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The Ultimate Guide to Building Your Composable DXP

Apr 13, 2022
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Rapid digital transformation and the need to remain adaptive have forced several enterprises to rethink their approach to delivering a digital experience. With rising expectations, increased competition, and greater choices available to potential customers, businesses can’t afford to rest on their laurels. 

Digital experience initiatives are meant to support customers throughout their digital journeys. That’s why these enterprises need to have access to the best tools for creating the digital experience their customers crave. Businesses have recognized the value of investing in the right software solutions, with Gartner predicting that worldwide spending on IT will reach $4.3 trillion in 2022. 

Many organizations grew accustomed to the ready-to-go suite of products that came out of the box with everything they needed (and didn’t need). Now, these organizations recognize the importance of taking a composable approach to building their digital experience platform (DXP). 

Yet, with so many different components and products to choose from, it can be difficult to know which categories to focus on and which products can meet the requirements for your business. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you identify which components you should focus on when building your composable DXP. 

Recapping: What Is a DXP?

Before diving into the guide, we should recap what a DXP is and what you should expect from one. A DXP is an integrated set of core technologies that support digital experience creation, management, delivery, and optimization. 

DXPs are effectively the next stage of the traditional content management system (CMS). By combining various tools, including personalization engines, eCommerce platforms, marketing automation, digital asset management tools, and more, a DXP provides businesses with the necessary capabilities to cater to their audiences with an omnichannel experience. 

Types of DXPs

Fundamentally there are two different architectural approaches for building digital experience platforms, monolithic and composable.

Monolithic DXP

Monolithic digital experience platforms follow the suite approach and provide companies with a packaged set of business capabilities. For DXPs of this type, a single vendor offers not only a content management system but also CRM, analytics, personalization tools, and more in one package. However, these large suite solutions can be expensive and inflexible when businesses need to react quickly to market changes and customer expectations. 

Composable DXP

A composable digital experience platform leverages a best-of-breed philosophy, offering greater flexibility and customization options for businesses that adopt them. Rather than one vendor providing every single tool, a composable DXP may provide one tool, the CMS, and then leverage microservices to connect additional tools using APIs. As a result, companies have more options and can select the best software tools on the market for each category. 

Building Your Composable DXP Around a Headless CMS

As the next stage of content management, a composable DXP should be built around a headless CMS. A DXP leverages content to create digital experiences, and a headless CMS provides that content component. 

Organizations need to deliver content to various channels as part of these digital experiences. A headless CMS facilitates content delivery to any channel imaginable through the use of APIs. 

A hybrid headless CMS, in particular, offers the ideal foundation for building a composable DXP as it combines the marketer-friendly features that businesses are used to leveraging from a traditional CMS, with the omnichannel content delivery and orchestration capabilities of a headless CMS. 

Some of the features that you might look for in a headless CMS for a composable DXP include:

WYSIWYG Editing: Marketers will feel empowered by having features they knew from a traditional CMS as part of their DXP. With WYSIWYG editing, changes that they make in the backend will be reflected on the frontend. 

Content as a Service: CaaS provides the API endpoints that enable connections with multiple frontends. This allows marketers to create content once and then publish it to a variety of channels using REST APIs or GraphQL. 

Multitenancy: Multiple experiences means multiple sites, especially for enterprise organizations. A headless CMS makes it easy for content editors to manage these websites with multitenant architecture. 

Workflows: Workflows are essential for companies creating content for multiple platforms and allow the marketing team to stay organized and coordinated while managing multiple marketing campaigns, sites and channels. 

Potential Products

dotCMS: dotCMS is a leading, open source content management system for companies that want innovation and performance driving their websites and other content-driven applications.

Contentful: Contentful is an API-first content platform for building digital experiences. 

Contentstack: Contentstack is an agile content management system that empowers marketers and developers to collaborate around content. 

Butter CMS: Butter CMS is your content backend. An API-first CMS and blog platform that marketers and developers enjoy.

Strapi: Strapi is an open-source headless CMS built using 100% JavaScript. 

Craft CMS: Craft CMS is a content first headless CMS for creating content experiences. 

Magnolia CMS: Magnolia CMS is an open source headless CMS and DXP. 

Other Components That Make Up Your DXP

Your headless CMS is the core piece of your DXP, but there are some other relevant components that you should consider as well when building your composable DXP. 

Analytics

Analytics is a critical element of your DXP. The insights you draw from the data can tell you if your business is hitting the mark and if experiences resonate with your customers. DXPs include an assortment of tools, but powerful analytics software helps make sense of all the information those disparate tools provide. Whether you need to see the bigger picture or go granular and see how specific channels are working, analytics software makes a huge difference. 

Potential Products

Mixpanel: Mixpanel assists users in understanding user behavior and driving them towards action.

Kissmetrics: Kissmetrics helps organizations grow their customer base through behavioral analytics and segmentation. 

Amplitude: A digital optimization system that helps brands understand and personalize their digital products with real-time analytics and cross-platform tracking. 

Baremetrics: Baremetrics provides metrics, dunning and engagement tools for SaaS companies. 

Heap: Heap helps users find their blind spots and identify where improvements need to be made. 

Pendo:Pendo helps users answer questions like which features customers are using the most or which they’re ignoring. 

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation tools help organizations automate repetitive tasks and focus their time on other activities instead. With marketing automation software handling things like mass emails to your customer base, lead generation, and more, your internal team can focus on understanding which content resonates with your audience and create relevant content to meet their demands. 

Potential Products

ActiveCampaign: ActiveCampaign is a customer experience automation platform that provides email marketing and automation for customers.

Sendinblue: An all-in-one platform for engaging with contacts and building customer relationships with targeted communication. 

Mailchimp: Mailchimp is an all-in-one marketing platform that enables users to send marketing emails, automated messages and create targeted campaigns.

ConvertKit: A marketing automation tool that enables drip campaigns, easy form creation and automatic newsletter sending. 

CRM

Customer relationship management solutions are essential for managing your customer data and integrating it into other parts of your DXP. With this data easily accessible, you can find specific customers faster, allowing you to improve customer service initiatives and drive more sales. 

Potential Products 

Apptivo: Apptivo is a platform of integrated apps, including CRM software that helps businesses manage their sales pipeline, automation and reporting.

Pipedrive: A web-based CRM and pipeline management software focused on making sales happen. 

HubSpot: HubSpot provides an easy-to-use sales CRM with sales engagement tools, sales analytics and CPQ functionality. 

Zoho: A cloud-based CRM platform that caters to businesses of all sizes. 

SAP: SAP provides a modern CRM for fostering customer relationships, boosting loyalty and driving revenue. 

Salesforce Sales Cloud: A CRM and sales tool for helping businesses to grow with ease and strengthen customer relationships.

eCommerce

Choosing the right eCommerce solution to be part of your DXP is essential as the customer experience is heavily dependent on their buyer’s journey. Your eCommerce platform should integrate within your DXP and complement your headless, enabling you to provide headless commerce and create dynamic shopping experiences across multiple channels. 

Potential Products

BigCommerce: An ecommerce platform that caters to merchants of all sizes with enterprise-grade functionality, performance and ease of use.

Shopify Plus: The enterprise version of Shopify built for high-growth and high-volume brands.

Elastic Path: A headless eCommerce platform with an API-based system that is built for enterprise-level customers.

Fabric: A flexible headless eCommerce platform for modern customer experiences.

Snipcart: Snipcart allows you to add a shopping cart to any website and connect with other ecommerce tools. 

Commercetools: An ecommerce platform for B2C and B2B commerce built on MACH principles.

Digital Asset Management

A digital asset management solution enables brands to better manage their content assets. For large organizations creating huge volumes of content, having somewhere to store that content connected to your DXP makes it easier for marketers to search and organize content for various campaigns. 

Potential Products

Bynder: A digital asset management platform that centralizes all assets and enables collaboration in the cloud.

Brand Folder: A user-friendly DAM solution that helps marketers maximize brand management potential. 

Canto: Provides a central location for all digital assets that helps manage the flow of assets within an organization’s library. 

Widen: A DAM and PIM combined that enables brands to manage all rich media and product content across the customer experience. 

A/B Testing

A/B testing may come as part of many analytics tools, but it can also be a standalone tool that takes your DXP to the next level. These tools enable you to compare different variations and test theories to discover which combination of layouts, products, call-to-actions, and more enhances the user experience. Finding ways to gather as much data about your entire system is critical to digital experience success. 

Potential Products

Google Optimize: Allows you to test variations of your sites and apps, for free. It’s very easy to integrate with your website

CrazyEgg: CrazyEgg provides heatmaps and A/B testing tools that enable organizations to see what’s working and what’s not. 

AB Tasty:AB Tasty provides experimentation tools that help businesses to launch better products and increase engagement. 

Convertize: A/B testing tool that makes it easy to increase conversions by analyzing customer behavior. 

Optimizely: Optimizely makes it easy to try new approaches and respond to audience behavior. 

Payments

Payment solutions can augment the buyer experience and support the eCommerce platform and CMS. For customers to have the option of shopping across multiple channels, they need to be able to process payment transactions. The right payment gateway enables you to accommodate modern payment options, fintech solutions, and more that improve the digital experience. 

Potential Products:

Venmo: Merchants can accept payments using Venmo in their apps, ecommerce shops and mobile sites.

WePay: WePay provides a white label payment option for software platforms. 

Stripe: Stripe provides payments infrastructure for companies of all sizes to accept payments and send payouts. 

Square: Square enables businesses to sell online and take secure payments from customers. 

EBizCharge: A payment gateway that integrates into eCommerce stores to make it easy to process payments. 

Adyen: A modern payments infrastructure that connects directly to Visa, Mastercard and various other payment methods. 

Personalization Engine

In order to create the best digital experiences for your customers, you need to know their preferences and habits. A personalization engine helps you transform customer data from your CRM, segmenting it, analyzing it, and allowing you to use it to improve the customer experiences and content you provide. Personalization can be a make-or-break part of the digital experience, so your DXP can benefit from including a solution dedicated to this purpose. 

Potential Products:

Qubit:  Qubit provides AI-driven personalization that enables brands to generate product recommendations, insights and more for the customer experience. 

Smarter HQ: SmarterHQ helps brands cater to various customers with highly personalized cross-channel experiences. 

Ninetailed: A platform for modern applications that offers personalization for headless CMS and Jamstack. 

Nosto: Nosto provides an integrated suite of data-driven personalization and merchandising tools. 

AI & Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools can enhance every aspect of the digital experience. As part of your DXP, these tools can improve personalization in conjunction with your personalization engine, improve the granularity of analytics tools findings and enhance customer service and marketing campaigns by speeding up tasks. 

Potential Products:

Algorithmia: An enterprise machine learning operations (MLOps) platform that makes it easy to create machine learning models quickly.

Chorus: Analyzes sales meetings and calls to provide data and insights that help improve the customer experience.

MarketMuse: MarketMuse provides AI-driven content planning, business intelligence to accelerate content creation and improve search rankings. 

Seamless AI: A contact search engine that helps organizations locate verified contact details. 

Chatbots

Making the best use of your customer support resources is essential. Chatbots help to multiply the strength of your customer service team by allowing customers to solve problems without human interaction. This saves internal staff and customers time as frequently asked questions can be answered with the help of artificial intelligence. 

Potential Products

Acquire: Acquire enables companies to connect and collaborate with customers through chat.

Sendbird: Sendbird enables businesses to add chat, voice and video to their applications. 

Manychat: Enables brands to engage customers with automated messages via Instagram DMs, Facebook, Messenger, SMS and more. 

Chatfuel: Chatfuel lets companies build no-code chatbots to automate marketing, lead generation, support, and more. 

ChatBot: ChatBot allows companies to automate customer service by building no-code conversational chatbots. 

Search Engine

Search capabilities should be present in your DXP, enabling customers to easily find information and products related to your brand. Search tools can improve customer navigation on multiple channels and help customers find things independently. Plus, in today’s modern digital world, search doesn’t need to be limited to a standard search bar but can enable customers to filter and sort information as they see fit. 

Potential Products

Algolia: Algolia provides search and recommendation solutions that can be embedded into various software applications.

Elasticsearch: Elasticseach enables businesses to implement modern search experiences into websites, applications and workplace content.

Searchspring: An eCommerce search and merchandising solution built for retailers. 

Swiftype: A powerful and customizable site search platform that enables companies to create a tailored search experience.  

Authorization & Authentication

At the enterprise level, authorization and authentication are critical tools to maintaining security. These tools can help prevent unwanted access to internal data via software applications and APIs. This includes adding role-based permissions, single sign-on, and more to the entire collection of products that make up your DXP. 

Potential Products

Okta: Enables people to access applications on any device while enforcing security policies. 

FusionAuth: A scalable identity management platform that provides authorization, registration, login, multi-factor authentication, single sign-on and user management.

Ping Identity: A leader in authentication, SSO and access management solutions for enterprises. 

Trusona: Trusona provides digital identity management, multi-factor authentication and secures the identity behind each interaction. 

Auth0: Auth0 provides an adaptable authentication and authorization platform. 

Set a Strong Foundation For Your DXP With dotCMS

The number of solutions you can add to your DXP is potentially endless. However, by taking a composable approach, you can ensure that you only choose the right software tools to improve the customer experience and avoid being bogged down by unnecessary solutions that you won’t need. 

Choosing a composable DXP approach means that you can customize your software stack to your liking, yet the headless CMS forms the foundation regardless of the additional tools you choose. 

dotCMS’ hybrid headless capabilities provide an ideal solution for orchestrating your digital experiences. Along with a Content as a Service model, dotCMS provides the APIs and integration capabilities your CMS needs to build your DXP strategy around. 

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