In a technology-driven discipline such as Digital Marketing, the temptation is to allow technology itself to drive the marketing transformation. But leading a digital transformation involves more than putting a technology toolset into place; it involves close attention to organizational readiness and a true understanding of the resulting business transformation. Here are five considerations for digital-transformation leaders who want to build out a modern digital marketing program—one that goes beyond a simple outbound communication program to one that aligns with corporate revenue and awareness goals.
- Get Executive Alignment. Most CMOs are fully on board with Digital Marketing—37 percent state their digital marketing will account for over 75 percent of their total marketing budgets, but still, it’s critical to ensure your success metrics are firmly agreed upon. You and your management should be in absolute lockstep on a very limited set of KPIs by which to measure your digital transformation. In my case, for example, executive management and I focused on aligning digital programs not just to general awareness-building and marketing-sourced-leads, but specifically to revenue bookings.
- Create a Dedicated Digital Content Strategy Team. Headcount is always scarce, but there is almost nothing as critical to your digital success as digital content strategists who plan and procure relevant and timely content that maps to buyer journeys. Too often digital programs rely solely on content from sources such as product marketing, corporate communications, or other internal content groups. The problem is that these groups develop content specifically for their audiences in the context in which they market. Product marketing, for example, creates content about products that targets the conversion stage of the buyer journey. Relying only on these groups for digital marketing content means you are limited when putting together content strategies that map to lifecycle marketing. Instead, you need a team—even a small one—that plans, curates, packages, and deploys content through digital channels.
- Build Credibility with Quick Wins. Transformations can be long, drawn-out affairs, so it’s important to consider quick wins to build credibility and maintain alignment. At VMware, our Digital Marketing transformation is nascent, so with a quick win in mind, in mid 2014 we created and launched an employee social advocacy program—a program that gives our employees access to social content that they can publish on their own social networks. To date, over 2000 employees have taken part in the program, and the big win happened when those employees began promoting our annual VMworld conference. These employees drove 14% of our conference registrations. This new program and its success helped illustrate the reach and impact of a Digital Marketing transformation.
- Don’t Hesitate to Seek Outside Help. An important part of organizational readiness is recognizing that your existing team may not be able to drive the type of change needed for digital transformation. In this case, don’t be afraid to rely on outside guidance for impartial and original ideas. Early in our digital transformation, I brought in consultants who were able to identify existing staff who could be digital-transformation leaders. The consultants worked closely with these staff—not just with senior leadership—and drove change at a grassroots level rather than leaders imposing top-down change. This “peer-led” change has been extremely effective and has the support of the entire digital organization.
- Constantly Evangelize. Don’t underestimate the relationship-building and the amount of evangelization needed with peers, other lines of business, and executive management when leading a digital transformation. Successfully driving transformation requires continually getting buy-in from peers and clearing the way for the transformation.
Technology choices are critical, but too many leaders and managers make the mistake of starting a digital transformation with technology. Instead, start with KPIs and objectives, organizational readiness, and understanding how the transformation fits within a broader context. Then you’ll be ready to talk about which technologies can advance or enable your transformation.