Digital experience platforms: help for marketers in online business
So-called digital experience platforms (DXPs) are preparing to further increase the value proposition of this product category. These solutions have always differed from pure content management systems (CMS). DXPs want to enable a comprehensive, digital and coherent customer experience. Not just on the company website, but across all digital communication channels: the right content at the right time in the right form.
Three trends make a significant contribution to the fact that marketing managers can work better and more successfully with modern DXPs than ever before. For one, DXPs are more agile, with a much shorter time-to-market. On the other hand, they empower users to use the systems intuitively, quickly and according to their needs thanks to their simpler operation. And last but not least, self-learning AI and data analysis components now allow a much more effective personalization of customer experiences – on all channels.
There are basically three approaches on the market for digital experience platforms: the large suite, the completely customized solution or the best-of-breed platform. The very large manufacturers offer everything from a single source in their suites. From the point of view of the user companies, however, the question of use cases arises: Does marketing really need all the functions that this powerful platform offers and that of course need to be paid for?
In addition, the large, powerful solutions often have a monolithic character. The implementation is correspondingly complex and lengthy – time that marketers no longer have in view of the growing variety of channels and the pressure to digitize. The vendor lock-in, the commitment to one provider, is another possible disadvantage of the suite approach.
The other extreme would be a DXP that you compiled and integrated yourself from scratch. To do this, a company looks for software manufacturers who only deliver individual technology modules for the platform, for example a CMS, personalization, newsletter software or a search function. The responsibility of the respective manufacturer then stops at its own API, the programming interface. The company is responsible for the interaction of all of the specialized solutions. In principle, this is a complex and also risky way, which all experts advise against.
Between the two extremes, a best-of-breed approach often proves to be ideal today. These DXPs provide the important enterprise functionalities out of the box – but at the same time they are flexible and open enough for the integration of special functionalities from third-party providers. Modern DXPs offer a high level of interoperability with existing systems, and they make it easier to expand the platform with new solutions at any time and to react agilely to the growing needs of a company.
Despite their openness and flexibility, good “best of breed” DXPs already include the most important modules. If, for example, a front-end template for a progressive web application (PWA) is included, the marketing department already has the basis for its own, individually designed mobile-first websites and apps. Because PWAs enable app-like functions on websites. They give the answer to the fact that the smartphone has become the dominant end device for customers. One thing is certain: Agile DXP projects show success faster and offer a better customer experience.
More agile, faster, easier – these principles apply not only to the implementation of DXP, but also to everyday use. Modern platforms have come to give the marketing department more autonomy: They want to make life easier for marketers. “No code” approaches, for example, allow necessary adjustments to be made easily via configuration and graphic interface.
In this way, the resource-guzzling development work of programmers can be dispensed with. Usually, this relief of the IT department comes in handy – because then it can use its considerable know-how to create even greater added value for the company in other areas. “WYSIWYG” (“what you see is what you get) is next to” No-Code “another principle that makes life easier for marketing, users can see immediately how a change affects the presentation for the end customer.
An intuitive creation of inspiring customer experiences across all channels is important because the “time to value” consideration has two components in every DXP project: the installation and the daily work. If you look at the DXP market, you can see that the solutions are increasingly moving the focus to the user. Because the features of the various DXP systems often no longer differ dramatically from one another. More relevant differentiating features today are intuitively understandable user interfaces and simple handling as well as the speed with which the platform becomes productive.
The purpose of a DXP is to offer customers exactly the information and user experience they are looking for on all channels. Because for today’s customers, an attitude of “digital first” and a tendency towards decreasing loyalty are characteristic – as long as they are not permanently ensnared.
With this in mind, suitable personalization becomes essential: without personalization, there is no success. As important as this core goal is, it is still advisable to be agile on the path to personalization and to proceed step by step. For the first personalization steps, the rule of thumb applies: “start small”.
For example, it promotes customer loyalty if you greet returning registered visitors with a personal “pop-up”. Individual pop-ups that appear when someone comes to the company’s site from a specific website can also make sense – the effort involved in doing this remains manageable.
Banner images can also change depending on the situation. Or you always play a pop-up at the moment when moving the mouse pointer reveals that a visitor intends to leave the website. Another simple personalization step: visitors who put items in the shopping cart but then do not order will automatically receive a discount voucher by email after leaving the shop.
Even simple personalization measures lead to initial success. With the help of such “quick wins” it is easier to convince the internal sponsors of a DXP project to provide the financial and human resources for further steps. Because like everything else in marketing, effective personalization cannot be implemented on the side.
Ideally, personalization measures are always based on a corresponding strategic foundation. If the personalization plans become even more ambitious – beyond the quick wins – the complexity inevitably increases. Because then it becomes necessary to tap and integrate several data sources. Even a customer’s offline purchases need to be taken into account. A DXP strategy at this level requires the use of artificial intelligence. Data-collecting, self-learning and AI-supported systems make personalization much easier. The good news: Today, such AI solutions are already included in many enterprise DXPs.
Modern DXPs are highly flexible and quickly productive. To do this, they use hybrid architectures, modern technology stacks, and they can output static content as well as highly dynamic content. Sensible selection criteria from a marketing perspective are pronounced interoperability with other systems, a short time-to-value, simple handling and a flexible “best of breed” approach.
When implementing it, it is advisable to proceed in an agile and step-by-step manner. This quickly helps to achieve initial success in marketing and ensures acceptance and motivation among users. Challenges such as personalizing the customer experience or increasing the success of the online shop are easier to cope with for marketers than ever before. End customers also benefit from modern DXPs: They enjoy the involving customer experiences that they expect in today’s digital omnichannel world.