3 Steps to a Successful Digital-First Strategy

In 2018, data-driven strategies have become a must versus a nice-to-have within the marketing industry, making it the year of internal and external transformation for many brands. Initiatives like GDPR have forced the hand of marketers to take a look under the hood to uncover what data they have available to them, the quality of that data and how they can work more efficiently and safely to leverage that data to create a better customer experience.

The fact remains that there is an overwhelming number of trends and technologies being introduced to help with this. All of them ostensibly offer some kind of promise of a digital transformation or better use of data, yet you cannot implement them all. While it’s certainly an accomplishment to be a brand that is already at the forefront of these digital initiatives, it’s not enough to have the right tools for your data, you have to understand and make sense of all that information. None of this is useful unless you first understand your own organizational capabilities that are able to drive and maintain a digital-first consumer strategy. With that in mind, in my experience, there are three key ways to ensure this success.

Understand your customers

Fully knowing who your customers are requires a toolset and identity-driven technology. In my role as a CMO previously, I was tasked with finding that one message that stood out while also being the average of everything. However, in today’s world, we are now carving into much more segmented and individualized messages.

In order to craft these messages, you need data to constantly improve alongside a scalable workflow. Whereas before it was medium driven by TV, outdoor and print, now the dynamics of personalized messaging require marketers to adjust models and take action on data on a real-time basis. The reason this is changing is not just technology, but also consumer expectations.

84% of customers say that being treated like a person, not a number, is very important, making personalization essential to winning business. By better understanding your customers you’re able to deliver a relevant message, at the right time, on the right device, while providing an engaging experience that will cause them to return.

Understand your data

However, in order to understand your customer, you need to fully understand your data. In today’s digital space we are receiving more information from users than ever, but not every organization is taking advantage of all their available data. In fact, in a recent survey from Forbes Insights and Treasure Data, only 13% of executives reported they felt confident that their organizations were taking the necessary steps to make the most of their data while only 1 in 4 executives reported they are able to fully leverage the data they had.

Delivering truly personalized experiences for customers means understanding every aspect of the data you have available. Having the right technology to gather data is important, but so is having the right approach to make sense of all of that data and to then use it effectively

Marketers must work with data in a way that is privacy-conscious and while making the most of those real-time insights. Now is the time for brands to prove their dedication to protecting the privacy of their customers, while at the same time giving them the experience they’ve come to expect.

By taking control of the data you have available and thoroughly understanding your customers through segmented and trustworthy research, it’s possible to put personalization into practice in the right way. This ensures that you’re not targeting the wrong people with the wrong content, but rather offering content that is specific to their wants and needs.

Understand your organizational capabilities

The caveat here is even with all the data and technology in the world, you still need an effective team that understands how to use it. None of this is even useful unless you have the organizational capabilities that are able to drive and maintain this strategy.

It isn’t just about being a good CMO or effective leader, you also need to cultivate a marketing team that can run the data and understands how to apply it to customer data profiles. Industry-wide, traditional marketing teams and divisions are being left in the past. This isn’t a new development either, marketers have noticed these changing requirements since the beginning of this new digital era. Before it was all medium driven – TV, outdoor, in-store, print. Now there are dynamics of personalized messaging you have to adjust for, and this is a team effort. Before we couldn’t run models and take action on data on a real-time basis, and now with these new capabilities, it’s important everyone on board knows how to execute.

You can achieve this by creating agile squads of cross-functional teams that work on concrete problem sets, which fundamentally challenges the planning and execution process of a “traditional” marketing set-up. In this environment, you are ultimately solving for problem sets while having small task forces that can keep on correcting and analyzing data.

Brands now have more opportunities than ever to employ digital strategies and create better user experiences for consumers. Telenor, for example, recently evaluated their own business in order to undergo a complete digital transformation. The telecommunications company created a proper workflow with a cross-functional agile marketing and technology team. Through their own evaluations and test runs they were able to determine the most effective processes and implement these into their business, and in turn, apply these to interactions with their customers. By using Tapad’s identity solution, Telenor was able to gain incremental consumer insights beyond customer data, resulting in a 100 percent increase in digital sales to new customers.

Once you’ve done your homework and gathered your own assets, you should be able to effectively execute on a digital-first customer strategy. Today’s marketer needs to take the time to make sure they’re truly understanding their data and using that to inform their decision-making. The end payoff is a well-thought-out action plan filled with data-driven strategies that ultimately benefit your business as well as your customers.

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