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Digital Transformation – What Does It Mean For Marketing?

Written by Martin | 21-Apr-2016 12:51:39

It seems that the phrase “digital transformation” is one that is impossible to avoid these days. From digital agencies, to the business press, to the Big 5 consulting firms, everyone is talking about it, but what does it really mean to a digital marketer and is it a threat or an opportunity?

What is digital transformation?

It seems that this depends largely on who you ask. For example, a retail specialist might be focused on getting close to the consumer through creation of a personalised digital experience, and call this ‘digital transformation’. In contrast, a management consultant might view it as an end to end re-engineering of a business’s processes and systems to provide a seamless view of that customer as they progress through the marketing, sales, retention and billing cycles.

Whatever your thoughts about a true definition, the one thing that digital transformation of any type is guaranteed to produce is data, and lots of it. Stats from Druva suggest that the volume of data in the enterprise is exploding – typically doubling every 14 months!

The growth in data is being driven by things like the explosion in software that was traditionally delivered on a licence basis now being available on a SAAS (Software As A Service) model, opening up its availability to the SME marketplace and becoming a key driver of the digital transformation wave. For example, it’s estimated that 91% of companies with more than 11 employees now use CRM systems. CRM is the natural home of an organisation’s customer data and means that more organisations hold more data about more of their customers than ever before, enabling them to gain a fuller understanding of who their client base are, and defining their distinguishing features.

This data can be the lifeblood of a modern digital marketer and is at the heart of the meaning of the phrase ‘digital transformation’ for those who work in marketing.

Understanding your ideal customers

Building a full picture of our “ideal” customers is the holy grail for marketing; if we can understand their needs and behaviour we are suddenly able to serve them the right advertising messages, on the right device, at the right time. This is the digital marketing nirvana. Not only does it reduce wastage and therefore costs through minimising the amount of irrelevant advertising served, it also helps minimise the intrusion and disruption to the customer, preserving their positive sentiment towards our brand.

As an example of the sort of marketing targeting this now enables, equimedia’s profiling platform allows us to consolidate all types of client data such as postcode data from a CRM system and interests from social profiles with any other information that we know about the client and build a profile of the “ideal” customer. We can then use tools such as TGI to overlay media consumption habits around these profiles, which feed into our digital media planning process to ensure that we are serving advertising to customers that match this profile as closely as possible.

For us this is a big differentiator and a huge improvement on the “traditional” digital model of serving advertising based on contextual targeting or vague interests. This insight has enabled a sea change in the efficiency of advertising, meaning that channels that have been traditionally seen as focussed on “brand” can now be used to cost effectively drive acquisition at volume.

The last word…

The digital transformation phenomenon may be buzzword based, but is undoubtedly one that is real. The SAAS model has transformed the ability of smaller enterprises to utilize technology that was only a few years ago the sole preserve of the enterprise and this in turn, has led to an explosion in corporate data, to the extent that there will need to be a quantum leap in storage technology if we’re not to run out of data centre space. SAAS operational systems have brought all sizes of business a level of control that was previously impossible, but they have also resulted in levels of data that can unlock equally unprecedented levels of customer insight, something that the sophisticated digital marketer will relish and can undoubtedly exploit to transform the efficiency and importance of digital marketing to almost any business.