Selecting a Digital Experience Platform? Nail Your Content Strategy First

Selecting a Digital Experience Platform? Nail Your Content Strategy First

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.

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:

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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:

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:

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

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.

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