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Editorial

Selecting a Digital Experience Platform? Nail Your Content Strategy First

5 minute read
Lindy Roux avatar
In the market for a Digital Experience Platform (DXP)? Map out your content strategy first. Here's why.

The digital-first drumbeat that started during the pandemic is only getting louder. Your audiences demand better digital experiences, say the experts. You need to embrace the technologies and platforms that serve spot-on personalization and deliver engaging content across multiple channels, they say.

They’re not wrong. But as a marketing leader, the pressure to keep up with your competitors — and the compelling narrative about the power of digital experience platforms (DXPs) — may push you prematurely into technology considerations.

Take a step back. Remember that technology itself is not the strategy. In this case, it’s just a tool to implement a well-defined content strategy, since content lies at the heart of a great digital experience.

Map Out Your Digital Content Strategy

Before you consider a DXP (or a content experience platform), make sure your digital content strategy is mapped out. With a strategy in place, you can determine if a given tool or platform can execute your specific content use cases. Said another way: Your strategy must always drive your technology requirements. Don’t let the tool itself (and its super-cool features) drive your strategy.

Let’s take a closer look at how to craft your content requirements and ask the right questions as you consider various DXP vendors:

Related Article: What Marketers Need for the Digital Experience Platforms Multivendor Reality

Go Beyond the Typical Questions on DXP Selection

Poke around on the web for tips on how to select a DXP, and you’ll often find a list of recommended questions to consider. They’re good questions: What business goals do you want to achieve with a DXP? What problems are you trying to solve? What platform capabilities do you need to solve those problems?

Again, these are critical questions, and a great start. But even when you have answers to them, you’re not yet ready to explore how Adobe Experience Manager handles personalization compared to Contentstack or whether you want a composable or monolithic platform. DXPs are highly complex platforms that have their own rich capabilities, but they also orchestrate the roles of other applications and tools. A DXP can be tasked with everything from content management and digital asset management to personalization and customer data management. The top vendors may take dramatically different approaches to these services.

That’s why you need to complete the upfront work to make a sound decision. Start by putting technology aside:

  • Focus on defining your digital content goals, strategies and tactics in a plan or roadmap. What do you want to accomplish with your content? Increased engagement or conversion? Stronger customer loyalty?
  • Get into a content experience mindsetAt the tactical level, think about what type of content experiences you want to create — and what a connected, content-driven digital journey looks like for your customers. Consider how you’ll integrate the seven elements of a great content experience.

Related Article: What Is a Composable DXP?

Learning Opportunities

Write Your Content Requirements for a DXP

With a content strategy in place, you can begin to consider what technologies can help implement your strategies, and what technology gaps need to be filled. It’s time to start writing business requirements and functional specifications for all the types of content experiences you want to deliver.

Choose the format and level of detail that works best for you to share with a DXP vendor, perhaps in advance of a demo. For example, your list of requirements could take the following forms:

  • User story: A short sentence describing a focused task for a user to accomplish, typically in this format: “As a [persona type], I want to [action to take] so that [outcome/benefit].”
  • Use case: A more detailed list (usually from the technical-team perspective, rather than the end user) that may include business needs and goals, personas, tasks, content elements and data requirements.

Related Article: Have You Recognized the Potential of the Composable Digital Experience Stack?

DXP Content Requirement Examples

Here are several simplified examples of requirements to share with DXP vendor, to determine how their solution would address them.

  • Content management user story:
    • “As a content manager, I want to be able to create or update content one time, in one place, and then publish it in various formats across multiple channels (web page, learning center, chat, etc.) so that I can save time for myself and deliver consistent content experiences to my customers.”
  • Personalization use case #1:
    • Goal: Qualified leads.
    • Target audience: New visitors (prospects).
    • Criteria for personalization: Business size, industry.
    • Content served: Customer stories, thought leadership.
  • Personalization use case #2:
    • Goal: Conversion.
    • Target audience: Return visitors (prospects and current customers).
    • Criteria for personalization: Product interest, funnel stage.
    • Content: Product promotion (CTAs, programmatic), product-related thought leadership.
  • Digital asset management user story:
    • “As a DAM administrator, I want to configure DAM permissions at the folder level based on access level (admin, manager, user) and roles (marketing, creative, content) so that users can easily find and view the content they need.”

Conclusion: Root DXP Selection Process in Content Strategy

Regardless of which format you use (use case or user story), remember to focus on the outcomes you want achieve and not on the implementation specifics. Avoid jumping ahead to defining user interfaces or content models at this stage. Conversely, make sure each outcome is clearly defined, achievable and not too broad. 

By defining your needs at this level of detail (at a minimum) you can better determine what overall type of digital platform to consider, and which vendor offers the best solution to meet your needs. When your DXP selection process is rooted in a strong content strategy, you’ll be in a much stronger position to achieve your business goals and give your customers the digital experiences they deserve.

About the author

Lindy Roux

Lindy Roux is executive vice president and partner at Tendo Communications, a B2B content agency based in San Francisco. She has over two decades of experience in content and digital strategy, CMS, SEO, user experience, consumer insights, branding and analytics.