Recently, we joined our partner Adcetera to discuss the ongoing evolution of digital experience and what strategies brands need to know in order to remain agile and ready to answer whatever customers ask for next. Since their beginning as a creative design studio nearly 40 years ago, Adcetera has since evolved into a full-service marketing agency developing expertise in digital solutions as it witnessed the evolution of web content management and the rapid growth of digital experience as a core strategy for brands who want to connect with their customers. Rather than just view a website as an “online brochure” to drive leads, today’s leading companies provide a fully integrated digital presence.
To dive deeper into how brands can ingrain this holistic customer experience (CX) across all of their operations and push the boundaries of digital transformation, Acquia spoke with three Adcetera team members: Pagogh Cho, Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer, Mike Demma, Customer Experience Manager and Kyle Regan, Director of Enterprise Services. Here’s their perspective on designing personalized content and flexible experiences that reach customers wherever they are.
Ambitious Customer Experiences on a Faster Timeline
The COVID-19 pandemic sped up digital transformation efforts from years to weeks, and Adcetera believes that customer expectations to deliver digital experiences on much shorter timelines are here to stay. “We used to do an enterprise engagement, and it would typically be a year long process from kickoff to delivery. Now it’s a month or even less,” said Kyle.
The pandemic cemented a shorter window for brands to spin up new sites and deliver meaningful messages. “People now expect speed and convenience across every part of their lives, whether that’s getting takeout dropped off right at their door or buying a new car with the click of a button,” Kyle continued. To make this possible, businesses need to have the tools in place that adapt and iterate on digital experiences with greater speed and less friction.
The need to get digital experiences to market faster has inspired what many in the technology space are calling a low-code revolution. By using low-code tools and templates, content creators and marketers are able to work faster and directly influence the creation and delivery of customer experiences without IT bottlenecks.
As a full-service marketing agency, Adcetera often works directly with marketers in various go-to-market capacities. They’ve heard firsthand that marketing leaders want to be in control of the digital experience and take creative risks without coding knowledge or additional developer resources. “We saw that Acquia truly embraced the low-code approach that empowered the content creators to do it all, so we could empower marketers to deliver experiences on their own,” said Pagogh.
An Intuitive Cloud-First Approach Without IT Burden
Prior to partnering with Acquia, Adcetera had worked with a number of legacy CMS solutions, which often introduced large amounts of technical complexity without the flexibility and extensibility offered by open, cloud-native software. "Not all of your competitors have embraced the cloud as fully as Acquia has. For those who are making the move, we're seeing platforms that come saddled with a lot of technical complexity or implementation fees that make it difficult for our clients to deliver anything on their own," said Kyle.
By leveraging a digital experience platform with an open architecture and APIs along with the open source content management capabilities within Drupal, Adcetera and their clients have been able to quickly deploy new solutions without worrying about limitations. “In all the implementations we’ve done since partnering with Acquia, there hasn’t been a single case where we’ve had to tell the client, ‘This isn’t going to work,’ and that’s due to the openness of the platform.” said Kyle.
In their experience with other closed legacy CMS solutions, trying to add new dimensions to the customer journey often came with extra technical debt and a lot of disparate solutions that don’t integrate across the full martech stack. Previously, Adcetera was brought in to build a website on a leading competing platform for a client that used Salesforce for their CRM. They wanted to connect their website forms to send the information directly to the CRM, so the sales team could follow up immediately with website leads. Unfortunately, accomplishing this with a closed legacy platform meant the client needed to bring in implementation specialists for the integration as well as invest an additional $20,000 for a third-party connector.
However, with Acquia and the open source foundation of Drupal, there are already existing connectors and modules that offer these connections without requiring extra time or resources. “With the flexibility and ease-of-use of an open platform, our clients know that vendors aren’t going to hold them hostage,” said Mike. “They have the independence to write and publish all of their content or add additional features in house. There’s no need for someone to call a vendor for code because they’re in control of the enhancements they need to make.”
The Freedom to Build Connected Multiexperience Journeys
With the days of static web pages behind us, Adcetera believes in the power of Drupal as an open source content management system for allowing their clients to experiment and pivot their strategies without sacrificing security or brand consistency. One example of a project where they could deliver this scalable and flexible digital experience was their work to refresh the web presence and provide a more robust CMS experience for the Red Lion Hotel Corporation, a hospitality franchise with thousands of locations across North America.
Red Lion was using multiple disparate systems for managing content across their various branded websites and relied on over 13 different touchpoints for engaging their customers. From booking portals to loyalty systems to payment processing portals and automated chat, they were looking for opportunities to better understand their different data sources and unify them together to provide that smooth, connected customer experience. “The open nature of Drupal and the Acquia Cloud Platform meant we could bring these pieces together on a single foundation and have them play nicely with each other. Beyond just finding the right platform, there was also continuous support across the entire project from deploying code to running builds and enabling each local team with tools to spin up new sites over time,” said Kyle.
The key to an effective customer experience that forms lasting connections and grows revenue is delivering a clear vision across the entire customer life cycle. “Our business focuses on helping clients build consistent brand messaging across multiple experiences. It’s about the balance of having personalized content and catering experiences to any moment without being limited by the channel they’re receiving that message on,” explained Mike.
The method of transport for the experience, whether digital or physical, is irrelevant; what matters is the bigger story a brand is telling. “Customer experience exists as a whole, from SEO tactics to personalization to sales activities to technical implementation. We believe these elements should work best in parallel,” said Pagogh. “The same can be said for data and analytics. Each day you can track hundreds of individual customer behaviors, but the key to success going forward will be how brands can use these micro-actions to keep the conversation with customers going and build loyal, lasting relationships.”