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Integrating your CMS and MAP: What Goes Where?

Chris Osterhout SVP of Strategy
#CMS, #Inbound Marketing
Published on March 26, 2014

Which platforms should you use to control different aspects of your site, like content, marketing tools, and user/customer data?

When did websites get so complicated? Where we once were able to control all aspects of a website (and the extended online presence related to it) in one place, there are now all manner of different tools and software platforms to keep track of. Keeping them all straight is hard enough, but you also need to figure out how best to integrate them. Let’s look at one particular case that can sometimes cause confusion: integrating your Content Management System (CMS) and Marketing Automation Platform (MAP).

Which Platform Should You Use, and When Should You Use It?

Historically, enterprise websites were able to control all aspects of a site within a CMS, including content, user information, and analytics. But nowadays, it has become more common to use multiple systems that perform multiple layers of data gathering. In addition to what is stored within the CMS, many sites use platforms like Google Analytics to track how users are using the website and MAPs such as Hubspot or Marketo to manage customer information and track conversion data. However, site owners are often not sure how these platforms fit together, including what information is tracked where and whether certain content or forms are handled by the CMS or MAP. That’s the question that you need to determine when integrating these platforms.

Where Does the Information Reside?

The site’s main content will reside within the CMS, but what about the marketing tools that the site uses? Enterprise CMSs can offer different types of marketing tools for targeting content to users or implementing web-to-lead forms, but the offerings provided by MAPs are often more robust. If you’re using a MAP, it should be the “brain” of your customer information, so you’ll most likely want to use the tools that it provides. These tools can include:

Web-to-Lead Forms

Depending on what MAP you use (and whether it is integrated with a Customer Relationship Management [CRM] platform), you have several options for implementing web-to-lead forms. Most MAPs will allow you to create a form within the marketing platform and embed the code within your CMS, but you can also create your own form within the CMS and use the API to send the data to your CRM or MAP. What you don’t want to do is capture and store the customer data within the CMS and then copy it to another platform; the data should be stored where it will ultimately be used, which is in the MAP/CRM.

Email Subscriptions

MAPs provide tools for managing email subscriptions (including segmented lists) and creating and sending emails to clients, so the subscription data should reside within the MAP rather than be stored within the CMS.

Targeted Content

CMS platforms allow site owners to create different content that is displayed for users depending on criteria such as their persona. When creating this type of targeted content (such as CTAs), you’ll want to determine which platform has more information about the criteria that determines which content will be displayed, and utilize it as the source for the targeted content. While not every CMS allows for the creation of targeted content, it’s fairly common for MAPs to allow for the creation of targeted CTAs which can be embedded in the CMS using Javascript.

It can be tricky to determine how best to utilize the different platforms you use to maintain your online presence, but you want to make the best out of the investment you put into them. By setting them up and integrating them correctly, you will be able to keep your website and marketing efforts running smoothly, with your CMS maintaining the site’s content and your MAP controlling forms, subscriptions, and targeted content. Do you have any questions about how you can implement these features within your website? Let us know in the comments below.