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The ultimate marketer’s guide to composable DXPs

Illustration showing a marketing team using a composable dxp.

Many content management systems today are being called digital experience platforms (DXPs) because they have evolved to have more functionality and features than the traditional CMS once had. However, identifying a true DXP involves looking at the way a platform performs and interacts with other tools and communication channels.

In this guide, we’ll tell you how to recognize a DXP, explain the difference between monolithic and composable DXPs and show you how a composable digital experience platform can better enable your marketing team to flex quickly to keep pace with the ever-changing content needs your business and its customers require.

From launching campaigns to making quick website changes without a developer, you’ll learn why a composable digital experience platform can be a real game changer for your marketing team.

Functionality is the key to identifying a true DXP

A digital experience platform or DXP is a central hub where content is managed and stored for the purpose of delivering personalized experiences to customers throughout the buyer journey. It enables the seamless integration of multiple apps and services.

Gartner defines a DXP as “an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences.”

As this definition tells us, a DXP is not necessarily a single platform. Instead it’s a variety of solutions that are controlled and work cohesively from one central hub.

It’s important to note that all DXPs are not equal. DXPs can be built on a traditional, monolithic architecture or with a composable architecture, and there are significant differences between the two.

DXP architecture: Composable vs. monolithic

The most important consideration when choosing the right DXP is its architecture. Is the DXP built on a “monolithic'' or a “composable” architecture? While it’s not crucial that you understand everything about what these terms mean, it’s important to know this one key difference: A monolithic architecture is limiting, while DXPs built with composable architecture virtually have no limits.  

Why monolithic architecture is limiting

A digital experience platform built on a monolithic architecture will provide some flexibility to integrate with third-party apps and services. This flexibility can help your marketing team deliver more personalized experiences to customers as it connects with analytics tools and other services. However, because of its very nature, this type of DXP limits what you can and cannot do.

That’s because the platform’s vendor controls the type of technology that will work with the system. They not only control which third-party apps, services and communication channels can be integrated with the platform but also how they will interact.

This might not be an issue if you find a platform that works with all the channels, third-party services and analytics tools that you rely on today. But what happens down the road when you want to leverage new tools that come to market that aren’t compatible with the monolithic platform? Other than telling the vendor you would like to be able to integrate these tools, your hands are tied and you’re left with two options: Stick with a platform that doesn’t allow you to integrate tools you need, or start all over again by shopping for a new platform.

Why composable architecture is limitless

A DXP built with composable architecture is composed of a set of independent APIs — editable software modules — that work together to deliver personalized content experiences at various touch points throughout the customer journey.

A composable DXP houses an organization's content and campaigns, and it brings together all its sophisticated marketing tools and technology including automation, e-commerce and analytics. The DXP works with cloud-based and microservices solutions.

The term “composable digital experience platform” gained popularity when Gartner released a report called “Adopt a Composable DXP Strategy to Future-Proof Your Tech Stack” in December of 2020. That report elevated composable DXPs and indicated that organizations using them would have an advantage over their competitors with statements like this one: “... by 2023, organizations that have adopted an intelligent composable approach will outpace competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.”

It’s true that speed is an important advantage of composable DXPs. These platforms make it easier to customize and scale to align with your organization's unique needs and growth into the future. You’re in total control when choosing the tools your DXP leverages now, when you want to add or remove them, and when scaling your DXP later to add new services that haven’t been developed yet. This is what we mean by “limitless.”

Adding new functionality is as simple as adding a new API, replacing an existing API, editing an API or integrating it with a different third-party application, service or channel.

There’s also less downtime since failures in one service are isolated from others on the platform. Likewise, services can be added or removed without affecting everything else.

5 benefits of a composable DXP  

As you might have gleaned, DXPs with composable architecture offer a myriad of benefits that empower marketing teams to enrich customer experiences. With composable platforms, marketers will benefit from greater:

Speed: Launch campaigns faster and enhance customer experience without having to wait for developers to change coding.

Knowledge: Data from multiple sources and channels provides a more complete picture of the buyer. These include website analytics, social media, loyalty programs, customer relationship management and more.

Agility: Customer data and feedback allow you to pivot quickly to deliver more targeted and personalized content experiences at various touch points throughout the buyer journey.

Ease of use: Content editors can modify user interfaces and content experiences without help from developers. And since all content is managed in one central location, it’s simple to access, edit and repurpose content quickly as needed.

Omnichannel reach: Composable DXPs empower marketers to more easily reach customers wherever they are, on the devices and channels they rely on the most.

Enriching the customer journey

Customers today expect personalized content experiences that are relevant to their daily lives and needs. Until recently, that’s been a tall order for marketing to fill due to the limitations of traditional CMSes and monolithic DXPs.

At best, reaching customers throughout the buyer journey, from awareness to loyalty, has meant cobbling together apps and services to reach them at the different stages through different channels; writing a lot of content for different audiences and platforms; running analytics, problem solving, making changes and trying new approaches. The result was disjointed content that was hard to get to customers on time and difficult to manage.

Composable DXPs enable marketers to more easily manage all the different communication channels like social media and websites, to deliver more consistent messaging throughout the buyer journey. Customers enjoy more relevant and personalized content delivered in real-time across at all the different touch points throughout the buyer journey.

Is a DXP a good fit for your marketing needs?

There are several factors to consider when deciding whether your organization and marketing team need a DXP including price, business needs and growth and current satisfaction with your existing platform. If a traditional CMS that integrates with a few apps and services fulfills your current needs now without any significant pain points, then making the switch may not be worthwhile at the moment.

However, the opposite may be true if you find your current platform is stifling the kinds of content experiences your marketing team is able to deliver to customers and potential buyers. If you’re ready for more freedom and flexibility to adapt your websites and content with greater speed, knowledge, agility and ease, this is a clear sign that it’s time to consider a composable DXP.

Learn more

Learn more about composable in our blog post, “Why a composable CMS is right for you.”

Schedule a free demo to experience the game-changing benefits of a composable architecture with Contentstack’s digital experience platform.


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