From CX this to CM that – it is easy to get confused with so many stylized acronyms. Whether you’re net new to Sitecore or a seasoned user, understanding what each acronym stands for and the context around it is critical.

CMS – Content Management System
What it is:
A content management system is the software system you use to create, edit, and produce digital content. That can be a web page, a blog post, a mobile webpage, etc. The key of a CMS is that it separates the design and presentation from the actual content. Leveraging templates, content can be added to the system and styled so that it can be easily displayed in page without needing a web developer each time a new page is needed.

Why you should care: The CMS is the center of all your digital needs, this is the first step in your website journey. A content management system by itself isn’t a unique concept, and there are many varieties out there from Enterprise solutions like Sitecore to blog content management systems like WordPress. Content is the hub in which everything starts to build upon

CXP – Customer Experience Platform
What it is:
The customer experience platform is the secret sauce for Sitecore. This allows you to market to your customers based on their current and past interactions with your brand across a variety of channels. When leveraged correctly, you can deliver content that is relevant to their personal customer experience expectations, giving you a view of how they digitally interact with your brand.

Why you should care: The Customer Experience platform is built directly within the core Sitecore platform. This allows you to quickly and in real time affect the customer experience and digital content delivery based on how customers are interacting with your site, campaigns, or even offering a personalized experience based on a predictive approach to targeting.

You can leverage A/B and Multivariate testing to improve content, store the results and optimize your site within one system. All this allows your CMS to be more powerful than just standard content delivery.

xDB – Experience Database
What it is:
In order to accomplish the CMS and CXP connection, you need a database that stores all the relevant information and that’s exactly what the xDB does. Tracking every customer interaction with your digital brand, the xDB is a single marketing repository for interaction data, customer profiles, preferences, and behaviors regardless whether the interaction is from a known customer or anonymous visitor.

Why you should care: This is the brains behind the Sitecore Experience platform, xDB provides contextual information to marketers so that you can drive the customer experience based on the most appropriate content to that customer. As a core part of the CXP, you do not need to bolt on or integrate this database with Sitecore to get this experience, but you can integrate it with other data sources like a CRM system to expand the information available to Sitecore to influence the experience.

SXA – Sitecore Experience Accelerator
What it is:
Sitecore Experience Accelerator provides layouts and components (the building blocks of any Sitecore site) that help you get up and running quickly. As a jumpstart to the building process, it is a collection of components and templates that are often used on websites to accomplish the basics often needed in a phase one.

Why you should care: For customers who have a short time to get Sitecore up and running SXA provides a quick way to get a core group of layouts and templates up and running. While there are limitations in SXA that could be resolved with a fully custom approach, this method can allow a site to get stood up quickly with less dependency on IT or Development resources.

EXM – Email Experience Manager
What it is:
Email Experience Manager is an email marketing and automation tool built directly within the Experience Platform. This tool allows marketers to create and deploy email marketing messages using existing web content and images, or custom designed emails. You can personalize and dynamically send messages across customer segments, and track their response directly within Sitecore.

Why you should care: Since it’s natively integrated with Sitecore you have only one system to work in to create your web content, landing pages, and email messages. This speed allows marketers to get campaigns into market quicker, while having the full power of the customer data within the xDB to personalize, test, and track the results. Sold as a subscription based on email volume, this is easy to add on to an existing Sitecore system and can replace a 3rd party email solution in many situations.

FXM – Federated Experience Manager
What it is:
Federated Experience Manager is a module within CXP that is often overlooked, but is one of the most powerful additions to the Sitecore Platform. Essentially, FXM allows you to connect non-Sitecore sites to both serve content and capture visitor behavior. All the interaction data on your non-Sitecore sites are stored in the xDB allowing you to personalize the information on sites you own but that are not built within Sitecore.

Why you should care: Marketers often have 3rd party sites that might not make sense to migrate to Sitecore. This could be Learning Management Systems, a booking or ticketing system, or even a separate partner blog; regardless of the system, you can now consistently deliver a cross platform experience and not have silos of data. Connecting the sites allows you to collect the interaction data within your Sitecore Platform and leverage it to deliver content to the 3rd party sites. Best of all, this is included free with your Sitecore Experience Platform License.

PXM – Print Experience Manager
What it is:
While potentially a niche application, Print Experience Manager ensures that printed messages are in sync with your digital content through an integration with Adobe Creative Suite tools. Content that is stored in Sitecore can be used directly in a tool like Adobe InDesign when creating print materials, even to the point of creating personalized print on demand content that is completely tied to the digital experience.

Why you should care: Allowing Sitecore to be the repository for content descriptions, product descriptions, or imagery now print content will stay consistent across channels without the need to renter or copy and paste content. This not only eliminates errors, but can decrease time required to create complicated print documents like product spec sheets, or even full catalogs based on the digital commerce content.

There are a lot of feature rich tools in the Sitecor toolbox, and it can be easy to get them confused when trying to decide which tools to activate or add-on. There is a community of Sitecore Marketing Technology experts like myself that strive to help keep these straight for you.In October, I will be speaking at Sitecore’s symposium conference (#SitecoreSYM) on leveraging the CXP and xDB to drive personalized experiences in your CMS and EXM. If you are in Vegas for symposium come listen – you’ll be a few steps ahead already knowing all the tools we are talking about.