Digital has never been easier than it is today. But as digital has become the norm, it has raised expectations and complexity in a way that none of us has faced before. With the availability of a plethora of digital mediums and the quick and massive adoption to these mediums by the user base of most traditional businesses, digital transformation has become more survival measure than luxury.
Nowhere has this need been felt more strongly than by the traditional retail businesses in India who have been massively disrupted and seen their customers move to their online rivals like Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal and others. Financial services industry is feeling the heat from disruptors like Paytm and automotive ecosystem today is a more balanced services tradeoff between an auto manufacturer and Cardekho or Cartrade than ever before.
IRCTC has completely transformed the way railway tickets are booked and I don’t know anyone now who has internet access and still books their journey tickets the old fashioned way by standing in a queue at a railway platform.
These changes in consumer behavior, and the resulting explosion of data has ushered in an era of digital disruption for businesses. Entire industries risk being wiped out by a well-designed app. Smart businesses are making moves to outmaneuver the competition for attention, mindshare and money. This can be the difference between thriving and dying in today’s environment.
The disruption of our computing and business landscape has led to one of today’s best-loved buzzwords: digital transformation. It’s a massive dynamic that affects virtually every part of your business: processes, infrastructure, systems, business models, go-to-market strategies and customer touch points.
Two key trends which have emerged in the last decade are the growing importance of marketing to business success and increasing dependency of marketing on technology. Every time I talk to an organization’s CMO or CIO, the issues that they want to solve for always boil down to providing their customers with consistent and connected experience across channels in real time.
To cater to a customer who is looking to buy term insurance, the traditional agent network won’t suffice because the customer wants to purchase that online by sending his selfie and details over WhatsApp. So – the CMO and CIO teams need to join forces, work together and make it a possibility.
In my experience, there are four pillars to achieving digital transformation:
Data Driven Marketing
In our country of India, where every business is gunning to access a bigger user base to sell its products and services, marketing is generally equated to advertising. In reality, marketing should be responsible in equal measure for three key areas – Acquisition, Engagement and Retention. For enabling businesses to transform successfully, the most critical is to combine offline customer data with online interactions.
This should help, in understanding the 360 degree profile of your customer and in understanding the true impact of your marketing channels and campaigns. You also need to leverage this data to make forward looking decisions using predictive intelligence, and enable responses to real time customer activities.
The need here is to create unified and consistent customer experiences across digital channels. You need to centralise the content creation and management to expedite the delivery and speed to market. Customer experiences need to be optimised for conversion through rigorous testing (A/B, MVT, Geo etc.) and automated personalisation of content for customer needs to be enabled across web, apps, emails etc.
Cross Channel Marketing
The need here is for a campaign management platform that redefines the way you engage with each and every customer. These experiences must be designed while keeping channels and vertical specific use cases in mind. For example, the email marketing channel needs to be able to provide real time dynamic personalisation delivering consistent messaging. On the vertical side, what works for a Telecom might not work for BFSI or Manufacturing.
To attain maximum conversion percentage, the insurance vertical should realise that the channel preference for its website visitors is to call the user directly through the call centre and not go via an sms/email route.
The campaign management platforms enabling these cross channel marketing use cases need to leverage predictive data intelligence while generating personalised campaigns and offers. The way to achieve this is not simply by facilitating the design, execution, and measurement of campaigns across channels but by delivering offers, messages, and ultimately experiences that are consistent, relevant, and uniquely tailored to the customer’s context, needs, preferences and behaviors.
This is the frontier that will become a differentiator between good and even great brand experiences and bad ones. Since a huge chunk of content consumption is taking place on mobile, to provide consistency across various touch points, this medium must be powered through the same content management system that powers your websites in the desktop world. Like many other activities, more than 50% of emails are now read over mobile devices and there is a dire need to provide correct attribution to your marketing efforts on mobile.
Digital transformation is not a sci-fi storyline. Businesses need to go through this whether they like it or not. The smarter ones will adapt faster and become the aspirational benchmarks for others to follow. These are the ones that will be able to provide customer delight and win loyalty in the digital world.