First off, even entertaining this question is only really going to be a possibility for a select group of brands and businesses.
That’s because the cost of running and maintaining Adobe Experience Manager is going to price out almost all ecommerce enterprises… But that’s fine. Because that’s just how economies of scale operate.
Small and economically-restricted businesses choose from the wide array of content management system solutions that are stacked on the lower-placed ecommerce shelves. And as businesses move upwards and their budgets widen, they’re better able to reach for the top shelves where the more comprehensive alternatives are located.
The Forrester Wave, a leading tech research company that provides advice on commerce solutions, rates AEM as one of the few leaders in the area of Digital Experiences Platforms, which analyzes the individual strength of a platform’s strategy and offering.
So, how is the price of AEM determined? And what are the factors involved? There are a bunch of variables, and let’s dive in and look at some of the inputs.
Traffic (including pageviews)
Since Adobe Experience Manager is fully hosted “in the cloud” (as they say these days), Adobe’s costs go up in direct proportion to the amount of traffic a site gets. They’re effectively a host, and their costs are much more when your site is getting 1 million pageviews per month as compared to 1 pageview per month. And yes, I’ve seen websites that get merely 1 pageview per month!
Bandwidth is similar to traffic, in that it’s another hosting-related hard cost to Adobe that scales as you get more traffic. Your site that has tens of megabytes of high-res images per page is just much more expensive than the simple, text-only pages.
Amount of content customization per user, per jurisdiction & other criteria
Now it starts getting a bit more complex. One of the powerful things about AEM is that you can customize the content for different users, according to lots of sets of rules. John and Jane should see this content, while Michael and Maria should see that content. But you can do it by lots of standard rules as well: people from this referrer should see this content. People in that country should see this other content. And so forth. The more custom rules you plan to have, the more expensive it will be.
Scope, scale & quantity of A/B testing
One of the beautiful things about Adobe Experience Manager is that it integrates in A/B testing, so you can test to your heart’s desire. Get some people to see a green version of the site and others a blue version to see which one results in more conversions. You can do it! But the deeper your testing strategy, the more expensive it will cost. One of my favorite things about AEM is that it lets you do complex A/B testing within contact forms (most testing systems restrain the testing to simple details like, say, color schemes, for today’s example).
Touchpoints & integrations with other systems
Adobe knows that your site doesn’t exist in a vacuum. When someone fills out a form, does it go into Salesforce or…? AEM can integrate with almost any system out there – but the more integrations and the more complex they are, the more it will cost you.
One of the most powerful features of AEM is that the web forms can be turned into a workflow system, and the workflow can include other decision variables beyond just the workflow. Does someone need to approve content before it’s published, then copy-edited, then re-approved? AEM can handle it. Do you have webforms from potential customers that need to be routed to a particular person, then someone else, then someone else? AEM’s core strength is indeed its workflow.
Content authoring for print channels
So you’ve created all this content on the beautiful and easy to use WYSIWYG interfaces… wouldn’t you want to use that same content, but formatted and printed in the high-res formats and sizes needed for print publications? You can do that, too! Killing two birds with one stone. But that’s another factor embedded in the price.
AEM API access
Some customers don’t need access to the API; the majority, in fact, don’t. The web-based tools get you the core functionality for most use cases. But if you want to build on top of AEM to have your system – say, to integrate with your external workflow system – that’s another component of the cost. And note that it will not be a Boolean access yes-or-no; but related to the API usage as well. How many queries, how often?
Adobe Experience Manager operates a flexible pricing structure. The cost to access the content management platform comes from licensing fees that depend on the type of business and which components they implement.
And so depending on the size of the company the pricing scales from mid-market businesses to enterprise size.
And so if we were to generalize we would estimate that a typical budget to license and implement Adobe Experience Manager would cost between $100,000 and $200,000, but of course that depends on the details and it can go well under to well over that.
Of course, a “typical” budget does not exist and depending on the scale of redesign may be slightly less, or it could be double the cost. Nevertheless, Adobe qualifies this range of pricing with its comprehensive content solutions and complexity that a leading website increasingly requires.