Speaking the same language: Why it pays to measure digital marketing maturity

Nora Ziegenhagen / June 2019

Organisations speak many languages. And when it comes to marketing, from the C-suite to the specialists, every team brings its own terminology to the table. CEOs call for “a mobile-first priority”, marketers discuss “increasing the share of wallet with millennials”, and digital experts “optimise toward audience segments”. Each team understands its own language, but how much do they really understand each other? And how can they make sure everyone moves in the same direction, as they set out to transform digital marketing?

One thing is certain: it’s a journey worth making. Recent research from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that best-in-class digital marketers deliver up to 20% more revenue and 30% higher cost savings than less advanced brands. These top performers all placed in the most advanced tier of the report’s four-stage digital maturity model, assessed in detail across six categories. And it’s that model that we used to create the new Digital Maturity Benchmark, which we made available to companies in the Nordics and Benelux regions. Over 310 advertisers and four industry bodies have since taken the assessment.

The results? A mere 2% of organisations are reaping the rewards of the top tier. On average, brands placed at the second maturity level on all six categories – just where speaking the same language becomes vitally important. “The [next] stage of the journey to digital maturity involves building the cross-functional connections that make digital organizations work,” says Dominic Field, Managing Director BCG. To do that, Field explains: “Brands need to coordinate multiple channels and establish cross-functional teams that work toward common KPIs.” 

In short, they need to share a common language, and the Digital Maturity Benchmark gives them a way to do exactly that. So, as it goes live across EMEA, here’s what we’ve learned about how it helps organisations take marketing to the next level.

1. Building a basis for effective teamwork

Workforces change. Typical turnover at companies trends at around 4% per month, meaning new arrivals need to get up to speed fast or become a drag on productivity. A clearly defined common framework, like the Digital Maturity Benchmark, provides clarity, certainty and direction as they embed into the new culture.

The Finnish marketing industry body, Mainostajien Liitto, found that the Digital Maturity Benchmark helped members to align internally across functions. And even more than that, when organisations completed the assessment with partners it gave them a way to brief agencies more effectively.

“Digital marketing is saturated with new terms that are strange and difficult to understand, even for experienced marketers,” says Riikka-Maria Lemminki, Managing Director, Association of Finish Advertisers. “This is the biggest challenge in communication between marketers and service providers. Many companies are willing to invest more in digital marketing but have difficulty finding partners they can communicate with. Misunderstandings over digital marketing KPIs are a real problem. We saw a huge need to create a common language, which is why we launched the Digital Maturity Benchmark for our members.”

2. Creating clarity and a sense of identity

In many organisations, people think that they’re speaking the same language, but they’re not. Sharing the same terminology helps them see their role in the company more clearly and identifies areas for improvement in other functions. Every organisation has blind spots: a common language helps teams look out for each other, so they can match a shared vision to a shared approach.

“Working in digital marketing means we are confronted with innovation and change, at speed,” says Wendy Pouw, Director at IAB Nederland. “This makes it important to operate on the same principles and objectives. The Digital Maturity Benchmark creates a shared cross-functional approach that helps bring the entire organisation on that journey.”

3. Securing consistency

Consistency is a key benefit of a stable, shared language. Not only do clear definitions stop terms from changing meaning as they get saddled with context and associations. They also mean that assessments can be repeated in a consistent, fair way. Reaching digital maturity is not about ticking a box once. It’s about working steadily towards a goal, and tracking that progress over time, conducting benchmarks at regular intervals.

"By creating a common language, the Digital Maturity Benchmark helps people and companies to evaluate their digital performance consistently across stakeholders,” says Patrick Steinfort, Director of the Belgian Association of Marketing. “It allows them to measure their progress whatever their skills, role and seniority level. The Belgian Association of Marketing gathers all kinds of marketing stakeholders, which is a big reason why we support this initiative in the Belgian market."

The Digital Maturity Benchmark is now live in EMEA, delivering detailed assessments and agnostic recommendations to organisations across the region. Try it now, and bring your teams on to the same page.

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