What is the difference between a CMS and a DXP?

Wednesday, 1 July 2020  |  Posted in: Most Recent, News  |  7min read

You may have heard of a Content Management System, or CMS, before. The CMS is the basis for many of the websites on the internet, however, in the last few years a new product has emerged to replace the CMS, the Digital Experience Platform, or DXP. 

DXPs, like CMSs, form the structural foundation of a website but also represent the latest evolution in web content management as they aim to combine content management with a range of complicated and sophisticated content, commerce, personalisation and cloud storage capabilities to form a single and, more importantly, manageable digital ecosystem.

To understand the differences between a DXP and a CMS we need to first look at what a CMS is and how it works.


From CMS to DXP

Most CMSs are made up of three key elements;

  • the database (which stores all the content of the website),
  • the programming framework (which stores all the instructions for how to display that content to visitors – i.e. the front-end), and,
  • the website editors interface (which can be used to manage the website without the need to edit code directly – i.e. the back-end).

What set CMSs apart from earlier website platforms was the separation of code and content. Website management takes place via the ‘back-end’ interface meaning that content creators can move page elements, write text and upload images using the interface which would then store away the created content into the database, rather than having to write the code to do all of this directly.

With created content stored in a back-end database it needs to be displayed on the front-end according to the design and development rules created by the website designers. An individual page references stored back-end content which then passes to the front-end, where it had specific display and functionality layered onto it. This movement of raw content in the back-end, through a design framework on its way to the front-end means that a single piece of stored content could be called and displayed multiple times and in multiple ways based on different web page requirements.

For example, a simple piece of content like a blog is made up of a number of elements, but, the elements you can see are determined by the page you are on. On the blog itself you might see a featured image, the headline and text content but when you see the blog listed on the home page you only see a small and cropped version of the image next to the headline. The content hasn’t been duplicated, its just that each page has different rules for referencing and displaying the same content.

The simplicity and flexibility of this kind of content management arrangement is why many websites still rank WordPress (the most common CMS, and one we use extensively) as the best tools for building and maintaining a website.


Cross-channel functionality for content and data

As CMS platforms were further developed, the idea of storing a raw form of content in a database and having the front-end only pull forward what it needed went much further. Why limit this content and data functionality to only the website?

What if the raw format of the content could be referenced into marketing materials such as email, display advertising or an app? With a single source of truth for a range of front-end versions of the content, it meant that it became much simplier to create and maintain content across more and more channels. This is one of the main goals of a DXP.

The final step in the evolution of DXPs was the integration of a range of different tools and functionality. For example, if you want to use your databased content in an email then your website would work as your email marketing platform. This consolidation of tools that DXPs can provide has created more opportunities for content display but also the cross-channel consistency of content and the improved personalisation of user experiences.

At The Digital Embassy we work closely with Kentico Xperience to deliver powerful customer experiences within a world-leading DXP.

Talk to the Digital Solutions Team to find out more about Kentico Xperience today.



Other benefits of DXPs

In addition to improving the consistency of content across all your channels, DXPs have become very attractive options for the delivery of highly personalised content experiences, again stemming from the consolidation of multiple tools into the single platform.

Most DXPs have analytics, tracking and automation included in the suite of collated tools. This powerful combination can result in a range of content options being stored in the database whose display is determined by the way the visitor uses the site.

Different actions are tracked and can activate processes that result in, for example, a particular product being displayed instead of another. Because the DXP also manages the email marketing activity this same user data can also be used to create more personalised and effective emails.


User case example of a DXP in action 

Fluidity in content display is best explained with an example, a potential customer named Jamie who visits a website after opening the monthly newsletter. If Jamie visits the website on a typical CMS we can track that he has come from the newsletter and we can keep a record of his open and click rates. However, Jamie’s interactions are not easily correlated with sales activity as the data is stored in an email marketing tool. Once on the site, he moves around, interacting with different elements before eventually leaving.

A DXP experience, however, is very different. Firstly, the newsletter sent to Jamie includes the content he is most likely to interact with as we have built the email to contain products and information from categories he has previously viewed. Once on the site, previously viewed products are used to create dynamic banner ads across the site, increasing the chances that he will revisit these products.

Each and every interaction with the website has a value that can be actioned within the session. As Jamie views more pages this information is stored against his profile, including that he viewed a video about how a particular product is manufactured. This is a high-value interaction and indicates he is quite interested in this offering. To make the most of this opportunity we have developed automation that triggers a popup to anyone who watches this video, if they have not purchased in that session, offering them a discount code or incentive on that line of product.

Jamie decides to use this discount code and purchases the product. This purchase information is stored against his profile and our automated rules will now prevent us from promoting the same product to Jamie again. Just to be safe we also prevent the promotion of any similar products for the next 2 months as it is unlikely he will look to purchase another similar one so soon after this one.


Capitalise on the potential of DXPs 

CMSs allow for the collection of a lot of information but because analytics and marketing tools are not directly integrated and instead are spread across multiple platforms the insights and opportunities of a truly integrated system are lost.

DXPs make it much easier, and simpler to maintain large amounts of content and provide dynamically constructed and personalised experiences for users.

DXPs are not suitable for every organisation but the potential of DXPs for medium and large organisations’ digital marketing is undeniable. The value in a DXP comes from the co-location and designed integration of a number of tools that allow for the development of dynamic user experiences across multiple website and digital media platforms. If a DXP is the right solution for you, choosing the right web design agency for your project will ensure that your business will get all the benefits of your new digital platform.

Ready to talk about your requirements?

Phone us on 1300 375 368 for an obligation-free chat with a digital specialist about how we can help to scale up your business online.

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