SaaS Tools vs CMS Marketing Tools in Website Optimization

10.06.16   Suset Fernandez

As a website owner one of your constant concerns should be the improvement of your website’s ability to drive your business goals. You need a website capable of engaging your target audience, leading visitors to perform a desired action. You need a website that ensures your return on investment while offering the end user a positive experience. If you want a competitive website, then you must implement “website optimization.”

Website optimization is the process of systematically improving your website’s performance by experimenting with content variations and target audiences, while monitoring and measuring the results to determine which changes will lead to an increase in engagement, clicks, views, downloads, purchases, or other type of action.

Optimization tools focus primarily on personalization and multivariate (A/B) testing. Personalization enables you to segment visitors and deliver individual messages to the defined audiences. You could, for example, show different copy and images to a visitor from a specific geographic area. Multivariate testing allows you to create multiple versions of a page, present those versions to different visitors and monitor the performance to determine which version resulted in most people completing a desired action. You can, for example, test variations of the website’s navigation, the placement of a call to action (CTA) button or social sharing buttons.

There are a lot of products on the market specialized on website optimization. We will focus on two types:

  1. Software as Service (SaaS) Solutions: Centrally hosted software, licensed on a subscription basis and accessed via web browser. Examples: OptimizelyMonetate,QubitVisual Website OptimizerionMarketizatorPersonyzeAdobe Target.
  2. CMS Marketing Automation Tools: Built in features or add-ons integrated to the CMS. Examples: SitecoreEpiserverAdobe Experience Manager.

The main difference between these two types of tools lies in the approach used for implementing your optimization strategy.

In content management systems, personalization can be performed on various content items that have been built to support this feature. Criteria for defining characteristics of segmented audiences in A/B testing and personalization comes with the product but, typically, additional criteria can be implemented by a developer. Editors can create profiles/visitor groups using criteria/rules available in the CMS and then create content for the defined audiences. Once the audiences and targeted content are published to the web server, when a user requests a page, the user is matched to an audience; the page is assembled in the web server with the corresponding components, and then the page is delivered to the user's browser.

In website optimization SaaS solutions, all HTML elements can be personalized. Content owners are limited to the criteria that come with the tool to define their segmented audiences, and then must create page versions for each segment, if they are setting up personalization. The HTML from your web server renders exactly the same for every user. Then this page markup is sent to the user's browser along with a snippet of JavaScript that calls to the SaaS platform to see if there is any changes to be made to the page as delivered to the user. The SaaS platform responds to the JavaScript request with a list of HTML code (<div/>'s usually) that needs to be changed, and rules for changing it. The logic around which content to serve is based on what the user's audience is defined as using the criteria on the SaaS platform.

When evaluating optimization tools, you will find out that all vendors promise to deliver increased sales and a better customer experience. But how do we determine which is the right tool for satisfying our business needs? The reality is that we can only know what product is the best fit for us after trying them each out, but there are some questions that we can ask ourselves when making this decision:

  1. What features are available?
  2. What website sections can be optimized with this tool?
  3. How is the content managed?
  4. How is page load time affected?
  5. What’s the long-term price?

In a future post we will answer these questions, while offering you some guidelines and considerations to take into account when selecting an optimization tool.