As we learned at C3, it’s a good time for digital transformation. But with audiences gaining more agency, channels constantly shifting, and 200 billion devices set to be connected by 2020, it can be hard to know what that means. Further, how does one begin to craft a digital transformation strategy?
In today’s changing marketing landscape, how can we meet our customers where they’re at and get the results we require?
Jay Wightman, Head of Digital Experience at John Hancock Investments, has a few ideas. Jay’s spent the last 15 years of his storied career in the business of digital transformation — and he says we’re “not just transforming our digital properties. We’re transforming our business to produce digital things.” It’s a nuanced distinction, but an important one if you want to greet the market head-on.
According to Jay, here are 3 keys to a successful digital transformation:
Step 1: Build a Strong and Stable Foundation
I believe it was Matt Cutts who said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Or maybe it was Buddha. The point is, you’ve got to start somewhere.
And in the digital world, that means getting your organization’s priorities in order before you embark on a major transformation. But how? There are a few key tenets you’ll need to embrace before your digital strategy can go riding off into the sunset:
- Use a democratic (not hierarchical) structure to engender professional empathy and prevent siloes: create a structure where you understand how your job affects your team members’ jobs and vice versa.
- Rely on a nimble, iterative process — fail fast, fix, and move on: shaking off past practices in favor of new ones will take time; accept that things might go wrong as you go, fix them, and move on.
- Be honest about your organization’s fundamental challenges: in order to transform your business digitally, you need to know what obstacles might stand in between you and where you hope your transformation will take you in the end.
Once your foundation is stable, you’re positioned to start pursuing real change. Which brings us, of course, to our next step.
Step 2: Expand Your Reach
With so many touch points used to reach so many customers, Jay’s preferred term here — “all-bound marketing” rather than in- or out-bound — feels pretty appropriate.
Let’s say you know that a customer’s searching for a given keyword. It shouldn’t be limited to just targeting it on a page. You know your customer searches this way — so why not send them an email with that keyword in the title? Further, why not direct them to a Facebook post about the subject?
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With such a crowded web, it can be a challenge to give customers content how and when they want it. That’s why it’s so vital to be focused and targeted when you’re trying to demonstrate your value to a customer.
No matter which tools or technology you’re using, you need to ask, “Where do we think we can win?” And when you know the answer to that, you can create digital content that your customers want to see, and deliver it to them in a way they’re receptive to. This brings us to the final step.
Step 3: Create World-Class Digital Experiences
In the real world, one of the biggest deciding factors in where we spend our money is proximity. The sushi place on the corner may only be the fourth-best sushi you’ve ever had. But if the top spot is all the way in San Diego? Not gonna happen.
On the web, of course, proximity isn’t an issue — that’s good for consumers, but a problem for marketers. We’ve got to work even harder to vie for our customers’ attention. And users don’t compare the experience of using your product to the experience of using your competitor’s product. They compare it to the last great experience they had.
And users don’t compare the experience of using your product to the experience of using your competitor’s product. They compare it to the last great experience they had.
If you’re a pizza chain, and your app is better than Dominos’, but worse than the Google app they used to find you? Close, but no cigar. The question your potential customer is asking isn’t “which pizza chain has the best app?” It’s “why doesn’t this app work like Google?”
This puts us in a tight spot, of course, but it’s also deeply powerful knowledge. If we know our customer’s expectation, we can design accordingly, building personalized, customized, relevant products that people will want to use. How? Simple:
- Embrace the DevOps culture of rapid and reliable releases: learn how to best to win your customer over will take trial and error. You need to feel comfortable with an on-going process.
- Define your experience strategy: look at the competition, talk to your channel and your customers, and use everything from stakeholder input to persona development to feature maps to define your strategy. Create a strategy that is clearly defined for today, and becomes more flexible and adjustable as you move forward.
- Make data actionable: work to take a prospect from an unknown user to an account holder by presenting them with content they want and providing a benefit to them that incentivizes them becoming an account holder.
This all might seem like a lot to take in. But if you walk away with only one insight, let it be this: “Think like a pioneer.”
Look for change. Be ready for it. Don’t just work with what you have, look for new ways to solve your problems. An interconnected team will have a greater stake in the various stages of your strategy, and a greater stake in the end result.
Don’t be afraid to move away from the status quo and towards the future. If you can change the way you think about problems, you’ll change the way you approach them — and the results you end up with.
And that’s transformative.