Why digital transformation should begin with marketing transformation

We’ve just seen the number of requests we’re receiving each week for proposals for digital transformation projects increase exponentially even in just the last eight weeks. Clearly this is a key priority for businesses across APAC in 2019, which is fantastic to see.

But digital transformation can mean a lot of different things to different businesses, depending on where they’re at on the digital journey.

The brief almost always begins with how to transform their whole business, though in my experience it makes sense to chunk this down into sections so you don’t take on a massive change management project that becomes unwieldy. Getting started is often better than trying to change everything at once. So while we might look at the whole business when auditing and planning out the project, in terms of actionable next steps often the best place to start is with marketing’s digital transformation.

It’s actually people – whether you’re talking about consumers or business decision makers in B2B – who have been driving the change to digital ways of working. Your customers are most likely demanding some type of change, so you need to figure out what they want to shape a new customer experience that delivers on those expectations. And marketing is often the driver for this.

What are the three key areas we usually start with when planning out digital transformation for marketing?

  1. Consumer understanding and journey mapping: Understand your customer. Transformation begins with understanding how your customers are now researching and buying your category, products and services. The power in the business-consumer relationship has changed and the consumer is ultra-empowered like never before and makes most of a decision about what to buy before coming near us. We need to understand this and then make sure we’re giving them what they need along various touchpoint, with digital a key part of this.
  2. Know your data and then build a data strategy. Audit what customer data you have. What do you have internally? What’s inferred data (we’re assuming something about the customer) vs declared (actually information we know is true?). How are we moving our “unknown” customers to “known” customers, and are able to get a single view of that customer across partners (eg through the data our media agency is collecting, the media partners we’re using)?
  3. Get involved in building your ad tech and martech stack: I’d like to be able to say only start looking at your technology once you have a good idea of the above, but actually you need to have a good idea of what technologies exist to actually feed into the above steps, particularly part 2. It’s a bit chicken and egg. Spend time getting to know your ad tech stack through your media agency and the DSPs, DMPs etc they’re using. Spend time looking at martech options like Salesforce, Hubspot, Infusionsoft to understand how you can link your paid advertising technology with your marketing technology, and then how you layer your other systems and data to integrate all of these.

Digital business transformation often begins with figuring out how we create what is hopefully a really seamless and pleasing customer experience for our existing and potential customers, and finding new ones, and how are we using data and technology to drive this. Marketing is the front runner to figuring this out, and is actually in some ways the easiest place to get some quick wins before tackling some of the meatier parts of your business’s digital transformation.