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September 30, 2015

5 Big Fundamentals of Digital Marketing Transformation

by Tom De Baere

charles darwin_digital marketing transformationTransforming a marketing organization to embrace digital marketing requires change. Some companies seem to make this transition seamlessly, and other are struggling.

The dream of agile marketing operations, 1-1 marketing, digital customer experience, intelligent marketing technology and digital customer journeys seem to be impossible to reach.

What are some of the big fundamentals driving digital marketing transformation?

In this blog post I discuss 5 critical “must-do’s” to get organized for Digital Marketing Transformation.


But organizing for digital marketing transformation is not without its challenges…

4 Typical Challenges for Marketing Managers Aspiring Digital Marketing Transformation


challenges digital marketing transformation


The reality today for marketing managers today is:

Keeping the current operations afloat, while changing towards digital at the same pace as your customers are embracing digital.

Not only are you challenged by current operations, the biggest change inhibitors are bigger than marketing:

  • Getting C-level buy-in: the magnitude and complexity of the challenges for marketing managers makes it difficult for them to formulate the change that is required. What is our vision and strategy ? What tactics will we use? What team do we need? What budget do we need? What technology do we need? What will be the return? A lot of questions that need to be answered to get C-level buy-in.
  • Bridging silo’s: marketing is in the driving seat for many changes ahead driven by the digital world we live in. Extra responsibilities that used to live outside the marketing team are suddenly part of your responsibility. Think of digital customer experience, social selling, employee ambassadorship, post-sales customer experiences, etc. The big challenge is in organizing or orchestrating this on a company wide level to get a seamless digital customer journey experience. This is where you bump into budget allocations issues, governance and politics. You are suddenly responsible to bridge the departmental silo’s.
  • Closing the skills-gap: nobody is going to help you, except yourself. How are you going to close the skills gap to introduce new skill-sets that understand buyer centricity, content and inbound marketing, marketing automation technology, digital media and content & conversion optimization. How are you going to organize yourself to continuously publish relevant online content, aligned along the digital customer journey, using data triggers and behavior of customers that trigger marketing and sales actions?
  • Activating employees: Attracting and engaging new and existing customers is done through relevant and in-depth content and stories that are locked in the heads of employees. How are you going to activate these employees which are scattered throughout the organization, that have different priorities (marketing is not my job!), which are no writers or storytellers, and god forbid, sharing and education is not part of the company culture.

5 Must Do’s to Get Organized for Digital Marketing Transformation

Your customer are not waiting to become digital. They are already digital.

By 2020 customers wil manage 85% of their relationship with a business without ever talking to a human being, according to Gartner. This is in big contrast with brands. “42% have no digital customer journey, they merely updated digital touchpoints with new social and mobile technologies“, says Brian Solis from Altimeter.

Organizing for digital marketing is a necessity. But how do you do that? Here are 5 things you should do…

  1. Evangelize new customer centric thinking
  2. Create ‘always on’ marketing programs
  3. Establish a culture of digital optimization
  4. Adopt backbone digital marketing technology
  5. Introduce new marketing roles – Enabling agile marketing


Let start with the first one, the one on customer centric thinking….


1. Evangelize new customer centric thinking

marketing as customer value on top of products

At the heart of digital marketing transformation is a deep belief that marketing needs to become customer centric, where marketing serves to create customer value on top of your products or services.

This believe must be at the centre of your strategy. This believe translates into content marketing, inbound marketing and customer centric thinking, which must become part of your day-to-day thinking, and essentially must be part of your culture.

Without that, digital marketing transformation will not be possible. The quote that comes to mind is “Culture eats strategy for breakfast’, but it’s true.

If you want sales revenue growth, profitability or new product success in the digital space, everyone must be aligned behind the idea that the function of marketing is to be relevant for customers.


How do you evangelize?

Start with the top. Explain that buyers have changed, and why you need to embrace  digital, social and content as a company. Organize inspirational sessions with external speakers that shock the c-level and have them realize that something needs to happen. Organize internal workshops around the ideas behind content marketing and inbound marketing.

Don’t start doing anything of the stuff that follows without having created the right mindset and internal belief of what marketing means for your customers.


2. Create ‘always on’ marketing programs




In a world where customers are always online, where they use multiple devices, searching and consuming information where they are and when they need it, brands need to be responding in real-time, and be always available.

This doesn’t mean your sales department or customers service needs to be available 24/24.

But (potential) customers need to be able to find you, research you, and the initial interest needs to be captured also in the weekend and after business hours. And new customers need to be welcomed and services requests need to be dealt with.

Being available in real-time for customers requires the creation of “always-on” marketing programs that service customers, no-matter what relationship they have at that moment with your business.

Depending on your business strategy and your business objectives you can orient these program more towards acquisition or customer service. To pull this off, you will need new sales & marketing processes, the right tools, and obviously a marketing team that understand how to creates these continuous programs.


3. Establish a culture of digital optimization

Digital means continuous testing, learning and optimizing of continuous programs and marketing campaigns.

Using a plethora of new digital marketing tactics like blogs, webinars, content offers, paid search, affiliate and influencer marketing, and social media, new customers or existing customers are attracted to what you have to say.

This is where classic marketing funnel thinking comes in, from the likes of SiriusDecions, Hubspot or just about everyone else in the industry dealing with content and inbound marketing.

Important here is to establish a culture of digital optimization: set-up internal governance and processes that drive a constant end-to-end visibility on the performance of your continuous programs and ad-hoc marketing campaigns.

culture of digital marketing optimization


4. Adopt backbone digital marketing technology


backbone digital marketing technology


Digital marketing transformation is impossible without the right backbone digital marketing technology.

In the 1970s manufacturing required planning tools (MRP or material requirements planning), and the 1990s was a time of explosive growth for the technology, particularly with ERP software systems that were meant to integrate businesses processes throughout every functional area. “Purchase-to-pay” and “order-to-cash” were being incorporated more and more regularly.

2015 and the years to come are the years where companies are beginning to implement backbone digital marketing platforms.

These platforms represent the core of your demand generation, lead generation and the digital customer experience your are bringing to customer along the customer life-cycle. They are part of a bigger integrated initiative that connect all the “dots” in your marketing technology landscape which allow you to haven an end-to-end vision on how your marketing is contributing to the business objectives. 


end-to-end marketing contribution insight


5. Introduce new marketing roles – enabling agile marketing


agile marketing - new marketing roles


Digital marketing transformation is about culture, processes, technology, but most certainly also about organization.

Depending on your company size, company set-up (business units, teams, regions and countries), internal structure and maybe internal politics, you’ll need new roles of people that do different things.

These new roles understand that constant interaction with different roles in the organization are required. These new roles have the following mindset:

  • Open mindset to new ideas,
  • Think broader than marketing,
  • A mindset of experimentation, optimization, measuring and constant change,
  • Constant self-education,
  • Internal sharing of knowledge,
  • Internal discussions on new concepts and new trends.

Classic marketers might struggle with the digital mindset of agility, experimentation and analytics. Not all of them will be able to make the transition.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s possible to re-educate people. But a couple of new roles will need to find its place in your marketing organization:

  • Chief Content Manager: smaller or large organization will always need someone driving the content marketing strategy building, and pushing for execution, challenging the quality of the output.
  • Content Program manager: in larger organization you’ll need a role that support the chief content manager in developing and executing different content programs that are part of the overall content marketing strategy.
  • Marketing automation: marketing is becoming increasingly an environment where marketers have to deal with more an more technology. Automating operations through marketing automation is key in a world where customers demand instant gratification and 24 hour service. You’ll need a new role that takes on the overall management of all automated programs, and plots the vision.
  • Online digital copy: digital marketing requires creating a lot of small content assets and micro-copy. Think of landing pages, emails, SEO and SEA micro-copy, memes & graphs. I don’t think this is a role you would want to outsource. That role needs to be internal, so you can move fast and adapt quickly.
  • Digital optimizer: digital marketing is about constantly adapting to new search algorithms, testing, and continuous optimization. This role is about bringing in digital optimization into the processes of content asset creation,  publishing and maintenance.
  • Head of digital marketing: the entire digital marketing environment comprises of search, social, content, tools, apps, websites, internal and external applications, etc. It’s big. You’ll need someone that keeps an eye on the overall digital customer experience, and driving horizontal connections between all digital initiatives, applications and channels.
  • Digital communication:  if you want to be successful in digital marketing, everyone needs to understand the quality levels required in the digital space. This requires excellence from people in creating, publishing, distributing and promoting digital content across all communication channels.


NextGen Marketing Leader, Are You Ready?


You’ll need to change. Transform. Evolve…. RU Ready ?

Customers are tuning out traditional marketing methods, while consuming information and making buying decisions on mobile phone, tables, computers, smart televisions and wearable devices.

The marketing industry is advancing at an unprecedented rate, creating gaps in marketing talent, technology and strategy.

Although we are drowning in data, while we are starving for insight.

The next generation of marketing leaders will find internal support for this digital marketing transformation. They understand that it will require money, dedication, and time. The’ll leave their comfort zones, let go of their fears, and take risks.

The choice is yours.

Warm regards,
Tom De Baere

P.S. That’s it for this one. Hope you liked it. Have questions about this? Something to add ? Let me know in the comment box or connect with me on social media. If you want more of this, follow me on social media or subscribe to this blog.