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Website CMS vs. Marketing Automation Tool... What's the Difference? [Strategy Sitdown]

Michael Reynolds

Posted by Michael Reynolds on 7/30/14 10:30 AM

In this edition of Strategy Sitdown, we answer the question: "I've heard of content management systems and marketing automation systems but I'm not sure what the difference is. Do I need both?"

If you have a question for us, you can ask it here. We'll answer it in a future edition!


Thanks for joining us for today's Strategy Sitdown. Today's question comes from Kevin in Lexington. Kevin asks, "I've heard of content management systems and marketing automation systems, but I'm not sure what the difference is. Do I need both?"

Excellent question, Kevin. Let's kind of break it down here and define what each one is. Then we'll kind of talk about some different scenarios. Content management system or CMS for short is a software application that powers your website and allows you to manage it. Pretty simple. It lets you do things like change text, upload photos, upload videos, move stuff around sometimes, post blogs, post press releases, post events.

It really gives you or any non-technical person control over the basic day-to-day management of the website, primarily the content of the website. Hence the name content management system. Every modern website should be build on a CMS. Some popular CMSs include Joomla, Accrisoft, Freedom, Sitecore, WordPress, Ektron. There's a ton of CMSs out there.

At the basic level, they all basically let people manage website content. They do have some marketing tools sometimes. You will have some modules that do marketing activities here and there. Generally, a CMS is built toward managing the content.

Now, a marketing automation platform or marketing automation system is something like a HubSpot, Eloqua, Marketo, Infusionsoft. What these systems do is they automate certain aspects of your marketing tactics to give you greater levels of efficiency, better data, better reporting. Kind of putting a bunch of tools from marketing context all in one toolbox so to speak.

A marketing automation system will let you do things like manage your social media accounts, also run your blog sometimes, run e-mail marketing campaigns, let you do keyword research for search for SEO, build landing pages, things like that. Maybe have metrics and lots of reporting and data and contact management. That's more of what a marketing automation tool does.


Now, the question you also as is, "Do you need both?" It depends. Like many things in marketing and technology, it really just depends on your situation. If your website is primarily built to serve constituents, convey information, conduct some transactions and your marketing strategy is really not built around bringing more traffic to your website or built on online tactics, you may not need marketing automation. You may just need a good, robust CMS that powers your website.

Some good examples would be government agencies primarily don't need marketing automation as much because they're really focused on just transactional interaction and serving constituents. Some nonprofits as well, although I would argue that nonprofits need to market more a lot of times.

Organizations that are really focused on just transactional serving of constituents without a need for a lot of marketing and growth can get by with a CMS. Organizations that do want to market and grow, which is actually the vast majority I would think, can make good use of a marketing automation tool like HubSpot for example to bring traffic to their website, to run their in-bound marketing campaigns to really provide the toolbox behind the tactics necessary to generate traffic and leads and more sales.

I really like to see both combined. I really like to see a website built on a good, robust CMS then using something like HubSpot to kind of wrap around it so a marketing agency like us or a marketing team in house can use those tools appropriately to build and run a good in-bound marketing strategy.

That's really kind of how it breaks down. Most good CMSs are about eighty, ninety percent great content management and a little bit of marketing tools. Most really good marketing automation systems, again like HubSpot, are about eighty to ninety percent really good marketing tools but about ten, twenty percent of robust CMS. They're not going to go very deep in terms of complex directories, complex transactional tools, things like that.

That's why I really like to see often organizations combine both. You really get the value from each one working together. I hope that helps. Great question, Kevin. I really appreciate it. Thanks everyone for joining us today. Have a great day.

Choosing the Right CMS Ebook


Topics: inbound marketing, cms, content management, Strategy Sitdown

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