Web Content Management

Things that are almost, but not quite, WCM: The extended family

When I wrote my post “Should “Web Content Management” even exist as a category anymore?” I got some feedback from Jake Wilund the Product Manager responsible for the Acquia Content Cloud offering in the works, asking if I should have included Content Marketing Platforms – which is astute, given that CMP is in many ways closely related to WCM, or rather what WCM should be doing to incorporate elements of content planning, curation and collaboration. I wrote a long post entitled “CMP is ready for something big to happen…” where I outlined some of the areas where WCM and CMP will start to merge, but I decided not to include it in my list of WCM sub-types, especially given that it has its own market and analyst reporting.

But since it is an interesting related category, I thought it worth mentioning alongside as a related post, and that led me to a few of those other categories in the context of WCM, thus the name: “Things that are almost, but not quite, WCM: The extended family”.

Content Marketing Platforms (CMP)

As mentioned, I’ve been following CMP for a while, especially related to the work we did at Sitecore on that product offering. I always considered it to be a rather strange little part of the market that kind of grew overnight like a mushroom in the shadow of WCM. Where WCM vendors were focusing things like better WYSIWYG, this plucky little group sprang up in that vacuum to provide more of the core content management basics of content creation; campaigns, projects, coordination, content strategy, etc.

I won’t spend a lot on this description here, since I have written extensively already on that category.

Philosophy: Make content marketing planning and creation across channels easier.

Content Operations Platforms

There is a lot of overlap between a CMP and Content Operations platform, and many CMP vendors such as Kapost would consider themselves to be both. Gather Content is by far the most well-known vendor that would consider themselves solely “Content Operations” as opposed to CMP. What is the difference? Not a lot – especially when you consider them in the context of headless CMS vendors; Content Operations may do less around marketing to channels compared to CMP (such as social publishing), but does content modelling and collaboration better than headless CMS systems on their own. It’s sort of that “middle space”.

Gather Content is massively punching above their weight in mindshare and is much beloved by many web and content strategy teams (their name regularly featured among clients and partners that were the most successful Sitecore implementations), but they are literally two dozen people and don’t necessarily have a big “economic moat” relative to CMP and WCM vendors. I can’t see this category or Gather Content lasting long as a standalone, which (like CMP) is good and bad as these are features and practices that any martech team should be incorporating into their organization.

Philosophy: Make content planning and creation across channels easier (yup, not a typo relative to the last category)

Content Hubs

This is an interesting one, since there are (at least) two common angles to this definition – that which comes from DAM vendors, where they tend to augment the typical asset management features with an advanced content repository and often PIM-type features, while also adding marketing collaboration and campaign coordination. Examples of this would include Sitecore Content Hub, Contentserv, Censhare and Picturepark. Some standalone CMP vendors such as Uberflip also talk in terms of a Content Hub.

The second definition tends to come from headless vendors who want to up-market their message from a developer-led, to an enterprise-wide category where they provide an API-centric view on the problem. Contentful considers “Content Hub” to be a use case, as does Contentstack.

The prime difference between a Content Hub (in both definitions) vs. WCM is that of being channel-agnostic and enabling working across organizational functions (rather than solely being the purview of the web team). Similarly, a Content Hub also differentiates against pure Digital Asset Management by providing more capability around structured content handling.

Philosophy: Single source of truth for content in an organization.

Sales enablement platforms

I was prompted to include this one since Seismic, a sales enablement vendor acquired Percolate, one of the leading CMPs. This is a pretty fascinating development as most would expect CMP (a broader category) to be growing far faster than a niche like sales enablement, and yet here we are.

I assume it was helped along by the fact that Lightspeed Venture partners was a lead investor in both Seismic and Percolate, but having a one-stop shop to coordinate both “top-of-funnel” and “bottom-of-funnel” activities makes sense. But, where CMP seems to have struggled significantly as a space, sales enablement vendors like Seismic and Showpad have been showing massive growth and investment. It could possibly be that sales enablement is closer to the rock face of delivering sales revenue and therefore considered more “mission critical” relative to something like a CMP (or even a Content Hub) which can probably deliver similar value and use cases if deployed correctly. It would be wild if this massive gap in fortunes in these two categories was simply down to positioning and go-to-market execution rather than any product features or capabilities.

Philosophy: Provide salespeople with up-to-date and appropriate content (and track to make sure they know what is there and are using those resources)

Updated conclusion

We’re now at about 15 category definitions related to WCM – some of which could be considered large and wide-ranging and some merely “use cases” (but with large and growing markets) – but it should hopefully give some clarity of how these are all related to one another.

2 replies on “Things that are almost, but not quite, WCM: The extended family”

Another great post, Mark. More than one large enterprise client has told us they find this extended family a major PITA. That is, they have teams and individuals throughout the enterprise invested in little family members, which creates a very ramshackle picture from an ops and procurement POV. They need a coherent vision; if no one super-content-tech is the answer, what’s a reasonable ecosystem? There’s a lot of focus on the ideal martech stack, but I think we need to see focus on the ideal content tech stack (which will touch marketing, of course, but go well beyond it too).

The situation reminds me of this old XKCD joke:

XKCD joke on standards

Similar principle applies to “the single source of truth” – and as you point out, this is for both content and data (CDP is exactly a result of this; CRM not fast enough, add a new system).

The hard bit is actually convincing organizations that content beyond what it costs to produce. For example, good support and KBs are actually “marketing content” if they help drive discovery, but often that is thought of as a cost center. Hopefully having customer experience as a C-level interest also starts to drive similar focus for content as it becomes a key pillar for those initiatives.

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