Digital Experience Platforms - Five Considerations for Creating Exceptional Customer Experiences
Yet another tech acronym DXP has entered common tech vernacular – Digital Experience Platform – but really it isn’t something new.
In a nutshell it’s the evolution of existing technologies to meet the needs of today’s organizations that are embracing digital transformation and create exceptional customer experiences across channels, languages and geographies.
Ever since the 90s, every organization has become an accidental publisher, having to create content alongside whatever product or service they create.
During the early 2000s, WCM (Web Content Management) and CMS (Content Management Systems) solutions began to cater for organizations and businesses to structure and publish content online, helping them to manage multiple sites and languages and thousands of pages. Then Web 2.0 came around, social media was launched onto the world, and static brochureware wasn’t enough. Soon after smart phones became commonplace and content was no longer only being consumed via desktops/laptops but on smart phones and tablets. CMS vendors adapted further adding new interactive functionalities to their solutions as well as introducing responsive design.
Today content is consumed on an even wider variety of devices and in so many ways – not just phones, tablets and laptops, but wearables, smart watches, virtual assistants and soon there’ll be even more as IoT goes mainstream.
As a result, there are even more demands made by end users. These were also partly driven by the digital pure-players of the consumer market – Google, Facebook, Instagram et al – which end users have become accustomed to. Now they want similar experiences across all B2C and B2B touchpoints. The pressure is on every type of business to provide outstanding digital experiences all along the customer journey – with personalization, omnichannel communications and e-commerce.
And so DXP has come about, an umbrella term for a range of capabilities that are complementary to each other and integrate seamlessly to provide the technologies with which an organization can grow and succeed with their digital operations.
This article covers five considerations you should take into account before you select your DXP provider to be sure of digital success.
To create a customer-centric approach to content ensure you have a DXP with a content engine at its core. It should go without saying that content is key to engaging your audience. Indeed, content fuels every digital experience. And it is essential to create, organize, manage and reuse the content from which your digital experiences are made.
Other critical considerations are translation, tracking and keeping control of content (especially in regulated domains where there are strict compliance rules). It’s important that you think of how the content will be consumed and that your DXP has strong technical capabilities necessary to provide to a multitude of devices and systems through APIs (like a headless CMS).
Just as important is the ability of business users to deliver content from wherever it resides. This means that the DXP has the capability that:
- Websites and apps are built with a consistent design (which can be changed without affecting content)
- Site editors can easily and intuitively manage campaigns, create landing pages, craft rich content, capture feedback, update and refresh content to drive readers through the site.
- Creating digital experiences are not a one-off exercise. It requires constant monitoring, continuous effort and the ability to be both reactive and proactive to launch new products and services and keep your competitive edge.
What Content Capabilities to look for
Find out how easy it is for site editors to:
- Structure content
- Edit and collaborate on content
- Enforce workflows
- Navigate through and to content
- Schedule and automate publishing
- Take control of your URL and SEOs
- Build rich content including interactive, video and visual media
- Optimize content for delivery (including images, video…)
- Deliver content ‘as a Service’ (the Headless way) through modern web APIs.
2. Personalization (how to be relevant)
Customers are fickle, what they like one year they will fall out of love the next. What you don’t want to do is lose them. Don’t rest on your laurels.
You need to surprise, delight and continually put them at the core of your strategy, whether sales, marketing or technology. You are creating the right environment to deliver exceptional experiences.
Content personalization needs to be part of your digital strategy. Making content relevant deepens the customer relationship and makes the user feel more tied to and engaged with the brand. You will increase conversion rates, increase the average order value, lengthen customer lifetime value and improve ROI.
Whether you operate in a B2C or B2B market, users expect recommendations and targeted content, indeed many will seek out their peers’ reviews before making their choice.
Do you give them the opportunity to tell you what they want to see or get from you? And can you act on this information? Do you give them personalized offers, showing you know their ‘buying’ habits and preferences?
From simple welcome back messages to specific triggers for your visitors dependent on who they are, will strengthen trust and loyalty to your brand and improve conversion rates.
What Personalization Capabilities to look for
Don’t stick with simplistic standard requirements when it comes to personalization.
Think about your goals first and foremost – before even mentioning your idea for how to achieve it through recommendations. Dive into the detail and figure out what you really mean by and want from personalization then you can be more specific when searching a DXP that matches your requirements.
Illustrate and specify what you are looking for with examples. Using personas or user stories will help you better understand your requirements when it comes to personalization. And look at good practice by others.
Start small and test how it works first before rolling it out wholesale, you may find you get some quick wins that deliver value promptly and begin to demonstrate a closer bond with your visitors.
Keep in mind the workload that personalization can generate for your team on the backend. If you’re not careful, costs and time can quickly spiral out of control.
3. Recommendations (how to be empathetic)
Most media sites use trending content, typically based on simple statistics, to show what’s most popular at that point in time. More advanced engines use predictive analysis to provide more relevant content that is likely to trend in the coming hours.
Semantically connected recommendations require good meta information and linking of content. For example, linking a health condition with a particular food choice.
User-behavior based personalization can define events to track articles read, social media shared, or product purchased. This information can be used to identify usage patterns that leads to conversions. Content recommendations can deliver more targeted content based on what other, similar visitors have consumed.
Sites that are commercially driven and have clear key performance indicators (KPIs) can link recommended content or products to KPIs that are important to the bottom line. KPI-driven recommendations are powerful because they are based on self-learning algorithms that connect user behavior with predefined KPIs.
You can achieve content recommendations based on what your users are likely interested in – and those that are most likely to convert.
A conversion could be:
- Reading an article or watching a video
- Sharing an article on social media
- Purchasing a product
- Signing up for a free trial or demo
E-commerce vendors can also recommend products based on:
- Products that are in stock
- Products with high margin
If you are looking to implement personalization, ensure that you are clear on the user scenario you would like to have solved and look for that capability in your Digital Experience Platform.
Different Types of Recommendations
- Trending recommendations (Today’s top articles or best selling products)
- Semantically connected recommendations (Related content within the same category, tags, topics, companies, products or people)
- User-behavior based recommendations (People who bought one product have also bought a similar product you may like)
- KPI-driven recommendations (A product, matching a defined KPI, that is most likely to convert given a user’s behavior)
4. Enabled Digital Transactions
Shopping habits have changed forever. More of us shop online than ever before, much of this is due to the exponential rise in smart phones and the ability of buying any time anywhere so long as you are ‘connected’.
It is estimated that Global e-commerce rose by over 20% in 2018 over the previous year and revenues are set to grow to nearly $5 trillion by 2021. It’s no surprise therefore that e-commerce is increasingly involved in all digital transformation projects.
Although it may not apply in every case, it occurs often enough to be considered as an essential capability within a DXP.
From subscriptions and repeat purchasing to one-off buying whether for physical or digital goods and services, it’s vital that users don’t abandon their shopping cart mid-way through a purchase and if they do that they can pick up from where they left off. They need to be offered the simplest, easiest way to make 1-click purchases.
E-commerce systems have often been procured separately to a CM. As a company has evolved and started to provide products and services available for purchase, so have they bolted-on an e-commerce point solution. In all likelihood, the two solutions will not evolve at the same pace, not to mention the complexity of integrating two separate systems.
The advantage of a DXP is that you can leverage just one system for editorial content management and e-commerce management. For users and developers this means only one tool to master and manage and create a more streamlined journey for their visitors. Also, it simplifies management, ordering processes are optimized and reporting is easier.
What E-commerce capabilities to look for
You can operate seamless commercial relations and transactions if you can:
- Build a streamline experience for your customers
- Leverage a single system
- Enrich your product catalog with rich content (text and media)
- Improve end-user experiences with unified search finding content in all information sources
- Speed up buying processes by creating buying tool for consumers (B2C) and business, (B2B)
- Deliver tailor-made offering and pricing thanks to a personalized and interactive buying process and real time connectivity to your ERP and CRM systems
- Enable your business buyers to use and enforce purchasing processes within their organization (with validations, approvals, price caps etc.)
- Integrate seamlessly with your ERP, PIM and CRM systems for all business processes
Another component necessary in a DXP is the ability to interoperate with other systems and services.
This might feel like a less clear set of capabilities for any decision maker as it refers more to functionality for developers and designers and has less relevance for business users. Indeed, it may be overlooked as in today’s digital world, developers could always build atop or aside of any system to interoperate.
However, as a company’s digital business scales, so the maintenance and evolution of its online operation becomes a challenge. The integration between the experience platform and other (internal and external) systems become crucial for business success.
These other systems might be internal systems such as ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), PIM (Product Information Management).
It might be external systems such as remote services – translation, shipping, payment gateways, and connections to 3rd party (e.g. partner) systems etc.
Importantly, what is at stake here is how to interoperate with other systems in a fast, sustainable, cost-efficient way, without having to build everything from scratch every time.
Every digital professional knows the pain and the barriers behind business system integrations, even in a Cloud world where APIs and Web Services offer so much to developers. It is crucial that a DXP helps remove this complexity and enables smart, reliable service and business integrations.
There are different ways to achieve this, such as building simple technical integration layers, or developing connectors for wide range of solutions or exposing everything through Web APIs.
Although there’s still progress and innovation to be made, APIs and interoperability will enable you to plug in further solutions down the line (you may not even know today what you have to provide in the future).
What Interoperability attributes to look for
A key value is interoperability with integration frameworks, other systems and that the DXP connects to third-party solutions and services such as:
- ERP & CRMs
- Payment systems
- Subscription Management
- Marketing Automation and email Marketing
- Digital Asset Management
- Translation and localization services
- Other content management systems and platforms
- Social Networks
- And many more…
It’s essential to invest in a DXP that includes content management, personalization and e-commerce as well as functionality that ensures seamless integrations with other systems.
Whether you operate in a B2C or a B2B or a B2B2C environment, the four considerations of Content, Personalization, E-commerce and Interoperability should be there in the DX platform you use to deliver exceptional digital experiences to your audiences.
As the digital economy has boomed, so have point solutions flourished. However, integrating yet another system can devour time and budget ensuring that it works with multiple solutions.
The advantage of this third generation of platforms delivering digital experiences is that they come with complementary, integrated solutions removing the hassle, time and cost. Product updates are easier to manage not to mention the advantage of having just one system to control content, personalization and commerce.
The Ibexa DXP Platform – created for developers, editors and marketers – is an Open Source platform based on Symfony framework with the reliability of a commercial product enabling your teams to manage the entire customer journey on the web and beyond.
Join customers like Abus, Crédit Agricole, Essilor and Whirlpool who are using Ibexa’s proven DXP to publish multiple sites in different languages with targeted content and online transactions for their audiences who are connected on a multitude of devices.
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