As a digital marketer, you have a myriad of tools you use to engage and attract customers. Your stack most likely includes a marketing automation platform, web content management system (CMS), analytics platform, and other tools. While it’s essential to use the best tool for the job, the goal should always be to present a seamless experience to your customers.
One of the best ways to align your digital experience is a tight integration between your marketing automation platform and web content management platform. These two solutions are core to successful marketing programs. Every company has a web CMS that enables you to create, manage, and publish content on your website and mobile apps. A marketing automation platform, or engagement platform, is used to control campaigns across email, website, social channels, and more.
While you can’t manage content in your marketing automation platform like you do in a CMS, and you can’t create and run campaigns in your CMS like you do in your engagement platform, there are some areas where these two systems offer similar capabilities, including landing pages, asset management, and personalization. Which system is the right one to use? It’s not a straightforward answer; there are benefits and challenges to each technology.
In this blog, we’ll explore the similarities between a marketing automation platform and web CMS. We’ll dive into how they work, what the differences are between the two, and the things you need to be aware of before you decide the right approach for your business.
Landing pages are unique pages you use to promote events, content, products, or services separate from your website. They promote whitepapers, ebooks, webinars, and unique product deals by having the visitor complete a form with their personal information in return for the content or to register for the event.
You can create landing pages in both your engagement platform and your content management system. Both approaches work well, but each one offers different benefits.
Build Your Landing Page in Your Content Management System
If your CMS has a visual authoring tool, it’s easy to create landing page templates and use them to create all your landing pages. Like other web pages, you can enforce design standards and implement a workflow process to review and approve the page before you publish it. You can also set up publishing start and end dates if you want to create the page ahead of time and take it down after a specific period.
Having your landing page within your CMS also ensures you can track traffic coming into and out of your landing page—analyzing clickstream to understand better what a visitor is doing on your website.
The form you include on your landing page can come from your marketing automation platform, or you can build it in the CMS, submitting its completed data via an API to the solution. Embedding the form allows you to quickly change it and have it update automatically in the CMS. Form submissions from the landing page are sent directly to your marketing automation platform. If your website is multilingual, creating your form within your CMS allows you take advantage of built-in translation features.
Build Your Landing Page in Your Marketing Automation Platform
You can also build landing pages within your marketing automation platform and provide public URLs to include on your website using your CMS. Most marketing systems have visual design tools to create templates and quickly build landing pages with forms.
When you host your landing pages in your marketing automation platform, it automatically tracks traffic to that landing page giving you a clear view of visitors, what links they clicked on the page and the number of form submissions. If the visitor is known, you can easily see who it was and review what other content they may have looked at, giving you a better picture of that visitor’s engagement with your company.
Pro Tip: Improve Form Completion Through Progressive Profiling
Regardless of which option you choose, you can rely on the integration between your engagement platform and CMS to improve form submissions through progressive profiling. Progressive profiling is the process of slowly requesting more information as the visitor engages with your web experience.
For example, the first time a visitor comes to a landing page for your company, you display a basic form field requesting name and email. The next time they visit a landing page they are recognized through a cookie or other mechanism. This time you can prefill the basic information and request additional information such as company and job title. This process of slowing asking for more profile information ensures you are capturing the right amount of information about a visitor as they demonstrate a more significant interest in your content and company.
Digital assets are content and multimedia you offer on your website, landing pages, and in emails. These include images, videos, webinar recordings, and a range of written content like ebooks, whitepapers, infographics, and datasheets.
You can store your assets within your CMS or your engagement platform. In some cases, we’ve seen copies of images and other content stored in both, resulting in multiple versions of each asset, a significant maintenance issue. To manage your assets correctly, you want to save them in one location and reference them in all your engagement channels. So where is the best place to store your assets?
Hosting Assets in your CMS
All CMS systems allow you to store images, documents, videos, and more. Some (not all) CMS systems provide built-in digital asset management that support capabilities such as renditions and metadata management. The benefit of storing your assets in your CMS is discoverability. If your CMS’s search engine includes the ability to index all types of content or features an SEO plugin that helps you with optimization, it’s easier to surface those assets in search results. This ability is becoming increasingly important because consumers are viewing multimedia content at growing rates and you want a way to provide the best content to your visitors when they search your site.
Hosting Assets in your Marketing Automation Platform
There are many benefits to hosting your assets in your marketing automation platform. You can provide public links to assets across all your channels and, depending on the asset and the system, track the usage of that asset. Engagement platforms offer both gated and non-gated URLs so you can choose how you want to share an asset. When you create your landing pages and emails in your marketing system, it’s straightforward to insert links to media assets with a single click.
Great personalization is really about unifying all customer touchpoints. Your customers interact with email, on social channels, on your website, and directly with your company.
Your CRM should be the system of record for customer information. But a CRM is not a system of engagement. We recommend storing business information in your CRM, managing engagement information in your marketing automation system, and then leveraging that data in your web CMS to target content at crucial audiences and visitors.
Parameters that you may want to use in a web personalization strategy are both implicit (based on the customer’s online interactions), and explicit (based on the customer’s account or preferences). For instance, if a customer is in an email marketing campaign, you can set up your web CMS to recognize that visitor based the campaign referrer or UTM tags, and show content that connects the message from the campaign to the website experience.
Or, you could leverage the data within the marketing automation profile system to segment a visitor into an audience group for your website. With the insight based on a customer’s lead score or marketing stream, you may be able to deliver a more relevant message on your site that results in higher conversion or enhanced customer experience.
You Determine the Right Approach
The approach you take to integrate your marketing systems, especially your CMS and engagement platform will depend on your strategy and the specific tools you use. It’s important to understand the capabilities of each system, and the pros and cons of doing different activities in each one. Once you have that full picture, you can make the best decision for your company.
There’s no one right answer to which system you should use for landing pages, asset management, and personalization. There’s only the one that’s right for you and your customers.
How do you use your engagement platform and web CMS? Does it differ from the methods I’ve mentioned? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments. Let’s keep the conversation going.