What role can marketers play in digital transformation?

marketing tank
Stephen Morgan
European managing director of digital transformation business
Squiz
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Embracing digital technologies as a way of enhancing business processes is a key priority for every business today. Whether you are a retailer, a recruitment company or a graphic design business, transforming a business to become digital-first is beyond just a choice – it is a vital move to guarantee future success.

We recently conducted research into the UK State of Marketing Technology, which gave us an interesting insight into marketers’ views on digital transformation. Our research suggests that there are three key areas that marketers must focus on in order to foster an environment where digital transformation can thrive.

Greater collaboration

A major factor that underpins a solid digital transformation strategy is the collaboration and involvement of key stakeholders across the business – it is not just the priority of the marketing department.

Today, 66% of people across the board identified marketing managers as the key stakeholders when purchasing new marketing software. This statistic is promising, and exemplifies how the marketing manager is becoming more tech-savvy and focused on new platforms and technologies – technology is no longer the sole responsibility of the IT department.

This breaking down of siloes needs to translate through to digital transformation now though, too. The end goal of a transformation project is to provide a better service to the customer. To do this, a cross-functional strategy is required as serving the customer better is always going to require more than one team or discipline.

Making smart investments

Our research also revealed the areas in which marketing departments are investing. Marketing automation software topped the list, seeing a 92% increase from 2015 to 2016.

Whilst it’s great to see that marketers are investing in technology, and are taking the potential of new technologies to drive digital transformation seriously, our study suggests that many marketers are not making the most of these investments. 53% of the respondents identified marketing automation software as area of the digital spectrum which they feel they could understand better, with lead nurturing (46%) and customer experience, as well as SEO, topping out the top three at 40%.

It’s all very well having a plethora of technologies at your disposal, but you must be able to know how to implement, integrate and maintain them to get the most of them on an ongoing basis. If you can’t manage the tool, confusion and misunderstanding is created, meaning that there will undeniably be a poor ROI proving detrimental to a digital transformation strategy.

We see a trend within the wider marketing space of a new generation of marketers coming through to whom technology is their lifeblood, and who are now reaching senior managerial positions. Millennial CMOs understand technology, having used it their entire personal and professional lives, and the best are able to leverage it not only personalise and market more effectively, but prove its (and marketing’s) worth - they are the people within organisations who can understand and improve customer journeys across our organisations. 

Prove ROI

While it may not be surprising, half (53%) of marketers said that the biggest constraint that they currently face is acquiring budget. However, there are ways to make proving the worth of digital transformation a less difficult feat.

Understanding that each department’s output has an impact on others’ is the first step in being able to come together and work to collaborative goals to ensure that proving ROI to senior stakeholders is an easier process.

Integrating existing systems and investing time and effort connecting the dots through analytics or primary client research is the first step in being able to form the business case for further technology investments - data-driven, objective insights will win any argument.

Marketers often have the best view of the customer journey, from unknown prospect to repeat customer, so it can be them who can coordinate and work with different business departments to create cross-departmental plans (with their IT peers) for technology investments.

Through this process, it’s also possible to identify strategy and process refinements that can be made for wider business benefit. This gives marketers a unique position within their organisations to be able to lead the call for change and wider digital transformation projects.

Stephen Morgan is Co-Founder of Squiz 

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