8 tools you need to run your digital experiencesVegard Ottervig on
The must-have tools for delivering outstanding digital experiences for your customers and visitors.
When working with marketing, communications, public relations, brand, content, or any other related activity in the digital sphere, it’s simply not enough to have access to a computer.
So, what tools do you need to be king of the digital experiences mountain? Let’s find out.
Do you have the right CMS for your digital experiences? Find out:
1. Web platform
It cannot be overstated how important this particular tool is for you, your digital team, and your organisation. The web platform, or content management system, is at the core of all your digital experiences towards your audience.
Your web platform is responsible for a wide variety of offerings, like your website, your mobile presence, your services, and any other digital channel you can feed content into, through the headless feature—if your CMS supports it.
Whether the experience for your customer is smooth or not depends a whole lot on the web platform. Choose carefully what web platform fits you in terms of innovation, flexibility, maintenance, user experience, and technology—like headless vs. hybrid CMS.
The web platform serves as the backbone of your digital experiences, but you need more than a solid system for content and its presentation. You also need to understand better what your readers are doing and why, and you need smart rules to automate several tasks.
Enter the Google suite of analytics tools, from the namesake Analytics to Search Console and Tag Manager—Google’s got you covered. These tools measure your audience’s behaviour, shows you search trends within your site and chosen terms, and enables the automatic use of e.g. conversion tracking on certain sites according to your rules. Just to mention a few features.
3. Optimisation tools
Optimisation tools differ from the aforementioned categories in that they are designed with a very specific purpose—the testing and improvement of your digital experiences, or elements within them.
These tools allow you to see click heatmaps, visitor flowcharts and basically where the shoe pinches for your users—and thus arm you with the facts for you to innovate upon. The tools in this category also provides A/B testing and personalisation, i.e. tailoring the digital experience to your visitor’s demography, industry, or personal data.
4. Marketing automation
Marketing automation automates marketing, simply put. But to explain it a bit further, marketing automation software offers a holistic approach to your marketing efforts, with an emphasis on website, CRM, emails, and lead nurturing programs—all coming together to deliver the most delighting experience to your users. And it saves you a lot of manual labour.
Through “triggers” on your digital experiences like forms, searches, link clicks, or browsing, you can set up rules for what happens next to your defined audience. Have they filled out a form? Then they might be enrolled in an automatic program with a succession of emails, all enticing them with useful content. Are your known users engaging with specific content on your website? Then they can be sent an email with further tips—automatically.
At the same time, your CRM keeps track on your users’ activity (all in compliance with privacy rules, of course), telling you who is getting warmer and warmer in terms of being a potential customer.
5. Customer data platform
A customer data platform (CDP) is a software that can build an enduring and consolidated contact database accessible for other systems—such as your CRM and marketing automation suite.
In a CDP, data can be retrieved from several sources, before being cleaned, streamlined, structured, and combined to create a single customer profile. The resulting structured data is then made available to other marketing systems—in order to e.g. personalise better, send customers more relevant content through workflows, and so on.
6. Design tools
System architecture and back-end codes obviously constitute the backbone of your digital experiences, but nobody except avid programmers would like to meet a service consisting solely of zeroes and ones. We humans like beautiful, functional offerings, and this is where design tools enter the stage.
With design tools you can create nice illustrations and presentations, create design mockups of your digital solutions, or edit images meant to enrich your digital experiences. Design tools also allows you to control your brand, and will, with a rigorous and consistent use, contribute to strengthen the branding as well.
You might have heard of a company called Adobe and products like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. But there are also free alternatives like Pixlr, Canva, Inkscape, and Infogram, as well as mockup tools like Wireframe.
7. Process tools
Keeping tabs on what you and your teammates are doing, what your goals are, and what you have done is essential when running smooth and effective digital experiences. Process tools like Trello, Jira, or Slack can handle your business here, with (depending on the service) overviews, tabs, cards, workspaces, channels and so on. Read best practice guides to get the most out of these tools, and remember that they should enable you to work more effectively and innovatively, and not be a hindrance.
Documentation is another essential part of your experience and learning points, and gives you full control over what you have done, tells you what requirements there were, makes sure you fulfill standards for organisation management, reduces risk, and shows the history of a given project.
You can use the mentioned process tools for documentation purposes, but also augment it with wikis, like described by Opensource.com, or through spreadsheets.
8. Office suite
Last, but not least, is the good, old classical office suite—consisting of spreadsheets, word processors, presentation programs, and so on. You’re probably very familiar with these tools already, and examples include, of course, Microsoft Office, Apple iWork, and Google Docs.
This might seem trite to mention, but these tools have such an omnipresence in your office which you mustn’t forget or fail to value. You use word processors to write everything from small notes to large documents (the first draft of this article was written in a word processor), you use spreadsheets to plan budgets or maintain your contacts database, and you use presentation tools before delivering a keynote. Appreciate these tools and don’t take them for granted.
(And as a bonus tip—you need a computer where you can do all this stuff (duh!), or at least a tablet or a phone. And coffee. Lots of coffee.)
Having the right tools is essential for getting the job done. Without a tool like a car the cab driver wouldn’t reach his KPIs, so to speak. Without a stove, knives, and pans, a chef couldn’t reach his goals, and so on. Without the right digital tools, you can neither. Make sure you’re all set.