In 2020 the world saw massive changes in consumer behavior due to the ongoing pandemic. Those changes were not an about-face, but an acceleration of existing trends in digitally-centric behavior that the health crisis only helped to amplify and push forward.
Within the first three months of the pandemic, ecommerce experienced ten years of growth in just ninety days, according to McKinsey & Company, while the global pandemic has accelerated the shift away from physical stores to digital shopping by roughly five years, according to a study by IBM.
This explosion in new consumer behavior has changed customers’ expectations of brands and their interactions with them. A study by Experian reveals 60% of customers now have higher expectations of their digital experience than before COVID-19.
This change to behavior in 2020 has shown a large increase in digital interactions, as well as the growth of customer data across all channels and touchpoints. All that data has the potential to be used to affect the digital experience across the full customer journey, but only if brands adapt the right technology tools and processes to enable it.
In 2021 brands need to be more adaptive and assemble experiences more quickly to meet digital savvy customer’s evolving needs and expectations. In order to do that, marketers need to be able to focus on data-driven activities that will improve the efficacy and efficiency of their campaigns. But invariably, marketers are being pulled down by doing boring and mundane tasks like tagging, which inhibit their ability to focus on delivering value for the customer and business.
Several core technology platforms, from fully inclusive digital experience platforms (DXPs), to headless/hybrid content management systems (CMSs) and customer data platforms (CDPs), offer varying degrees of intelligent automation that can enable marketers to stop spending so much time on boring tasks and focus on work that has a measurable impact on the business.
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DXP and CMS Time-Saving Tools
The DXP is a more recent platform that has evolved mostly out of CMS platforms and portals. It is intended to be an infrastructure solution for experience delivery, and they will typically have a CMS as a core component. While DXPs have been touted to contain a variety of intelligent solutions, invariably the most useful are the ones that help to give marketers back their day so they can focus on what matters. Yotam Levy, Business Analyst for Liferay, an open-source DXP vendor, explains.
"The reality is marketers have to spend a significant portion of their time on routine — and frankly boring — tasks like content categorization for the purposes of SEO and internal findability within their organizations,” he said. “While DXP vendors love to speak about their most complex AI-driven use cases, the reality is that the functionality marketers find most useful is often the most basic, like content categorization. In practice, most DXP vendors have evolved to address tasks like the auto-tagging of text and images either via their own software or through integration with external AI/ML offerings like Google Natural Language Processing and Microsoft Cognitive Services."
For marketers, in this new digital-first world it is critical to manage content and experiences centrally in order to drive reuse, to reduce the cost of creating and delivering content to multiple channels. The goal is to create once and use everywhere.
According to Forrester, “CMSs with collaborative tools that are flexible but structured with intuitive workflows and built-in best practices make practitioners more productive. Embedded AI and automation can help with high-volume, low-complexity tasks.”
Hybrid content management systems, which have the publishing functionality of headless systems with the full editing and preview capability of an on-premises CMS, can empower marketers to quickly update the user experience with the ability to view and edit live in real-time. Some DXP and CMSs also have low-code and no-code that can help liberate marketers from IT to create experiences faster without tech oversight.
Automating With AI
According to Michael Gerard, CMO of e-Spirit, a DXP vendor with a hybrid CMS built-in, the power of AI to automate mundane tasks can be a game changer for marketers who need to up their data-driven game.
“One area in particular that many martech companies have capitalized upon is the use of AI to automate mundane tasks, enabling marketers to be more productive and freeing up their time for more innovative and value-added endeavors,” he said.
Mr. Gerard listed a variety of examples of the power of AI in action for delivering digital experiences through content management systems and digital experience platforms.
- AI gives the ability to personalize anything that impacts the digital experience — layout, menu bars, display ads, pop-ups, CTAs, text, etc. — for any channel according to each visitor’s unique persona or on-line behavior. An AI-driven personalization engine uses internal, external and behavioral data to:
- Build advanced profiles (e.g., affinity profiles) and microsegments of buyers for application of personalized user experiences, and higher ROI marketing campaigns.
- Optimize personalization in real time based on clicks, purchases, subscriptions or any conversion goal.
- Deliver targeted, dynamic content that unifies disparate sources of data in real time.
- The ability to detect objects within digital images to enable automated image cropping.
- Create real-time content variants to improve personalization and to optimize for context (NLP).
- Auto-generate editorial text with human-like accuracy using Natural Language Generation (marketing content, product descriptions); and translate content in context.
- Optimize users’ ability to search for online information, as well as empower companies’ business users to impact the results of its users’ searches in an automated fashion.
- Automate and optimize tagging.
In order for marketers to truly focus on customer-centric initiatives and data-driven projects, they need to be freed up from mundane tasks and empowered to create and modify experiences at scale across all channels. That empowerment can come in the form of AI tools and algorithms built into DXP and CMS platforms that can not only free up marketers valuable time, but provide insights and take actions without direct human intervention.