Visual Editing With Composable Martech Tools: A Deep Dive

Visual Editing With Composable Martech Tools: A Deep Dive

The Gist

  • Headless without the context. Headless martech solutions often lack the full context editing experience marketers are used to.
  • Composable, but challenging. The flexibility of composable architecture creates new challenges with product integration.
  • Let’s get visual. Visual editing trends are infiltrating a variety of tools, from pure play headless CMS’s to digital experience orchestration.

The Challenges Faced With the Martech Stack

Modern martech tools and architectures are often composed together with a variety of MACH-oriented products, many times with a headless CMS (or more!) at the core, providing the central content layer across all marketing channels. One of the primary criticisms of headless products is the lack of marketer-friendly editing tools.

By definition, a headless CMS provides no frontend presentation of content stored in the CMS, so this makes out-of-the-box on-page in-line editing quite challenging since it doesn’t know how the content is presented (or if it’s even presented to a website for that matter!). Those days may be over as headless products and adjacent composable martech tools are starting to provide visual editing capabilities that marketers are used to.

Related Article: Goodbye DXPs, Hello Composable Stacks

New Composable Martech Tools to the Rescue

A composable architecture provides flexibility and freedom to swap in and out various headless products to create an architecture as unique as each organization; however, this comes at a cost: The time and effort to integrate all of these products. New categories of composable martech tools have risen to solve the integration problem, and with some of them comes an ability to provide the missing visual editing capabilities that marketers were used to in traditional coupled/unified DXPs.

While the exact category names are still emerging and up for debate (FEaaS, DXC, DXO), there is a range of overlapping products that appease marketers in composable stacks:

  • Front-End-as-a-Service (FEaaS) is a digital product that outsources the designing and building of a web frontend to a set of no-code tools that can be used directly by marketers. Instead of having to hire a digital agency or a contract developer to build your website frontend’s components, you can leverage drag and drop atomic elements (text, image, section) to assemble, design and lay out custom components for your website. This focuses on the frontend individual components you interact with across digital channels.
  • Digital Experience Orchestration (DXO) is a capability to federate and orchestrate content and data flow from multiple back-end APIs to power digital experiences. Not only do you unify back-end content into a single system, but it can also provide smart decisioning to deliver the right content to the right channel on the frontend, like the brain of a composable stack. This focuses on the underlying data sources and what to provide to the frontend.
  • Digital Experience Composition (DXC) combines some of the same capabilities (component design and API data binding) with page-level composition. DXC allows marketers to compose pages and their layout with various UI components and bind them to the right back-end data, whether that comes from a headless CMS, a PIM, or from a DXO engine as the brain across all of the data sources.

Related Article: How Effective Are Marketers at Using Martech Tools?

Trends in Visual Editing

Whether you are working directly in a single headless CMS or a broader composable stack and use DXC to compose your experiences, visual editing is starting to become a first-class capability for marketers. Let’s dig into the top trends of visual editing across these composable martech tools.

Trend 1: Side by Side Live Preview

This is a fairly simple approach to visual editing by displaying an embedded staging version of a real website directly next to the headless CMS back-end fields. This is a common feature that headless CMS products provide directly in their CMS back-end admin to see live edits on site pages as they are happening in draft CMS content. Sanity and Storyblok are examples of pure play headless CMSs that do this. This feature is starting to mature as table stakes for any headless CMS.

Sanity Studio


Trend 2: CMS Deep-linking

A common feature that is prominent with DXC providers is a way to deep-link directly into the underlying source of content across any number of products that power a single page. For example, a page may have content from two separate CMSs and product data from a commerce engine or PIM. Deep-linking to those back-end systems allows easy access to the content in its native source of truth. Some DXC providers that do this are Stackbit and Perfection. This too is a fairly table stakes feature for DXC since it provides direct across to the underlying systems being composed.

deep links from Perfection


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