Industry Insights

WCM, the Favorite of all Marketing Courtesans … for now

Web content management (WCM), where a marketer’s content lives and breathes, is king of the martech stack.

Content, while it has always been a key component of a marketer’s court, its prominence and power notched 

up in rank when it became the central component of delivering upon the promise of a great customer experience. The new drive for Customer Experience has driven content beyond just a “nice way to market across a digital channel” and into perhaps the only differentiator that remains. This dependency on content, and WCM as the primary system of engagement (SOE), has propelled the power of WCM as king widening the gap between it and its courtesans.

But tides of support for the current king are changing. Other would-be royalty are lurking in the shadows of WCM’s throne; vexing and courting today’s marketers.

This is not, or at least should not, be news; the warnings signs have been there some time. Two years ago my colleague, Robert Rose, wrote that: “WCM needed to bring its mojo back”.
So let’s look at all the challengers: 

Major Nobility

Marketing Automation (MA)

The MA solutions market has grown exponentially over the past couple of years. Similar to the WCM market, this industry’s solutions have branched out to include newer, specialized offerings with very focused purpose and functionality, while other, more established players, have tried to move beyond being pure-play campaign tools. Large or small, none have mastered the art of content. Compounding this limitation is that this nobility has not been able to move beyond the myopic view of the people (its customers) as primarily an email tool. WCM is safe from being dethroned by this house.

Customer Relationship Management

CRM stood still for many years. Thought of as simply the customer database of record for a long time, some have evolved to include and/or integrate other core marketing needs such as email and workflow. Heavily relied on by customer support centers, marketing, and sales teams, it rules over the bottom of the funnel activities. But their power stops there. Similar to its MA cousin, this noble house also lacks the content capabilities that marketers need in the era of customer experience management (CEM) and thus, is not quite noble enough to reign.

Knights of the Court


Digital Asset Management

With today’s amplified dependency on content for marketing, companies are generating more digital assets than ever before, thrusting the DAM industry from commoner to knight status, particularly within the enterprise technology landscape. Yet most still lack the core content management capabilities (editor tools, workflow, templates, etc.) that are required before the asset comes to live in a DAM solution.  So while it has earned its seat at the King’s table, it is no real threat to the WCM crown.


Now here is a courtier that has gotten content right – at least in regards to content catalogues. But its content capabilities stop there. Ecommerce solutions simply haven’t (yet) been able to evolve to deliver against simple, let alone complex, editorial strategies of today’s marketer.  Of the many potential challengers to the throne, this player within the royal circle of trust may be best poised to challenge the current king. Just not yet.

Trusted Royal Advisors


In today’s ever-on, omni-channel world, marketers need to be able to combine data from all possible sources, in as near real-time as possible, to enable real-time customer responsiveness. A flexible, intuitive analytics tools with built in reports and dashboard that enable analysis will play a more important and prevalent role for marketers in the coming years. While it will never likely wear the crown, it will keep its position and rank as favor of the other members of the court ebb and flow in the eyes of the ruler and its subjects.

Commoners Looking to Improve their Rank

There are newcomers to the marketing kingdom that are getting the attention of his royal majesty’s loyal subjects. These new courtesans, such as calendaring and workflow tools, monitoring (social, research, conversation) tools, as well as test and targeting support tools, while no threat to the WCM crown, do offer up, in an often simple and easy-to-use user interface, core functionality that will draw power away from all the nobility, not just the king. And those who draw attention away from the king, should always be kept an eye on.

WCM Continues Its Reign

While there are many players looking to take over as the ruler of the systems of engagement kingdom, none are ready to rule. Until one of them can prove they can provide content management leadership with purpose, insight, and initiative (innovation) they will be relegated to secondary roles in a court ruled by WCM.  Even as new challengers emerge, and they will, WCM will continue its reign, just perhaps with less authority. This doesn’t mean that WCM will reign forever.
While no single contender may be strong enough to assume the throne on their own, by joining forces, as many of the subjects (marketers) have done, WCM may find that it is still king, but sharing power with its previous subjects in a democracy rather than a monarchy.
Check out the “Who has marketing ownership?” episode of CMS Connected for more dialogue on this topic.

Cathy McKnight

Cathy McKnight

A founding partner with Digital Clarity Group, Cathy has a passion for working with clients to maximize their potential for success and profitability by helping them find the right-fit digital technology to help maximize their online engagement and efficiencies, within and outside the firewall. Cathy assists clients understand the value of their online technology and put it to use to embrace their digital transformation from being information based to engagement focused.

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