A market downturn, drastic fluctuations in ad spend, a Facebook boycott, the unprecedented break from and then reappearance of major league sports, the rebirth of a racial justice movement, dramatic growth in business adopting a direct-to-consumer (D2C) model, and, let’s not forget the driver of most of these changes, a pandemic—2020 has been a rollercoaster ride for us all.
The pandemic has disrupted aspects of everyone’s lives, both personally and professionally. It’s accelerated many trends that had already begun—especially digital transformation. Whether looking to digitally connect with customers or needing to quickly implement a D2C model, businesses all over the world have had to accelerate their digital transformation timeline.
Two trends pushing through the pandemic
Speaking of moving to a digital-first strategy, Gregory Aston, head of digital media research science at Kantar, says: “Post crisis, the speed with which brands and media sellers and agencies can transform will determine their success.”
In addition to the continually increasing importance of digital channels, there’s another trend that has remained, if not accelerated: consumer expectations around experiences. Today’s businesses compete just as much on customer experience as they do on price, product or service, if not more. It’s true that consumers increasingly demand transparency and trustworthiness, but they also expect brands to interact with them using tailored messaging, and this expectation translates to how businesses relate, too. The customer experience is now as significant in a B2B context as it is in retail.
Despite these two trends—the increasing importance of a growing number of digital channels and higher expectations for the experiences customers have across them—many organizations still rely on CMS products that don’t solve today’s omnichannel experience needs. What’s needed is a digital experience platform (DXP).
DXPs—what they are and why they matter
Creating compelling advertising that generates interest in your brand is a key first step in any marketing campaign. But it’s just the start. After clicking through, you’ve got to engage that consumer with a personalized digital experience that is tailored to their wants and needs.
DXPs empower marketers to leverage customer data to serve personalized content at the right time and place for a customer and understand the impact of specific touchpoints throughout the customer journey. They build on a strong content management core to offer an integrated platform for marketing automation, personalization, omnichannel delivery and data capture, data integration and more—all of which can help organizations to streamline their martech stack.
A well-rounded DXP will also remove workflow redundancies and automate repetitive manual tasks so marketers can focus on what matters—business goals and the quality strategy and content that drives them—instead of, for example, creating new assets for each channel.
And if e-commerce is a need, a robust DXP will integrate seamlessly with digital commerce capabilities to provide experience-first shopping that treats the customer like a person, not a wallet.
Digital transformation—planning for success
Transitioning to a DXP can, and usually should be, a catalyst for digital transformation. What I mean is that workflows, and often teams, will need to be rearranged, at times transformed, to deliver the kinds of experiences customers across the board now expect—especially given the central importance of digital right now. Silos also need to be broken down—specifically those between marketing and IT.
Here are the critical planning steps for any digital transformation:
- Outline exactly what’s needed to deliver excellent customer experiences: Map your customer journey, outlining what your customers want and expect at each step and identifying the strong and weak points in your current capabilities.
- Develop a roadmap for your organization to take the next step: Yes, this will often involve technology investments, but technology is an enabler for good people and processes. Don’t forget to look for opportunities to reorganizing teams and workflows that will help you overcome silos.
- Ensure everyone understands the vision and the roadmap and, crucially, is on board to get there: While marketing is the tip of the spear, great customer experience is the responsibility of every part of the organization, and that means consensus and collaboration with the CEO down through the rest of the business are critical for success.
Enabling exceptional customer experience should be your North Star. And while digital is top of mind today, you want to ensure your solution will enable you to connect digital experiences with in-person, physical experiences, whenever they return. In short, you need a platform that solves today’s challenges and is prepared for tomorrow’s.
Start soon, but just as critically, start right
When it came to our own digital transformation, I collaborated closely with the rest of the C-suite to gain their support from the start. But based on discussions with both customers and partners, I know that No. 3 is a step that organizations ignore at their peril. This is especially true during times like today, when budgets are tight and proof of ROI required.
If done well, your digital transformation can not only begin to offer ROI quickly but also empower your marketing department to demonstrate ROI across the board. When expectations aren’t aligned, a digital transformation can get derailed and cause unnecessary delays.
Whether you know you need to start a digital transformation, aren’t sure or are merely curious about the most innovative marketing technology available today, we have you covered with resources on connecting your content lifecycle and delivering powerful digital experiences that will set your business apart from the competition. Get them here.