Not every CMS has marketing automation (MA) integrated, and the few that do may not be optimal for the needs of your organization. A viable strategy may therefore be to choose a CMS that fulfils your requirements, while simultaneously choosing a third-party, “best of breed” marketing automation tool that also satisfies you.

What does marketing automation do?

A marketing automation tool is a manifestation of the marketing strategy known as “inbound.” In inbound marketing, the goal is to attract, convert, and delight your customers through digital channels, delivering the right content to the right person at the right time. The engine helping you to determine the “right” is marketing automation.

Marketing automation typically gathers personal data from visitors, leads, and customers—thus providing analytics, statistics, and insight. An MA tool must include or at least be integrated with a CRM solution, which handles the data of all your contacts.

Further, MA lets you build workflows for your leads, which include automatic triggering of events, like the sending of emails or web content personalization. Together with the CRM, the MA tool provides lead nurturing and lead scoring, essentially telling you which persons who engage with your content. Adding to all of this is marketing campaign management and an integration of multiple touchpoints, including landing pages, blogs, emails, social media, chatbots, events, and SEO.

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CMS integration points

Analytics and tracking

The first marketing automation function you should integrate with your CMS is the analytics part. This comes as a tracking script you can put on all relevant sites either via editing your CMS templates or via Google Tag Manager.


The second function to integrate is the forms, as they are responsible for collecting and sending data to the MA tool’s CRM. Look out for an MA where you can easily retrieve code to embed forms in the CMS or an MA that enables easy integration with CMS form builders. Examples of form usage are events, newsletters, premium content, contact us, training sign up, my page login, and orders.

Be aware that embedding forms from a MA can lead to a penalty with search engines, as the embedded forms can slow down the page performance. Instead you can try to build a solution where the form application is native to your CMS while sending data to the MA.


As mentioned, marketing automation may be used for personalization for your digital experiences—like showing an ad to a specific target group or specialized content to a visitor known to be interested. This integration can be achieved by tracking and segmenting user behavior in the CRM, and then feed the data to the CMS, where the appropriate content tied to the given segment will be triggered.

Call to action

In the world of inbound, a call to action (CTA) is a button, poster, intriguing text, or some other enticing element designed to make your targeted persons perform a certain task. This can include downloading an ebook, opting in for an audit, signing up for an event, or ordering a test run.

Building custom content types for CTAs in your CMS, copying an embed code from the MA tool, and then using them in your content is one way to handle CTAs. But, as with embedding forms, this practice can punish your search results ranking due to slow performance.

If there isn't any APIs in the MA tool, build CTAs in the CMS to begin with and get statistics using Google Analytics or the MA. CTAs are imperative to get the MA machinery working.

RSS feed

An RSS feed retrieves raw data from the content in your CMS to be put to use wherever you like, but the most common examples include news aggregators and emails. An RSS feed can be put to use in your MA tool by sending out daily, weekly, or monthly digest to delight your contacts.

The other way around

An integration between a marketing automation tool and a CMS is a bilateral advantage—the two systems feed valuable information back and forth in order to delight your customers and attract new leads. A final integration point is for the MA tool to use site analytics to enable workflows and trigger emails. Site analytics come from tools like Google Analytics and/or the CMS itself.

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What is where?

When you are in the process of integrating your CMS and your marketing automation, it is easy to get lost among what goes where, what system dictates what actions, and so on. Here is an essential overview of what features and functionality typically belong in the CMS, and likewise for the MA.


Marketing automation

Every editorial content (pages, posts, images, documents, profiles, testimonials)


Site management

Email content

URL handling

CTA (typically)

Integration code (where you “attach” the MA, tracking scripts, forms)

CRM/contact information, including activity feed and lists

Content metadata (some of which can be integrated with MA, like tags, segments, personas, campaigns)

Social ads


Leads scoring

Popular marketing automation tools

As you are probably aware already, there are several marketing automation tools on the market, each with different features and targeting different customer segments. So which piece of software should you choose?

Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, we’d rather point you to an excellent source of marketing automation assessment and comparison—namely G2. This site reviews the different software, including ActiveCampaign, HubSpot, Bloomreach, Salesforce, Adobe Marketo Engage, and more.

Make sure to investigate an MA tool thoroughly before opting in for a test run, and find out whether it suits your chosen CMS or not in terms of the integrating points mentioned in this article.

PS: As mentioned above with forms and CTAs, page performance has a substantial impact on your search ranking. Your search engine optimization strategy should therefore not just include titles, URLs, and keywords, but performance as well. This amounts to strike a fine balance between the CMS and the MA tool.

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First published 29 April 2019, updated 29 July 2020.

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