Connect with us


Reinventing the digital experience platform



Reinventing the digital experience platform

Over the past couple of years, research firms Gartner, Forrester, and others have heralded the arrival of digital experience platforms (DXPs); the future is now and all that (for a DXP primer, you might enjoy Pamela Parker’s article). But practically speaking, is there such a thing as a digital experience platform? As Tony Byrne of the Real Story Group (and a MarTech contributor) said in 2018, referencing Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for DXPs, put it: “No enterprise digital leader in her right mind would actually purchase ‘digital experience’ as a platform. DX is a strategy and approach, and no single platform or vendor on this chart will get you there.”

Digital experience platform evolution

The days of monolithic all-in-one platforms are fading. Marketing technology vendors are moving toward “composability,” which offers marketers the freedom of choice they want by selecting best-of-need products that best suit their marketing organization and business needs. This is a shift from the monolithic approach, where companies rely on a single vendor for their system. Of course, the single-vendor method might be suitable for the procurement folks, but it can introduce risk to the business, as I discussed in this article. Plus, in many cases, customers are not getting the full breadth of features, functionality and ROI from their single-vendor martech investments.

An early example of DXP evolution comes from web content management (WCM) vendors, creating complex suites that combine features of WCM, digital asset management (DAM), portal, personalization, analytics, and more. In some cases, these “integrated” suites are natively nothing more than a collection of acquired point solutions that form what the vendor calls a digital experience platform.

Stitching those disparate products together to create a unicorn solution is an integration partner’s dream but, in too many cases, a CMO’s nightmare. The work can be complex, time-consuming and expensive, and the results frequently fail to deliver on the promise. In the 2021 CMSWire State of Digital Customer Experience report, 80% of the 1,300+ digital customer experience execs surveyed responded that their digital experience was “very” to “extremely important” to their organizations. That said, only 11% believed their tools were “working well,” while 42% said their tools “need work.”

Introducing composability

An excellent example of composability in action is the evolution of the legacy content management system (CMS). The monolithic CMS integrates content, images, HTML, and CSS and provides a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to help non-technical users create and publish content. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to leverage a content re-use strategy since code and content are combined.

To remedy this problem and provide developers with a composable method of flexing their innovation chops, vendors introduced the decoupled CMS. This flexible front-end and structured back-end model promoted faster development, redesigns, upgrades, and new site rollouts, leaving content and development teams to work independently and more efficiently. In this CMS incarnation, the front and back ends are separate, which means developers could try new frameworks and tools without impacting the site’s content.

Then came the headless CMS, a back-end-only solution that stores content and distributes it via RESTful API. Using a headless approach, marketers could syndicate centrally-managed content to websites, mobile apps, digital signage, car dash displays, or other endpoints. There’s no presentation layer provided with a headless CMS, leaving developers the latitude to handle presentation in whatever way best suits the requirements du jour. 

Meanwhile, throughout this evolutionary process, the need to create and manage remarkable customer experiences to acquire, convert, and retain customers continued to explode. The lines between decoupled and headless blurred, and even monolithic CMS offerings began to morph. Legacy CMS vendors returned to the drawing board while innovative new players entered the market. More martech vendors were adopting the concept of composable solutions.

Composable DXP adoption: Resistance is futile

The aggressive push to drive DXP adoption is underway, and it’s working. Global research and consulting firm Verified Market Research says the Global Digital Experience Platform Market size was valued at USD 15.88 Billion in 2020 and projected to reach USD 43.43 Billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 13.4% from 2021 to 2028. 

However, along with all the hype, there’s some confusion. Gartner defines the DXP thus: “A digital experience platform (DXP) is an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences.” But as mentioned above, there’s a big question; should those “core technologies” be integrated into a monolithic, all-in-one platform, or should the “core technologies” be represented by a collection of point solutions assembled on a best-of-breed basis?

Composability and the martech stack

Over time, some legacy CMS vendors like Sitecore, Optimizely (formerly Episerver) and Progress Software’s Sitefinity have reinvented their platforms to fit into a DXP box, while newcomers like Contentful, Contentstack and Storyblok are driving in new directions. One thing is sure; it looks like composability is here to stay.

The concept is even finding its way into the board room as a future-proof schema for the post-COVID enterprise. Gartner says, “Composable business means creating an organization made from interchangeable building blocks. The modular setup enables a business to rearrange and reorient as needed depending on external (or internal) factors like a shift in customer values or sudden change in supply chain or materials.” 

Gartner identifies three building blocks of the composable business: composable thinking, composable business architecture and composable technologies. COVID seems to have accelerated this model in companies that may have lagged in building out their functional digital knowledge and martech muscles.

Get the daily newsletter digital marketers rely on.

Modular is better

Building modular, or composable, technology stacks has always been a great idea, though early on, it wasn’t as palatable as it is today. Plus, as I’ve said here, there’s been some advancement of functional digital knowledge in many organizations that’s driven new ways of thinking and working, including selecting various best-of-need martech tools from different vendors to build out the martech stack.

As Mark Demeny, director of product management at Optimizely, says, “Dealing with one vendor is perhaps a little bit safer. For example, the customer can work with one vendor and one renewal cycle instead of six. But while it’s easier for procurement, it may not be easier from an implementation perspective, depending on how well the martech vendor has assembled its product offering. Ultimately, it comes down to the preference of the buyer and the skill set of their organization.”

Keep in mind that things could get complex — expensive — when rolling your own composable DXP. In fact, according to Real Story Group’s Byrne, some customers “are spending 2-6x more on initial implementation services than they do on licensing costs. Same for outbound marketing and e-commerce projects. SaaS vendors with more productized, multi-tenant solutions talk about ‘quick start’ projects with light professional services fees, but the ‘MVPs’ that results tend to be long on the M and light on the V.”

Read next: Does your marketing team need a digital experience platform?

Avoiding the composable DXP trap

To increase your chances of success and reduce risk when building out your composable DXP, consider the following:

Choose your best-of-need solutions carefully. That includes following the advice in this article, including:

  • Understand your long-term priorities and those of your chosen martech vendor(s). For example, are they focusing on innovation, growth, and new customers, or are they focusing on keeping existing customers happy and prosperous?
  • De-couple software from services. Sure, the vendor might offer hosting or implementation/consulting services, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best fit to deliver those services for your organization.
  • Always be thinking about a migration strategy. Composable means flexibility, but even upgrades can require a lot of planning, consideration, and cost. Stay on top of the constantly shifting market by researching and engaging with new vendors on a monthly (or bi-monthly) basis. That’ll help you keep your finger on potential products and services that are fit-for-purpose in your composable DXP stack.

Choose your outside consultants carefully. While vendors may provide professional services, they usually focus on implementing own their products and services.

  • Know before you go. “Whenever you start a technology project, get clear about what you need from any outside consultants. There’s a good chance you may need various ‘soft skills’ such as information and process analysis, user experience, and change management, along with migration support.” says Real Story Group’s Byrne. Consider conducting a standardized review to understand the available individual and team skills and experience required to build and use a composable DXP. This will not only help you determine current skills and skill gaps but prepare hiring managers for potential recruiting and the outside consultant selection process.
  • Make sure they’ll focus on your best interests. Luma Partners 2021 Full Year Market Report showed strong growth in martech M&A deals, springing back from pandemic lows to achieve a 95% YoY growth. With big deals come big expectations from investors, often translating into mandates of 40-50% growth per year. A fierce quest for revenue might make one partner hyper-focused on your needs and another on their own. Mitigate potential risk and exposure by doing your homework, including reviewing the partner’s financials.
  • Pick composable tools first. Most services partners you’ll engage with are themselves partnered with several martech vendors. These relationships often involve commissions or co-op funds for advertising and events based on sales by the services partner of the martech vendor’s products. Thus, the outside consultant might have a vested interest in recommending specific products or services. Before choosing a service partner, prudence dictates developing solid business and technology requirements and performing vendor research (including demos and a proof-of-concept) to select your composable DXP components. As Byrne says, “If changing integrators is like switching plumbers, then changing vendors is like remodeling your bathroom completely. Get a blueprint, select the fixtures, then find the plumber.”

The composable DXP for the win

For companies and their marketing organizations seeking a way to create, deploy, and manage remarkable customer experiences, the composable, modular DXP can be a desirable approach. Instead of leveraging only 10-15% of the features and functions of an all-in-one solution, consider point solutions that best meet your business, marketing, and technology needs.

A purpose-built composable DXP can evolve with your business, customers, industry, and the endless shifting martech landscape. Once that’s in place, the focus can shift to creating remarkable composable customer experiences. But that’s another article.

Does your marketing team need a digital experience platform DXP

Explore platform capabilities from vendors like Sitecore, Optimizely, Pantheon, WordPressVIP and more in the full MarTech Intelligence Report on digital experience platforms.

Click here to download!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Reinventing the digital experience platform

Gene has been a Martech Healer for three decades, inventing the future while helping organizations and leaders ‘Ride the Crest of Change.’ A serial entrepreneur since his first newspaper delivery start-up, Gene developed early innovations in social media networks, digital-out-of-home narrowcasting, and SMS mobile marketing. He currently serves as the chief strategy officer and head of consulting at GeekHive, a New York-based marketing technology consultancy helping clients maximize their investments in martech.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address


Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists



Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.


Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading


A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots



A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading


Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)



Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads (And How To Fix It)

Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

You ask the head of marketing how the team is doing and get a giant thumbs up. 👍

“Our MQLs are up!”

“Website conversion rates are at an all-time high!”

“Email click rates have never been this good!”

But when you ask the head of sales the same question, you get the response that echoes across sales desks worldwide — the leads from marketing suck. 

If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone. The issue of “leads from marketing suck” is a common situation in most organizations. In a HubSpot survey, only 9.1% of salespeople said leads they received from marketing were of very high quality.

Why do sales teams hate marketing-generated leads? And how can marketers help their sales peers fall in love with their leads? 

Let’s dive into the answers to these questions. Then, I’ll give you my secret lead gen kung-fu to ensure your sales team loves their marketing leads. 

Marketers Must Take Ownership

“I’ve hit the lead goal. If sales can’t close them, it’s their problem.”

How many times have you heard one of your marketers say something like this? When your teams are heavily siloed, it’s not hard to see how they get to this mindset — after all, if your marketing metrics look strong, they’ve done their part, right?

Not necessarily. 

The job of a marketer is not to drive traffic or even leads. The job of the marketer is to create messaging and offers that lead to revenue. Marketing is not a 100-meter sprint — it’s a relay race. The marketing team runs the first leg and hands the baton to sales to sprint to the finish.



To make leads valuable beyond the vanity metric of watching your MQLs tick up, you need to segment and nurture them. Screen the leads to see if they meet the parameters of your ideal customer profile. If yes, nurture them to find out how close their intent is to a sale. Only then should you pass the leads to sales. 

Lead Quality Control is a Bitter Pill that Works

Tighter quality control might reduce your overall MQLs. Still, it will ensure only the relevant leads go to sales, which is a win for your team and your organization.

This shift will require a mindset shift for your marketing team: instead of living and dying by the sheer number of MQLs, you need to create a collaborative culture between sales and marketing. Reinforce that “strong” marketing metrics that result in poor leads going to sales aren’t really strong at all.  

When you foster this culture of collaboration and accountability, it will be easier for the marketing team to receive feedback from sales about lead quality without getting defensive. 

Remember, the sales team is only holding marketing accountable so the entire organization can achieve the right results. It’s not sales vs marketing — it’s sales and marketing working together to get a great result. Nothing more, nothing less. 

We’ve identified the problem and where we need to go. So, how you do you get there?

Fix #1: Focus On High ROI Marketing Activities First

What is more valuable to you:

  • One more blog post for a few more views? 
  • One great review that prospective buyers strongly relate to?

Hopefully, you’ll choose the latter. After all, talking to customers and getting a solid testimonial can help your sales team close leads today.  Current customers talking about their previous issues, the other solutions they tried, why they chose you, and the results you helped them achieve is marketing gold.

On the other hand, even the best blog content will take months to gain enough traction to impact your revenue.

Still, many marketers who say they want to prioritize customer reviews focus all their efforts on blog content and other “top of the funnel” (Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation) efforts. 

The bottom half of the growth marketing funnel (Retention, Reputation, and Revenue) often gets ignored, even though it’s where you’ll find some of the highest ROI activities.

1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 123 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

Most marketers know retaining a customer is easier than acquiring a new one. But knowing this and working with sales on retention and account expansion are two different things. 

When you start focusing on retention, upselling, and expansion, your entire organization will feel it, from sales to customer success. These happier customers will increase your average account value and drive awareness through strong word of mouth, giving you one heck of a win/win.

Winning the Retention, Reputation, and Referral game also helps feed your Awareness, Acquisition, and Activation activities:

  • Increasing customer retention means more dollars stay within your organization to help achieve revenue goals and fund lead gen initiatives.
  • A fully functioning referral system lowers your customer acquisition cost (CAC) because these leads are already warm coming in the door.
  • Case studies and reviews are powerful marketing assets for lead gen and nurture activities as they demonstrate how you’ve solved identical issues for other companies.

Remember that the bottom half of your marketing and sales funnel is just as important as the top half. After all, there’s no point pouring leads into a leaky funnel. Instead, you want to build a frictionless, powerful growth engine that brings in the right leads, nurtures them into customers, and then delights those customers to the point that they can’t help but rave about you.

So, build a strong foundation and start from the bottom up. You’ll find a better return on your investment. 

Fix #2: Join Sales Calls to Better Understand Your Target Audience

You can’t market well what you don’t know how to sell.

Your sales team speaks directly to customers, understands their pain points, and knows the language they use to talk about those pains. Your marketing team needs this information to craft the perfect marketing messaging your target audience will identify with.

When marketers join sales calls or speak to existing customers, they get firsthand introductions to these pain points. Often, marketers realize that customers’ pain points and reservations are very different from those they address in their messaging. 

Once you understand your ideal customers’ objections, anxieties, and pressing questions, you can create content and messaging to remove some of these reservations before the sales call. This effort removes a barrier for your sales team, resulting in more SQLs.

Fix #3: Create Collateral That Closes Deals

One-pagers, landing pages, PDFs, decks — sales collateral could be anything that helps increase the chance of closing a deal. Let me share an example from Lean Labs. 

Our webinar page has a CTA form that allows visitors to talk to our team. Instead of a simple “get in touch” form, we created a drop-down segmentation based on the user’s challenge and need. This step helps the reader feel seen, gives them hope that they’ll receive real value from the interaction, and provides unique content to users based on their selection.

1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 298 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, if they select I need help with crushing it on HubSpot, they’ll get a landing page with HubSpot-specific content (including a video) and a meeting scheduler. 

Speaking directly to your audience’s needs and pain points through these steps dramatically increases the chances of them booking a call. Why? Because instead of trusting that a generic “expert” will be able to help them with their highly specific problem, they can see through our content and our form design that Lean Labs can solve their most pressing pain point. 

Fix #4: Focus On Reviews and Create an Impact Loop

A lot of people think good marketing is expensive. You know what’s even more expensive? Bad marketing

To get the best ROI on your marketing efforts, you need to create a marketing machine that pays for itself. When you create this machine, you need to think about two loops: the growth loop and the impact loop.

1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755163 789 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To
  • Growth loop — Awareness ➡ Acquisition ➡ Activation ➡ Revenue ➡ Awareness: This is where most marketers start. 
  • Impact loop — Results ➡ Reviews ➡ Retention ➡ Referrals ➡ Results: This is where great marketers start. 

Most marketers start with their growth loop and then hope that traction feeds into their impact loop. However, the reality is that starting with your impact loop is going to be far more likely to set your marketing engine up for success

Let me share a client story to show you what this looks like in real life.

Client Story: 4X Website Leads In A Single Quarter

We partnered with a health tech startup looking to grow their website leads. One way to grow website leads is to boost organic traffic, of course, but any organic play is going to take time. If you’re playing the SEO game alone, quadrupling conversions can take up to a year or longer.

But we did it in a single quarter. Here’s how.

We realized that the startup’s demos were converting lower than industry standards. A little more digging showed us why: our client was new enough to the market that the average person didn’t trust them enough yet to want to invest in checking out a demo. So, what did we do?

We prioritized the last part of the funnel: reputation.

We ran a 5-star reputation campaign to collect reviews. Once we had the reviews we needed, we showcased them at critical parts of the website and then made sure those same reviews were posted and shown on other third-party review platforms. 

Remember that reputation plays are vital, and they’re one of the plays startups often neglect at best and ignore at worst. What others say about your business is ten times more important than what you say about yourself

By providing customer validation at critical points in the buyer journey, we were able to 4X the website leads in a single quarter!

1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 910 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

So, when you talk to customers, always look for opportunities to drive review/referral conversations and use them in marketing collateral throughout the buyer journey. 

Fix #5: Launch Phantom Offers for Higher Quality Leads 

You may be reading this post thinking, okay, my lead magnets and offers might be way off the mark, but how will I get the budget to create a new one that might not even work?

It’s an age-old issue: marketing teams invest way too much time and resources into creating lead magnets that fail to generate quality leads

One way to improve your chances of success, remain nimble, and stay aligned with your audience without breaking the bank is to create phantom offers, i.e., gauge the audience interest in your lead magnet before you create them.

For example, if you want to create a “World Security Report” for Chief Security Officers, don’t do all the research and complete the report as Step One. Instead, tease the offer to your audience before you spend time making it. Put an offer on your site asking visitors to join the waitlist for this report. Then wait and see how that phantom offer converts. 

This is precisely what we did for a report by Allied Universal that ended up generating 80 conversions before its release.

1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To1716755164 348 Why The Sales Team Hates Your Leads And How To

The best thing about a phantom offer is that it’s a win/win scenario: 

  • Best case: You get conversions even before you create your lead magnet.
  • Worst case: You save resources by not creating a lead magnet no one wants.  

Remember, You’re On The Same Team 

We’ve talked a lot about the reasons your marketing leads might suck. However, remember that it’s not all on marketers, either. At the end of the day, marketing and sales professionals are on the same team. They are not in competition with each other. They are allies working together toward a common goal. 

Smaller companies — or anyone under $10M in net new revenue — shouldn’t even separate sales and marketing into different departments. These teams need to be so in sync with one another that your best bet is to align them into a single growth team, one cohesive front with a single goal: profitable customer acquisition.

Interested in learning more about the growth marketing mindset? Check out the Lean Labs Growth Playbook that’s helped 25+ B2B SaaS marketing teams plan, budget, and accelerate growth.

Disruptive Design Raising the Bar of Content Marketing with Graphic

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading