Change, data, and passion: How to transform your digital marketing in 5 steps

Anna Wikland / April 2020

Consumer expectations are higher than ever, and the future of marketing is all about delivering relevant, useful and assistive experiences. But how can companies make this a reality? We spoke to industry experts to understand the five key focus points are.

1. Embrace change – and understand what you need to do to achieve it

It’s human nature to be wary of change. The same can be said of companies — if it seems to be working, why change anything? But in today’s landscape, companies need to adapt to ensure they meet their consumer expectations.

It is critical to improve all the time, and we must learn faster than the world is changing. This is where self-assessment comes in. In order to change, you need to know where your company actually is in terms of their digital marketing maturity.

To create a common language for digital maturity, Google teamed up with Boston Consulting Group who developed the Digital Maturity Benchmark. It’s a four-step view of the entire digital maturity journey, outlining phases from Nascent and Emerging to Connected and Multi-Moment. By taking the test, you can find out just how mature your company really is, digitally speaking.

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2. Get a clear view on your company’s data – and be ready to measure it

Once you know which rung of the ladder you are on, it’s easier to climb the digital maturity scale. But there’s a bit of homework to be done before you start moving: understanding your company’s data. In an era where first party data will prove to be an essential part of any marketing strategy, data is key.

”First party data is a strong handshake between brand and customer,” explains Shilpa Patel, partner and marketing director at BCG. But this mutual relationship needs to be maintained; as Patel warns, “the customer can withdraw permission at any time.”

Brands need clear ownership for the measurement of the data. Such a data owner needs to have C-level sponsorship, and clear insight into the information from the company’s data set. They can then use this information to set fresh company-wide objectives and strive towards full marketing automation. Because if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.

3. Set objectives to optimise for profit, not for budget

Setting objectives is an age-old art form in the corporate world, but if your company is still set up in silos without cross-functional knowledge sharing, those objectives will likely lead to nothing.

At SAS, online booking increased by 34% after the marketing department started their transformation journey. Nicholas Nezzo, Marketing Technology Manager at SAS reveals that a clear alignment of teams, the use of a strong tech platform, and new organisational ways of working were the steps which were crucial to this achievement.

“Today, we organise our digital marketing around the traveller’s journey, we are quicker to market, and have completely transformed from traditional marketing to automation,” Nezzo confirms.

4. Be passionate about your customer

The most important person for your brand is your customer. Understand what your customer wants and needs. Instead of making it about what your brand wants to say, what is it that your customer wants to hear?

“Customers now expect relevance — which is why advertisers must forget campaigns, and focus on conversations instead. It’s not easy, but it’s what’s expected,” explains Sir Martin Sorrell, Executive Chairman of S4 Capital.

Data is the gateway to making sure you are serving your customer in the best way possible. If you can catch their attention, serve up what is relevant to them and ensure their time is well spent, you can enhance the customer experience. It’s this attention to data detail that can push your company into the top 2% of brands operating best-in-class digital marketing.

5. Use data to tell great stories and build your brand

“Digital marketing is about the ability to hold conversations based on what advertisers and customers did together yesterday – ‘stupid’ advertising does not remember this,” explains Pete Kim.

By becoming good storytellers with data, and being passionate about the customer journey, companies can distil insights into recommendations; instead of asking “what do you think” they’re able to say ”what does the data suggest?”

Klarna, the disruptive Swedish fin-tech brand, has been doing just that: using data to inform their creatives and storytelling. Klarna’s Marketing Director, Christian Cabau, reveals that while they have been operating for 15 years, it’s really the last four years that the company has become so well-known. This is in a world where, as Cabau admits, 71% of all people would rather visit their dentist than the bank.

Klarna used data to realise what kind of brand they needed to become in order to survive. The result: they transformed and were able to shift perceptions by merging high tech with high touch creatives. As Cabau explains, “It’s about emotions – sparking interest and desire. Use data for insights but spark engagement and excitement.”

And isn’t that what digital marketing transformation is all about?

Digital Marketing Transformation Heroes: Nick Buckley, CMO, L’Oréal Nordics