Digital transformation: As we’ve talked about earlier this year, it’s a buzzword many marketers are told is essential to implement and go through. The issue with this cliché term is that it’s a catch-all for upgrading your marketing operations, but there’s an incredible number of directions you can go in to achieve a digital transformation. Since the main goal of a digital transformation initiative is addressing how marketers can create new or modify existing technologies and processes to attract new customers, nurture prospects, and enhance the customer experience.
In this article, we’ll discuss common clichés and misconceptions of digital transformation. By breaking down these misconceptions, we’ll pinpoint what’s typically involved in a marketer’s digital transformation, how it’s effective in enhancing the customer experience, and how you can add value to customers throughout your digital transformation journey.
What Is Digital Transformation Actually?
The problem with the term digital transformation is that businesses often ascribe that title to activities that are not typically involved in a true digital transformation. For example, adding a new email template or spending more on paid ads really isn’t digital transformation. There’s a loftiness that truly differentiates traditional marketing activities from a true digital transformation initiative.
In an earlier Level Up episode, our cohosts stated that true digital transformation requires a larger level of effort that involves a “triumvirate of people, process, and technology.” He continues by stating, “When I think of true digital transformation, I’m thinking of a significant investment in a really big change in your tech stack, potentially a change in your team structure, such as adding new roles, adding responsibilities to people in existing roles, and/or adding a new skillset. We’re talking about either a net new platform, a new capability, or a complete swap out of an existing platform that is already operating or functioning.”
Simply put, true digital transformation, when done right, is going to take a larger amount of planning and time to implement. With how many people and departments it affects, planning absolutely could take six months to a year, and then three years to truly undergo a properly planned digital transformation initiative.
Misconception #1: A Marketing-Led Digital Transformation Initiative Only Affects Marketing
Even if your team is making changes to your existing MarTech capabilities, it doesn’t just affect you and your team; it can have rippling effects throughout your entire organization. And the reason for this is because marketing plays just one part in the customer journey. While marketing is nurturing and capturing leads, eventually they are handing off prospects to the sales and customer success teams.
Digital transformation isn’t just a marketing manager buying and implementing a new piece of technology. Companies who are effectively accomplishing digital transformation initiatives have buy-in and organization alignment from the very top. And if you don’t gain buy-in across IT, sales, and customer success managers, you may struggle in implementing new operational technologies and processes as we’ve seen many organizations struggle because of roadblocks that may arise as a result.
Misconception #2: Digital Transformation Is Easy
The fact of the matter is that any change to your existing processes is initially painful. Change can be scary, especially for frontline contributors as it can dramatically affect their day-to-day. Leaders have a responsibility to lay the groundwork of a digital transformation initiative by explaining why it is critical for operations and the great potential for long-term value despite the short-term pain.
Here’s some tips on how you can better communicate what’s involved in a digital transformation initiative and how you can prepare team members before any operational overhauls:
- Digital transformation is a long-term iterative process. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so your marketing strategy and operation roadmap doesn’t have to be either. Often times, getting internal stakeholders to align on strategy, budgets, and roadmaps can take up to six months to a year before any implementation can occur. So, it’s okay to take smaller steps and iterate when necessary. What’s important is that you remain consistent.
- Digital transformation is often not a linear path. There is a ton of cost switching that occurs within a transformative initiative, from both a direct and indirect sense. Switching out your current MarTech platform with a new one means a potential loss of knowledge, resulting in the need for further training. It could also mean key team members leave, resulting in the need to hire more people.
- Digitally transforming your marketing operations means you need an actionable roadmap. It’s critical to not bite off more than you can chew. You most likely won’t be unlocking 100% of the capabilities possible within your new MarTech when starting out. Make sure to focus on implementing low-hanging fruit that your marketers need to perform their job and then expand from there.
Misconception #3: Digital Transformation Only Affects Internal Team Members
While digital transformation does have a huge effect on your processes, people, and technology, those are not the only areas that are affected. The bottom line is that your digital transformation should equip your team with the right processes and tools necessary to craft more personalized, dynamic customer experiences. As marketers, we can’t lose sight that our customers should be at the center of everything we do. At the end of the day, it’s critical to analyze how a digital transformation initiative will make your brand experience better.
More than likely the most impactful thing you can do within a digital transformation initiative is better capture and utilize customer data to personalize your experience. Today, many marketers are discovering that they can better serve customers when consolidating their customer data within a customer data platform (CDP).
CDPs are meant to be that centralized hub where you ingest the data, you build deep robust segments from all those different upstream systems, and then ultimately with the goal of being able to activate out to a unified vision of who your customer is. If you have different identifiers across different systems, this is a way to resolve duplicates and create one true vision of that particular user. Then build segments that capture all that information, transactional information, web behavior, advertisement engagement, add in some third-party information as well. Using either Salesforce Marketing Cloud or Data Cloud as a CDP empowers you to turn all this unique data into activation points, which can then be utilized to personalize email communications, create more robust segmentation, and establish comprehensive customer profiles.
But creating a more robust MarTech platform that enables you to further personalize your brand experience is easier said than done, especially when your marketing team still has to keep up with their day-to-day tasks. Sometimes, it pays to bring in a trusted partner to help you establish the operations you need to revolutionize the customer experience.
The Key to Finding the Right Digital Transformation Partner
Before bringing in a partner to help you digitally transform your business, it’s critical to understand if you currently have the team and resources necessary to undergo a true digital transformation initiative. If you foresee a gap in being able to support such a hefty initiative, then it may pay to bring in a partner that can help you lead and manage your digital transformation alongside you as an extension of your team.
A great digital transformation partner:
Has an expert marketing strategy and technology acumen. They have experience implementing best-in-class marketing strategies and operations. You can trust that they will provide objective solutions to your toughest problems.
Aims to deeply understand your business. Great marketing partners don’t just help you perform basic implementations; they perform deep discoveries in an effort to uncover what makes your business and customers tick. This way, they can craft a digital transformation roadmap that empowers you to accomplish low-hanging fruit and begin delivering a more personalized customer experience as soon as possible.
Is experienced at aligning key decision-makers. They’ve had success with convincing key decision-makers of the value of changing processes and technologies. They can help you form a strategic roadmap that details what actions will make the biggest impact or take the least amount of effort regarding your overall goals.
Teaches as you go. Great partners don’t just set up complex automations, they teach your team how to maintain and update them, so your team can replicate these workflows in the future.
You don’t have to undergo your digital transformation alone. The Lev team is made up of energetic, growth-driven advisors with proven track records in:
- Experience-led strategy development
- Change assessment and readiness
- Revenue and operational excellence
- Communication planning and execution
- Personalization use case develop
Contact us today to learn how we can help you speed up the growth of your marketing strategy and operations and deliver an out-of-this-world customer experience.