In this article  Simon Marmot, Marketing Head, Marmot Inc. Marketing takes a step back and looks at it holistically at seven essential tips for implementing a robust digital transformation strategy within your organization.

A clear digital transformation strategy is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but critical for any nimble and forward-thinking brand to stay relevant to their customers. But in the age of ‘martech supergraphics’ and vendor overload, where can the agile marketer start the transformation process?  

In this article we take a step back and look at it holistically at seven essential tips for implementing a robust digital transformation strategy within your organization.

1. Define what digital transformation means to your business

Digital transformation is not just about using the latest smartphones and electronics, it’s about leveraging technology across the organization, cross-collaboratively. 

Let’s remain focused. Even though we are talking about adopting digital and technology digital best practice to the business, we are still talking about the end game, which is to ultimately create a deeper, ‘emotional connection’ with your customer to sell more product or service to grow your sales.

The wider vision should be customer-first, to leverage technology in order to create more relevant ways to engage with customers and deliver exceptional customer experience at all touchpoints along the journey.

A good place to start is to create a wireframe of where your business is now, by way of people, process, data and technology, create a snapshot of where your business needs to be – and then orchestrate a roadmap of what you need to get there.  It’s about looking at your world strategically, to see where the gaps are in the business is the first key step in your digital transformation process.

2. Instil a culture of digital transformation 

A culture of experimentation, digital innovation and adoption starts from the top down. Conservative views slow down the process, and consequently make your company fall behind in the race for digital adoption.  

It is important that board members show the whole company how important and advantageous digital transformation will be to the wider vision of the business.  At the same time, the board should determine what kind of risks are bearable and which can lead the company to long-term success.  

3. Find the right ‘champion for change’

Simply hiring a savvy ‘digital marketing consultant’ doesn’t cut it.  The time it takes until this person has analyzed the company and has set up a strategy is way too long.  You have to bring a digital transformation specialist onto your board.  That way, you have somebody you can trust, who knows their way around your business, and who can input his or her knowledge to the board in order to be responsive in an ever-changing digital world.  

They key here is to hire somebody that is not just highly experienced, but a superstar when it comes to digital strategies. Think of this person as a digital native, but someone who also someone who has in-depth experience as a managing director.  The ideal person would also have already led business through a digital transformation successfully with a proven track record of results.

You then need to make sure the management and employees are willing to participate in this vital transformation of your business. It’s this collaborative consensus that ultimately powers a company’s vision for change, and then permeates through to ultimately, enhancing the customer experience.  Change must therefore start at the top, not in the middle ranks of the business! 

4. Clarify your strategy setting

Digital transformation doesn’t just ‘work in a bubble in the marketing department.’ It has to take place in the business as a whole. This means having a strong strategic vision is essential. In order to clarify your strategy setting, ask yourself these three key questions:

  • How can you use technology to accelerate your existing revenue streams and your core processes?  Think about sensors, automation or robotics to streamline workflow and improve efficiency.  
  • How can you use technology to enter a new segment in your industry and with it a new source of revenue?  You could include new innovation offerings in your product.  
  • How can you use technology to explore new markets and dive into a completely new type of industry?  Use the power of data to unlock new customer needs and problems and adjust your solutions to meet those needs. 

Use connections, innovations and automation to your advantage.  Don’t forget to include cybersecurity and data privacy protocols.

5. Start with core process and fill knowledge gaps

It’s important to start with your core processes and work yourself through to the outer areas of your business. But as you begin, there will always be some gaps in knowledge across various teams – and not every employee is going to be a digital native. 

So it’s important to invest in education and training.  Start with the board, continue with all levels of management and go all the way down through your organization.  Once everyone has the appropriate know-how, you then have the capacity to introduce further process-improving technologies.  

6. Beware of shiny martech toys

According to Scott Brinker’s martech supergraphic, The number of marketing technology solutions has doubled in the past years reaching over 7,000 and growing. So when you’re in the throes of a digital transformation project, it can be tempting to try to ‘throw technology at the problem’ hoping it will simply fix it. 

It can be so tempting to ‘fall into the vendor trap’ – especially with so many different variables, techniques, technology platforms and stakeholders all pushing and pulling you in several directions simultaneously. It’s enough for your head to just explode!

But while it’s easy to be wowed by the latest shiny new toy, it’s critical to be highly judicious, and always consider how the solution will really align with the companies wider business goals, KPIs or OKRs.

For instance, a solid email automation channel can be gold when aligned with the wider business goals of customer engagement and lead generation. Email is still one of the most effective marketing channels for all businesses today.  It is personal and it works.

More importantly, businesses are still challenged with the best way to automate campaigns with triggers and set up an automated lead sales funnel that actually grows leads, sales and revenue. And there are leading platforms like Marketo and Hubspot that champion this world and open up some fantastic ways to help businesses streamline and scale.

7. Do it right and secure your advantage for the long run

An expense-free, utopian digital transformation journey is unrealistic – and there will always be some hiccups along the way. But put in the hard yards and in the long haul, it’s absolutely worth it.   With a proper strategy and qualified people, a company can outpace the competition in no time.  

Done right, you open up an exciting opportunity to gain sustainable growth and build more meaningful, personalized relationships with your customers while outpacing the competition. And with the focus remaining on the consumer at all times, companies can achieve incredible things.

Key takeaways:

  1. The customer is always at the heart of everything you do
  2. Digital transformation starts from the top and permeates down
  3. Find your transformation champions
  4. Beware of shiny new martech toys
  5. Streamline and scale with the power of automation
  6. The current influx of martech innovation is outstripping adoption
  7. Develop a realistic and efficient strategy 
  8. Identify any knowledge gaps
  9. Have fun along the way

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