What is a Digital Experience Platform, and How Does it Compare to a CDP?

Cloud Software - CDP vs. DXP
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Welcome to the age of the consumer. Customers are no longer satisfied with a one-size-fits-all digital experience. They expect a personalized approach that remains consistent throughout every interaction with your brand.

While a content management system (CMS) can help you create and deliver content to your platforms, you can’t meet growing customer demands with a static CMS alone. You need to bolster your systems with tools that allow you to personalize and optimize your data, rather than just manage it. Digital experience platforms (DXPs) offer an intuitive and innovative way to meet both customer expectations and business goals. 

Capabilities of Digital Experience Platforms

A digital experience platform is a set of tools that allows businesses to manage and improve the digital experience across channels and devices. A DXP’s integrated content platform enables creation, personalization, delivery, and optimization of digital user experiences.

DXPs evolved from other tools such as CMS and web experience management (WEM) systems. However, CMS and WEM both have the same weakness: they cannot deliver content across channels. For businesses, this means investing in a sprawl of CMS silos—one for every channel. For customers, this means a frustrating, disconnected user experience.

DXPs use the technology of tools like CMS and WEM, but unite them and take them a step further. DXPs also integrate with other tools like customer data platforms (CDPs) to make the entire system smarter and more useful. The digital experience platform becomes a hub for content management, analytics, asset management, and data management. Some DXPs even allow you to build your own customized suite of technology.

Goals and Uses of a DXP

The primary goal of a DXP is to improve the user experience for customers on all platforms, whether that’s a website, mobile app, or blog. They allow you to meet customer expectations and ensure consistent marketing across every channel. 

DXPs also help your marketing team by improving accuracy and providing new insights into customer expectations. DXPs can pinpoint immediate customer needs and help marketers fill them at the right phase of the customer journey. Finally, DXPs make your business more competitive. They allow you to stay on the cutting edge of new technologies and trends without expanding your budget.

There are three types of digital experience platforms, each with slightly different uses.

  • The CMS DXP goes beyond what a standard CMS can offer. They can provide detailed analytics that accelerate the customer journey.
  • A portal DXP on integrates with different intranet portals, such as suppliers and partners. They also increase customer loyalty and retention by providing data and insights about the post-purchase customer relationship.
  • Commercial DXPs primarily offer support for e-commerce transactions. They can manage data from online shopping carts and inventory.

Features of a DXP

A DXP offers many useful features, either natively or through integration with other technologies. Most DXPs will offer the following capabilities:

  • Delivery of content and experiences
  • Cross-platform support
  • Content and asset management
  • Detailed, real-time analytics
  • Optimization and personalization tools
  • Customer data management
  • Integration with other tools

Other features that a modern DXP may offer includes:

  • Commerce tools such as payment gateways
  • Customer relationship management
  • Marketing management
  • Campaign management

Benefits of Digital Experience Platforms

A DXP is a big investment—in addition to covering upfront costs, you may have to adjust your processes to get the most out of it. So, what exactly is the ROI on a DXP? To find out, you need to consider the many benefits that they can offer your business.

Customer Experience

DXPs improve customer experience in two major ways: cohesion and personalization. The customer journey can be long, and it may include multiple touchpoints.

When customer data is stored on one platform, companies will have immediate access to demographics, customer history, and personal details. All of these provide a broader view of each customer and make it easier to personalize their experience. When paired with a CDP’s customer data unification and segmentation capabilities, marketers can offer relevant suggestions based on customer needs and history to provide personalized content and functionality based on customer behavior.

A few other ways that DXPs can improve customer experience include the following:

  • Increased speed and performance
  • Real-time adaptability
  • More relevant customer service

A personalized experience leads to more than just higher conversions—it results in greater customer loyalty as well. In fact, according to InMoment, 50 percent of customers will leave a preferred brand in favor of a competitor that better meets their individual needs. In contrast, HubSpot Research reports that 93 percent of consumers will return to companies that offered excellent personalized customer service.

Better Content

DXPs affect content in two ways. First, they make it easier to deliver to multiple platforms and devices. DXPs can deliver the same content to unique devices like in-store kiosks and VR headsets through an adjustable presentation layer. In contrast, you would need multiple CMSs to deliver content to different destinations.

Second, you can get more out of your content if you use a DXP. They can store and tag all your brand content, making it easier to find and update. You can reuse or repurpose content on an integrated platform, especially with the help of automated marketing tools.

Better Adaptability and Control

DXPs are designed for integration. For businesses, this means two things. First, it’s future-proof—even as your business grows and new technologies appear, your DXP can adapt to changing needs.

DXPs also offer more stability and reliability than a CMS. Instead of delivering from a single server, they function on a full network of servers unlikely to fail. For commerce sites, better stability can lead to better sales, as customers may leave a site if they encounter technical difficulties.

Better Employee Experience

DXPs reduce the amount of work for marketers. When integrated with a CDP, DXPs can provide a full 360 view of every individual customer journey. Marketers will have all the information they need to meet customer expectations right at their fingertips. They will also have a more complete picture of their strategy when they don’t have to collect and study data from multiple sources.

In addition, DXPs are designed to be user-friendly. Even nontechnical staff members can take advantage of the tools a DXP offers. This allows employees to do their work more efficiently and with fewer technical roadblocks. As digital experience platforms are intuitive, training is minimal. Plus, vendors generally offer help-desk support if problems do arise.

Digital Experience Platform Trends

Consumer behavior is the primary driving factor of trends in DXPs. In the digital age, consumers have taken greater control over the customer journey. Instead of following one path from parking lot to checkout line, customers now do research and browse reviews on several devices. Trends, strategies, and innovations in DXPs arise from keeping up with the changing needs and expectations of customers.

The development of other technologies is also pushing DXPs to the next level. For instance, voice searches and smart speakers have created a new digital channel—DXPs can help adapt content for audible delivery. Growth in the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning industries have led to more powerful DXPs. In addition, as digital workflows and processes become the norm across industries, DXPs have become more efficient and more automated as a result.

The Future of DXPs

MarTech Series reports that DXP market will grow by 12.3 percent between 2021 and 2028. In addition, while the digital experience platform market is still relatively new, there are already exciting innovations on the way. 

Currently, most DXPs are monolithic; they are all-in-one models that are not easy to customize, especially in response to a changing market. That’s why many innovators are focused on creating a composable DXP. Composable DXPs will be fully customizable, more user-friendly, and easier to launch. The idea is to make DXP functionalities available in smaller units called packaged business capabilities (PBCs).

With PBCs, users will be able to create their own DXP with relevant, personalized features. In addition, they will have the option to quickly rebuild or replace PBCs as business needs change. With a composable DXP, flexibility and adaptability become nearly limitless.

Another innovation on the horizon involves artificial intelligence. AI is best equipped to handle the massive amounts of data that DXPs bring in—it can process data and generate insights quickly. DXPs already rely on AI to enhance their key functions from digital experience delivery to content curation, optimization, and analytics. In the future, AI will be doing even more heavy lifting, especially as machine learning takes off. 

AI will be able to perform more sophisticated algorithms that better make use of customer data. In addition, AI can improve integration of platforms, tools, and technologies, making DXPs more efficient and more connected.

The Challenges of DXPs

While data and platform integration are at the core of a functional DXP, it can be difficult to achieve the necessary connectivity without significant time and resources. In fact, for many companies shifting to DXPs, successful integration can be the most complex step in the process. In some cases, it requires a full digital transformation.

In addition, you may need to transform your mindset. DXPs introduce a new way of doing business; it’s a much broader strategic play than purchasing a CMS. It’s more than management—it’s data optimization and personalization. Using all of these features involves a shift in business practices.

To overcome these challenges, you need to fully understand the capabilities of your DXP and how to access them. A simple training course is the perfect launching point for your digital transformation.

However, you may find that your biggest technical challenges are actually process challenges. Recognize that moving to a DXP will take time, resources, and even expert assistance. Make a plan with a realistic timeline and the right goals. If you figure out how your company will implement a DXP before diving in, the transition will be smoother. 

How to Get Started with a Digital Experience Platform

Investing in a DXP can be daunting—the process may seem complicated and expensive. However, you’ll know that your business can benefit from a DXP if you notice these signs:

  • Your customers are unsatisfied with their current digital experience.
  • Your marketing goals exceed your current capabilities.
  • Your customer journey maps have weaknesses that new technology could strengthen. 

In addition, remember that silence isn’t satisfaction. Even if your consumers aren’t complaining about their experience, it doesn’t mean that they’re happy. All businesses benefit from continuously prioritizing customer experience.

What to Expect from Your DXP

If you’re considering DXP vendors, look for standard attributes like these:

  • The tools and capabilities you need in your industry
  • A track record of excellent performance
  • Robust security, backups, and reliability
  • Scalability and openness to third-party systems
  • Cutting-edge technology such as the latest AI 

Vendors offer many levels of features and capabilities, which all affect your total investment. However, you can expect starting prices of several hundred dollars per month, though some vendors offer yearly plans as well. If you’re on the fence about which vendor to choose, most allow you to book a demo before committing. 

Implementing a DXP is a long journey; the first thing you can expect is a transition period. A DXP can replace much of your marketing technology stack, which means moving data and retraining staff. On average, the full implementation process for a digital experience platform takes about a year.

The full process looks like this:

  1. Identify your business goals and the technology you need to achieve them.
  2. Establish a digital transformation budget and timeline.
  3. Research various DXP vendors and look into case studies and demos.
  4. Negotiate a contract and close.
  5. Start the onboarding and implementation process with help from your provider.
  6. Reap the rewards of using a DXP.

Making the Most of Your DXP with a Customer Data Platform

The last thing you want is for your DXP to become just another silo. DXPs are a great execution channel, but without connecting data and other tools, it can easily become nothing more than an expensive CMS. To get the most out of your DXP, start by integrating a full-fledged customer data platform. CDPs collect customer data, and DXPs can help you use that data to get real results. 

You also need to invest in the right application programming interface (API). An API allows two applications to communicate with each other. You can ease the integration process and build new features with APIs—they even help you maintain flexibility. In short, a great API is at the heart of your DXP’s connectivity and functionality.

Creating a Strategy with Your DXP 

The strategy you use with your DXP will depend largely on your company objective. For example, if you’re focused on customer satisfaction, you’ll put more effort into making it easy to find products and make purchases. On the other hand, if your goal is to educate, you may focus on different avenues such as content delivery.

However, no matter your objective, the most important part of any strategy is to put your customers first. One way to maintain a customer-first strategy is to prioritize creating the best omnichannel customer experience. You can achieve this goal by focusing on customer experience analytics. Go beyond your sales and conversions; your DXP can help you map out the entire customer journey and identify the pain points you may need to improve. 

Digital Experience Platforms and CDPs

A digital experience platform is a centralized set of tools designed to improve customer experience and ease the customer journey. With a DXP, not only do you ensure your customers can find what they need, but you also gain analytics and organizational tools in one integrated hub. You can say goodbye to static CMS silos and welcome a platform that can please more customers and help your business grow.

CDP.com Staff
CDP.com Staff
The CDP.com staff has collaborated to deliver the latest information and insights on the customer data platform industry.
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