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What is the difference between a CMS and DXP?

Many are unsure about the differences between a CMS and a DXP. One way to think about it is to compare a Nokia 3210 (this would be the CMS) with the latest Smart Phone (yep, you guessed it, this is the DXP). They are both phones and have the same fundamentals like making calls and sending text messages, however, the newest SmartPhone offers so much more.

Expectations for digital experiences only continue to grow. Users want fast, personalized, intuitive, and seamless experiences, causing content systems to evolve to keep up with changing demands. We have gone from Content Management Systems (CMS) to Web Experience Management (WEM), and now to Digital Experience Platforms (DXP). A lot of people hear these different acronyms and are unsure of the differences, but it is critical to understand what each does before you start to consider a new content system.

What is a CMS?

A Content Management System is a software platform that allows users to create, manage, modify, reuse, and publish content at record speed.

The CMS allows users to build and manage one or many websites without having to create (code) them from scratch. Site design and functionality can be quickly customized, and multiple brands can be hosted from one CMS.

Pros and Cons of a CMS


  • A CMS simplifies the process of sharing content with online users
  • Multiple user access
  • Version management
  • Brand consistency (voice and image)
  • User friendly
  • No need for technical knowledge


  • Limited personalization
  • Limited ability to support omni-channel marketing
  • Complex integrations with other software types (can be costly and time-consuming)
  • A Business Use Case for a CMS
  • If digital isn’t a driver for your business, then a CMS will be sufficient to manage your content.
  • However, a DXP should be seriously considered if digital is – or will be – a key part of your business. For example, if you need increased levels of personalization and a seamless online customer experience, then you may need a DXP.  

What is a WEM?

A Web Experience Management platform goes beyond content management by providing a more personalized customer experience. Using advanced analytics, a WEM platform can understand a user’s behavior and deliver relevant content reactively and intuitively. This has proven to be an effective way to enhance a user’s online experience.  

Pros and Cons of a WEM


  • Responsive design
  • Adaptive content
  • Audience management
  • Ensures you’re delivering the right content to the right audience in the right context.


  • Limitations personalizing content (more of a cookie-cutter experience)
  • Generalized audience types

What is a DXP?

As the digital world continues to grow, so has the need for a unified approach to user experience. It’s no longer enough to have brand consistency across all digital touchpoints. Customers now expect an experience that will thrill and delight them and makes them feel valued.

In a world with so many options, brands need a centralized way to build, manage, and optimize every customer interaction. A Digital Experience Platform is designed to map the end-to-end customer journey, and take care of data management and user experience, freeing up the digital marketing team to focus on consumer needs and engagement.

Seven Essential DXP Features

Content Management: A fundamental feature, content is king within the digital experience journey. A DXP acts as a centralized data repository for all content, and enables content to be displayed across all omni-channel touchpoints.

Digital Asset Management (DAM): A DXP also acts as a central repository for all digital assets, such as videos, audio files, and images.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): A DXP will track customer data and use that information to build long-term relationships by creating personalized, relevant experiences for every customer.

Commerce: Most B2C, D2C, and some B2B organizations need a way to easily transact via their website. Some DXPs have a built-in eCommerce platform, however many businesses want the flexibility to integrate their own eCommerce into their DXP. The majority of DXP providers will have pre-built integrations.    

Personalization and Automation: A DXP will analyze consumer behaviors in real-time. This data can optimize the customer journey by making proactive recommendations and creating personalized experiences for every customer. 

A/B Testing: This is the technical term for digital experimentation. Multiple versions of the same content can be launched simultaneously to see which gets the best result. These insights enable businesses to make data-driven decisions. 

APIs and Integrations: Some DXP vendors offer the full DXP technology stack as a one-stop-shop. However, in many cases this can be a drawback since companies may want to pick best-of-breed solutions that better suit their business needs. Many top DXP vendors provide flexible APIs and an open architecture, making it possible to integrate your technology stack into your DXP and create an experience platform that is right for you.   

Benefits of a DXP

  • Provide a consistent digital experience for users across all digital touchpoints
  • Hyper-personalization
  • Build meaningful relationships with your customers
  • Build a loyal, long-term customer base
  • Remove complex back-end management processes
  • Create your own technology stack with best-of-breed solutions via integrations
  • Reduce departmental silos and increase efficiency

A Business Use Case for a DXP

If your business depends on high-level digital experiences, hyper-personalization, and a fully-connected, seamless digital experience to remain competitive, then a DXP should be at the top of your shopping list. Creating this kind of experience without a DXP could be costly, cumbersome, and time-consuming.  

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