Digital experience platforms (DXPs) are seeing record levels of interest: searches for these types of platforms grew by 300% from November 2020-2021, and the market is forecasted to grow nearly 80% by the end of 2024. Faced with changing consumer behaviors in a post-pandemic world and feeling limited by traditional content management systems, marketers are exploring solutions to build more relevant, personalized and rewarding digital experiences for their customers.
Amid this interest, there is also confusion about DXPs and the benefits they can drive for businesses small and large alike. In a session from the recent MarTech virtual conference, Arc XP spoke with guest speaker, Forrester Senior Analyst, Joe Cicman to set the record straight on the myths and misconceptions surrounding DXPs.
What Is a DXP and Why Do I Need One?
The new connected consumer poses a challenge for brands — to drive revenue, they must understand where customers are at all times and meet them there. Companies are looking to build experiences that support a non-linear buyer journey and drive business growth through increased customer retention, enrichment and advocacy.
To accomplish this, they must equip their marketing practitioners with the right technology, and many are turning to DXPs as a comprehensive solution.
Market research firm Forrester defines a DXP as a platform that provides the architectural foundation and modular surfaces for both IT developers and marketing practitioners to create, orchestrate and optimize digital journeys at scale. This allows them to drive loyalty and new commerce outcomes across owned and third-party channels. To break it down, DXPs feature three key elements:
- DXPs provide an architectural foundation for companies to plug into all the existing innovation in the tech ecosystem required for digital success
- DXPs provide a mechanism that both IT developers and marketing practitioners alike can use collaboratively and frictionlessly
- They are multi-channel and can deliver content and experiences across a variety of devices, channels and platforms
Debunking Common DXP Myths
Myth: DXPs are synonymous with content management systems (CMS).
Although DXPs include content management as a key part of their technology stack, they are not synonymous with each other. Today, marketers need more than just content to deliver relevant, personalized customer experiences in the right channels, at the right moment. A DXP includes content, data and support for transactions in its infrastructure, which taken together are key to assembling the ideal digital customer experience.
More than a CMS, DXPs can deliver content across a wide variety of digital channels (think websites, digital signage, wearable devices, etc.), with the agility to expand to future new channels a company has yet to use or that don’t exist yet. DXPs also give marketers the ability to analyze richer customer interaction data than a CMS offers.
Myth: All DXPs are created equally and/or all DXPs are one-size-fits-all.
While there are certainly some DXPs that market themselves as all-in-one solutions or that cater to a broad range of companies, they aren’t the only kinds on the market and they may not be the right solution for everyone. It’s more helpful to look at your own company and its digital maturity when choosing a vendor.
For example, a digitally mature organization with greater IT capabilities is likely focused on tech that can help fine-tune their whole business. In this case, it makes the most sense for them to buy point solutions and compose their own DXP. While a less mature company may want to look for a DXP that is more all-encompassing and simple to use, they still need the option to recompose or add new solutions as business needs grow more complex.
Myth: DXPs are monolithic in their architecture.
This is not universally true of DXPs. Monolithic software tightly couples the user interface and code into a single program. The problem with these providers is that they usually make customers upgrade to access new or better features and leave little room for customization because of their complex coding. They have difficulty scaling and slow development velocity.
Many newer vendors have chosen to use a “microservices” model instead. These models have seamless, continual updates that ensure customers always have access to the newest features and capabilities, and make it easier for developers to modify the code as they see fit. Furthermore, this architecture also lets the vendor themselves innovate at greater speed.
Within the latter model, companies still have a choice between a single vendor who may offer an “all-in-one” comprehensive solution (that is still customizable) and composing a DXP using individually packaged services from multiple vendors.
Myth: When selecting a DXP, you must choose between making marketing or developers happy.
As “headless” vendors entered the market in the past, they made developers happy with their solutions; however, those same developers often forgot that they needed to build tools for the marketers in their organizations. The result was an unequal experience for different teams that are both pivotal stakeholders in customer experience.
In response, new vendors entering the market today place an increased focus on building user-friendly tools for marketing practitioners, realizing that the digital experience for both customers and users directly drives business outcomes. Companies should also look for tools that are customizable, because a small, unified marketing team might have different processes than a large, globally distributed one.
When selecting a DXP, Cicman recommends forgoing the traditional RFP, which only offers static information on the platform to stakeholders and not a real-life understanding of the technology. Instead, ensure that marketing practitioners and developers have the chance to demo the platform themselves to understand what they can accomplish – most DXP providers today enable this kind of buying.
Simply spending money on the most expensive tech stack won’t automatically drive business outcomes; leaders must invest comparatively in both internal skill-building and a network of partners to deliver digital customer experiences that build retention, enrichment and advocacy.
Watch the full webinar Demystifying the misconceptions of digital experience platforms at arcxp.com.
”Now Tech: Digital Experience Platforms, Q2 2021.” Forrester, April 27, 2021.