The 5 Biggest Challenges to the Digital Transformation of Marketing

As a tech sector marketer you will know Digital Transformation is not straight forward. Right now you are probably trying to market “Digital Transformation” to your clients, whilst also working out how to digitally transform your own marketing function.

Martrain has some of the best consultants in Europe who have worked on digital transformation projects for start-ups and big tech vendors like Vodafone, Alcatel Lucent Enterprise, Plantronics and General Electric. So we asked our guys what they felt are the biggest challenges marketing face in a digital transformation initiative and they came up with these five:

  1.  Defining Digital Transformation for marketing
  2.  Getting the right leadership for the project
  3.  Measuring progress
  4.  Overcoming Progress Blockers
  5.  Getting the most from marketing technology

In this blog we are going to look at challenge 1 – How do you define Digital Transformation?

The first challenge of a digital transformation is that there is no clear definition of what a digital transformation actually is. The term is a bit like “Cloud Computing” – it can mean many different things to different people.

Wikipedia comes up with the definition:

“Digital transformation is the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society.”

I admit this is a pretty good definition but it doesn’t help us tech marketers much in our digital transformation projects.


Most tech vendors sell “Digital Transformation”

Things get further complicated because pretty much every tech vendor out there claims to be selling “Digital Transformation”.  Martrain has done loads of Digital Transformation marketing campaigns for our clients. For instance SAP have the tagline:

“Design Your Strategy for Digital Transformation with SAP S/4HANA”

And Citrix claim to be:

“uniquely positioned to be your partner for digital transformation.”


The digital transformation of marketing

So just to be clear – we are talking about the digital transformation of your marketing. This may well feed into other parts of the business and help your organisation’s overall strategy but we are going to limit ourselves to your marketing function.

But to be honest defining it within the marketing context is also pretty difficult. Let’s face facts, ever since you had a website you have been marketing “digitally”. There is no clear start or end to a digital transformation project.

Diageo’s CEO Ivan Menezes said: “It’s not about doing ‘digital marketing’, it’s about marketing effectively in a digital world.” He has a point, but a CMO would struggle to sell a “Marketing more effectively” plan to the rest of the board never mind their team.

In our experience the drivers for digital transformation are not that there is so much technology out there or a company wants to place customers at the centre of their marketing. The drivers tend to be doing more with less – particularly “less budget and less headcount.” The technology enables you to do this. It also enables you to cut costs on non-digital marketing activities like telemarketing and hospitality.


What are your business goals?

So the way we help our clients define their Digital Transformation is to ask them what business goals they have to achieve. What are their growth targets and budget constraints? These are measurable and time critical and make it easier to plan around. Then we use our experience of digital marketing to work out how we can enable them to achieve their goals.

We help them create an overarching framework or roadmap taking into account the four main areas of:

  1. Technology
  2. Processes
  3. People
  4. Culture

The key to success, however, is to then create measurable projects that fit the framework and which take no longer than 12 months to complete. Some of these may be tactical like:

  • Content strategies
  • Better integration of marketing automation and CRM
  • Better measurement of leads and activity
  • Whitespace analysis
  • Data cleansing

Some may be more strategic:

  • Creating a vision to inspire change
  • Go To Markets (GTM) strategy – how much ecommerce can you use
  • Understanding Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
  • Understanding Customer lifetime value (LTV)
  • Channel management
  • Restructuring & retraining team

It’s also worth pointing out that sometimes you don’t need to digitally transform you marketing function. Often we find clients who actually just want to create an effective inbound lead generation engine. For them we can help fine tune their inbound campaigns or they can simply outsource them to us using our “Inbound Marketing as a Service” (IMaaS).

In our eBook The 5 Biggest Challenges for the Digital Transformation of Tech Sector Marketing we will go through each challenge in detail, explaining why they are so troublesome, and giving you tips on how you can overcome them. We can’t make Digital Transformation simple for you, but we can make it achievable.