Maximize your CMS by optimizing your strategy first
Extracting value from your CMS comes down to a digital trifecta: technology, functionality and your partner of choice
Nov. 2, 2020 | By: Pete Amundson, Vinu Krishnaswamy and Ben Magnuson
Extracting value from your content management system (CMS) is a real concern. All too often, we hear how prospective clients are frustrated with the performance of their martech, questioning the reason they invested in the first place. We get it, but there’s much more to it than just doing some minor back-end maintenance and hitting the “on” switch. Optimizing your CMS comes down to three critical factors—areas that we often see customers struggle with: technology, functionality and partnership. We spoke with our partners at One North, a TEKsystems company, to discuss how this trifecta works together to inform your CMS/DXP value realization.
CMS vs. DXP
First, let’s break down the difference between CMS and DXP. As the martech space continues to evolve and rapidly expand, it’s increasingly important for decision-makers to have a high-level understanding of the distinctions between these two technologies.
A content management system (CMS) is the heartbeat of your organization’s website and applications, with the functionality to deliver content. Think: editorial, workflow, reporting, organization, security and user administration. According to Sitecore, it’s the “foundational software for digital identity, strategy and engagement.”
A digital experience platform (DXP), on the other hand, is becoming more of a household name. It is essentially a CMS on steroids, providing what’s listed above while also delivering personalized experiences at scale for your end users. Think: personalization and advanced analytics.1
The first step in optimizing your CMS is understanding the system you’ve invested in. The number and variety of technologies available today, and the data that they produce, can be overwhelming. Dive deep into truly understanding your platform and how it operates, noting all the different features and functions and how they work together.
Building on top of these CMS systems is not easy, and it’s time-consuming. Whether you’re frustrated with your CMS performance or its lack of integration, the common theme that ties these grievances together is developing a technical architecture to provide a foundation of information.
When it comes to functionality, we’re essentially asking “is this system doing what it’s supposed to be doing?”
Systems like Sitecore and Adobe are expensive technologies and sold on the premise that you’re going to use their advanced feature set. Yet most organizations are still just using these systems solely as a CMS—putting content in and hoping it displays on the website. The thought of using personalization or crafting customer experiences is so far beyond what they can manage today. Oftentimes, the reason they can’t do that is because they haven’t set up the process, people or internal knowledge base—a digital strategic roadmap—to set them up for success.
Purchasing and implementing a CMS or DXP alone does not mean you have a digital strategy. You need the strategy to define the system you choose and how you choose to implement that system into your business. This allows you to look at what you’re trying to do from a business and marketing perspective and marry that with the capabilities of the technology. Laying it out in a structured way allows for incremental improvement and helps you maintain momentum as you continuously work toward creating a better customer experience.
A great way to start road mapping is to take an audit of all the tools currently at your disposal, making note of the capabilities they offer. This step also requires understanding the people and processes involved in using those tools and the functionalities that work for your business. Be sure you understand which teams in your organization are using which technologies and dig even deeper to uncover their workflow. Clients consistently are surprised by how much they learn from this review and how valuable it is to have a holistic perspective to work from.
An underestimated imperative for your CMS/DXP value realization is evaluating the performance of all partners involved in managing the technology, whether that’s an in-house team or an agency. How are they performing? How easy are they to work with? How transparent are they with data and processes?
There are many agencies out there that are set up to do project work—and only project work. Unfortunately, CMS and DXP systems are not “set and forget”; they need constant care and feeding. It’s important that you have a team of experts who can really stick with you, own the application and understand the business objectives behind that technology investment. This allows for true partnership—providing continual recommendations and greater platform usage.
To further explain this imperative, a lot of CMS implementors are just that—implementors. They don’t understand marketing. Or vice versa—marketers that don’t understand the technology. Our belief is that you need marketing and creative working closely with the technology side to make the most of these applications. Think of it as a multidisciplinary approach, merging brand, digital strategy, creative, user experience, technology and managed systems / hosting together to develop the right solution on an ongoing basis.
It’s safe to say that most companies already have much of the technology they need to create incredible digital experiences. If they’re not seeing that return on investment, or if the platform is perceived as a cost versus a value, it’s likely they’re only using a small percentage of the capabilities they have or using them in a way that doesn’t tie back to KPIs that impact the business. And while most marketers expect some custom work with any platform, when faced with a full scope of what they may need, it’s tempting to look for an easier, quicker solution—i.e., buying more software as an answer, further exacerbating the problem. It is worth the time (and financial investment) to analyze your martech stack, determine the functionality that works best for your business and invest in a partner as committed to the process as you are.
Pete Amundson is a technical strategist with One North, a TEKsystems company. He serves as a key technology consultant for clients and partners with both marketing and IT to assess, advise and plan technology selection, integrations and ecosystems. His close attention to the ever-changing technology landscape helps him stay on top of the latest trends and approaches.
Vinu Krishnaswamy is the director of solutions architecture at One North. He defines technical architecture for complex marketing/IT systems and products, acting as a technology consultant for clients and working with One North’s Experience Design team to define and implement solutions that will serve the client’s objectives now and in the future.
Ben Magnuson is the manager of data strategy at One North, supporting clients by applying a strong data focus to marketing initiatives across channels and tools. He partners with clients to gain an understanding of their unique goals and tactics and guides them toward a strategic analytics program.
1 “The Difference Between a CMS and DXP” - https://www.sitecore.com/knowledge-center/digital-marketing-resources/cms-vs-dxp-whats-the-difference