Marketing automation (MA) is playing a larger role in digital experience (DX) every day, but on its own, it doesn't offer enough capabilities to really transform DX. Meanwhile, many CMS applications offer features that are similar to — but fall short of — the personalization that marketing automation can provide. 

But comparing the virtues of marketing automation and CMS applications is no longer an either-or proposition. If you have already made an investment in an MA solution like Pardot, Marketo, Act-On or Silverpop, you can achieve the best of both worlds — and achieve dramatic value added — by aligning your marketing automation platform with your CMS. 

Marketing Automation Doesn’t Do Web

It makes perfect sense: Marketing automation platforms excel at creating experiences, especially email, where transaction data is used to target customers. But asking that data to deliver exceptional web experiences requires more than marketing automation on its own can offer. And that’s where your CMS comes in. 

To be sure, some MA platforms have tried to nudge closer to owning the web experience. HubSpot offers dynamic CTAs (calls to action), customized based on location, source, device, persona, industry, language and more. CTAs likely work well for HubSpot customers who also use HubSpot for their blogs and websites, but they’re simply not a game changer when it comes to elevating overall digital experience.

Along similar lines, Marketo acquired Insightera in late 2013 to provide robust personalization capabilities for websites, but delivering them still requires integration with a CMS.

Adopt a Front-Office Perspective  

The thing is, websites are complex and high touch. Mastering that complexity requires the kind of front-office perspective — embodied in a web content management system — that can allows for both management and delivery of the web experience.

By contrast though, most marketing automation platforms are back-office, used internally by trained individuals. With the difference in mind, here are four ways you can integrate your marketing automation platform with your CMS: 

1. Marketing Forms Integration

Marketing campaigns typically use forms to capture lead data in exchange for a content asset or a contact request. Managing marketing landing pages and other pages that use forms within the CMS allows marketers to make lead generation a native part of the web experience and keeps branding, SEO, and URLs consistent across the site. 

It also allows marketers to update content quickly if a campaign isn't performing well. Using the CMS can also provide translation for global companies and integrated digital asset management if a mix of content assets is used on the form.

And perhaps most important, integrating the CMS tightly with the marketing automation system ensures that form data can be captured and incorporated into the marketing database for tracking and profile management.  

2. Align Email Marketing Campaigns with Dynamic Website Content 

With marketing automation platforms, email marketing campaigns are personalized based on customer profile data or customer segments. This email personalization is implemented so that when the customer clicks a link that drives them to a website, the website experience can also be personalized for that segment or customer. 

This adaptive personalization approach drives higher conversions because customers or prospects see content relevant to them and their needs. Because a link from an email can easily be coded using UTM parameters, such as campaign or referrer, a modern CMS can deliver additional targeted content based on the original email content. 

3. Link Segments and Profiles with Web Experience

If marketing automation platforms own the customer profile data, aligning those profiles with content management enables marketers to personalize web experiences and easily move customers from one campaign to another without duplicating content.

For example, a series of drip email campaigns may be implemented based on a customer’s interactions on a website. As customers visit a given web page, visitor data is sent to the marketing automation platform. Or if they complete a download linked from an email, they are moved to the next campaign with fresh new content.

Content is stored within the CMS, but the email campaigns and profile data are stored within the marketing automation platform. Of course, this tight integration assumes the marketing platform is capable of a high level of insight between the buying phases. The biggest key here is to simplify the process by aligning the data model appropriately. 

4. Leverage CMS for DAM 

Effective marketing requires a mix of content assets, not just text-based content. But most marketing automation platforms don't deal with digital assets very well, if at all. However, there are CMS platforms that provide digital asset management (DAM) capabilities that the marketing system can leverage.

Integrating all content — both text- and asset-based — with the CMS enables marketing automation to draw on a broad range of content for email campaigns. It also ensures that all assets are well maintained and easy to update. 

This becomes particularly beneficial for global organizations that need to manage assets in multiple languages. Being able to manage a source or "raw" file in a CMS and then render individual language variations for each campaign and country simplifies the process and allows for fast updates to assets. 

Combine CMS and MA for Game-Changing DX

Marketing automation platforms have a role in digital experience management but employed alone, they can’t provide all the necessarily capabilities to create truly great digital experiences. Only by integrating your marketing automation platform with your CMS can you combine front- and back-office marketing capabilities in a game changing way. 

Title image Yoal Desurmont