Digital Experience Platform (DXP) vs CMS – Which Technology is Best for Your Business?

A digital experience platform (DXP) is a relatively new category of technology, used to manage all the different channels and touch-points that make up your brand’s digital presence. The purpose of a DXP is to create one seamless, personalised, pervasive user experience (UX) for your prospects and customers.

Many are now asking the question of whether a DXP can – or even should – replace more traditional technology solutions like content management systems (CMS) as the way you manage your brand online.
In this article, we’ll answer this question by exploring DXP technology, making some key comparisons with CMS solutions, and providing guidance on which option is better for your own business.

Understanding the Expectations of the Modern Customer

If your business has a website, you’ll almost definitely have some form of CMS behind it. A CMS is a quick and easy way to publish and manage your website or applications, facilitating the primary channels of engagement between you and your customers.
For the past decade or more, most of us have viewed our CMS as the foundation of our brand’s presence online. During that time, we’ve largely seen a dynamic which required customers to take action, such as submitting contact details, to gain access to information or brand interactions.
Of course, the digital technology landscape is always evolving and, with that, the expectations of our customers are evolving with it. Today, the power is entirely with the customer.
With so much of our professional and personal lives happening online now, we’re constantly overwhelmed with information, and products and services being offered to us across a vast range of channels. As more business shifts to digital-first, there’s more competition in each market than ever before.
So, what does this mean? Well, it means that any digital marketing strategy that isn’t customer-centric today simply won’t succeed. From auto-play ads on YouTube, to organic posts on social media, to Google searches, right through to the online store on your website, customers want to be seamlessly served across their many possible interactions with your brand.
You must be able to attract and retain your target audience by keeping them engaged across multiple channels, and throughout each stage of their individual experience. Without providing a highly targeted, multi-channel customer experience, you’re unlikely to engage your target audience effectively, let alone convert them into customers.
This is where DXPs come in.

The Definitions

Before we begin to compare and contrast CMS technology with that of DXPs, it’s first important to fully understand what we’re talking about with each. There are some key differences between the two, mainly in terms of the broader scope and additional capabilities of a DXP.
Content Management System (CMS)
It’s unlikely we need to explain to you what a CMS is if you’ve read this far. Of course, it may still be beneficial to provide a formal definition here anyway:
According to HubSpot, “A CMS is a software application that allows users to build and manage a website without having to code it from scratch, or know how to code at all. With a CMS, you can create, manage, modify, and publish content in a user-friendly interface. You can customise the design and functionality of your site by downloading or purchasing templates and extensions, rather than coding.”
Essentially, a CMS is the software that creates the back-end of your website, allowing you to manage it and all the content on it with a set of easy-to-use tools.
Digital Experience Platform (DXP)
So far, DXPs have typically been seen as platforms for more advanced marketing teams and larger enterprises, but they’re quickly becoming popular among businesses of all sizes.
A recent report overseen by MarketsAndMarkets forecasted increased growth in adoption of this technology, with the global DXP market to grow to $13.9 billion by 2024.
When defining DXPs, Gartner says, “A digital experience platform is a well-integrated and cohesive set of technologies designed to enable the composition, management, delivery, and optimisation of contextualised digital experiences across multi-experience customer journeys.”
“A DXP can provide optimal digital experiences to a variety of constituents, including consumers, partners, employees, citizens, and students, and help ensure continuity across the full customer lifetime journey. It provides the presentation orchestration that binds together capabilities from multiple applications to form seamless digital experiences.”
Some key points to pick out from this definition include the “contextualised digital experiences” that a DXP enables. Each person interacting with your brand through online content is on their own unique journey. Creating an experience which is tailored to the context of what they’ve done previously provides that “optimal” way for you to engage and serve them.

A Deeper Dive into DXP

At this point, it’s worth pointing out that a CMS is based on a static, mostly one-way relationship between you and your audience.
That is, you publish content on your website, and your reader consumes it. There isn’t much opportunity to personalise the content on your website when published via a traditional CMS. It’s also difficult to capture data based on what each individual visitor has done and will do next.
Of course, to create the best experience possible, you ideally need to establish a two-way relationship to gather feedback and preferences from your audience. In order to know exactly how the reader’s experience has gone, you have to collect actionable data and insights to then tailor your content to better suit that.

A DXP allows you to do this by going beyond the capabilities of a CMS and bringing together additional components of your overall customer experience, including:

  • Content Management
  • Customer Data Management
  • Personalisation
  • Integrations With Other Systems

The Comparisons

In recent years, innovation with personal technology has made customers more intelligent in the ways they interact with brands. As touched on earlier, customers now want more personalised, intuitive, immersive experiences online that flow seamlessly across all channels.
However, not every brand is in a position to provide this, and that’s ok. It’s important to remember that just because there are advanced technology solutions available in the market, you don’t necessarily need to adopt them if it’s not the right time for your own business.
To make the decision about whether it’s right for you to invest in a DXP at this stage or not, we’ve made some key comparisons between that technology and a traditional CMS.
Features and Functionality
When it comes to functionality, most CMSs are simple and easy-to-use.
Your workflows can be easily managed from a central place, making it easier to publish and edit your content.

Most CMSs can be integrated with commerce solutions for both web and mobile.

The average CMS can also help contain user data, and comply with regulations such as GDPR.
Although a CMS has a strong set of features and functionality, a DXP does have far more in terms of capability. DXPs provide automation, intelligent data analysis, personalisation, and much more.
DXPs allow you to build long-lasting relationships with your prospects and customers by becoming a centralised hub of evolving data and insights, connected to all different channels and sources.
Benefits
As listed above, both a CMS and DXP can provide essential capabilities for running your business’s online presence.
Some benefits of a CMS over a DXP are that they’re more cost-effective and easier to use. A CMS is a solution more people will be comfortable using as well, which means you can have more team members contributing to your online content.
On the other hand, a DXP offers far greater analysis and insights into customer data, giving you more meaningful interactions with your target audience.
DXPs are likely to give you a better conversion rate due to the personalisation they provide, and they’re also easier to integrate with different solutions from other third-parties.

“DXPs are key to providing the standout, multi-channel digital experiences that can increase conversions by as much as 60%”

The Big Book of DXP

Optimizely

Because the technology is more advanced than the typical CMS, DXPs will also deliver great competitive advantages in areas such as agility and scalability.
Cost
A CMS is a cost-effective solution, and can even be incorporated into your tech stack for free in some cases. For example, you can build an attractive website with an outstanding UX using WordPress.
In comparison, a DXP is generally aimed at businesses with bigger marketing budgets, as they come at a significantly higher cost than the average CMS. DXPs also tend to come with expensive license fees for your users.
However, it’s worth keeping in mind that many businesses report a higher return on investment when using a DXP, thanks to the comparisons discussed above.

Do you want to explore how a Digital Experience Platform could benefit your company?

Get in touch and we’ll help you understand if it’s right for your business

The Verdict – Do You Need a CMS or a DXP?

Overall, most organisations will benefit from the easier and cheaper approach of starting off with a CMS. However, the opportunities presented to your business by investing in a more sophisticated DXP solution are certainly worth considering amidst today’s customer-centric marketing trends.
The right solution for your unique business will ultimately depend on the resources you have available and the marketing goals you’re working towards. If you’re exploring the possibility of adopting a DXP, you may need to examine your existing team to see if they have the time and skills to use the new solution effectively.
If it’s too soon for you to take on a DXP, there’s still plenty of value to gain from CMS platforms such as WordPress, and it is possible to offer personalisation by taking different tools and tactics.
Whatever technology you decide to use, it doesn’t change the fact that your customers are demanding more than ever from their experiences with brands online. You must ensure you’re working hard to understand your target customers, and tailor your brand’s digital presence to match that. Only then will you be able to capture and retain their attention.