While many companies now accept the necessity, and in some cases inevitability, of becoming digital-first organisations, their progress has been a decidedly mixed bag so far. Some businesses have only launched a few isolated initiatives aimed at increasing social engagement, while others have begun to formalise their digital efforts, and have taken steps toward developing company-wide digital-first strategies. However, very few companies, if any, have undergone complete transformations into digitally innovative organisations.
The 2016 Altimeter Study “The Six Stages of Digital Transformation” breaks down the process into six distinct steps, from “Business as Usual” all the way to digitally “Innovative and Adaptive.” In the first article of this series, we looked at the transition from “Business as Usual,” in which a company operates primarily on legacy principles and paradigms, to “Present and Active,” in which isolated teams of digital experimenters begin to measurably increase return on investment (ROI) in spaces like social and mobile.
Early successes in these areas awaken some companies to the power of digital-first innovation, pushing them toward the “Formalised” stage, in which digital experimentation becomes more directed, intentional, and bold. Companies that reach this stage begin to gain a fuller understanding of their customers, and expand from generating individual conversions to building ongoing relationships at scale.
The whole customer
As marketing teams recognise the power of personalised customer interactions, they may also begin to notice that they have little idea how individual customers engage with their brand across channels, let alone with departments outside marketing, such as sales and support. If they could gain holistic views of their customers’ attributes and behaviours, these marketers realise, they could make data-driven decisions about marketing investment and user experience personalisation.
The most logical way to go about this is to unsilo customer data; in other words, to integrate data points from multiple departments into robust profiles that can drive useful insights—or, better still, actionable predictions—about customer behaviour and preferences. However, this unsiloing process can be challenging, because different departments often store and organise customer data in entirely different ways. Even if multichannel data can be successfully integrated into robust customer profiles, few organisations have in-house experts capable of deriving actionable insights from those assets.
French automaker Renault faced exactly this challenge, as it recognised the limitations of its legacy campaign platform, and saw significant opportunity to strengthen relationships with customers and dealerships with consistent, centralised campaign content. To this end, the company adopted a centralised digital marketing platform, enabling it to bring previously outsourced campaign activities in house, improving control over data, increasing responsiveness to customer needs, and cutting agency costs.
This centralised platform not only enables Renault to support international, regional, and local campaigns with consistent messages and branding, it also provides actionable insights into cross-channel customer behaviours and preferences, helping formulate more personal, targeted messages. The result has been a 20 percent increase in conversions. What’s more, Renault’s scalable marketing technology stack will continue to support sophisticated digital marketing campaigns.
Renault’s innovation points back to a significant aspect of the “Formalised” stage: it’s not simply about expanding and integrating digital marketing efforts; it’s equally about building a solid, scalable infrastructure for ongoing digital innovation.
Repetition leads to recognition. As digital marketing teams manage campaign after campaign, they begin to recognise that it takes days—or perhaps even weeks or months—to put together a suitable environment for creating digital experiences. They begin to grow frustrated with the costly, time-consuming processes of stitching together different digital marketing tools, and rationalising differing data sets and methodologies; and it becomes clear that a streamlined, systematic digital go-to-market foundation would result in less overhead, stronger security, and greater agility.
Thus, as companies enter the “Formalised” stage of digital transformation, they often seek out integrated digital marketing solutions, which combine features like experience hosting, profile analytics, personalisation, and campaign metrics into a single platform. A unified digital marketing foundation can enable teams to self-serve and discover insights; and to leverage those insights in streamlined workflows that minimise the time from concept to execution, all within the same secure environment.
The internationally recognised Chelsea Football Club, playing in the British Premier League, recently recognised the need for just such a solution, as it sought to provide intimate multichannel experiences for a worldwide community of more than 500 million fans. Although Chelsea already had a cutting-edge media team creating compelling video content, as well as marketing teams crafting tweets and social posts, the company recognised the need to bring all this content into a single data-driven marketing workflow, which would enable content to adapt dynamically to changing community needs.
While continuing to operate its existing digital solutions, Chelsea researched customer segments across Europe and around the globe, and discovered that most customers’ primary desire was to feel connected to their favourite football players, and to Chelsea’s social content. To execute on these insights, Chelsea designed a fresh customer experience strategy, then onboarded a new cloud-based marketing architecture, including a database environment, an analytics suite, and support and hosting abilities.
Leveraging the customer data it gathered, Chelsea used its new digital marketing foundation to roll out a cross-channel campaign, delivering highly personalised experiences across all available touchpoints. Worldwide engagement with Chelsea’s social content skyrocketed almost immediately. The club’s marketing platform gathered behavioural data from this sharing activity, empowering marketers to interact with fans in the most impactful ways possible—and creating a foundation for even more engaging, data-driven multichannel campaigns in the future.
Companies that step firmly into the “Formalised” stage equip themselves to experiment with new marketing initiatives across all channels, with minimal time investment and overhead; and to leverage data gathered from those experiments in consistent, directed ways. Soon, they’re no longer just seeking to improve engagement, they’re actively building new digital strategies on a foundation of unique, proprietary insights about their own customer segments.
It’s with those steps forward that some companies enter the “Strategic” stage, in which individual groups begin to share their research and techniques, contributing to new strategic roadmaps for digital transformation. We’ll examine that stage more closely in the next article of this series. See you there!