Go Where the People Are: A CMO’s Perspective on Digital Transformation


Written by Kevin Joyce

October 18, 2018

Let’s talk about digital transformation. From the point of view of the CMO, digital transformation is the recognition that Marketing must change how they communicate with prospects and understand how prospects seek to communicate with them.

Digital transformation is about adapting how, and what, you communicate with buyers. The primary media, or the primary channels, for those communications have shifted from offline/hard copy to online, digital sources. This applies not only to advertising but also to websites, social media interactions and user groups. Many different digital channels have now come into play in communications between Marketing and prospects.


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This requires companies and businesses to go through a “digital transformation” in the media that they are using and the type of content they are creating. It also requires them to transform how they measure success.

Of course, there are some channels that will remain, such as events. But now there are virtual events to consider, for example, webinars. Direct mail has not disappeared, but marketing firms are certainly doing much less of it.

And while the website was the preeminent digital channel at first, it requires prospects to search it out. As marketers, we can push things out to prospects rather than relying solely on a website to pull them in. We can push posts out to a blog (and then promote the blog on Facebook and LinkedIn and other platforms). We can push articles out through digital newsletters and push shorter communications out via Twitter.

The point is, if you want to interact with customers, you’ve got to go to the places where they hang out. Yes, if your SEO on your website is good you can get them to come hang out with you, but more often than not, you need to go hang out with them in their choice of digital social environments.

In this series of posts on digital transformation, we’re going to cover three major areas:

  • Setting yourself up for a successful digital transformation
  • Shifting to become customer centric as you transform digitally
  • Adding capabilities to your team to aid your digital transformation

Digital transformation isn’t just about rolling out new technology. It’s not just about adding marketing automation and building your MarTech stack. It’s also about changing your people and your company culture.

You need people who are smart in the technologies and channels that drive digital transformation. Also, since digital transformation is just as much about changing the type of content you create, you must be willing to create content that flows beautifully through these channels and is appropriate for these channels.

You will also benefit from changing your processes. You don’t want to spam people and hit them suddenly with five different messages from five different channels at the same time. Coordination is key.

Another thing to think about is your data architecture. Now that you’re collecting all this data on different prospect behavior in different places, you need to make sense of it and perhaps deploy a customer data platform to track all of it.

You will likely also change your analytics and reporting because now, instead of just counting how many emails you sent or where you put up billboards, you have to track what you’re doing in multiple digital channels. You need a way to collect all that performance, all that engagement that you are driving, into one place so you can measure what you are actually accomplishing.

The most important thing to remember in all of this is that the customer/prospect should always come first. Digital transformation is a big task, and it can seem overwhelming taken as a whole. But the whole point of beginning the journey of digital transformation is to create a better customer journey for your prospects.

Digital transformation is inevitable. It is being driven by consumers. It’s not something the corporations can control because the power has shifted from the seller to the buyer. This is why creating a customer centric culture in your company is so important.

Knowledge is power, and customers now have growing access to knowledge via digital channels. Companies must respond – they simply don’t have a choice. The digital transformation is happening because the buyers are using digital channels to learn about your products and services before they ever engage with Sales.

If you want to excel as a Marketer in this era, you have to engage buyers in the channels they use.


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