Understanding Engaging and Personalized Digital Experiences (DXP)

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A DXP is an integrated software framework for engaging a broad array of audiences across a variety of digital touchpoints. Organizations use DXPs to build, deploy, and continually improve websites, portals, mobile apps, and other digital experiences.

It’s impossible to sum up everything a brand needs to develop and perfect its digital experience in a few sentences. However, the core principle that you should take away from this definition is that it takes multiple integrated technologies to control a wide span of touchpoints, which necessitates a central platform to be the control center for this expanded experience.

As with all new things, the standardization of the particulars takes time and there’s a natural selection of which standard features end up sticking. The following is how the DXP evolved and what we think is critical for such a platform to drive value.

Do You Need a DXP?

Not every CMS company has evolved their platform toward providing users with a full-blown DXP, mainly because they’re not critical for every user. The core principles of CMS—like version management, workflow, authorization, and content organization—are still fundamental to creating the typical digital experience. For companies that don’t rely on digital as a main driver of business, these features meet their current needs.

Who Needs a DXP?

DXP platforms should be considered by companies who are more digitally sophisticated or ambitious, i.e., companies that require, or would benefit from, a fully connected experience across several digital channels. Brands with multiple touchpoints, a diverse audience, high stakes in the digital experience, or all of the above are ready for this type of platform.

The businesses that are urgently in need of a DXP are those with multiple back-end systems and front-end tools currently sitting in disparate silos. This is especially true for organizations with marketers and developers hungry to innovate with highly personalized customer experiences.

Deciding if you need a DXP, or are satisfied with a more elementary CMS, requires a critical look at where your digital experience is today and, even more importantly, at what level you want it to perform in the next five years. Ultimately, the right platform is the one that efficiently supports your needs, both current and future, at the right level.

Diving Deeper into DXP

To help you evaluate whether establishing a DXP is right for your company, let’s dive a little deeper into understanding what makes up a DXP and how it can be used to support your digital brand.

As we mentioned, a DXP is an integrated set of technologies, working together based on a common platform, that provides a broad range of audiences with consistent, secure, and personalized access to information and applications across many digital touchpoints.

Imagine a powerful and highly dynamic CMS working together with any number of integrated tools or experience extensions to provide a cohesive user interaction across each platform with which a user interacts with your brand.

How DXPs Are Used

Organizations use DXPs to build, deploy, and continually improve websites, portals, mobile, and other digital experiences. DXPs manage the presentation layer based on the role, security privileges, and preferences of an individual.

They combine and coordinate applications, including content management, search and navigation, personalization, integration, aggregation, collaboration, workflow, analytics, mobile and multichannel support, in order to:

Provide end users—including customers, employees, partners, citizens, students, and other audiences—with unified, timely, and continuous access to relevant information, interactions, and knowledge.

Aggregate and coordinate disparate local and remote content, applications, and web services into cohesive experiences.

Facilitate and apply user-experience design practices, such as persona modeling, journey mapping, responsive layout and data-driven design, to improve individuals' digital experiences.

What DXPs Are NOT

Many DXP offerings derive from portal platforms, web content management (WCM) systems, or enterprise content and collaboration systems as they evolve and converge to support individualized digital experiences. DXPs should not be confused with digital commerce platforms.

DXPs are designed to serve a broader range of use cases than digital commerce. Conversely, features and functions specific to digital commerce are not required for a product to qualify as a DXP platform. Still, several DXP providers offer native or integrated commerce functionality, which adds significant breadth to their offerings.

Sample Components of an Engaging Digital Experience Platform

In order to better demonstrate how DXPs are structured and provide some dimension to the myriad ways they are used to enhance the user experience, let’s take a closer look at the individual components that make them so powerful.

The API-First Headless CMS Framework

The beauty of a headless CMS is that you essentially have all your content separate, secure, and organized. You're never affecting anything in the content layer by saying, “I want to code this element in a specific way,” or “ I want to change the formatting here.”

Coding and formatting remain isolated from the content layer and are mostly carried out by APIs. Get used to that, as APIs control everything in a headless CMS and in the future there will be even more reliance on them due to their versatility and ease of implementation. APIs, with the addition of microservices, are key to the creation of an effective and optimized DXP. To truly integrate with the best of breed and to harness the power of digital, a headless CMS is key to getting your content and your brand onto whatever touchpoint you want or require.

Limitations of Traditional CMS

The problem with a traditional CMS and the reason that a headless CMS are a critical component of an engaging DXP is that changes often have to be made in the face of a large, monolithic block of code limiting the potential of the content layer. New development, or a necessary digital touchpoint expansion, may necessitate an entirely new CMS or heavy modifications within the current system, which adds complexity and costs.

These limitations make a traditional CMS cumbersome to maintain, but more importantly, they make it difficult to expand. In our world of IOT, multiple device, and immersive experiences, this severely limits a company’s ability to move and adapt quickly. Adherents to this old technology will adapt and develop slower than their competitors who have embraced new standards.

The Content Hub

More and more companies are investing in content creation, and the competition for the consumer’s attention is fiercer than ever. In order to gain engagement from your target audience, you have to deliver a content experience that is highly relevant and valuable….and a blog simply won’t cut it.

For this reason alone, there is a lot of attention developing around content hubs and the benefits that this type of content experience provides for both the prospect and the business.

A content hub centralizes all of your content into a one-stop shop for visitors. Implementing a hub into marketing campaigns that combine lead generation with lead nurturing can increase the value of your investment in content development. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of content hubs.

6 Benefits of Implementing a Content Hub

Centralize Your Content

A content hub centralizes your blog posts, social media, videos, white papers, and other content into a single destination that provides a more interactive and valuable experience to your website visitors. They don’t have to go searching for a content piece, as a hub presents everything they could want in one place.

Boost Context Around Content

A content hub allows you to provide context around your content. You can highlight your brand’s official content around a particular product while including third-party articles about the same product. This type of context helps add credibility and third-party endorsements while keeping visitors on your site.

Distribute Content

Content hubs amplify your content by making it easy to share the content via social media. Built-in social sharing buttons give your visitors the ability to share your content and customize messages with one click. A content hub also provides detailed analytics reports that let you know which of your content is more social-friendly and getting higher engagement, thereby allowing you to promote the appropriate content to increase overall amplification.

Increase Conversions

Content hubs increase conversions by keeping visitors on your site longer and highlighting content that’s valuable to them. As website visitors consume your content, a hub will allow you to feature optimized progressive profiling, pop-ups, and gated or contextual calls-to-action (CTAs). Showing the right content and CTA to the right person at the right time will increase your lead conversion rates.

Control

A content hub allows you to control your content and the visitor experience better. When you send traffic to Twitter, Facebook, or a website that’s not yours, you lose the ability to track and control the experience. A content hub lets you include social media on your website, while allowing you to control and tailor the experience according to your desires and goals.

Curation

Content hubs with built-in content curation let you add third-party commentary to your branded content that serves to strengthen your brand’s voice. If your curated content cuts through the noise and brings clarity, then it will help build trust and be seen as thought leadership that will have your visitors coming back for more.

Next up we’ll take it a step beyond content hubs and examine API integration, where you’ll learn more about API-based CMS and why it’s essential to CMS integration as a whole.

Tapping the Power of Integration with APIs

What Is an API-Based CMS?

The typical way to build a CMS-powered website is to choose a fully-integrated solution like WordPress and build your website as a collection of tightly embedded templates. Or if you want more control, you build your own integrated CMS using your preferred tech stack.

An API-based CMS, also known as a headless CMS, is a relatively new approach to content management with many advantages over the “old” way. An API-based CMS allows you to build websites and apps that are decoupled from their content management tools and integrated via API. This decoupling gives you the flexibility to develop your front-end using your preferred tools (e.g., Rails, Node.js, Angular) while being able to integrate a customized, robust CMS with ease. An API-based approach can save a team significant time and money in the initial implementation as well as ongoing maintenance. For more on headless vs. traditional CMS, don’t miss this article.

How APIs Transform the Customer Experience

APIs (application programming interfaces) are becoming increasingly valuable to business because they have emerged as the most accessible way to extract value out of enterprise data. They’re the easiest way to connect systems so they can exchange information, with a seemingly endless variety of uses.

They can be used to open up new revenue streams; improve existing products, systems, and operations; and provide valuable insights to make better business decisions. But they have to be organized and connected in a strategic, holistic way to provide any value. The way we recommend APIs to be developed, built, and deployed is through an approach called API-led connectivity.

API-Led Connectivity

API-led connectivity is a systematic way to use APIs, designed for specific purposes, to expose data and services onto a platform for broader consumption by the business. With this approach, rather than connecting data sources and systems with point-to-point integration, every asset becomes a modern, managed API.

The APIs used in an API-led approach to connectivity fall into three categories:

Process APIs – These APIs interact with and shape data within a single system or across systems (breaking down data silos) and are created without a dependence on the source systems from which that data originates, as well as the target channels through which that data is delivered.

System APIs – These usually access the core systems of record and provide a means of insulating the user from the complexity or any changes to the underlying systems. Once built, many users can access data without any need to learn the underlying systems and can reuse these APIs in multiple projects.

Experience APIs – Experience APIs are the means by which data can be reconfigured so that it is most easily consumed by its intended audience, all from a common data source, rather than setting up separate point-to-point integrations for each channel. An Experience API is usually created with API-first design principles where the API is designed for the specific user experience in mind.

By building and organizing your APIs this way and then making them discoverable and available for the business to self-serve, API-led connectivity has made your business composable, allowing teams throughout the business to compose, recompose, and adapt these APIs to address the changing needs of the company.

In a customer experience transformation context, imagine a shipping company builds an internal Customer API (a process API) that includes information about registered customers, their address, email, purchase history, etc. from various System APIs in front of customer databases; in short, it creates a single view of their customers.

This Customer API can be used across the organization to achieve many business objectives. IT and other technical teams can use the API to create a mobile application for users, build an internal web platform for sales representatives, or create a partner portal for shipping status, all with Experience APIs.

One internal API can have multiple use cases and help streamline business processes across the entire organization. In addition, organizations can also expose the API to partners, who can iterate on these APIs and provide a more comprehensive, omnichannel engagement for customers. With API-led connectivity, every API that is built continues to create value for future business requirements.

Final Thoughts

The Digital Experience Platform or DXP is the future of content management; there’s really no question about it. The question to be asking is whether everything outlined above will optimize the way your organization delivers content to your audience and whether your audience will obtain more value from this form of delivery. The answer for many companies will be a resounding “Yes!,” which is why we highly recommend you explore headless CMS even further.

We also invite you to learn more about the Contentstack platform for your DXP. You can even try it for free here.

Have questions, feel free to reach out and one of our experts will be happy to help you answer them.