Today’s consumers are increasingly “digital”, with an 85 percent smartphone adoption rate in Singapore – Google, The Consumer Barometer, and Singaporean consumers spending an average of 12hr 42 min on digital devices.

Shifting the focus to the digital customer and creating a seamless digital customer experience is the key piece of the puzzle for organisations embracing digital marketing transformation.

What is Digital Marketing Transformation?

The Altimeter Group defines digital transformation as “The re-alignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital consumers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle”.

In a survey conducted by the Altimeter Group, 88% of organisations indicated that they were undergoing digital transformation efforts. Yet, only 25% had mapped out a digital customer journey and have a clear understanding of new digital touch points.

This reveals a lack of fundamental understanding on the objective of digital transformation and a gap in the implementation of the process in many organisations.

What about digital marketing transformation – a subset of digital transformation?

I-Scoop defines digital marketing transformation as “The transformation of the connected marketing function and operations for a channel-agnostic customer journey with ever more digital touch points.”

Basically, it is the shift of culture, processes, and focus of marketing departments from a traditional marketing approach to a more customer-centric and technology-enabled (e.g. digital and data-driven) marketing modus operandi.

The digital customer isn’t concerned whether he interacts with your brand digitally or non-digitally. He cares more about his experience with your brand – whether it’s a positive or negative one. Incidentally, for most of his buying journey he is interacting with your brand via digital channels or touch points.

From conducting research on your industry’s products and services on Google, selectively browsing content on your website, to following your social media page and searching for reviews of your business online, he is the captain of his buying journey.

How Can Companies Transform Their Marketing Departments?

In order for marketing departments to transform for a channel-agnostic customer journey with ever increasing digital touch points, the following challenges need to be overcome:

Getting C-level buy-in:

Are marketing personnel able to get C-level Executives to give the go-ahead in formulating the change required? Can C-level Executives envision the potential returns on investments in digital technology, platforms, channels, and people?

Marketing automation for example, powers revenue performance management. RPM, enabled by marketing automation, allows for lower cost of customer acquisition, more predictable sales forecasts, and increased ROI due to shorter and faster sales cycles and higher than average product pricings.

Here are some of angles of approaches to increase your chances of getting C-level buy-in:

  • Present how you are going to measure the effectiveness of your digital marketing campaigns and benchmark them against other business units within your organisation and industry standards. It would be advantageous if you had already run micro campaigns and have some data to back up your plans.
  • Offer competitive insights and emphasise how your competitors are going to have first-mover advantage if you don’t start adopting backbone digital marketing solutions.
  • Illustrate the benefits of doing digital marketing such as improved productivity and anticipated cost savings. For example, traditional media buying of ad space is no longer considered productive since programmatic advertising and real-time bidding were introduced.

Integrating marketing and operations:

Can marketing departments collaborate with sales and operations departments to map out the digital customer journey and ensure a more connected, seamless customer experience?

One of the benefits of this integration is delineated marketing and sales funnels which boosts audience engagement and fosters strong brand relationships. 

Closing the digital skills gap:

Do marketing personnel possess general knowledge on various digital marketing disciplines? Do they specialise in any digital marketing disciplines? A digital marketing proficiency survey conducted by Equinet Academy and Cooler Insights revealed that more than 50% of Marketing Executives are not confident in developing a digital marketing strategy.

To alleviate this issue, HR teams can scout for digital marketing courses for junior to mid-level marketing managers and executives to attend. Topics range from search engine optimisation, digital marketing strategy, to content marketing. These courses can help marketing teams better align their marketing strategy across various departments, improve their communication with their digital marketing agencies, and make better use of their marketing budgets.

Establishing new digital marketing roles:

Are there sufficient digitally-skilled marketing personnel to head and execute specific digital marketing campaigns? Is outsourcing to external digital marketing agencies always the right solution?

There are roles which are more suitable in-house and functions that make more sense when outsourced, depending on the size and scale of the company. For example, it can cost anywhere from $2600 to hire a university fresh graduate for a digital marketing executive role. Multiply that by approximately 6 months + on-the-job and external training costs before she gains the competency required to perform as well as an experienced digital marketing campaign manager from a reputable digital marketing agency, and you may find that it can cost you more than outsourcing the job.

Organisations undergoing digital marketing transformation should establish these emerging roles within their core teams:

  • Content Marketing Strategist
  • Digital Advertising Campaign Manager
  • Full-Stack Developer
  • Search Engine Optimisation Specialist
  • Marketing Automation Specialist
  • Data Scientist 

Inaugurating a culture of digital optimization (agile marketing):

Are there internal frameworks and workflows in place to govern a continuous optimisation process that constantly measures and improves the performance of marketing campaigns?

These frameworks and processes are typically overseen by CMOs but should involve the role of the CIO as well. Think of it as an innovative partnership between the CMO and CIO.

Adopting cornerstone digital technology:

Have organisations integrated backbone digital technology (e.g. marketing automation software, marketing analytics software) that contribute towards enhancing productivity and maximising returns?

Developing and executing “always on” digital marketing campaigns:

Are there sufficient skilled marketing personnel to create and run continuous branding and awareness, engagement, acquisition, and post-acquisition campaigns in a world where consumers are actively researching and consuming information on-the-go?

Such as:

  • Optimising and maintaining a website’s rankings on the search engines to convert search users with buying intent into paying customers
  • Monitoring brand mentions via web and social media monitoring tools in order to efficiently respond and engage with brand advocates and vice versa
  • Setting up lead nurturing campaigns that trigger marketing messages via email, mobile, and display ads to capture customers at the right moment

Reshaping thinking towards a customer-centric approach:

In a digital-enabled world where consumers hold all the power, have marketing teams shaped their strategies and tactical campaigns around their customer personas and customer journey maps? Is the ultimate goal for a seamless end-to-end customer experience and digital customer experience the driving force behind all marketing initiatives?

To Summarise

Your customers are already digital and they expect a seamless customer experience whether digital, offline, or both. As such, one of the main focuses of digital marketing transformation is to evangelise new customer centric thinking. To support this focal point, organisations have to establish a culture of digitalisation, de-silo business departments, and adopt backbone digital technology among other challenges.

Digital marketing transformation is inevitable, as organisations continue to adopt new backbone digital marketing solutions to stay competitive. The key is to accelerate this process and gain first-mover advantage in order to capture the significant market share portion in this digital economy.

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