The Four Elements of Digital Maturity

You may not know it yet, but you are in the experience business. The customer experience business is all about enabling the customer to live and move fluidly between channels. It’s about going beyond a single channel, beyond marketing as a function and beyond individual technology. Across all industry verticals, customer experience has become the defining service differentiator and profit driver, and in order to win in the experience business, your organization must be digitally mature.

Adobe hosted a webinar entitled “Four Essential Elements for Digital Maturity,” which offered interesting perspective into what a digitally mature company looks like, where they’re investing their money and what strategies they are implementing as per Adobe’s 2016 Digital Marketing Survey results.

The webinar highlighted the fact that while only 19% of the 735 digital marketing respondents of the study consider their organization to be digitally mature,  of those who believe that they are, 81% say that their efforts have differentiated their company and paid off in profits.

So, what are the four essential elements to achieving digital maturity and thriving in the experience business? Let’s take a look.

 1. Data-Driven Marketing:

41% of those surveyed in Adobe’s 2016 Digital Marketing Survey said that they plan to increase data-driven marketing tactics, particularly around data measurement and optimization.

Businesses leverage copious amounts of data in order to paint clear images of their customers. This data is taken from many sources, including social, in-store, email, mobile, print and more. The problem? Often it is delivered back to the organization through disparate systems. In order to get your company on the path to being data-driven, you need a central data hub that can layer data on top of data in order to create big data that actionable insights can be derived from. Next, you must consider who in your organization is responsible for mining the data, the context of the data and how the insights of this data can contribute to the ROI and success of the programs you are running. Finally, organizations must determine how they are augmenting this data to support different marketing programs. Will the data be applied across different marketing channels, integrated into a CRM system, used to create unique audience definitions, or all of the above?

The biggest data investments currently being seen are in predictive and attribution analytics. While we saw the growth of Web analytics give way to marketing analytics and customer analytics, successful organizations are finding ways to utilize all three. More than 96% of the reported “digitally mature” companies agree that having a complete view of the customer is critical, and that doing so requires attribution modeling and predictive analytics. Because of this, 27% of North American respondents are now leveraging predictive analytics and 58% plan to be doing so in the near future.

2. Mobile:

Half of the world’s online traffic is now coming from mobile devices. With mobile usage rising, so too is mobile spending, making mobile engagement a critical element of digital maturity.

In 2015, 51% of Adobe study respondents reported that investing in mobile sites and mobile applications is very or somewhat important to improving mobile engagement over the next three years. This year, that statistic went up to 73%, with almost half of digital marketers reporting to have increased their mobile budgets this year. What are those budgets being used for? Responsive design and mobile applications.

Developing a mobile engagement strategy starts with building a mobile responsive website. A mobile responsive website enables customers to seamlessly interact with the features of your website on any device of their choosing. Only after an organization has a fully responsive website can they move to the second most important component of an effective mobile marketing strategy: building a mobile app.

Mobile apps have seen a major increase over the past year, with a jump from 23% to 50% of digital marketers reporting that they provide a mobile application for their business. The reasoning? Mobile applications are key to an organization’s customer loyalty strategy.

Adobe presenters used Major League Baseball to showcase an example of a digitally mature mobile app strategy. Their first app, MLB Ballpark, allows fans to manage their tickets, order food from within the stadium, upgrade their seats, view game attendance history, check-in at different locations to receive promotions and more. Their second app, At Bat, is for those fans not able to attend the game. It allows users to watch or listen to the game live, view box scores and archive video highlights. With these applications, MLB has been able to offer their customers the opportunity to build on their experience both at-stadium and at-home. In addition to this, the company implemented the use of geo-fences around the stadiums in order to map out the points of interest and collect data on how and where customers are engaging with the Ballpark app. Now that’s digital maturity!

3. Cross-Channel:

The Adobe presenter defined cross-channel as the ability to plan, launch and measure meaningful marketing messages and tactics across offline and online channels where the customer is engaged. It is an ability that 88% of survey respondents reported as very important to reaching digital maturity.

In order to develop a successful cross-channel strategy, an organization must have a single view of the customer. Acquiring such a view requires access to a central location where customer journey data can be viewed and actionable insights can be made through the application of advanced business rules. This central data  hub must be integrated with your content management center in order to take those data insights and convert them into personalized content, optimized for different channels.

Businesses looking to take the first step in enhancing their cross-channel capabilities should begin with email. Email remains one of the primary channels within marketing communications, allowing for the advanced capabilities of cross-media, including personalization, responsive design, dynamic content and advanced analytics. According to the Adobe survey, 61% are currently leveraging advanced email personalization techniques, 59% are doing responsive design emails and 47% are using dynamic content in their emails.

Businesses looking to take the first step in enhancing their cross-channels should begin with email. Email is one of the primary channels within marketing communication, allowing for the advanced capabilities of cross-media, including personalization, responsive design, dynamic content and detailed analytics. According to the Adobe survey, 61% of the survey respondents are currently leveraging advanced email personalization techniques, while 59% are doing responsive design emails and 47% are using dynamic content in their emails.

4. Customer Experience:

Journey analytics is one of the most critical tactics businesses will be investing in over the next three years to create the next best customer experience.

57% of respondents are investing in journey analytics in order to create the next best customer experience, as journey analytics enable marketers to know not just which campaigns are working and which are not, but who their customer is, what they’re looking at and where they’re going. This is critical in the customer-centric era where consumers want to feel understood as they move from channel to channel—experience to experience. Consumers expect each new interaction point to be enriched by the prior. This means being able to collect data across the journey and identity behavioral patterns that can be converted into predictive analytics. In order to pull together these analytics, organizations should creation attribution models, which means taking the time to pinpoint and understand the impact of specific content, channels and campaigns on conversion rates.

Other ways businesses are improving customer experience is through content marketing and the automated delivery of personalized content. Content is king, and must be delivered along the critical points of the customer journey in order to deliver a distinguishing customer experience. Adobe’s study shows more than 90% of the respondents believe content marketing is significant within customer experience, while 70% believe automating the delivery of personalized content to be just as important.

Paving the path to digital maturity may seem like a huge undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are some general steps companies should consider taking:

  1. Reduce the amount of solutions you’re using to manage content and channels
  2. Gain a single point view of the customer and develop rich customer profiles
  3. Invest in predictive analytics and create an attribution model
  4. Automate personalized, responsive designed content delivery
  5. Tie efforts to specific KPIs and an integrated reporting system
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