“Hey, we bought this tool with a ton of features without having a plan for how they solve our problems...figure out how to make the best of it!”
You wouldn’t buy your artistic teenager the best programming laptop on the market; you’d buy them one made for graphic design.
You wouldn’t buy yourself a sports car when you need a pickup truck to regularly haul materials around; you’d buy a truck.
And you wouldn’t buy an expensive web tool with all the bells and whistles before deciding on what problem you are trying to solve with that product—would you?
Where Should Web Tools Fit in Your Strategy?
No one wants to make poor decisions. But in the web space, how many of us have been enticed by a shiny new solution without considering how it will solve real customer-engagement challenges? And how many challenges can a single solution realistically address at once?
Web tools are an essential part of any modern solution, but should be the last piece of building customer-centric business strategies.
If you want to improve the management of your customer digital experience, it's crucial to understand what Digital Experience Management (DXM) really is and what you may need from a platform to help you get the job done. Let’s start with some basic terminology.
Digital Experience Management (DXM) is the process of monitoring every interaction people have with a company's digital channels (website, social, mobile apps, intranets, and more)—a tall order when you stop and think about the scope of that objective.
A Digital Experience Platform (DXP) is an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery and optimization of contextualized digital experiences to your customers or members. This is an even more impressive set of interconnected tools if you’re trying to truly deliver content to every touchpoint.
To be clear, I strongly advocate for organizations to build DXM practices, or at least implement some thoughtful monitoring capabilities. These will help you better determine what types of engagement are working well and what may need improvement—whether it’s usability, user flow, availability, or performance.
But how many organizations have a firm grasp of their present engagement metrics? How many fully understand how to quantify engagement and then actualize solutions based on that data?
If we’re honest, most organizations are struggling just to cover their bases across the modern marketing landscape. Many find it difficult to issue a single message across marketing, customer, and partner channels—let alone personalize messages based on the differences we know exist within our networks.
Nonetheless, businesses often succumb to the pressure to always “be on every channel” and “engage everywhere.” Tech providers encourage this behavior. They promise that their tools will somehow deliver hyper-engaged customers who consume personalized content targeted at a niche audience. But when was the last time your technology could determine the best strategy to engage your customers, based on their unique needs? Did it customize a message or tailor a graphic to meet the specific expectations on a given channel?
Not recently, and probably not ever.
Don’t be lured into believing that a DXP is going to solve the core problem of engagement. To authentically engage your audiences, you need strategy, focused content, and an audience who will engage with your organization in the first place. None of those things are available from a DXP.
DXM is not a tool in and of itself — so don’t buy a tool to try and solve your customer engagement challenges without knowing what they are in the first place.
The Problem with Being Tool-First
Right customer, wrong channel
If you are like many organizations, you are rethinking how to engage with your customers in a post-COVID landscape. For instance, B2B companies and associations have been scrambling to bring valuable in-person experiences and customer engagements online. Choosing the wrong tool to accomplish this can be costly on multiple fronts.
What happens when you buy technology tools before understanding the actual customer engagement problem you are solving for?
What happens when, after buying a new engagement platform, you discover that your customers found another way to get the value your in-person experience used to provide them? It might be cheaper, more efficient, or from a different source altogether.
Both scenarios underscore the importance of customer insights and creating a defined strategy before selecting new tools.
Time & Money
Failing to test ideas against customer needs is an expensive lesson to learn. It can set you back years while bleeding you dry in the meantime.
In the association space, there is no shortage of Association Management Software (AMS) or related technology solutions to choose from. It’s not unusual for decision makers to be inundated with promotional ads and events that showcase the next big thing in AMS technology.
New tools with shiny features are great and all, but only if they are tangibly connected to the digital experience of your customers. Otherwise, you end up only using a subset of the tool or forcing your customers into uncomfortable interactions which feel awkward. Using the tool for the sake of the tool is missing the point—because technology itself does not provide value.
Rigidity & Imprecision
Choosing the wrong DXP can also limit your technological flexibility moving forward. Take for example the recent product shifts taken by many traditional monolithic content management system (CMS) vendors. Many of these solution providers have realized that CMS itself has become a low-cost commodity. As such, their future growth can only be continued by extending into an ecosystem solution of product that often includes a CMS, marketing automation tools, analytics, CRM, community, and more. That's a good thing, right? Maybe not.
For one thing, the all-in-one solution probably comes with a host of tools that you will pay a premium for—but not necessarily utilize. For another, monolithic CMSs run the risk of fitting the “Jack of all trades, master of none” truism; they do plenty of things adequately, but none exceptionally.
Additionally, how well does a CMS vendor really know the marketing automation space? Just because a provider is good at CMS, it’s impractical to assume they understand how to deliver marketing methodologies that are as mature as their own product.
Most importantly, monolithic solutions limit your ability to integrate with other technologies. You must play by that provider’s rules; you are confined to their programming framework for any present or future integrations.
Whatever your future business needs might be, being agile is essential to meeting them. Be careful about putting all your eggs in one vendor’s basket—especially before taking DXM into consideration.
The Solution: Start with Digital Experience (DX)
Instead of having a tools-first mindset, the better approach is to start with DX by finding real customer pain points to uncover root problems. If that sounds too vague or daunting, start by focusing on the value your company provides—that’s why your customers engage with your brand in the first place.
How you solve customer experience issues should include DX analysis to turn customer engagement data into actionable insight for customer journeys. And a mature marketing agency like Refactored can help provide clarity to this discovery process.
Refactored Drives Marketing Momentum
Being data-driven with decisions sounds great in theory, but in practice it’s easy to forget when you are enticed by the raw power of an all-in-one CMS of DXP or the shiny bells and whistles of the latest AMS.
Don’t be taken in by answers looking for questions. The best way to create quality DX is to first focus on the actual experience. What might seem innovative to you could be way off the mark, so it’s best to let genuine analysis of DX reveal the root problems your customers encounter.
Then, and only then, should you search for a tool-based solution to meet those needs.
Refactored helps businesses put first things first. After we assist in determining your needs through customer research and collaboration, we will help you choose and integrate tools that explicitly provide value. We utilize pinpoint solutions that accomplish specific goals while creating a flexible framework for future integrations and pivots in tech stacks.