The 5Cs of digital experience in a post-COVID world

January 20th, 2022

A couple of years ago consultancies all over the world, big or small, have all been saying the same thing: organizations and brands are missing their digital transformation goals. In July 2019, McKinsey reported that 70 percent of digital transformations fail.

And then, at the beginning of 2020, COVID happened. 

In the course of a few months organizations and brands abruptly turned towards digital to maintain existing audiences and draw new ones. E-commerce has been super-charged by the pandemic and digital experiences – such as online fitness classes, concerts, wine tasting and so on – have drawn in entirely new audiences.

Thinking beyond the pandemic, how should organizations and brands plan for ongoing online demand? Should they rethink about the role of digital commerce, their content needs and what the digital experience means for the customer journey? To help frame that discussion, in the remainder of this post, I talk about the 5 Cs of digital experience in a post-COVID world.


First C stands for content. What has always been true, content being king, remains true for a post-COVID digital-first world. As people use a myriad of platforms to interact, organizations are required to create more content to reach their audiences. Creating, managing and delivering content for a variety of purposes and a variety of media becomes very important. Organizations need to deploy more complex strategies to mix audience awareness, acquisition and conversions. Audiences are flocking to digital marketplaces and content-wise they are still important to surface brand content. After COVID, owned channels, such as apps and websites, will be vital for the overarching content strategy.


Thinking across the spectrum of devices and touchpoints available today, it’s never been easier for customers to digitally interact and engage with organizations of all types and sizes. The pandemic forced many people to digital channels, who now are familiarized with digital and will continue to engage digitally. This has created a unique opportunity for organizations to acquire first-party customer data, tweak the customer experience to meet expectations, and invest in retaining customers and increasing customer satisfaction. To do that, organizations need to think about their digital strategy in a cascading manner. Using paid/earned channels for awareness and customer acquisition and move to own channels for conversion, retention and engagement. The latter requires having the right tools too. Investing in tools that can orchestrate complex workflows and connect to clients in different ways (email, sms, social, offline, etc) is key to maximize the success of digital strategy.


We are at the start of a new era of retail experiences that go beyond using digital to simply reinforce physical experiences. Instead, the new focus is on maximizing design and data to construct more inventive, creative, and inspirational experiences, both online and offline, and finding ways to bring the best of both together so that customers convert. Digital commerce champions in B2C, whether in marketplaces (such as Amazon, Google Shopping, etc) or in their own channels, will reach more customers directly. Organizations with complex products or B2B services need to invest extra in digital sales channels to capture client value. New payment options will draw even more audiences to buying online (think about the buy now, pay later service used by several retailers). It’s not about having a digital commerce strategy, but how long will you last without one.


With multiple touch points for digital sales and customer engagement, organizations often end up with too much data, scattered in several systems and uninterpretable. The key is to harmonize data, filter out noise, and consolidate the data into a single dataset. It  doesn't matter whether consolidation happens in your DXP software, CRM, specialized business intelligence applications or even a Google Data Studio dashboard, as long as all available data is transformed into one consolidated dataset. That consolidated dataset is essentially your apples-to- apples format that is needed for analysis of the data which can surface competitive advantages. Automation obviously, plays a big role and having the right skills for data analysis too. Organizations and brands that start understanding and using their data will have an advantage over their competition.   


To organize content, reach audiences, and manage digital experiences, organizations and brands rely on tools, Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs) that provide these capabilities. Therefore, the selection of tools is a central activity affecting digital growth and is influenced both by the CMO and the CIO. Organizations and brands are moving away from traditional integrated platforms in favor of a best-of-breed approach, in which the DXP is a suite comprimised of different tools and software each uniquely selected based on the best fit for their organisational landscape. Gartner came up with a clever name: The composable DXP. Organizations and brands investing in best-of-breed approaches have the ability to start with what they need and scale their operations as they increase their digital maturity.


With COVID almost behind us, organizations and brands need to get ready for the next step of digital evolution and meet the ongoing online demand of a growing digital-savvy user base. As organizations and brands intensify their digital transformation projects they need to pay attention to the 5Cs of digital experience: Content, Customer, Commerce, Consolidation and Capabilities.

As with any transition, organizations and brands need to learn from past failure so that their efforts are successful. In short, they need a clear vision and strong leadership invested in the digital vision to get buy-in, acquire the necessary skills to make things happen, and put in place change management processes to manage the process and track progress.


Tassos Koutlas

Tassos Koutlas

Deputy VP of Digital Solutions Europe