The smart, integrated use of content – from the language you choose through to immersive experiences – continues to change since the heydays of Madison Avenue.
Selling an idea, an emotion and a product or service has gone from a performative action by content developers to what is fast becoming a truly two-way, personalised conversation between author and audience.
We all saw it coming when retailers started using ‘We also recommend…’ modules at the bottom of a digital shopping experience. In a 2020 State of the Connected Customer report by Salesforce, the CRM giant found that 66% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations and 52% of customers expect offers to always be personalised.
But our ability to listen to people and create personalised results based on those conversations has been limited by technology. Smaller organisations have struggled to shift away from just performative marketing towards a sophisticated conversation with their end users. On the other end of the spectrum, some large organisations, especially those with multiple content management teams and platforms (such as universities, government departments etc.,), have suffered the opposite problem: too much complexity that needs simplification before they can start personalising experiences.
What’s the solution? Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs).
In this article, we’ll explore how marketers and content strategists have come to embrace the exciting potential of what DXPs can offer organisations and companies. If you’re still getting your head around this tech, use this as a simple deep-dive to get you started as you look at ways to create simple yet sophisticated relationships with your end users.
What is content development?
When we talk about DXPs and their relationship with content development, we’re talking about every touchpoint a customer/user engages with. This could be multimedia, advertising, copy, blogs, microcopy, newsletters, text messages, forums, websites, apps…the list goes on. DXPs promise the ability to unify your management of content to create interconnected, often automated and sophisticated relationships with your end users.
Understanding Digital Experience Platforms (DXP)
A DXP is a software solution that unites different tools and technologies into a single platform. These could be:
Social media management platforms
Unifying the management of these different tools and platforms allows you to keep using what you love but get the most out of more streamlined access and management. This is great for an organisation’s ability to learn and grow, while it allows for more personalised and consistent experiences for end users across different channels, such as websites, mobile apps, and social media.
Personalisation can now be carried across different channels. So, say you had a discount offer for a limited time period that you sent to users via email. A DXP would make it easier for you to automate analytics on this and, for those users who didn’t open an email or didn’t scroll down to see the discount, they can be presented with the same content on a separate channel, such as social media.
Think of a DXP as a central hub that allows you to design, build, and deliver engaging digital experiences. With a DXP, organisations can easily update content, customise the design, and personalise the experience based on user preferences.
How DXPs are simplifying content delivery
DXPs are making it easier than ever to create sophisticated digital experiences and open up opportunities for greater innovation and creativity.
Just like any other tool or software, DXP providers offer different things, with some specialising in different capabilities, such as unifying multiple CMS sources into the one management platform or others that are weighted towards offering integrated analytics tools that inform business strategies. But in basic terms, DXP technology promises greater control and sophistication for organisations across the below areas.
Personalisation: DXPs use customer data and analytics to increasingly automate the management and delivery of personalised content to users. They employ algorithms and rule engines to segment audiences, track user behaviour and present content based on user preferences and behaviour as well as demographics. Of course, the potential to offer personalised content isn't limited to companies in e-commerce but can benefit most industries.
Cross-platform delivery: until now, it has taken a lot of manual work to optimise content for different channels. The best example of this is image customisation for social media or online advertising, all requiring imagery to be delivered in the right size and format. DXPs can help automate this process and make responsive design a simple part of your content management.
Content governance: with a DXP you can either pull in content from multiple sources or distribute it out to different CMSs or platforms from the single management platform. For example, a university might have 50 different departments, all of them using a mix of different CMS providers that they prefer and that work best for them. Instead of a gigantic content migration project to unify these, a DXP would allow that university to distribute content from the central communications team out to these different CMS. Or, they could pull in content from these CMSs and easily manage it, distributing it on other channels and platforms.
Testing and analytics: A/B testing and other analytics tools are nothing new, but DXPs help you unite them to easily measure the impact of your content strategy and make simple and powerful changes. A positive digital experience involves receiving related content in a context that makes sense. Content that is informing and helps a user achieve whatever they want or need to with your organisation. Analytics helps ensure you’re creating this experience.
What this means for content strategy
Content strategy is set to be simplified yet amplified with the advance of DXP technology. For one thing, you no longer have to think in siloed ways. Content strategists will need to think of the ‘experiences’ they provide more holistically. When planning campaigns, the potential to expand content across different channels and in different manifestations, depending on how audiences are segmented, promises greater personalisation and cut-through to audiences. And information about those audiences is becoming more granular and useful for marketers and content specialists.
‘Personas’ aren’t as powerful as they once were, as certain DXPs allow for greater segmentation so you can have, in effect, endless ‘personas’ to market towards. You can increasingly listen to your audience on a granular level and meet their needs, while gathering insights from your data to learn what content might translate across different user types.
Whether you’re a content strategist with a few runs on the board or are just starting out, we’re all facing the same landscape of endless opportunities and shifting capabilities. But with any of your strategy development, always keep in mind: how is this decision or strategy supporting more personalised digital experiences?
How much is too much?
You might look at that ad and think of how far we’ve come. Sure, we’re not explicitly stating that cola boosts your baby’s personality. But we don’t need to do that anymore as the omnipresent nature of advertising does the job of building an emotional connection to products whether we like it or not. Think of the multi-decade relationship brands build with simple colours. Barbie’s pink, Cadbury’s purple, Coca-Cola’s red. Repetition and consistency are powerful tools in marketing. This need to create an emotional pull with content and copywriting remains the same, but with the advance of tools like DXPs, there’s the opportunity to create incredibly sophisticated marketing solutions. Considering the above ad, it’s important to remember that content doesn’t occur in a vacuum and that the ‘why’ should always be considered. In other words, ask how much your users want to have a conversation with the brands around them, as there can be too much of a good thing. This consideration of ‘how much is too much’ should always factor into the development of your content strategies as you bring DXP technologies into your content management.
And why does this all matter so much? Because content development is so much more advanced than it ever was. AI, machine learning and platforms like DXPs are promising an even richer future of sophisticated, highly personalised experiences that blur the lines between analogue and digital realities. Take Apple’s release of the Vision Pro as an example. It promises a future where these lines are blurred even more and potentially removed altogether. Underpinning all of this is personalisation. Personalisation will drive the success of technologies like the Vision Pro, but it is only achievable with software that allows for automated, simple content orchestration coupled with a considered application of technology that doesn't violate the expectations or values of the end user.
What to look out for when choosing a DXP
As much as DXPs can simplify content management and create endless opportunities for creativity, there are some things to watch out for.
Poor installation – any update to a new system is going to come with some wrinkles that need ironing out, but make sure your various integrations are installed and work effectively together. If it's not done properly, you might end up with a system that doesn’t play nicely with your existing systems, becoming unstable, performing poorly, and creating workflow issues. Make sure you have the best people internally and strong communications channels with your DXP provider so you can regularly test the integration of different tools and platforms.
Cumbersome systems – this is another way of saying, ‘Don’t bite off more than you can chew’. Remember to start with simple systems that match with what you need now and that will scale with you. If you opt for everything all at once, you risk systems that are configured poorly or that are too complex to manage at your current size.
Masters of none – be careful of DXP providers that promise the world. You want a DXP that seeks to understand your needs and offers a solution around that, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Consider what you need most and then look for a DXP provider that specialises in your needs (i.e., do you need analytics support or do you need to easily manage content from different CMS sources? Different DXPs will specialise in solutions for these problems).
Want to learn more? Check out our simple deep-dive into what to consider when choosing a DXP.