Do More With Less: How to Enable Your Team & Provide Great Digital Experiences
Learn how to be more strategic with your resources by leveraging technology that your teams will love.
Your customers are everywhere: they're bouncing between desktop and mobile, online and in-person. They surf your website, they read posts on various social media platforms, and they even turn to search engines to ask questions about you. They're blending digital experiences in a way that works for them.
Ideally, so is your business.
The sheer quantity of your customer touchpoints is expanding. So are the number of digital experiences, vendors, and contractors that you have to manage. In fact, the only areas that aren't expanding are likely your budget, your team size, and your resources in general.
In short, you and your team need to do more for your customers. But at the same time, you're pressured to cut costs by eliminating excess platforms and solutions. As you do so, here are three considerations when deciding which investments will be most impactful in managing your various customers' experiences.
1. Think about your customers' digital experiences collectively
Historically, first- and third-party experiences were separated by channel. Brands would ask, “How can we optimize our web experience?” or “What do the analytics tell us about our search experience?” Because these channels grew separately and, in many instances, were even owned by different teams, the customer’s collective experience was often ignored.
However, with the rise of the omnichannel customer journey, it’s critical that brands instead think about these experiences holistically. If you only focus on your channels in their own vacuums, you’re not taking the full customer experience into consideration.
When you consider how one customer can interact with various owned and non-owned channels, you can hone your content strategy to meet your customers’ needs – whenever and wherever they are in their journey.
Not only should your content strategy align with the customers’ digital experiences, but how you store, manage, and update your content should be taken into consideration as well. Too many brands fall into the trap of creating content, but not surfacing it when it matches a customers’ intent and stage of the journey.
A large part of the problem is the technology they’re using. A Content Management System (CMS) is at the heart of almost every business’ efforts to drive cross-channel engagement, but traditional CMS solutions often fall short: they create silos, challenge non-technical and technical users alike, or fail to provide enough flexibility in creating digital experiences.
One way to combat this is to integrate a headless CMS within a composable digital experience platform (DXP) that uses entity relationships to optimize an organization’s content for first- and third-party experiences. Your DXP should include several technological components, including a content management system, or CMS. Ideally, all of your content is stored in your CMS, which should be integrated with the platform services that make up your DXP.
This reduces the effort required from your team to manage and update content that impacts your customers’ digital experiences. Rather than logging into multiple systems and editing various pieces of content, this setup will allow you to make updates from one central location, which are then reflected across every known associated entity.
That said, brands are in a unique position. If you rely too heavily on one monolithic vendor, you risk becoming too dependent on one system. At first, this may not be an issue, but as time passes, you could find yourself stuck in a massive legacy system that requires a heavy lift to modernize.
On the other hand, you don’t want to rely on too many vendors and systems, either. You may end up overpaying, as many vendors offer similar features. Additionally, the larger the quantity of solutions that make up your DXP, the more complex your architecture becomes. And if your architecture becomes too complicated, you risk building a fragile ecosystem and fractured digital experiences.
Instead, consider building the foundation of your DXP with one platform that allows you to build and power the bulk of your digital experiences. Ideally, your digital experience platform includes a headless CMS that manages the content for all of these experiences, but integrates natively with a number of smaller, additional platform services that you plan to use as well.
This will also ensure that you aren’t duplicating your resources across multiple channels, and makes for easier content management. Then, you can rely on those smaller point solutions to control the digital experience in areas that aren’t covered by your foundational DXP technology.
2. Be strategic with your resources and vendors
When enterprise organizations began their move to the cloud, it became apparent that replacing legacy systems in the name of digital transformation is a heavy lift. Many initiatives required years to complete, and some are still in progress. As many companies have since realized, becoming overly reliant on one massive, complicated system is a recipe for a headache when – not if – technology advances.
Armed with this knowledge, you can take a more strategic approach to evaluating new tools. Build these features into your next DXP:
Composable architecture is a modular approach to structuring your own custom tech stack. This is similar to headless architecture, but instead of just the back-end and front-end being decoupled for one type of experience (such as a website), each experience is decoupled and can be leveraged together. This allows you to update or edit the front-end without interfering with the back-end.
The result is a system where each component is independent of the overall architecture, enabling the organization to manage and scale digital experiences at a pace suitable for the company’s resources and goals. These applications will have an emphasis on out-of-the-box capabilities, as well as built-in integrations and APIs.
Rather than committing to one – or 100 – solutions, a composable approach eliminates overreliance on one vendor, while enabling flexibility in adding new solutions or experiences. This gives you the ability to leverage multiple vendors and solutions to manage and improve your customers’ digital experiences.
When looking for a foundational platform for your DXP or any other supplementary solutions such as a CMS, look to the established, pre-built integrations. Ideally, you’ll find a long list of integrations with popular, useful solutions. This serves two purposes.
Firstly, it enables a quick-start for managing digital experiences. With very little setup required and no need to involve technical teams, this is an empowering feature for marketers, content managers, and other (less technical, but still involved) roles. These integrations make it easier for your team to collaborate on creating and optimizing digital experiences – without relying on valuable technical resources or extensive cross-functional project planning.
Second, built-in integrations increase the reliability of a consistent digital experience by minimizing any issues between systems. This is important for lean teams and operations, where troubleshooting takes away from more high-impact, goal-driven work.
Built-in integrations are very useful in ensuring smooth communication between platforms, and are typically easy to set up. However, often there’s little room for customization beyond the integration’s original features.
When you evaluate digital experience tools, look for an API-first platform for low-lift customization. This is aligned with a composable architecture and can help you to move data in and out of the platform services within your DXP, or even configure your platform or content.
Whether you are trying to bring content into your platform, use your headless CMS to power content in a custom experience, or even customize your platform, an API-first platform helps to provide as much flexibility as possible while still requiring a light lift for your developers.
Finally, it’s more cost-effective to prioritize a composable, API-based architecture when building your DXP. Otherwise, you risk overreliance on monolithic solution suites, or overpaying for duplicate features across multiple smaller point solutions.
Look for solutions that are members of the MACH Alliance. Inclusion in the MACH Alliance certifies that the solution meets the MACH standard of modern technology: microservices based, API-first, cloud-native SaaS, and headless or composable.
3. Leverage technology that your content managers, developers, implementers, and analysts will love
When evaluating a platform, give a lot of thought to the people that will use it. Each user type will have different needs, and it’s important to consider each one.
For example, digital and content managers will appreciate a user interface with drag and drop features for customization. The easier it is to manage the content within the platform, the more effectively these teams will be able to operate.
Developers are generally more comfortable with the technology they already know. However, trying to hire developers that know proprietary languages can be difficult and expensive. Leveraging open-source frameworks like React will enable flexibility and function within your team. In fact, many developer teams rely on tools like Github and React to build and optimize front-end user interfaces. A solution that allows developers to continue to work within these tools will be their preference.
Whoever your main users are, make sure there is platform training available. For lean operations, look to solutions that also offer implementation and maintenance training. An associated help site with self-paced training, guides, great documentation, and an active help community will enable your team to self-serve, and decrease reliance on paid contractors.
As customers interact on various channels, with various devices and at various stages of the customer journey, the omnichannel digital experience is only growing more complex. Thankfully, that same experience can be optimized with a strategically built digital experience platform — allowing you to maximize your investment.
Yext's Answers Platform has an intuitive user interface, leading content management capabilities, low and no-code tools, and many other features designed for non-technical business users. A member of the MACH Alliance, the Yext platform meets the needs of developers as well, offering the MACH agility that allows them to build composable digital experience ecosystems that are both easy to integrate from a technical standpoint and maximized for value from a business standpoint.
Ultimately, technological efficiency equates to operational efficiency. When your team is equipped with the proper tools, they’re enabled and empowered to provide the best digital experience possible to your customers - across channels and without overexerting your budget.