Digital marketing seems to have grown up in the blink of an eye. In just a few short years, it’s expanded from a small component of some companies’ strategies to the central force in marketing innovation around the world. In a 2014 AdWeek report, more than a third of CMOs surveyed reported that digital marketing would account for 75 percent or more of their spending within the next five years—and that number has undoubtedly grown since then.
Still, according to the 2016 Adobe Digital Marketing Survey, more than 80 percent of North American organisations—and a full 93 percent of European ones—report that they “don’t feel advanced” at digital marketing. In almost all cases, this frustration is due to the fact that businesses haven’t pegged their digital transformation efforts on a specific key performance indicator (KPI) or business goal. Many marketers also cite resources, budgets, and staffing constraints as obstacles to digital maturity.
Among businesses that have achieved digital transformation success, however, 81 percent say their digital maturity efforts have “definitely differentiated” them from their competitors, while 70 percent report that automating delivery of personalised web content has improved KPIs.
As more businesses focus their digital transformation efforts, it’s becoming clear that digital maturity breaks down into four essential elements. Here’s how each of those elements plays into a successful digital-first strategy—and where each of them is heading in the next few years.
The first essential element in digital maturity is a foundation in advanced analytics, which drives optimisation across every channel, throughout every stage of the customer journey. This means much more than just A/B testing; it also brings in website analytics, predictive modeling, robust multichannel customer profiles, email optimisation, and many other components. When done correctly, the combination of these tactics yields whole customer views that can be used to predict which content will be most engaging and drive attributable revenue across all channels.
A full 57 percent of businesses agree that customer journey analytics is one of the areas they’ll be investing in most heavily over the next three years. These data-driven journeys will offer insights on key moments throughout the customer journey, and on the “next best offer” or ideal message for each customer at each stage of that journey—and 66 percent of these will implement cross-channel data integration as a journey analytics tactic.
Companies that look beyond siloed data and invest in analytics that integrate first-, second-, and third-party data will uncover a deeper understanding of their customers’ desires and next moves, enabling them to streamline and target their marketing more efficiently than ever before.
When done right, a great customer experience can ignite passion for your brand, but a negative experience can extinguish that fire just as quickly. It’s no secret that “experience is the new product.” In a world where millions of individualised experiences must be available and automated at any given moment, personalisation at scale has become a crucial priority.
More than 90 percent of marketers now rate content marketing and whole customer views—the data and content pillars of digital customer experience—as important components of their strategies. Instead of focusing on what’s top-of-mind for the business, these marketers are reimagining the experience in terms of their customers’ needs.
This change is already paying off for many businesses. Among marketers who report their digital maturity as “advanced,” 91 percent report improvements in web KPIs, while 74 percent report improvements in mobile.
But customer experience is far more than just a goal—it’s a crucial component of any company’s survival in the digital-first age. Only businesses that develop personalised content, and connect with customers across every touchpoint, will remain relevant in this new world.
These days, our mobile devices seem almost as essential as the air we breathe. “Mobile first” is the new marketing mantra, and with good reason—smartphones now account for 92 percent of user interactions. More than 50 percent of businesses now offer branded mobile applications, while 69 percent either currently provide or plan to provide a responsive mobile-first website.
In this mobile-centric ecosystem, spending on mobile innovation continues to increase across all verticals. No less than 47 percent of marketers say they plan to further increase their mobile budgets over the next year, while a full 73 percent say it’s “very important” or at least “somewhat important” to improve their mobile engagement capabilities over the next three years.
Web design and apps serve as the primary focal points for these mobile investments. A full 69 percent of respondents say they’re investing in responsive mobile-first sites to serve customers with smartphones and tablets; 50 percent of North American respondents, specifically, are also investing in the development of new mobile apps.
Mobile isn’t just a channel, it’s the future. Companies that hope to survive in the world of “mobile-first” will need to continue prioritising mobile channels and applications, while leveraging data to ensure that mobile content provides a useful, relevant experience for customers.
The barriers between marketing channels are breaking down. Customers expect messaging to flow freely across all platforms, delivering fluid experiences that meet them wherever they are. Integration among websites, email, mobile devices, apps, and wearables creates new opportunities for marketers who orchestrate compelling cross-channel experiences, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to change these dynamics even further.
Most marketers are now wide awake to this reality: 88 percent cite cross-channel marketing as a high priority. Among those marketers, 89 percent cite campaign orchestration, connected experiences, and customer journey management as their top areas of focus. Those efforts will need to be driven by cross-channel journey analytics, which ensure consistent experiences as customers move freely from one channel to the next.
Digitally mature companies are using data to understand which aspects of the customer experience are most important on which channels, and to leverage the strengths of each channel into adaptive omnichannel messaging that weaves every channel’s data and assets into one cohesive story.
Each of these four elements is equally crucial for digital transformation. In fact, in many ways, all four depend on one another. The most advanced companies are using digital marketing platforms that integrate all the processes, technologies, and tools necessary to move forward in a holistic way, by combining advanced analytics, personalisation, and campaign management.
To hear more about the 2016 Adobe Digital Marketing Survey results, you can access a recording of a webinar that presented with my colleagues from Adobe here, which also provides you with access to the whitepaper. If you’d like to understand your own digital marketing maturity in some detail, I recommend taking the Adobe Marketing Maturity Assessment here.