The world of enterprise content technologies has always been difficult to decipher on its own, let alone with all the acronyms flying around. Let’s talk about two of them today: CXM (or CEM) and WCM (or WCXM, or WEM for some).

Many organizations nowadays are paying heightened attention to the matters of CXM (Customer Experience Management), and not only because it is one of the buzziest acronyms in the industry. It is also because the crucial importance of retaining and acquiring customers in the impatient and fast-moving internet age is being realized more fully.

While many organizations may be only vaguely familiar with CXM, others are already using or considering buying specific technology to further their CXM strategies. Yet there’s often a lot of confusion about what different acronyms stand for and how to figure out whether they’re actually applicable to your business objectives-especially when it comes to the difference between CXM and WCXM (web content and experience management).

Let’s clarify a few things and start with CXM. My working definition of it follows:

CXM is a strategy and practice for managing customer experiences online (including web, email, social, and mobile) and offline (such as print, call centers, and in-person locations) to acquire, retain, and turn customers into satisfied, loyal brand advocates and ambassadors.

CXM practices span across multiple functions and departments: from customer service, to marketing, to ecommerce and billing, to name just a few. The main goal, however, is to ensure customer experiences flow flawlessly, from offline to online to mobile and vice versa, and customers get needed information and support in print materials, as well as social channels, or in the brick-and-mortar settings.

It is no longer sufficient to simply acquire new business and get a new customer. It is more important to retain that customer as a repeat business, and turn him into a loyal brand advocate who will promote the brand and spread the goodness of word-of-mouth marketing. Getting to the next level (turning a brand advocate into a brand ambassador) is yet another step up. A brand ambassador is someone who will actually go out of her way to defend the brand should a conflict arise, as well as spend money with you even when there are other options readily available, maybe even at a lower price.

It is important to note that CXM is not a platform. CXM is not a technology. CXM is a strategy. With that in mind, there are technologies out there that help further your CXM strategy-from social intelligence tools to CRM, from e-commerce to analytics.

WCXM is one of the myriad technologies in a vast CXM landscape. CXM is not a replacement for a web CMS. Web content management-very often in its absolute basic form-is what many organizations (who also attempt CXM) are still struggling with.

WCXM is not new; rather it is an evolved area of technology. Many vendors and businesses have progressed along the WCM to WCXM continuum.

The past several years have been evolutionary for WCM technology. Status quo is not something I see in the WCM/CMS industry, which continues to grow under the notion of experience management. Gone are the days of just managing and publishing pages on your website, as it was at the beginning of WCM in the 1990s. It’s increasingly about also managing the experience that surrounds your online presence and extends beyond it-into offline, mobile, and social. Content segmentation and personalization is being taken to a whole other level compared to the early days of CMS.

More often than not, there’s also a lot of crossover in WCXM and adjacent technologies and services such as analytics, SEO, URL management, workflows, social integrations, digital marketing, personalization and targeting, etc. The bottom line here is that no “CXM platform” or WCXM system is currently capable of addressing all use cases and business challenges in their entirety. Instead of buying the big CXM suite as a jack-of-all-content-management trades, as they are often advertised by vendors, it might make more sense to look at specific parts of this ecosystem separately and give consideration to separate components of best-of-breed solutions-while keeping in mind the clear distinction between WCXM and CXM.