<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1639164799743833&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Diagram Views

What Role Should a CMS Play in Your Overall Digital Strategy?

Chris Osterhout SVP of Strategy
#CMS, #Episerver, #Ektron
Published on April 4, 2014

A CMS plays a very specific role in your digital strategy. Learn why you shouldn't try to make it into something it's not.

As the software platform which maintains a site’s content, a Content Management System (CMS) is an important part of any company’s digital strategy. However, it is only one piece of the puzzle; other platforms should be used manage marketing, customer data, and other aspects of a company’s online presence. The question is, exactly what role does the CMS play, and how does it fit in with everything else?

A CMS represents a substantial investment of a company’s time, effort, and money, so while it’s understandable to want it to handle as much of your digital strategy as possible, you shouldn’t try to make it into something it’s not. Even if you’re not using all of the capabilities your CMS offers (most companies only use 20-40% of what a CMS has to offer), you should only use it for what is appropriate. Trying to make your CMS replace a CRM or ERP will result in an less-functional strategy that doesn’t make use of the tools, reporting, and capabilities that the correct platforms offer.

A CMS is a great tool for managing content, including blogs and product information, and it can facilitate marketing and other functionality through the use of pluggable modules. But while it might be tempting to try to make a CMS to handle as many aspects of your online presence as possible, there are some areas where it is not appropriate:

Customer Data

While a CMS can be used capture and store customer data, it is built to manage content, not customers. Customer data captured in a CMS is limited to basic demographic info, and it doesn’t offer anything close to the full capabilities of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution like Salesforce. A true CRM allows you to specify how contacts relate to accounts and how different accounts relate to your business, create reports to manage your sales cycles, track sales and marketing campaigns, and collaborate between different departments. A CMS doesn’t offer any of these capabilities, so trying to force it to take on this role will result in a sub-standard strategy that doesn’t provide the functionality you need to be successful.

Customer-Specific Pricing

While a CMS’s commerce functionality can be used to manage customer-specific pricing (such as discounts for return customers, or coupons for users from certain geographic areas), it shouldn’t replace an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform such as SAP. An ERP runs the internal systems of a company to maintain pricing data, as well as inventory and order fulfillment. The CMS’s commerce system should be the endpoint of this pricing data that is stored elsewhere, integrating with more robust systems to provide the pricing to the correct customers.


Your CMS handles your site’s content, and while it may provide some rudimentary capabilities for tracking analytics and capturing customer data, it’s not the best place to store this information. A Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) is where you will want to store and manage your lead data and email subscriptions, since that platform will provide much more capabilities for managing your marketing process. A CMS is the front end for people to interact with your website, but it should not be used for data collection and management. Instead, it should be integrated with an MAP to handle these capabilities.

As you can see, a CMS might be able to replicate the basic functionalities of the various platforms available for managing your digital strategy, but it can’t provide the full capabilities that separate CRM, ERP, MAP, and other platforms provide. While you certainly want to make the most of the investment that you put into a CMS, you’ll want to be sure you are using it appropriately rather than trying to make it into something it’s not. Do you have any questions about how you can best integrate your CMS with other platforms? Please let us know in the comments below.