The past decade has been defined by digital transformation. Brands put it in the “important but not urgent” category, consultancies made money on consulting rather than creating, and brands focused on laying technology pipes over enhancing the actual user experience.
Then COVID-19 happened and this disruption is forcing marketers to reevaluate their previous strategies, according to new research from MediaMonks and Forrester Research.
"It’s surprising how much the concept of digital transformation has been removed from actually delivering better digital experiences for consumers, after a decade of work mostly defined and delivered by consultancies,” says Wesley ter Haar, co-founder, MediaMonks. “Which for me is the main takeaway. Transformation needs to have a goal, and end state of sorts, and too often it’s been about the process and PowerPoint instead of the end product."
Four in 10 marketing leaders (40%) say they prioritized their digital approaches back in January, compared to 61% who now state they are accelerating their digital experience initiatives. Earlier in the year, these leaders say they also discussed improving data and analytics as well as aligning their brand promise with customer experiences (40% each).
Now, top priorities are restructuring marketing teams to focus on new initiatives (56%), retraining team members (48%), and reallocating marketing spend into more effective channels (42%).
This survey of 366 global marketing decision-makers yielded several recommendations for how firms can virtualize distinct brand experiences.
For one, achieving a digital business requires understanding customers’ needs, targeting consumers with appropriate content, and producing relevant digital experiences. Privacy, transparency, and data stewardship are essential. Consumers must give permission to collect and share their data, and they must understand what data is being used and how and whether it is being stored safely.
Brands and their partners must invest in analytics and data sciences to ethically make the most of data. Only 23% strongly agree that they are able to use analytics to understand marketing’s performance.
It is also important to elevate production resources to deliver brand-worthy experiences. Computer-generated imagery (CGI) studios, AI-powered production scale, and remote production capabilities are critical to executing in the current and post-COVID-19 world.
Also, marketers must recognize that maintaining consumer engagement and attention requires a series of touchpoints that starts with virtual events and continues with digital experiences (apps, mobile, web, social, and commerce), marketing automation (email) and broader ecosystems (entertainment, social commerce and streaming). Unify these programs and budgets to deliver sustained commercial impact and growth.
Further, brands must select marketing partners structured to deliver omnichannel solutions in digital marketing channels and virtual ecosystems.
It is also critical to hire and retrain employees for a digital-first mindset. Executing customer-first programs requires understanding and mastering the virtual lifestyles of today’s consumers. The top skills marketing leaders say they are seeking right now are content development (68%), analytics (59%), design/virtualization (51%), AI/machine (35%) and programming (32%).
Access the full report here.