Earlier this year, we spent some time looking at digital transformation trends by industry, but another important lens we can use to examine digital transformation is by work group, or specific enterprise department. Clearly, IT has experienced a gut punch when it comes to change in today’s modern workplace. But for me, the most exciting place to start departmentally is through marketing’s digital transformation.
Goodbye Promotion, Hello Relationship
Probably the most important element of marketing’s digital transformation is that the marketing department is no longer a show-and-tell function, it’s a relationship function. Gone are the days of scheduling billboards, full-page newspaper ads, radio commercials and calling it a day. Today’s marketing teams are being forced by customers to be responsible for what they’re selling, not just the day their ad goes live, but throughout the life of the entire product. Customers are turning to social media to interact with companies—for better or for worse. They want two-way feedback, product communities, and a commitment to service and they want it now. That means marketing departments need to use technology, first and foremost, for communication. And they need to make sure they’re grabbing valuable customer insights from every exchange.
The customer experience has skyrocketed to a top priority for marketing departments. If a customer doesn’t feel valued from the first touchpoint, then they probably won’t ever be a loyal customer—and that’s just not acceptable with what is now available.
Goodbye Gut, Hello Data
That brings us to data. Every time a customer interacts on the customer journey, the marketing team must be using that exchange for the purpose of making the customer experience better. They need to nab more than just numbers and customer loyalty points. Emotions should be recorded in someway too. Marketing departments then need to plug all that knowledge back into the customer journey flow through personalization (including personalized incentives, coupons, messaging, etc.). And they need to do this all in real time. Not too big of an order, right? Which brings us to the next point in marketing’s digital transformation.
Goodbye Legwork, Hello Automation
Today’s customers aren’t the most patient. Instant gratification is the name of the game—admit it, you’re guilty of this too. Customer’s want their product now—and they want to be acknowledged now. No matter how fast we as humans operate, we aren’t able to operate in real time 24/7. That’s where automation comes in. Today’s AI allows marketing teams to switch product messaging in real-time, meet customers in the almost-abandoned online shopping cart in real time, and hit them with smart beacon coupons at precisely the right moment. Automation allows marketing departments to fill the gap where human effort simply can’t function. It also further compounds customers’ impatience, but that’s another part of marketing’s digital transformation story!
Goodbye Corporate Dungeon, Hello Corner Office
Marketing’s digital transformation story is one of elevation. Because digital transformation has empowered marketing teams so much, today’s CMOs are being promoted to hold a larger seat in the C-suite. They’re not just being tasked with more work, their insights are being given greater weight (some would say a little too much). Today’s companies know that without their marketing teams meeting the moment-to-moment needs of customers (and reading their minds in real time), their company would get left behind.
But this elevation is also a double-edged sword. Eighty percent of CEOs have expressed dissatisfaction with their CMOs. Perhaps it is pressure from competition or perhaps it pressure from customers, it’s tough to say. But CMOs have a tough job and have the highest turnover rate in the c-suite, lasting on average just over 3 years. But don’t let these facts discourage you. Afterall statistics and averages change. Successful CMOs know they need the right team around them to support them, accomplish goals, and go above and beyond for the customer. Which leads me to my next point.
Goodbye Sales People, Hello Creative Souls with Heart
In marketing’s digital transformation, today’s marketing teams are no longer merely sales people. They’re creative and curious people with a strong soft skill sets—willing to listen to the data, but also willing to think beyond it. They’re people who are constantly thinking of ways to improve the customer experience and get to know their customers even better at every phase of the journey. They’re people who play an active role in the culture of the company and can help inspire everyone within the enterprise by imagining what’s possible.
These are the people that help support the CMO. The ones that bring ideas to life. The ones that think outside the box. Doesn’t that sound like a team you’d want to build?
Marketing’s digital transformation is just as huge as its role in digital transformation. We know that in many instances, marketing teams are leading digital transformation for the entire enterprise, making them an integral part of the team. When put together well, a marketing team can make or break a company. That’s a lot of pressure for legacy marketers who are more keen to place ad-buys and call it a day. It’s also a huge opportunity for those marketing professionals hungry for transformation, experience and change. There is tremendous power in marketing’s digital transformation. The savviest companies today will take advantage of it.
The original version of this article was first published on Forbes.