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DXP and Optimization — Choosing Your Tools

Starting a plan to enhance your digital optimization, means finding your right tool set. 


Authored by


  • Digital Optimization
  • Strategy

It’s all about the user.

It’s the universal rallying cry of web design and development: our job is to provide answers to site users. Regardless of the content management system (CMS) or digital experience platform (DXP), the user comes first.

And yet, we have to be honest. It’s really not just about the user. The tools matter, too.

In our last article on the benefits of DXP, we focused on how to set and measure goals — how to, essentially, create a better experience for the site user. Now, with our goals set, it’s time to look at tools.

It’s not easy! The array of options you have when assembling a digital marketing stack can be overwhelming, like walking into an unfamiliar restaurant and trying to decipher its offerings. For that, you need something that can easily separate what’s an appetizer and what’s a dessert. You need a menu.

That’s what you get here, too — we’ll simplify the spectrum of options into a simple menu of features. To compose a functional DXP, you should pick an option from each of the following software types: CMS, analytics, customer relationship management (CRM), email automation, personalization, and A/B testing.

Content management system.

The content management system is the center of your digital marketing suite. All other tools depend on content, so the CMS takes center stage.

A good CMS should make it easy to find, edit, publish, and maintain content across multiple channels. There are several options from which you can choose, including:

  • Open-source but fully supported content management systems, such as Umbraco or WordPress
  • Enterprise-level content management systems, such as Optimizely or Umbraco Professional
  • Site-building systems, such as Squarespace or Wix

I can’t afford a CMS.

If you can’t afford a CMS, you’ll need to hand-code all your web content and deploy it manually, though this is less of a concern since there are plenty of free CMS options that simply require you to pay for hosting

Analytics suite.

If you're optimizing your users’ digital experience, it’s important to know what you’re optimizing for, and know how you’re measuring that. A good analytics package allows you to track user behavior and create a dashboard of your most important metrics.

Your options include:

  • Google Analytics
  • CMS-specific options, such as uMarketingSuite for Umbraco
  • Independent suites, such as Matomo or Piwik

I can’t afford an analytics suite.

An analytics package is difficult to create on your own — you'll need to hand-code a way to track and store user activity. Thankfully, there are free options, including Google Analytics.

Customer Relationship Management System.

Most organizations are marketing to inspire users towards some action, and that usually at some point involves building a relationship and making contact. A Customer Relationship Management system keeps a database of contact information and tracks those contacts’ activity over time. A good system will allow you to input information in multiple ways easily, integrate with your other systems, and allow you to trigger automated actions based on your users’ actions. Common options include:

  • Hubspot
  • Salesforce
  • Dynamix

I can’t afford a CRM suite.

You can create your own CRM by integrating with something like Google Sheets or rely on an email automation system as a stand-in.

Email automation.

Email automation might already be a part of your CRM software, which will help in creating a more seamless connection between contact acquisition and subsequent communication. However, many organizations rely on a series of mailing lists before they have a CRM. A good system will allow you to easily create and schedule emails, easily manage lists, and integrate with your other systems to import content and trigger sending messages. Some options include:

  • Mailchimp
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Your CRM

I can’t afford email automation.

You'll need to manage your own lists and send emails manually.


Once you’ve segmented your users into different personas, you’ll want to target your marketing message to each of those personas. Most personalization systems are specific to a CMS, but some CRMs can also allow you to hand-craft personalization on any site with a little extra work. Options in this space include:

  • CMS vendor options, such as Optimizely CMS Visitor Groups
  • Options created for, but independent of, the CMS, such as uMarketingSuite for Umbraco
  • Javascript-triggered options for CRM systems like Hubspot

I can’t afford personalization software.

You can create custom code for personalization, or just ignore it and more broadly market to your whole audience.

A/B testing.

After you’ve invested all of this effort, it’s important to continually optimize your user experience to perform better for you over time. A good A/B testing tool will allow you to easily create test variations either in concert with your CMS or in the code of your site directly, then measure and track the results of those tests. Options include:

  • CMS vendor options, such as Optimizely Web Experimentation
  • Options created for, but independent of, the CMS, such as uMarketingSuite for Umbraco
  • CMS independent options, such as AB Tasty

I can’t afford A/B testing software.

You can do some testing on your own with either custom code or just making changes and tracking over time, but be prepared to do much more math.

Other optional components to consider.

Of course, the tools go beyond these options. Consider the following a bit of an “ala carte” selection of additional features.

  • SEO & Accessibility Tools: Tools like SiteImprove and SemRush can integrate with your solution and make sure you’re keeping accessibility compliance and writing good SEO-performant content.
  • Content Orchestration: You won’t let everyone in your company administrate the website, so it’s helpful to have a way to manage and coordinate requests for content. A good content orchestration tool like Welcome will allow you to track work status, research ideas, and maintain an editorial calendar.
  • Digital Asset Management: If you're producing files, images, and video for more than just your website, you might find it useful to have a separate Digital Asset Management tool like Aprimo or Widen to keep track of your media assets. Make sure that if you go this route, you select something that integrates well with your other tools.

Bon appetit!


This is part one of a series on understanding DXP and Optimization: