How to Get the Best of Both Worlds: Web CMS and Marketing Automation

7 minute read
Irina Guseva avatar

Digital experiences, customer experiences, web experiences -- whatever you call it, it is important to understand what kinds of technologies go into play in order to orchestrate your CXM strategy properly. 

Along with marketing features and functions you may find in a Web CMS, you’ll need to consider Marketing Automation services offered by some best-of-breed Digital Marketing vendors -- and how to tie them together to get the best of both worlds.

The Basics: Intersections of WCXM and Marketing Automation

As discussed in Real Story Group’s Digital Marketing Technology research, Marketing Automation tools help you build, enrich and promote, leading to a “marketing database.” These tools also help you segment your database into specific subsets or cohorts that can be prioritized and engaged, depending on both attributes and behavior.

When you are looking at your web content and experience management (I call it WCXM, others may refer to this as WEM or WXM) activities, you should consider them in tandem with marketing automation tools you’re using, or aspiring to use. This is a multidimensional exercise that includes at least two major Digital Marketing components that you might view from the lens of Web Content and Experience Management:

  • Landing page management
  • Campaign management (social, mobile, email, etc.)

The landscape in reality is more complex than this and there are multiple limitations and drawbacks. For example, marketing automation tools are rarely personalization tools. But you can find personalization services in your WCXM system.

MA tools may be good at managing marketing database tasks, but they may be weak at managing user profiles that are tied to rules for content and web experiences. Also, in MA tools you can have a better handle on lead management (but don’t confuse leads with web visitors), but Web CMSs may offer stronger capabilities for personalization of content and content targeting.

Landing Page Management and Web CMS

Landing pages are one of the most widely used marketing tools. Often, they’re built and designed in a Web CMS, where you weave in specific templates with specific content and publish them out as landing pages according to your marketing goals.

When managing landing pages in a Web CMS, you will want to consider the aspects of reusability for both content and template chunk code, as well as editing and authoring experience (e.g., WYSIWYG editors).

In terms of content, you should think not only about reusability of content across web sites, channels, multi-lingual sites or across landing pages -- there’s also a matter of static versus dynamic content and how well or poorly your tool can handle this. At the very least, you should be able to set up some rules and logic that dictate whether personalized content should be delivered to a specific segment as they arrive on your landing page. The more rules you have around your content, the harder it is to manage.

If your web content is being reused across other channels (email, mobile, social, for example), you will need to consider not only how to best display that content using specific templates, such as mobile templates that deliver content properly to various devices based on specific parameters for screen size, etc. You should also give some thought to content reuse.

Do you need to shrink web content to fit on the mobile device? How’s your web landing page different from the email-activated landing page? Are your subject lines and message bodies coming from the content on landing pages? These questions are tightly coupled with our next topic: campaigns.

Campaign Management and Web CMS

Campaign management today is very much cross-channel. It is no longer just the distinction between web and email. You also have social and mobile campaigns in the mix -- all often with different goals and audiences in mind.

Some might argue that campaigns should be done from Web CMS, others will point you in the direction of a MA tool, or a Digital Marketing platform. Where they’re done will really depend on circumstances, but how they’re done is the first task you need to tackle.

Whether ongoing or one-off campaigns, you start with the same challenges around presentation and content as we discussed above for landing pages. Segmentation and personalization also play a role here, as many of your campaigns will be destined to specific segments of your customers and prospects; look for the ability to tweak content (and templates for presentation) based not only on the channel (email versus mobile) but also on the audience segment (first-time customers get a different message than brand advocates).

Learning Opportunities

Campaign execution and delivery -- and which system is responsible for this part -- is the next step for you to figure out. Plus, not every system might have these delivery mechanisms built in.

Other Considerations on Intersections of Marketing Automation and WCXM

As you can gather from above, you first need to figure out how to manage the initial steps. To summarize, you should consider how the following is coming together:

  • Templates (for campaigns, emails, pages, etc.)
  • Content (again for campaigns, emails, mobile and social channels)
  • Workflows and/or collaboration capabilities for content and design approvals and rejections for both campaigns and landing pages
  • Audience management for profiling, segmentation and personalization
  • Questions around content and design reuse, and delivery of landing pages and campaigns

But there are also other notions on the intersection of MA and WCXM, as I describe below, that you also might want to consider.

  • Integrations with your existing Information Management technology stack (e.g., DAM or CRM system)
  • Using MA data (in lieu of or in addition to CRM data) to drive different campaigns and experiences
  • Enriching MA records with other website activity not governed by the MA platform
  • Integrating MA and website analytics (both tagging and reporting)
  • Tracking and analytics for all components in general
  • Scalability and data processing
  • A/B and multivariate testing (MVT)

Marketing Automation vendors in general tend to have fewer and less mature capabilities when it comes to several traditional strengths of WCXM technologies. For instance, they will typically be hard to use for design and development of landing pages and microsites. This is where you would integrate with your existing WCXM system. The same applies to content re-use, versioning and workflow.

Don’t overlook the fact that Digital Marketing is a very active space. If vendors are not growing organically, they’re growing through acquisitions. In 2012, we saw ExactTarget buying Pardot, and Oracle acquiring Eloqua -- just to name a couple of examples.

What this means for you is that there’s not a lot of stability in the market, and this may have a big impact on how you are supported today and tomorrow by your vendor of choice. And especially, how carefully you’re evaluating vendors if you’re selecting new or replacement digital marketing technology right now.

Remember, to achieve you goals you may need to turn to several systems:

  • WCXM
  • DAM
  • Marketing automation
  • CRM
  • Digital Marketing platforms
  • Social media monitoring and analysis tools

How they all come together is the biggest challenge. They may or may not come within one “suite” (let’s leave this topic for a separate discussion on why not all suites are sweet). Most likely you will find yourself in the land of multiple integrations. Understanding which system does what (and is best at doing what) and how it does that will be critical to your success.

Image courtesy of marekuliasz (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To get more of Irina's advice on WCM, read her SaaS Web Content Management Systems Are No Panacea

About the author

Irina Guseva

Irina Guseva is a seasoned enterprise content technologist with 15+ years of experience, with roots in various types of media including print, radio, TV and digital media. She specializes in web content management, digital asset management, enterprise content management, digital marketing and customer experience management.