence of a Hubspot install. This represents a significant market penetration by Hubspot in a competitive category.

Other popular applications listed frequently included:

Lead Forensics, Hotjar, ZoomInfo, Salesloft and Intercom

The average number of technologies detected was 110 per site. However, two of the slowest sites had over 130 technologies evident which is excessive.

Again the message here is clear, it is important to purge the site of legacy software code every few months to ensure that 3rd party code is not inadvertently slowing down the site and impacting performance.

Summary

Site speed represents a key element for all fast-growing B2B SaaS companies.

When sites are slow the knock-on effects are significant and the impact on key metrics like conversion rates is a major issue. Yet for time-pressed marketers, monitoring site speeds are not often top of their priority lists. For the leading B2B SaaS players though, % gains can make a big difference.

Page loading speeds are also impacted by the page design, how image heavy the page is, how well-optimised the images are, and how focused on performance the front-end developers were. A single un-optimised image on a page, or bloated coding could also impact page speed more than the CMS used.

However, the underlying Content Management System (CMS) is often the major cause of poor performance issues, and as this report has argued, while WordPress remains the dominant CMS of choice, those that have already moved to a Headless CMS are enjoying significant advantages by dint of the performance edge they have over those still on WordPress.

Contento.io — a Headless CMS for B2B SaaS and Technology Companies

To learn more about Headless CMS the following provide useful outlines:

What is a Headless CMS?

The Benefits of a Headless CMS

The Cons of a Headless CMS

PS Thanks to Janis from at Experte for bringing his PageSpeed Tool to my attention also. It allows you to test hundreds of URLs automatically. All you have to do is enter a URL, and the tool crawls the website and determines the page speed scores for each subpage. The data yielded is identical to the data of Google PageSpeed Insights.

About the Author

Alan Gleeson is the CEO and Co-Founder of Contento, a B2B SaaS content platform (Headless CMS) that helps B2B and SaaS companies scale via a best-of-breed website.

Please contact the author directly via Contento.io for the scores of individual sites featured.

Follow Alan

Twitter: @alangleeson

Linkedin: Alan Gleeson

Medium: @alangleeson

Website: www.contento.io

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Alan Gleeson

CEO and Co-Founder of Contento — a modern Headless CMS. B2B and Tech Marketing Consultant. Based in London. Passion for #SaaS . https://www.contento.io