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What is an LMS vs. a CMS? Understanding the Differences & Benefits

If you need to manage and deliver content to your team members, you’ve likely considered using an online tool to increase efficiency and empower your employees, customers, and partners.

For instance, two of the most common solutions that businesses use are learning management systems (LMS) and content management systems (CMS).

While their names and acronyms might sound similar, LMS and CMS tools serve distinct purposes.

Discover the critical differences between CMS and LMS platforms, how and when each is typically used, and why it’s crucial to integrate them together for maximum value and productivity.

What is a learning management system (LMS)?  

Research shows that there are already more than 73 million LMS users, with managers and executives making up the most significant percentage of those users. So what’s an LMS, what benefits does it provide for your business, and what are some LMS use cases?

An LMS is an online system, such as a cloud-based platform, that lets you supply curated, custom-built educational content for team members. The purpose of an LMS is to facilitate the process of creating and deploying educational courses, training materials, and other learning pathways for employees, customers, and partners. 

For that reason, an LMS is ideally suited for situations where learners need to be guided through structured courses, interactive exercises, and high-complexity training materials. 

An LMS also makes it easy for administrators to track and monitor learners’ progress, such as testing their skills with assessments or tracking their course completion rates and other crucial metrics.

As a result, it’s faster to identify—and close—any skill or performance gaps that are impacting your organization’s productivity and bottom-line revenue.

The takeaway? An LMS platform helps your organization develop, deliver, and monitor online training programs and educational content tailored to your brand or industry. 

To deliver the strongest outcomes—and the best ROI—an LMS needs to be scalable, easy to navigate, and, most importantly, fun to use. For example, LMS tools increasingly incorporate trends like gamification and video-based learning to make content more accessible, memorable, and engaging for learners. 

Learn more about finding the best LMS for your business

There are numerous benefits to using an LMS as a tool to accomplish your employee and/or customer and partner training objectives, from compliance and safety training to new employee onboarding. 

Here are just a few ways the right learning platform can help you achieve your most ambitious L&D goals. 

  • Employees build and acquire skills, creating a more competitive workforce 
  • Employee education and training programs help you attract and retain highly-qualified team members   
  • You can track (and increase) the results and ROI you’re getting out of your training programs

What is a content management system (CMS)? 

A content management system, or CMS, provides a platform or framework to publish content to the web for internal and/or external sharing.

One well-known example of a content management system is WordPress, which lets you publish blog posts, images, videos, and other content without the need for advanced web design skills. 

In a nutshell, a CMS is a platform designed for publishing and organizing content (which, in contrast to LMS content, may or may not be educational in nature). 

A more specific example of a CMS is a sales CMS. A sales CMS makes it simple to upload, organize, and share data with your sales and marketing teams. The outcome? More closed deals, better rep efficiency, and bigger wins for your organization. 

Learn more about using a sales enablement platform, or explore three tools to boost your sales enablement strategy

Some typical features of a CMS include: 

  • A powerful, centralized dashboard or command center for uploading content
  • A system of tags and labels that make it easier to find and organize content
  • Version control and creation of back-ups 
  • Basic SEO tools, such as features to help you write meta descriptions 
  • Various integrations, such as integrations with Google Analytics, Amazon Web Services SES, Salesforce, HubSpot, Vimeo, and SEMrush, along with other AI, federated search, marketing, and analytics integrations 

A CMS facilitates the process of publishing and editing content, but it does have some limitations. CMSs tend to lack some of the interactive features of an LMS, and generally don’t include any features for testing or assessing knowledge and comprehension in depth. 

Despite these limitations, a CMS offers value by making it fast and simple to store and manage content. You can overcome these limitations and supercharge your CMS by combining your content management system with a learning management system, as we’ll explore below.

What’s the difference between an LMS and CMS? 

Though both can be used to educate and empower sales reps or other employees, there are also many ways in which learning management systems differ from content management systems.

From the scenarios where they should be used to the types of content they’re best suited for, CMSs and LMSs serve complementary purposes but are not interchangeable. 

Here’s an analogy you may find helpful. Think of an LMS as a university offering that delivers prescriptive, tailor-made courses based on a curriculum. This allows learners to cultivate expertise and test their comprehension, translating to more skilled employees—and as a result, more successful organizations. 

If you think of LMSs as schools or learning academies, you can think of CMSs as digital textbooks. Much like textbooks, content management systems contain information that supplements and reinforces the curriculum while simultaneously serving as a quick reference point for learners. 

Courses and textbooks each deliver value on their own—but learning is optimized when students have access to both. Content and learning management systems can work together in the same way.

Integrating a sales CMS with an LMS enables your organization to reap the following benefits: 

  • Enable sales reps to easily access sales enablement content to help them perform better
  • Guide content strategy to match your team’s needs, avoid duplicate work, and ensure outdated content isn’t shared with prospects or internal employees 
  • Learners can easily access your LMS and CMS at the same time using single sign-on (SSO) 
  • Eliminate the need to update your CMS and LMS separately, saving you time and effort

With this framework in mind, let’s quickly review some of the critical differences between LMS and CMS platforms. 

  • An LMS is specifically designed to deliver and monitor employee participation in educational content such as sales training
  • A CMS is a user-friendly content management tool that can be used to upload, manage, and organize content of all formats and varieties, including non-educational content
  • An LMS is geared toward the individual learner
  • ACMS prioritizes content organization and storage
  • An LMS is ideal for interactive learning
  • A CMS is generally not suited to this purpose. A sales CMS is better used for purposes like responding to customers’ needs, sharing content externally, and tracking prospects’ engagement

Discover how WorkRamp’s all-in-one LMS and revenue enablement platform can drive growth for your business

Combine the power of a sales CMS with the benefits of an LMS to drive growth, boost revenue, and build a better-equipped workforce.

From training your sales reps, management team, and new hires to tracking engagement in courses and certification programs,  the Learning Cloud helps you create and deploy training for your employee and customer needs on a single platform. 

From custom content creation to CRM integrations, the Learning Cloud offers all the features you need in your learning and content management systems. 

The Learning Cloud also integrates with your existing tech stack to help you cut down on using disparate learning tools and streamline training in a single, centralized platform.

Want to learn more? Contact us to schedule a free, personalized demo. 


Complete the form for a custom demo.

Emily Homrok

Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with over eight years of writing experience. She graduated from Drexel University in 2011.

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