What Is a Digital Experience Platform (DXP)?

With a DXP, any user can build, manage, and deliver connected digital experiences across the customer lifecycle.

October 2021 | 9.5 minutes
Digital customer experiences make up the new competitive battlefield for businesses. They’re crucial to success. In fact, 80% of customers say the experience a company provides matters just as much as its products and services.
80% of customers say the experience a company provides matters just as much as its products and services.
Today’s all-digital customers want convenient and seamless experiences that are connected across every digital touchpoint. That’s the only way to meet their rapidly changing expectations. A digital experience platform (DXP) empowers businesses to deliver what customers want.
As an emerging digital technology, a DXP provides a way to improve and connect all aspects of the customer experience. DXPs allow businesses to orchestrate frictionless customer journeys across digital channels. When a business uses a DXP, its customers engage seamlessly with the brand across apps, customer service, in-store kiosks, the desktop, and more.
A DXP consists of integrated technologies that build, deliver, and manage digital interactions with various audiences. This article focuses primarily on customers and prospects, but those audiences can also include partners or employees. DXPs power the consistent exchange of relevant data and content to audiences across all digital channels.

Take a closer look at digital experience platforms.

When you visit a website, send an email, or open an app, you’re engaging in a digital experience. Gorgeous websites with confusing navigation deliver one kind of experience. However, an app that lets you change an appointment in seconds or chat with a customer service agent immediately after logging in offers a very different one — a seamless and superior one. Which would you prefer? The best digital experiences blend appealing engagement with no-friction efficiency.
Most brands build multiple digital experiences for customers. And customers often use more than one to make a purchase. A recent survey revealed that 74% of customers have started and finished transactions on multiple channels, and 66% have used multiple devices.
74% of customers have started and finished transactions on multiple channels, and 66% have used multiple devices.
It’s frustrating when those experiences differ across channels. For instance, you might easily find specifications for a product on a website. But when you look for that information on that same company’s mobile app, it’s either not there or you have to reauthenticate yourself with login information on different channels. Not only can this friction frustrate customers, it can also make customers abandon the experience.
Without a DXP, companies risk delivering a poor experience. Consider the prospect-to-customer journey you offer today. Let’s say that a new prospect wants to learn about your brand, set up an appointment, and become a customer. How many different digital experiences would that person encounter today? How many sites and tools might they touch on their journey? Could they even do it all online? Creating a connected, digital-first prospect-to-customer experience is exactly what a complete DXP facilitates. It’s a single tool that supports each step of the customer journey as it connects those steps together.
DXPs offer organizations a suite of tools that unite all the elements — personalization, service, privacy, security, and more — to enhance a digital experience. From one centralized location, organizations can track customer data and build and deploy personalized, connected experiences that scale across channels. Not only do DXPs enhance the customer experience, they also help businesses improve and digitize internal processes. This boosts productivity as it makes it easier to stay ahead of digital trends. For instance, DXPs automate the delivery of content across channels and devices. DXPs also integrate with AI, which adds intelligence to automated content and experience personalization.

Unravel the acronyms: DXP vs. CMS vs. DAM vs. WEM.

You may be thinking that a DXP sounds similar to a content management system (CMS) or a digital asset management (DAM) system — or even a web experience management (WEM) system. Those technologies have some similarities, but only a DXP delivers an any-touchpoint control that goes beyond content. A closer look at each technology shows why.
CMS: A content management system is a technology that lets users create, edit, publish, and organize digital content at scale. Most brands manage their digital content — like text, videos, and images — with a CMS. But CMS software lacks the personalization and integration capabilities associated with DXPs. A CMS is more focused on managing and publishing content than on the end-user experience of that content.
WEM: Web experience management systems are similar to CMS technology. They support the creation, editing, and publishing of content. And they add personalization capabilities and enhanced cross-channel capabilities to the mix. These systems drive the personalization of content by collecting user behavior data. However, WEMs focus on content and have a limited ability to support a customer journey beyond content personalization. Plus, they result in a siloed way of working by limiting cross-departmental collaboration.
DAM: Digital asset management systems evolved to bring more control to the management of high-value content. Large organizations use DAMs to store digital assets such as images, videos, and written content. DAMs are especially useful in managing assets associated with a company’s brand standards or for managing assets that have rights associated with them (like purchased images or articles). DAMs make it easy to find, share, and retire digital assets.
A DXP integrates all of these capabilities and systems. A DXP could even include a CMS or integrate with a DAM. But a DXP manages more than content. Think of it this way: A digital experience encompasses the content and data users interact with — and all the actions they take. That could include a two-way exchange of information. For example, a digital warranty registration experience for a ski boot could start with reading about the product. Then, the user creates a profile, selects privacy preferences, and shares expected-use information. The brand could then use that information to deliver personalized product offers, blog content, and self-service FAQ across all digital touchpoints.

Use DXP best practices to transform the customer journey.

With a DXP, companies can manage the entire prospect-to-customer lifecycle with a single consistent approach without having to rely on costly developer services. That empowers them to execute on one of the most universal best practices for businesses: Place the customer at the center.
Customers choose their journeys. A DXP smooths their journeys by applying their data and preferences across touchpoints. One customer might move from product discovery on mobile to learning more with the help of a chatbot. That same customer might purchase and join a loyalty program through a desktop. They might later apply their loyalty points to a new purchase at a physical location. Another customer might consume personalized content online but complete purchases through an authorized reseller.
DXPs drive frictionless encounters throughout the customer lifecycle. This starts at the prospect stage — well before customers authenticate themselves through registration or a purchase. Authentication opens the door to greater degrees of personalization. Consider these examples of how DXPs center the customer journey around the individual user:
Personalized content: Customers connect with content, like blogs and videos, that suits their interests. They start relying on favored brands for information relevant to a brand’s products.
Customer self-service: When customers need help, they quickly find information relevant to them. For instance, a DXP can connect customers to FAQ and options relevant to their past activities.
Commerce: A digital experience can take engagement beyond transactions. Purchasers become loyal customers as they engage with personalized content and with each other in forums. They realize more value from purchases with tips, easy warranty management, and loyalty programs.
Partner relationships: A DXP makes selling easier for partners by simplifying the way they find information and manage deals. Partners shift seamlessly between activities like deal registration, performance tracking, and real-time assistance.

Learn more: digital experience platform FAQ.

Why do I need a DXP?

DXPs make digital interactions — like browsing, reading content, or making a purchase — omni-channel. With a DXP, you can take advantage of real-time customer data and preferences as you provide a consistent experience across channels. You can make informed choices to improve the digital experience for customers and deploy those choices across touchpoints. Additionally, DXPs allow you to create and update web pages and content from one centralized location, helping to increase employee productivity.
DXPs turn data from any source into experiences. CMS technology focuses on content, and many only support a limited number of channels well. Let’s say you stay with a CMS-only approach. Over the years, you've probably added layers of customization to your CMS to help your company support multiple channels. That complexity makes it hard to keep pace with customer, partner, and employee expectations. Every new personalization or content idea turns into an IT project.
DXPs free brands to build better experiences for customers with less effort so your team spends less time managing and updating multiple systems. Take content as an example. A DXP lets you update content once. Customers get the same consistent content across channels.

What do businesses with DXPs do instead of redundant tasks?

They create innovative experiences with data from multiple sources. Customer data from connected devices or in CRMs and marketing systems turn into personalized experiences.

How do DXPs support data privacy, security, and accessibility?

A DXP should let you build experiences that comply with accessibility requirements, including WCAG and ADA. Just as crucially, DXPs keep customer data safe by incorporating data privacy management. But data privacy and security aren't one-size-fits-all processes. For example, businesses that specialize in consumer-focused healthcare and financial services will have different requirements than a beverage distributor. You can configure a DXP to integrate with multiple systems and manage data in ways that meet regulatory and industry-specific requirements. This is in contrast to custom-built websites or legacy CMSs with extensive custom integrations. These approaches can open the door to security, accessibility, and privacy issues that lead to risk.

What ROI can I expect from a DXP?

Businesses turn to DXPs to delight customers, and that leads to measurable returns. Those returns take the form of cost savings and increased revenue. Choose your return on investment (ROI) measures based on the digital experience you build. Measure a service experience with metrics like time to resolution and customer satisfaction. You can measure a commerce experience with conversion metrics. A DXP will also deliver IT and content management cost savings and efficiency gains. Read a detailed analysis of the ROI possible with DXPs to learn more.

How can a DXP serve today’s customers?

A DXP can create experiences that include data from any source related to a customer. A home goods retailer could use a DXP to create an experience that blends shopping, personalized content, and a loyalty program. Customers interact with that experience as they choose. As customers engage, the experience becomes more personalized.
For instance, a gourmet cook sees recipes he can try with his primo soufflé pan. But a customer with a history of favoring microwave cooking gadgets sees content with time-saving cooking hacks. Both receive product suggestions relevant to them. And they can set their own data privacy preferences.

Can DXPs work with AI?

Yes. You can integrate a DXP with different data sources and technologies, including AI. For instance, you could integrate a smart chatbot into a service or shopping experience. AI can also make suggestions for content or possible next actions. Search is another area where AI leads to significant improvements. AI can help people find what they're looking for even when they may not know what search terms to use.
You can also use AI to deepen your understanding of how customers engage with content or products within digital experiences. Apply the insights gained to improving activities like prioritizing leads, presenting content, and refining campaigns.

What should I consider as I look for a DXP?

You want a DXP that delivers in four key areas:
Comprehensive functionality: Your digital experience needs to be able to perform mission-critical tasks using a two-way flow of data between you and your customer. Customers get things done easily as you gain efficiency. You'll deliver disjointed experiences if you don't have a smooth flow of data.
Omni-channel experiences: You should be able to deliver a consistent experience across touchpoints. That requires integration of all digital touchpoints so you can update once and publish everywhere. Your customers move seamlessly across channels — and you manage all your channels together.
Complete customer journeys: A DXP should support your customer’s complete journey with your brand. Start by mapping that journey. Look for a DXP that can advance — and personalize — the journey from unknown prospect to purchase to self-service to relationship expansion.
Broad data security and privacy: A DXP supports your compliance and audit needs while meeting your customers’ privacy and security expectations. This is one of the key advantages of using an experience platform instead of a mix of technologies. Using too many systems and vendors to build digital experiences may create points of weakness. Look for a single platform that uses a metadata model and secure infrastructure that empowers you to protect data at any scale.

Discover Experience Cloud, the Salesforce DXP.

Streamline business operations, gather actionable customer insights, and deliver connected customer experiences with Experience Cloud, Salesforce’s DXP solution.

Source: “State of Marketing,” Salesforce, 2020

2 Source: “State of the Connected Customer,” Salesforce, October 2020.


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