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March 05, 2024

What does a marketer’s digital transformation look like?

Learn to implement a successful digital transformation strategy with a data-driven approach to marketing operations. 

Digital transformation: Clients often come to us wondering why digital transformation is so critical to modern operations. While it sounds like another fad that comes and goes, it is here to stay. That’s because its main goal is to enable marketers to unify their data and technologies in real time so they can use that data to provide automated, personalized experiences. 

But there’s more to digital transformation than just updating your MarTech. At its core, it is about how marketers create new—or modify existing—business technologies and processes to attract new customers, nurture prospects and enhance the customer experience. In this article, we’re going to examine what a marketer’s digital transformation journey looks like from the planning stages to the end state. By having a true picture of what your digital transformation initiative could look like, it becomes easier to visualize and attain it. 

The foundation of a successful digital transformation

Your strategy is what will make or break your digital transformation initiative. With customers expecting more personalized experiences across all channels, marketers must track how their audiences are engaging with their brands online. Social media is often the first-place customers check when researching new products or services, and through interactions with your brand(s), they want each channel to consider their communication preferences. This means marketers must use new technologies in order to create new, personalized experiences.

A digital transformation strategy helps you craft these highly personalized experiences by analyzing your overall marketing and laying out how you can harness new technologies and automations to transform how customers consume information. When beginning to craft your strategy, it’s critical to understand the overarching goals and steps that will enable you and your team to accomplish them. 

Goals of a marketer's digital transformation

  • Establish a data-driven approach to marketing 
  • Enable deeper segmentation across your MarTech stack 
  • Automate repetitive, manual tasks 
  • Enhance personalization across all channels 

Establish a data-driven approach to marketing

Any digital transformation initiative should begin with a data-driven approach to marketing operations, and with the customer driving every decision your team makes instead of relying on gut reactions.

From a technical point of view, you must break down informational silos by consolidating all your customer and marketing data in one place. Creating a single view of your customer enables you to share, analyze and act on data, and it establishes a foundation for crafting highly personalized experiences. But implementing new methods for capturing and managing data is only useful if there’s buy-in throughout your entire organization. Before implementing any new technologies or processes, take the time to foster a data-driven culture. 

How to create a data-driven culture

  • Buy-in starts at the top. Senior leaders must focus on making data-based decisions if they expect their employees to do the same. They must lead by example. 

  • Choose metrics with care. Select metrics that truly measure how your marketing efforts exceed your audiences’ and organization’s expectations. When done right, accomplishing your marketing goals should assist in contributing to accomplishing your company’s overall strategic objectives. 

  • Train beyond your data analysts. Your data analysts aren’t the only ones who should understand how customer behavior influences outcomes. Coach your team on how your customer data is gathered and collected so they can contribute to making more accurate decisions and achieving team goals.

  • Promote knowledge sharing. Decisions are stronger when viewed from different perspectives. Implement regular KPI meetings with cross-functional contacts to discuss your overall metric and campaign results. With this, everyone throughout your organization can gain a better understanding of your customers and how you are meeting expectations. 

Enable deeper segmentation across your MarTech stack

Once you establish a real-time source of customer data in one place using a customer data platform (CDP), it's critical to refine your segments. For example, Salesforce’s CDP features an easy-to-use interface, a standardized data model and drag-and-drop functionality to build comprehensive segments without relying on developers or IT teams to write SQL statements. These segments can then be activated downstream within Salesforce Marketing Cloud, enabling your team to create rich, nurturing journeys and personalized communications. 

When crafting new segments, the trick is to create ones that include your loyalists, as they will be the most likely to convert and purchase from you. Group this segment based on those customers who opted into all SMS or email preferences and regularly consume your content. Begin to analyze which emails and campaigns have been most effective as well. The goal is to understand what content has made the largest impact on your loyalists so you can continue to encourage continued conversions. Having this segment in place will help you create custom journeys and communications that will drive revenue growth over time. 

Automate repetitive, manual tasks

Most of marketers’ time is spent collecting, organizing and analyzing data, and then manually creating campaigns and communications in response to past results. Having to manually gather performance data, adjust your creative assets to respond to your  findings, and reestablishing new send lists takes time away from focusing on more strategic objectives that grow the business.  

With your data analysis and segmentation strategy established, you can more easily create custom journeys that tailor each interaction with customers, thus creating an ongoing, seamless experience. For example, with Salesforce’s Journey Builder, based on life events and previous interactions with your teams and brands, you can establish actions that can send them personalized content and notify your sales team to reach out to them. 

Every action can even be A/B tested in real-time, empowering you with an added level of customization and optimization. This way, you can focus on objectives that truly matter and will add to the customer experience.  

Enhance personalization across all channels

With more customers expecting brands to provide personalized experiences across all channels, digitally transforming your personalization capabilities can help you stand above the noise generated by competitors. Having your customer data activated downstream across your whole MarTech stack is a huge step forward in enhancing personalization as it enables you to customize email content and build customized user journeys. But there’s also other technology you can utilize to make huge strides in personalization. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are opening up new opportunities to personalize the customer experience. For example, by implementing AI and ML in your MarTech stack with personalization tools, such as Salesforce’s Einstein, you can: 

  • Score customers’ likelihood to engage with emails, notifications or conversions on your website  

  • Deliver dynamic content or product recommendations by analyzing engagement and purchasing history  

  • Conduct A/B test on personalized messaging in real-time with AI-powered performance reports and recommendations  

  • Prevent unsubscribes by analyzing how many emails to send to certain customer segments 

Combining customized user journeys with stronger, more personalized messaging enables your team to reduce churn and encourage continuous engagement. 

Begin your own marketing digital transformation 

Digital transformation, while useful and rewarding, takes time. It’s a continuous process—one that you iterate on over time. It’s important to start small and focus on removing roadblocks that make it difficult to accomplish your objectives and satisfy customers’ needs. 

Keegan Chamberlin

Senior Marketing Content Manager

Keegan Chamberlin

Keegan is a thought leader with 7+ years of experience focused on delivering engaging storytelling that solves audiences' most pressing problems within the banking, finance, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods industries.

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