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Why Adobe Experience Manager Creates Unique Web Archiving Challenges For Compliance

| May 8 2019

Is your organization using Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) to create user-level individualized website experiences?

If so, kudos to you and your marketing team. We’ve been blown away by the degree of granularity and specificity that websites created with AEM can bestow on users. By all accounts, it's setting the standard for the future of digital experiences, and those embracing it today have a head start on other organizations who will certainly take this personalization approach down the road.

There’s a kicker, though, and it comes in the form of a question.

Is your compliance team equipped to meet the regulatory requirements that accompany your marketing team's efforts to create a modern website that meets customer expectations?

Technology will always enable new business opportunities and create new risk management challenges. AEM is no exception. In this article, we'll review the benefits of Adobe Experience Manager and how your organization can overcome some of the compliance challenges that come with archiving and preserving personalized web content and communications.

Introduction to Adobe Experience Manager


Adobe Experience Manager
combines a content management system (CMS) with digital asset management (DAM), allowing organizations to create hyper-personalized websites for individual customers based on their unique history of online interactions with your brand or company.

Adobe Experience Manager boasts that it “make[s] delivering great digital experiences look easy,” and we’d have to agree. How does it do it?


As the video from Adobe explains
, AEM uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to design and manage websites that monitor individual users’ precise interactions with the brand and the site and adapt to those interactions. It allows organizations to create extremely detailed rules for how users navigate sites and what they see as they do, creating personalized experiences that are customized across the lifetime of the user.

AEM's algorithms make certain assumptions about users based on their global location, their history (if any) with the site, and even their interactions with the site on the particular day in question. This enables dynamic site adaptation with flexible navigation and options for text, images, and video. It also gives marketers tremendous flexibility in understanding how customers are using their website, as well as enormously powerful customizations based on that improved understanding.

If you think about the way a Facebook or Spotify feed grow more and more specific to who you are and what you like as you use it over time, and apply that same level or personalization to a company website, you'll understand the basics of how AEM works. 

Before we go any further, let’s take a quick step back to ponder a deeper question: why would you want to create personalized experiences for individuals visiting your website?

Does that fall more on the side of “Aw, they remembered me,” or “Ugh, it’s creepy how this site knows so much about me"? For most people, it’s the former.

Research from Accenture shows that “91 percent of consumers are more likely to shop with brands [that] recognize, remember, and provide [them with] relevant offers and recommendations.” And Gartner predicts that “by 2020, smart personalization engines used to recognize customer intent will enable digital businesses to increase their profits by up to 15 percent.”

Accenture Personalization Report 2018

What does “smart personalization” look like in practice?


Consider the website for New Zealand telecommunication company Spark. When a user accesses the main Spark website, they are faced with options including “phones” or “broadband.” Spark can then—based on its market research and customer information—choose to organize the pages the user sees, from then on, based on that initial selection.

"Consumers feel that digital experiences have fallen short of expectations, yet they're more likely to shop with a brand that treats them in a personal matter."
-Accenture Interactive 2018 Personalization Pulse Check

If a user is interested in phones rather than broadband, they will see pages that highlight Spark’s phone service. The contact information for phone inquiries may be organized to appear above contact information for other divisions or products. As Adobe explains it, these “rapidly adaptable digital experiences” are based on customizable units it calls “experience fragments,” which allow sites to adapt their displays not only to screen dimensions but also to user choices. Adobe Experience Manager also enables highly specific decisions based on user location, helping offices “deliver localized marketing campaigns to their regions while preserving the integrity of the brand” globally. For Spark, its case study claims that it lifted customer engagement by 84 percent by testing different purchase options on its customized website.

Adobe Experience Manager is, in short, a highly customizable approach to website design that is leveraged by organizations who are serious about using their websites to grow their business and convert visitors to customers.

But there’s a flip side to being deeply customized: archiving all of that personalized content—so that you can retrace your customers’ steps and show what statements or promises you’ve made—isn’t exactly straightforward. It creates challenges for compliance teams responsible for meeting regulatory obligations to capture, archive, and preserve their digital marketing and communications.

the Archiving Challenge with Adobe experience manager


When your website is highly customizable and changes based on who is browsing it, no one is having a single “typical” experience there. That means you can’t just create “an” archive, like you might do for a simpler site, and call it good (or compliant), or rely on a PDF or screenshot

The journeys of your individual customers depend on their choices—meaning that you might need archives that could convey any, and every, potential customer journey. At a minimum, you should capture the major choice points and themes in those various journeys. If you’re building and running your website with Adobe Experience Manager, your marketing team has put a lot of time and effort into maximizing the business opportunities created by your website, and using it to meet the specific needs of each individual customer.

Your website is probably living up to Adobe’s tagline, making the delivery of great digital experiences look easy. The goal from here, as we see it, is to “Make archiving great digital experiences look easy.”

Your business should not have to compromise on innovation, creativity, and growth in order to remain compliant with regulations, and with the right approach, you don't have to. 

Some companies have tried to create archives by capturing every interaction that every individual user has with the site using server-side or session-based solutions. This wins points for thoroughness, but it can be cost-prohibitive, it’s not scalable, and it certainly doesn’t look easy.

How Hanzo Can Help


We’ve developed archiving tools for sites created with Adobe Experience Manager that capture the happy medium, balancing the archive’s comprehensiveness with your organizational risk tolerance, and a proportionally appropriate archiving budget. Hanzo knows what you need for regulatory and legal compliance because we’ve been meeting the stringent archiving needs of regulatory and eDiscovery professionals for nearly a decade now.

We’ve designed custom-built solutions to archive the custom-built websites that can be created using Adobe Experience Manager. Not only are our web archives generated as fully navigable, dynamic, interactive replica websites, based on customized web crawls that capture every aspect of personalized and customized websites, but our archives are also backed by an intensive and ongoing human QA process.

If you’re going to invest the time, money, and effort to personalize your website using Adobe Experience Manager, you don’t want to undercut your effort by ignoring your duty to capture and preserve clients’ experiences with that site. Learn how to archive those customized websites—affordably and proportionally—by starting a conversation with Hanzo today.

SEE HOW WE ARCHIVE ADOBE EXPERIENCE MANAGERTo read more from Hanzo about best practices for web and social media archiving, and how to overcome common challenges the increasingly personalized and interactive web can present for compliance teams, visit our blog

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