Please Mind the Digital Transformation Gap

Sharing and Learning at Gilbane Conference 2014

We recently sent three of our content marketing, technologist, and user experience experts to the Gilbane Conference. This event aims to help brands evaluate and implement best practices in technology, strategy, and solutions for successful customer engagements in the ever-evolving digital landscape. While ICF Interactive’s featured speakers Colin Eagan and Rachel Metscher with keynote panelist Fred Faulkner attended to share what they know about content and the digital experience, the event included some of the smartest and most innovative of engagement marketing’s peers – suffice it to say they learned a lot as well.

The Future is Now

As trends have made way for established methods of cohesive, multi and omni-channel interactions, business managers are finding their organizations typically fall within two categories: those that have embraced the sea change and have been working to keep up with customer demands for content, and those that have yet to understand the implications of a poorly designed or underdeveloped marketing strategy.

Regardless of where you may find your business, the resounding truth and underlying theme of Gilbane is that we are in the midst of a complete digital transformation. Going beyond the concepts and practices of customer engagements, the idea of the digital transformation suggests that every aspect of daily life is affected by technology’s business applications. Coupled with the emerging topic of the internet of things, brand managers and technologists alike are beginning to discuss the potential effects this will have on the way organizations go to market, provide services, deliver goods, as well as capture and analyze data.

We’re sure you’re well aware that organizational change doesn’t roll off of some solution-strategy line, and that implementing new technologies, processes, and programs requires an incredible amount of research, planning, and inevitably trial and error. Hence, the digital transformation gap – what the market is seeking relative to a brand’s ability to meet those expectations, is still quite large. In an effort to close that void, you’ll want to make digital improvement initiatives, both front-facing and back-end solutions, your top priority in 2015. From Gilbane Conference, here are a couple of things on which you’ll want to focus.

Change Your Content Perspective Digital Transformation GapIdea Sharing

Content, content, content. It’s what you’re creating and curating, what your customers digest, what’s shared to grow your online communities, and how you convey the value of your goods and services. It affects search engine result rankings and can be the difference between a customer gained or opportunity lost. In short: content is king, don’t expect that to change. What has changed so that you’ll want to reevaluate your content creation and dissemination methods?

The ways in which your customers and prospects are engaging with it.

Simply because the content serves a purpose doesn’t mean that it needs to live on your website. Customers expect to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, via various channels. You’ll want to evaluate where your audience is interacting with your brand, and tailor the messaging to that channel’s needs. Encouraging a customer to journey through your brand’s story requires captivating content with context. Here a few places you might want to consider leveraging other than your domain:

  • Microsites
  • Mobile Apps
  • Landing Pages
  • Social Media Properties

Similarly, ask yourself “why this content?” If you can’t make a business case for it, chances are you can do without it.

Adjust Your Approach to Advertising

Take a moment to think about the last time you clicked on a banner ad? If you’re saying “I can’t remember” or “LOL – banner ads?!” you’re not alone. What does that have to do with how we’re reaching our audiences? Consider this: according to a November 2013 article published by the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), we’re approaching more than 15 hours of media consumption per person, per day in 2015. This means that not only will your brand need to seriously consider every square inch of online real estate, but ditch dated or underperforming practices as well.

Nothing’s Plug-and-Play

How many content, commerce, or experience management systems are available to both B2B and B2C brands? ICF Interactive partners with technology providers such as Adobe, Elastic Path, and Sitecore, but there are plenty of other platform companies large and small touting the latest in automated marketing, delivery, and analytics capabilities. The good news is that there are so many options, functions, and features – if a brand can imagine it, chances are technology can provide the framework. The bad news? All too often, organizations are sold on the bells and whistles without understanding the amount of time and resources it takes to integrate that solution into the existing digital environment, as well as configuring it to do the front and back-end tasks necessary to seeing a viable return. You might be surprised, but the first thing to consider when evaluating technology platforms aside from functionality is whether or not you have the human resources to properly manage it. Yep – it will be the team, the people who will work daily inside these technology solutions, whose opinions and more importantly skillsets will matter most when considering the best for your brand.

Stockholders and stakeholders aside, how well will your team of marketers, brand managers, and campaign managers and strategists be able to execute ideas leveraging a digital platform? According to a blog post, “…lack of training in new marketing skills and [the] organizational ability to adapt [are] among the top obstacles to becoming [expert marketers]”. To alleviate these concerns, carefully measure their strengths and weaknesses, develop a training plan to get everyone up to speed, and look to schedule regular refresher courses to keep everyone on point. One further? Coordinate with your IT team for collaborative learning sessions; each group needs to understand the business case behind what the other is doing. By holding lunch and learn sessions or monthly roundtable discussions, the marketing team will better understand your organization’s technology, enabling them to use it properly.

Get Ready to Get Going

A solid content strategy and a thorough understanding of your digital environment’s capabilities will better allow you and your team to effectively tell your brand’s story, engage with customers, and close the digital transformation gap. The longer you wait to get started, the more difficult it will be to be to catch up to competitors. Need a bit of guidance on how your organization can begin? Contact us to learn more.