Best-in-class behaviours: the technologies and traits that define the most advanced marketers

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Sifting data and insights from their research into the marketing success factors and capabilities of 200 global companies, Boston Consulting Group identify six technical and organisational enablers of digital maturity and highlight the continued importance of human oversight.

Having best-in-class digital marketing can return brands as much as 20% extra revenue and 30% lower costs1. However, in their recent analysis of 200 global companies across multiple industries, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) discovered that only 2% of businesses are true ‘Multi-moment’ marketers, with the rest fitting into one of three earlier phases of digital maturity.

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At the highest level, businesses make use of multiple channels and sophisticated automation to drive personalised, dynamic, cost-effective customer experiences. But BCG’s analysis shows that the majority of even very large brands are still operating at the nascent or emerging stages, with non-integrated campaigns and siloed data.

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In addition to their broader research, BCG also conducted 16 tests with six large brands from France, Italy, Spain, and the UK. The results show that three technical enablers are typically present within the most digitally mature businesses:

  • Connected data: Multi-moment marketers combine data from a variety of sources for creative development and marketing activation, and build audiences based on behavioural insights. Most, if not all, of their online-to-offline touchpoints are linked. 
  • Automation and integrated technology: Marketers at the most advanced level of digital maturity use their website analytics and CRM suites to automate tasks and tailor messages for maximum impact.
  • Actionable measurement: When businesses operate at the top level, marketing objectives are linked across channels to unified brand goals, and validated by sophisticated digital marketing attribution. In one instance, a company in BCG’s study used insights from data-driven attribution to optimise ad budgets and bidding, growing lead volume by 6% and reducing cost per lead by 17%.

The tests also revealed that applying these technical enablers led to rapidly impressive results, with double-digit improvements to key metrics achieved inside four to six weeks of implementation.

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Also commonplace in successful multi-moment marketing businesses are three organisational enablers:

  • Strategic partnerships: Maintaining direct control over their technology and first-party data helps advanced businesses work more effectively with agencies and marketing technology providers. Standardising how their marketing teams collaborate with agencies facilitates campaign development, while performance reviews of shared marketing objectives keep budget, quality, and timeliness on track. 
  • Specialist skills: While many companies across all four maturity levels have channel specialist roles (such as search, social, and programmatic) and dedicated measurement personnel, best-in-class marketing organisations train and hire to ensure their teams are also skilled in advanced data science and analytics.
  • Agile structures and a fail-fast culture: Sponsorship at the most senior levels is a prerequisite for any organisation trying to achieve even basic levels of digital maturity. Advancing further depends on best practices being shared between teams and regions, while multi-moments organisations will possess agile multifunctional teams and an established test-and-learn culture.

Finally, BCG’s research reminds maturing businesses that even as they invest in new technologies and processes, they can’t afford to undervalue the intuition and expertise of their people. In fact, their data shows that human experience combined with technical solutions outperforms the impact of technology alone by an average of 15%.

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To help businesses understand exactly where they stand on the path to digital maturity, we’ve worked with BCG to build a benchmarking tool that assesses your performance against six key dimensions, including factors such as attribution, automation, and audience insights. Visit the Digital Maturity Benchmark page to find out how you measure up, and to start your ascent to the next level.

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