Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) are software solutions which aim to assist companies in optimising their client’s digital experiences consistently across every phase of the lifecycle and every communication channel.
This sounds a bit complicated so let us discuss in detail what DXP platforms are and why modern companies need them.
Times change and digital customers expect more
With the proliferation of technology, fast internet and the rise of the digital customer, companies have to do much more to meet expectations. Multiple trends, which happen all at the same time force them to look for a better and more holistic approach to communication and building relationships with their customers.
Trend one: omnichannel (multichannel)
Digital customers expect a consistent multichannel experience. The communication through all the channels the company uses has to be seamless. Customers use a myriad of communication channels and expect the brands to keep up. They also expect company marketing efforts to be well coordinated.
If a customer sees a message from the company somewhere, he expects to see the same message on the corporate website visited through all devices, google assistant, on the call centre, in the company’s physical store, on a billboard and in social media. If a client is reached by a campaign via a billboard, he expects to be able to continue the interaction on all the channels with ease. QR codes, tailored messages, chatbots and SEO have to make it easy for him to find the online expansion of information he encountered in the analog world.
To simplify, we might say that customers expect to communicate with companies like with other humans, who can maintain a continuous, logical conversation across multiple media and channels.
This, of course, is much more complicated for a company which often has separate teams managing various comms channels or at least separate people. To coordinate the effort, brands have to have central platforms which help unify and coordinate the messages sent via all the channels (web/mobile, apps, IOT, display, kiosks, brochures and other campaigns). The platform has to allow for fast timely deployment of campaigns, videos and other media and text throughout channels without the need for custom development.
A great example of this is a seasonal (eg. Christmas) promotion. It may be launched for just a few weeks but it has to be present in all the channels from day one and then halted on the last day. In a world where this would require development effort from multiple completely separate teams (web, social, mobile etc) launching such action is incredibly difficult and time-consuming - often impossible to deliver in a timely fashion on short notice. If however there is a central platform for preparing, launching and managing all experiences, propagating changes to all channels becomes easy. In a fast-paced world, such time-sensitive actions are becoming a norm and brands need tools to manage the omnichannel experience with ease.
Trent two: Personalization
The omnichannel experience explained above, is further complicated by the more and more growing need for personalisation. With short attention time spans and lack of patience, customers now expect to receive information exactly on subject, served when they want it. Personalisation becomes key in increasing conversions and maintaining a relationship with a happy customer.
Personalisation becomes especially important as the customers will no longer reach out to the company to learn about products but will rather expect to find everything online. Companies have to tailor the communication correctly depending on how far down the purchasing decision the customer is.
Different content has to be served to new prospects who are just learning about their need and different to those who are knowledgeable, determined to buy and are educating themselves on the pros and cons of solutions from different vendors.
When the customer decides to buy, the multichannel, personal experience has to persist. Order tracking, issue resolution, documentation, warranty, post-sales support and service should be seamlessly coordinated with the client via all channels he might be using and the company should never lose track of who he is or what he bought or what processes are being realised with him at the moment. The days when the store could not accept a warranty on an online purchase are fading away.
A digital experience platform is a holistic approach to serving the customer
To be able to meet the above-mentioned demands of customers, companies have to have tools which allow them to deliver the expected experience. This is where a digital experience platform enters the scene.
Typically the digital experience platform will not be a one software package, but a collection of software components, which together allow the company to provide the required experience.
A list of such software solutions may include but is not limited to:
- A Content Management System (CMS) - a very important part fo the DXP. Allows for the creation and distribution of content. Typically to be part of a DXP, a cms has to be easy to integrate with all the other parts of the software package.
- Content personalisation tools - often part of the CMS or an additional mechanism providing content personalisation.
- CRM - depending on the type of business, is or is not part of the DXP. Much more common in B2B scenarios, however with the rise of personalisation more and more common in B2C scenarios as the central place of collection and management of customer data
- Ecommerce - historically more common in B2C, however, is also more and more popular in B2B. Initially, many companies treated their online shops as a separate part of the website, but these days, it becomes very intertwined with the rest of the experience, especially if the company allows users to buy online not only via the website but also apps etc
- Analytics - With more data, analytics becomes even more important. Campaign analytics, customer segmentation and personalisation mechanism all depend on good analytics tools.
- Email marketing tools - cold mailing may be dead, but emailing customers with offers and discounts is one of the easiest ways to upsell, cross-sell or turn a one-off customer into a returning one
- Campaign management - all the campaigns, including content, email, events etc. have to be managed in unison. Campaign management often incorporated into DXP.
- Reporting - to control all the efforts and their outcomes. Expenditures on 'the digital' efforts are large parts of company budgets these days and calculating their ROI is a must.
All the above have to be integrated to work together tightly to deliver the expected multichannel, personalised experience to the customer.
DXP is the center of the process and processes have to fall in line
Digital experience platforms are created to allow for a customer-centric process. DXPs are however just a tool. To be used effectively they have to be integrated into a customer-centric process inside the company. Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Development Teams and inner marketing teams (eg. social, web, content etc) have to be coordinating using the DXP, with DXP being the central hub for all the customer-focused operations.
Introduction of a Digital Experience Platform is a very good first step in an overall customer-centric digital strategy to unify and synchronise actions of all customer-focused departments. It is however just the first step on the way to create a truly personalised, multichannel experience.