If only digital marketing transformation was as easy as a wave of a fairy godmother’s wand.
But it isn’t.
Retailers and brands have been talking about digital transformation for some time as they look to build their businesses as digital-first entities in order to deliver for the new customer demand.
As the world shifted online during the pandemic, those that weren’t already digitally-enabled had to quickly transform themselves to be so. But for some that meant hurried, sticking plasters. It wasn’t transformation – it was a quick, easy fix. And so for those, the true investment in the right systems, people and tools to enable digital transformation may only just be beginning.
Digital transformation is a huge challenge for brands and retailers since it involves change in so many elements of their operations and complete shifts in thinking. It requires the investment of both time and money – as well as getting staff engaged in the transformation too. If they are resistant – such as store staff not promoting online ordering instore – it simply won’t work.
Digital transformation requires technology change, which can be scary – especially for retailers still struggling with legacy systems that aren’t as streamlined. When it comes to marketing transformation, then, retailers and brands need a 360-degree view of the customer, with scalable, flexible martech stacks that they can use to better predict, shape and react to customer behaviour.
But while technology may be the enabler it’s the mindset change that’s most crucial. As Oracle CEO Safra Catz notes, “The hard thing about these transformations isn’t the technology. It’s the sociology.”
It’s a powerful point.
Why are brands struggling with digital marketing transformation?
Getting the digital marketing transformation right can be one of the biggest challenges since brands and retailers are also at the mercy of the mindset of their consumers.
The struggle is real. Customers are busier than ever, bombarded by marketing messages and growing weary of them. Many are similar. Some are useful, others not.
The sheer scale of the challenge is illustrated by the fact that, led by the expansion in digital advertising, traditional, digital ad and total ad spending have all posted their highest rates of spending ever – with total spending by the end of the year exceeding 2019’s pre-pandemic figure by more than $120 billion according to eMarketer.
Coupled with the changes of the last two years, marketers also need to factor in changes in expectations when it comes to customer experience. Consumers are used to the quick ‘get’ of apps. According to a recent Accenture podcast, ‘Evolving the Customer Experience,’ Generation Z isn’t accustomed to waiting; in fact, they won’t even wait on hold for two minutes when calling into a call center.
Brands, meanwhile, are often stuck in a hamster wheel of content – they spam because high reach and high penetration is what they need to do to overcome the challenges of lower loyalty levels. But it often only turns off consumers more.
Consumers are investing less time in engaging with brands, but they are also investing less quality time. Attention spans are waning, leaving brands with the challenge of how to ensure they grab customer attention, deliver standout experiences and leave the shopper with an interaction worth remembering.
And yet against all this backdrop digital sales are growing and so digital marketing becomes the tool necessary to increase those sales further and continue building successful customer relationships. Brands need to stand out.
In Forrester’s US 2021 Customer Experience Index, 21% of brands earned higher scores due in large part to rapid digital transformation and the creation of experiences that met customers’ needs. The power of customer experience just can’t be underestimated.
The bedrock of customer data
But delivering a great customer experience also relies on knowing what the customer wants, which in turn relies on customer data. Brands and retailers need to increase the scale and accuracy of their customer data.
Its power is highlighted by Tesco’s recent move to launch Tesco Media and Insight, powered by Dunnhumby, a platform designed to allow suppliers and agencies to better understand changing consumer needs and serve those needs.
So we have retail having to continue their digital marketing transformation by delivering something new, yet also needing to get closer to their customers than ever, to understand exactly what they want, yet a marketing-weary customer who craves experience not spam.
Marketing gamification can help on both these points. As an experience for the customer it delivers surprise, intrigue, pleasure and stands out from other marketing methods. It can amuse, inform or simply entertain. And it rewards customers for the engagement they invest as a result.
The power of knowledge for brands
But it’s the data that it can be used to collate that is the most powerful tool for digital marketing transformation. It can increase marketing permissions by incentivising sign-ups with game rewards – such as discounts or prizes.
But it can delve much deeper too, surveying customers about their likes and dislikes, or views on products in a way that makes it exciting for the customer and useful for the brand or retailer.
In a time of fragmentation across media touchpoints marketing gamification brings the experience together again. It allows brands and retailers to stand out. And in the world of transformation standing out is what matters most.
Beer brewing group Carlsberg uses gamification to bridge between brand and technology, to engage fans, drive sales with a 360-degree campaign, and reinforce their renowned brand.
While digital marketing transformation is an ongoing process for many brands and retailers, it should be always be a high priority. By adopting a digital-first strategy that is flexible and reactive to audience needs, brands and retailers can meet their audience when and where they want to be met. Let’s strive to offer experiences at just the right moment, which will lead to being memorable, meaningful, and importantly, good for business.