Scott Severson is the CEO of Brandpoint, a leading content marketing agency. Scott has worked in digital marketing for over 20 years.
Last year will be known for many things. For sales and marketing, it will be known as the year that everyone got serious about digital.
I have been reading about digital transformation for years, and clearly, we have made great strides in this area. However, before the pandemic, there were still many businesses that approached their marketing and sales like it was 1995. In many cases, this was just fine. These companies had a combination of knowledgeable salespeople who were constantly in front of customers and sufficient marketing efforts that worked for them.
Then Covid-19 came, and for many of us, our screens became our only connection to the outside world. Almost overnight, we became a bit like Neo from The Matrixas our work and social lives moved to the web. As a result of our forced relegation to the web, digital transformation became a necessity for most businesses to varying degrees. Companies that resisted digital investment were suddenly challenged, and the companies with the best content and digital experiences began to win the day.
This is especially true when it comes to marketing and sales. The concept of a home field advantage in sales is gone. It is being replaced with the digital experience advantage. If your sales and marketing efforts are not quite there yet, this is where you need to focus your attention today.
The concept of digital transformation is going to mean different things to different organizations, so a uniform definition is a bit elusive. We will have to settle for agreeing that conceptually, digital transformation means that digital technology is foundational in all areas of a business. It is present in how we operate, interact and deliver value to our customers.
The Changes Are Likely Permanent
The concept of digital transformation typically connotes an end state — a change from one state of being to another. I see it more as a continuous, constant evolution. We will be continuously evolving how we connect with our customers and provide value digitally.
The interesting part of this is how the pandemic accelerated this evolution and created opportunity for innovation. From remote work to distance learning to e-commerce, we have all seen tremendous change almost overnight.
During this period, we have established new patterns, behaviors and preferences. While the pandemic will end, many of the changes seem to be deeply rooted in our psyche now and may be here to stay.
As an example, McKinsey reports that in China, "there has been a 55 percent increase in consumers intending to permanently shift to online grocery shopping." Disney just announced it will be closing 20% of its retail stores to focus on expansion of its online shopping experiences.
It's not just retail and e-commerce that are being affected. How we market and sell in B2B channels will probably never be the same as it was. We're moving to hybrid office settings with workers becoming more nomadic. This will necessitate better content experiences to power our sales processes when it will be difficult if not impossible to get all the right decision-makers in a room at the same time. Digital sales and marketing are likely here to stay.
What Does This Mean For Marketing?
So, how will the new world of digital transformation affect your day-to-day life as a marketer? There are new values and tactics to keep in mind when you're planning your campaigns, and certain strategies within traditional marketing are more of a focus than ever. Here's my advice:
• Spend more time on audience analysis. If the world is more online than ever, you need to know exactly where your current and future clients are, be it on certain websites or social media platforms.
• Be willing to adapt and change your marketing viewpoints, even if you've been reluctant in the past to dive fully into the digital world.
• Strategically create genuinely relevant content to reach your audience and provide a strong customer experience.
In my next installment in this series, we'll explore that last bullet point in more detail and look at the role of content and customer experience in fueling digital transformation.
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