Tracking Success in Digital Transformation


There are a few things in marketing that tend to remain constant—one of them is the need to measure success and, where possible, find ways to duplicate it.

But with so many marketing automation platforms out there, teams can feel both overwhelmed and under-informed on the possibilities. Which data is the right data, and what standard is best? As marketers we have to be both pragmatic and flexible: expecting immediate pay-back or ROI on all marketing strategies just isn’t realistic, but applying the right kind of measurement can have a huge effect on campaigns across the board. Figuring out how to measure properly is crucial to long-term goals.

First Things First: The Transformational Marketing Journey

Keep in mind a familiar pattern that tends to emerge when digital campaigns or tactics are launched, and know that the ride is almost never perfectly smooth sailing (if it seems like it is, you should start worrying). Usually, it all begins in an “up” mood, with a lot of what’s called “Uninformed Optimism”; but once the campaign is initiated, the effort can fall quickly into the “Valley of Despair.” You might call this, simply, a reality check. As I write in my book, this period of despair is all about the learning curve—you’ll have to ask yourself a lot of questions and reassess your goals. There will be a notable decline in team performance and productivity, but it’s really nothing to worry about too much in the end.

However, do keep in mind that the amount of time you spend in this valley will determine how much success you have with your transformation overall. The longer you suffer with low performance, the less likely it is that you will hit your most ambitious goals.

Once you hit rock bottom, another phenomenon appears—creative tension. Now, tension can often be a bad thing, but in this case it is precisely what pulls you out of the valley. When things start to go bad, and disagreements crop up, there might be some secondary goals that get caught in the crossfire. Stick with it, though, and you’ll see that very often its the crisis itself that helps pull you out of stasis. Once you get over your differences and reevaluate, you’ll find you’re ahead of the game.

Undergoing transformative new projects or campaigns usually follows a familiar pattern.

Here are some additional principles to think about before you initiate your digital transformation at any level of the game, whether it be marketing, sales, logistics, or change management.

1. Strategize

Where do you want you brand to be in 3–5 years? List your goals and reexamine the assumptions the underly your KPIs for the balance sheet. Figure out what your brand’s ultimate destination will be, from top campaign priorities down to the bottom line itself. Clarity in strategy means that measuring and achieving success will be easier and more predictable in the long-term.

2. Develop

Create a roadmap to your overall goals and additional maps to each smaller goal. How will you reach to each of them, and what are your contingency plans? Define your method and approach, sticking closely to it while also being open to on-the-fly adjustments. Continue to grow and expand your strategy and goals based on new input, using the best data and your top team members to develop a strategy that you can use time and time again.

3. Target

To market a brand, you need to know who your audience is. Decide who your customers are and what market they’re in. Are they moms? CMOs? Sports fans? Tweens? The best way to cement this in your vision is to use clear buyer personas. When a new campaign kicks off, we all start with great intentions and a strong focus, but once distractions and trouble spots pop up you can lose sight of your why you’re doing what you’re doing—and who you’re doing it for. Creating a concise, well-researched buyer persona or personas can save you a lot of trouble in this regard.

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4. Align

Not only must the CEO and CMO be aligned in strategic goals and objectives, the entire team from your docket of freelancers to your top staff must be in lock-step. Determine short and long-term plans across the board and include as many people possible. The more the better. In addition, include your financial team in investment decisions that can establish contingency plans in the event of needed budget cuts. The financial team must be the group that establishes core financial measures for ROI, so ensure they are a part of planning, development, and execution.

5. Automate

Although it seems that marketing agencies are still slow to adapt to automation, it is undeniable that marketing platforms like HubSpot, Salesforce’s Pardot, and Marketo offer an enormously useful range of tools, from integrating CRMs to tying marketing efforts directly to qualified sales leads. Automation connects web traffic to prospects and prospects to closed sales, and does so efficiently and with a trail of analyzable data. My advice? Take advantage of the data and tools that high-quality automation provides. If needed, hire a short- or long-term specialist to train you in the the platform. You won’t regret it.

6. Measure

It’s critical to establish quantitative key performance indicators (KPIs), such as category management, specific objectives, and sales. But it’s equally important to establish qualitative KPIs such as loyalty, reputation management, and third-party credibility. Success measurement is not black and white—marketers must adopt a clear and relevant indicators in order to measure success in all areas of the game.

7. Analyze

Examine your data closely—but don’t get paralyzed by the numbers. Remain focused on the company strategy. Share results of data analysis and discuss what they mean for future campaigns. Again, data means a lot to your creative team but also to your financial team, so task one or two people with keeping track of the data and providing regular or at least periodic reports.

8. Revisit

It is critical to realign your goals so as to continue to effectively implement strategy, which means you may have to revisit your core goals and principles. It isn’t the end of the world to dramatically alter or throw out major parts of your plan as along as you’re tracking progress and pivoting in the right direction. Realize that in the absence of continuously realigning goals, your ROI will be extremely tough (read: impossible) to measure. It’s been shown that, by doing this, successful marketers can grow market share even during a recession!

9. Repeat

Your digital campaign will not be successful without a proven strategy. After a campaign is over, find out the reasoning behind everything that happened—answer all the “whys.” These answers should align with your overall brand strategy. If you had failures, examine them. If it was a general success, take the best portions of that and reuse them. There’s nothing wrong with plagiarizing yourself—as long as you keep the door open to new ideas! Often continued success will depend on doing both.



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