Businesses are hungry to know their online customers.
In today's complex and interconnected digital environment, there are hundreds of tools that are geared towards learning who your customers are and delivering the most relevant content. However, with all the different tools available, marketers are spending excess amounts of cash on different tools for each marketing function - which proves to be costly, inefficient, and ultimately lead to a disjointed customer experience.
Earlier this month at a grand reveal in NYC, BloomReach announced the BloomReach DXP: a digital experience platform that uses artificial intelligence, robust content management solution, and a suite of other modern marketing technologies to provide a central tool to manage the entire digital experience.
To better understand their capabilities and the problems they help solve, let's explore the definition of a digital experience platform.
What are Digital Experience Platforms?
A digital experience platform (DXP) is a tool that creates, maintains, personalizes, and delivers optimal customer experiences across all digital touchpoints (web, mobile, app, kiosk, display, etc.) While DXPs have emerged for a variety of business reasons and natural technology advances, a lot of the value and features in these new tools originates in the traditional content management system (CMS).
The evolution of the CMS has been slowly occurring over the last decade. The CMS has long served as a key tool for marketers and businesses to keep updated content and information on their websites. While originally built to provide the ability to update digital content based on predefined templates, CMS vendors are transforming their tools primarily in their power to drive contextualized digital experiences - through analytics, personalization, optimization, eCommerce, search, and so on. They're no longer only the "what you see is what you get" editor. They have structured content capabilities, digital asset management, and more.
Even with the advancement of content management systems, and the start of DXPs, there are common marketing challenges that never seem to go away:
- What content on my site is engaging… and why?
- What content on my site is converting to a sale… and why?
- Why can't I deliver this new type of content without having to wait 3 months for IT?
- Do I really know who my main audience is?
You'll see content used a lot here, but that's the root challenge - delivering the right content at the right time. Fundamentally, this is what DXPs are trying to solve.
The BloomReach DXP
BloomReach DXP is a new digital experience platform with advanced capabilities in personalization, content management, merchandising, search, and other marketing functions. The tools are designed and integrated into one framework that can be used to manage an organization's digital ecosystem.
Here's the description from the BloomReach press release:
"[BloomReach DXP is the] first open and intelligent digital experience platform that drives one-to-one personalized experiences across the entire customer journey. BloomReach DXP is the only data-native platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver real-time personalization at scale across all customer touch points. It also comes with a full toolset of analytics that allows digital marketers and merchandisers to maximize business outcomes."
With the acquisition of Hippo late last year, the BloomReach team has worked hard to create a platform that uses big data and intelligence to provide personalized experiences for end-users, while maintaining the simplicity and flexibility that has made Hippo CMS a market leader.
BloomReach's differentiator is the personalization engine - which uses big data to provide a sense of whether or not the content on a site meets the user intent. For the last 8 years, BloomReach has been collecting and analyzing data user, content, and other data from across the web to improve its relevance engine. The end goal being to put personalized content in front of its end users, while also providing applications to marketers around site search, page management, SEO optimization, and more. Now, with BloomReach Experience at its core from a content management standpoint - marketers are able to more easily leverage these tools and use them for their business needs.
From a technology standpoint - here are some of the other perks:
- Cloud - the solution is hosted in the cloud, providing scalability for changing demands and easier updates.
- Open - the CMS architecture has APIs that provide easier integration with functions like campaign management, marketing automation, self-service, and commerce (extensible). Additionally, the tool separates the underlying content from the presentation layer, which allows for better reuse of content across services and channels.
- Intelligent solution - with machine learning, the tool becomes smarter as it learns visitors, and can personalize across personas or even individual visitors. One of the cooler parts shown off was that a marketer can customize how intelligent it wants the site to be - so some components can be completely autonomous, while others could be more manually controlled.
- Omni-channel - the platform provides the ability to manage the experience across web, mobile, apps, and all digital touchpoints.
A Case Study: David's Bridal
At BloomReach Connect, Courtney Graybill, the Vice President of Digital Strategy and Analytics at David's Bridal, took the stage to share how they use BloomReach data-driven insights to help tailor their customer experience.
David's Bridal deals with a very important customer - the bride. The majority of retail organizations are set up to serve customers for a number of years, creating a constant stream of revenue and value. This customer is different. The average time between first contact with the customer and purchase is 6-9 months, and there's usually only one purchase (the gown). Given that this main product, the gown, is a focal point for any wedding, the ability to create an incredible first impression on the customer and personalize the experience is critical for David's Bridal to succeed.
For David's Bridal, most of the sales come in the store, but the first impression of the brand is online. The goal is to personalize the in-store experience based on the bride's history of searching, data, clicks, and other actions on digital touchpoints. For example, let's say a bride searches "wedding gown" and ends up clicking and viewing 10 different wedding dresses. Based on the filters selected, the search terms used, the style of dress, and so on, a persona can be created for that bride which allows marketers to segment types of customers and design targeted campaigns. This data can be leveraged within the in-store experience, so that sales associates can provide a better service for the bride and other customers.
Ongoing Challenges for DXPs
One of the hurdles to overcome will be marketers figuring out how to properly leverage the personalization and segmentation functions available in these new platforms. Content creators often face challenges from normal CMS functions - content creation, editing, publishing, updating, etc. The options are endless of what you can personalize...but what should you personalize and how much? Ultimately, solving this problem goes back to understanding your key marketing problems and initiatives. If the objectives are clearly prioritized based on your organization's needs, you can personalize your site in ways that tie back directly to those initiatives, without getting lost in the endless opportunities.
From an enterprise systems standpoint, the goal of a DXP is not to be the one system that solves all your problems. It's not meant to be the acquisition software (ex. SalesForce) nor is it meant to be the robust back-end or transactional database. The DXP is meant to be the experience platform. The challenge associated with this will be integrating these solutions with other legacy systems to leverage existing transactional data and comply with current business processes. That's where technical partners, like CapTech, support BloomReach and others in implementing these solutions. The platform provides the building blocks through its open and extensible framework, and CapTech provides 20 years experience in system integration and customer experience to provide a technical implementation that meets the organization's objectives. As a partner to BloomReach and other key players in the digital experience space, CapTech's focus is to help solve these problems from concept through implementation.
We're excited to see what lies ahead for BloomReach and our other digital partners. The combination of a cross-channel-data understanding, the power of a robust and flexible content management system, and the ability to connect the customer experience all in one tool make DXPs very appealing for companies looking to complete a digital transformation.