Over the past decade, customer journeys have become increasingly dynamic and varied. Connecting with your target audience, truly connecting, requires more than just static content. It’s all about the experience, and this will only become more pronounced as we move toward an omnichannel future.
Consequently, global brands and organizations must think beyond the confines of traditional web content management, focusing on digital experiences in their entirety. Each interaction with your customers then becomes part of a bigger picture, and each touch point becomes an opportunity to exceed their expectations. To serve tomorrow’s consumers, you will need to craft seamless, high-quality journeys.
But doing so won’t be easy. Understanding their desires at every turn is not enough – you will also have to communicate consistently across all these touch points, speaking with a single, unified voice.
Three key challenges in digital experience management
Even in today’s always-online world, digital experiences are often fragmented. Many global players operate a tangled web of digital channels, using disconnected web content management solutions for specific brands or even specific countries. This makes it very difficult to roll out unified digital experiences in the first place, much less manage them effectively.
Our work with major brands across the world has given us a unique opportunity to identify the key challenges for global online experience management:
- How will you deliver personalized experiences that are both relevant and consistent, across the many digital channels available to you?
- How will you leverage shared investments at the global level without stifling initiative or reducing flexibility at the local level?
- How will you enable all your operating units to establish high-quality, high-performing digital experiences, regardless of each unit’s maturity?
In answering these questions, there are no universal recipes for success. One size rarely fits all; each company is different and requires a unique approach. However, we have been able to identify the key success factors for developing a healthy strategy. If you aim to improve your digital experience management, these should be your primary considerations.
1. Establish a centrally-managed digital experience platform
Do you know how much your company spends on its online environments, platforms and activities each year? Fragmented web content management solutions often lead to hidden costs. Managing your digital experiences with a single, global platform will make it far easier to keep track of licensing fees, development costs and agency expenditures, both on the international and the local level.
Still, improved cost management is a secondary benefit – one of many such benefits that a centrally-managed digital experience platform provides. First and foremost, a global platform will allow you to establish a single view of your customers and engage them with unified, personalized content. Such a system allows for shared content strategies, focused investments in security and performance, and the ability to roll out vital information quickly and consistently across all touch points.
For example, imagine discovering that one of your products is defective, or contains allergens that may put consumers at risk. Without unified digital experience management, it may take weeks or months to get that information to all your customers around the world. With a globally-managed system, however, you will be able to quickly communicate with your customer base, avoiding these risks entirely.
Transitioning to a single global platform will also greatly improve security. Experience management systems such as Adobe Experience Manager, SAP Hybris and Sitecore have excellent track records in this regard, allowing you to achieve the necessary scalability and manage security risks effectively. In addition, this approach makes it far easier to enforce a minimum level of security in every country, because the entire system can be managed at the global level.
2. White-label your user experience design for universal benefit
In order to project a strong global brand image, your company will need to maintain its presence in many countries. But while each locale must abide by its own budget, often determined by the local market’s maturity, how consumers perceive your brand and its quality must remain constant.
Without centrally-managed experience management, these objectives will frequently be at odds with one another. Limited local budgets mean less opportunities to meet quality standards, which puts more pressure on brand perception. At the same time, each country is essentially forced to invest separately in comparable technologies and features. This means less mature brands and operating units will be unable to benefit from investments made elsewhere.
A global digital experience platform will allow you to white-label customer experiences, making it possible to share and reuse resources, components and templates across multiple countries and brands. White-labeling breaks digital experiences down into their constituent components (e.g. navigation, CRM integration and other features), then strips away styling and branding. Creating digital experiences becomes easier this way, because local brands can simply style the resources according to their needs and deploy them seamlessly in their target markets.
White-labeling reduces Total Cost of Ownership, because development costs are incurred once at the global level instead of many times at the local level. Investments have more impact, because results are shared instead of separated. In addition, white-labeling will allow you to roll out new campaigns and digital experiences far faster than ever before. Since you already have access to a library of generic features, deployment speed is limited to the time it takes to style each campaign.
3. Balance local ownership with strong global governance
In a multinational organization with a wealth of brands and touch points, it goes without saying that each country’s branch should be able to react to opportunities in the local market. At the same time, risks to the overall brand image must be minimized wherever possible.
Disconnected solutions give each country a large degree of independence and latitude, because they get to decide what happens on ‘their’ platform. While this is often a source of pride at the local level, this fundamentally siloed approach invariably increases your exposure to security vulnerabilities and performance issues. These, in turn, increase the risk of damage to your brand.
Establishing an appropriate degree of control at the global level while acknowledging the need for flexibility and ownership at the local level requires well-designed governance processes. Moving to a centrally-managed digital experience platform will eliminate many risks to your organization and help reduce many more, but local branches will need to sacrifice some of their autonomy.
This can only go smoothly if clear agreements are made regarding what local branches can do. Also, you must appoint a platform owner at the global level who can balance local needs with global goals and considerations fairly and effectively.
Experiment, monitor and expand
Digital experience management requires a carefully considered, unified approach. Existing systems will need to be redesigned or replaced in such a way as to create a future-proof experience platform.
In that sense, this is a far-reaching endeavor. To switch to a digital experience platform, you will have to rework your existing architecture from the ground up. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with massive costs or high risks. After all, you don’t have to force these changes everywhere all at once.
Instead, concentrate on a single brand or territory. Start by drafting a sensible, scalable design for experience management, then test it in a limited capacity. By monitoring the results and tweaking your platform accordingly, you’ll be able to perfect your approach. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to roll it out to new brands and new countries, eventually bringing your entire company into the fold.
Globally-managed, high-quality digital experiences will be the universal delighters of the future. Start today, avoid the rush.