How one coffee company transformed their digital marketing strategy

Nataliya Kozak Klaverstijn / May 2020

The term ‘digital transformation’ can be off-putting to some. It can sound like a company is behind the curve, and that catching up will take effort. But the idea of becoming more digitally mature should be met with optimism and excitement: It presents a huge opportunity for every brand out there.

Meghan Signalness, Global Digital and Media Director at coffee company JDE (Jacobs Douwe Egberts), knew that while digitally transforming their marketing strategy would take work, it was a great opportunity for them to connect more with consumers.

“We conducted a benchmarking test with 300 employees to see where we stood. We realised that we were a bit behind where we needed to be in order to reach our customers, both from a media and an e-commerce perspective,” explains Signalness. “We want to be able to give people the opportunity to buy coffee both in the grocery store and online when they want to. In order to do that, we had to change how we were managing our digital experience.”

A different mindset: Taking a new approach

The first step was to ensure everyone understood what success looks like. “We knew that our markets had different departure points, so it was important for us to align our priorities and make sure that everybody in JDE was working towards the same goal.”

JDE also needed to stop trying to apply what they knew about TV to digital. “We had to change that mindset,” says Signalness, “and to make sure that our digital team had the right skillset. So we undertook a digital capability program in year one, making sure that our marketing teams actually understood digital.

“We had to standardise our key performance indicators and our reporting too. We had to get everybody speaking that common language. We had a lot of stakeholders and we had to get everyone to buy in because we were asking them to do something completely different, and to work in a completely new way.

“It’s an exciting topic, especially within JDE. So getting people motivated wasn’t challenging — figuring out the best way to go about it when there were so many things to be done, however, was.”

The case for centralisation

Having looked at their strategy, JDE found that the fastest way to make a change across the organisation was to centralise. “We had more than 40 markets live in digital media, all doing different things across two agency partners,” explains Signalness. “We had to get everybody speaking a common language.”

A move towards centralisation meant everyone in the company was aligned, and it also improved partnerships. As Signalness explains, “Our partner agency relationships have changed a lot; they now have to work together in a way that they didn’t have to work before. And they have to work in a more transparent way towards us. So the relationships have matured.”

Addressing issues around internal fragmentation and digital skills was a major part of JDE’s digital transformation, and centralising media activities created more transparency, efficiency, and quality. The initial impact has been positive. “Before centralisation we were looking at about 46% of viewability against 70% for three seconds. We’re now looking at above a 71% viewability on any given day.

“I’m happy to say that we have seen every metric that we were looking at prior to centralisation improve post centralisation. There was a strong business case behind it financially, and we had to organise really rapidly. It was a huge change. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. There are a lot of learnings from the process.”

The opportunity that data-driven marketing brings

Over the last year, JDE’s digital transformation journey has been primarily about media, and cracking media buying centrally, while making sure that each team member understands the new metrics. And these changes result in better experiences for the consumer.

“We want a customer that we know — from maybe our CRM database — to experience the products that they like within the media space. It’s not necessarily talking to you personally, but reacting to what we know our consumers like, and the products that they’re looking for.

Data-driven marketing is now a huge part of JDE’s world — a result of them taking the steps to become digitally mature. As Signalness acknowledges, “it’s an opportunity that we wouldn’t have had prior to the digital transformation that we went through.”

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