Digital Transformation: Why should marketing take the lead?

This was a sponsored post by Domo under the Master Report series.

Marketing and data have been intertwined since the days of old, when marketers held customer interviews or focus groups with the sole purpose of gleaning data. The advent of the internet radically transformed this process – suddenly, marketers had terabytes of customer data, generated from consumer devices, social media, websites and various business data points at their fingertips. This data enables today’s marketers to dream up campaigns that hit the right spots in the hearts and minds of their customers – something their predecessors could only hope to do.

This level of data literacy also gives most modern marketing teams a head start in digital transformation – marketers often must rely on solid data to verify their assumptions, build their case and justify the marketing dollars they spend. This makes digital transformation for marketing necessary, as the velocity and volume of today’s customer data can only be processed, analysed and prepared with the right digital tools or platforms. But, perhaps most compellingly, marketing’s digital data-readiness potentially allows it to become a test bed of sorts – proving viability and aiding in the formation of processes or best practices that birth a new culture – one that places data at the centre of all decision-making throughout an organisation.

Or, in other words, marketing’s digital transformation can become the stepping stone to a wider, more decisive, business-wide transformation that compels both leaders and employees to regard data as the single, indisputable source of truth.

This is increasingly important, as 84% of all digital transformation efforts go awry – and marketing’s expertise will allow it to better lead the organisation from the front and help leadership confidently forge a new direction in this age of digital change.

Marketing's role in business transformation

The best marketers often dive deep into customer needs, habits and behaviours – and use that knowledge to drive sales or growth numbers. Hence, in most circumstances, marketing has a wide and variable net to capture data from, and can quickly churn out customer insights by linking and analysing data obtained from customer touch-points with the right data tools or platforms.

It can then seamlessly test these customer insights against hypotheses, assumptions or beliefs from within the business – validating truths or proving errors with greater flexibility and speed than other departments. Or it can form ideas and campaigns around these insights, and use them to quickly spur engagement – adding or reiterating along the way, based on the new data they have obtained.

This allows marketing to adopt a more “agile” approach to its work, generating a virtuous cycle of feedback based on data – which, over time, allows it to dynamically fine-tune the accuracy of its selling points or customer messages. And by measuring the right data metrics, marketers can better gauge customer behaviour or identify the most popular product features, revealing even more angles or perspectives to work with.

This allows marketing to deploy multiple mini campaigns with customer-specific messages based on finely filtered demographics – all of which will address customer desires or pain points with greater accuracy and effectiveness than any broad marketing campaign can achieve.

Marketing’s agile approach gives it a constant stream of customer data that can then be shared with product, customer support or UX to further develop core features or identify areas for improvement. This level of collaboration is only possible once marketing can match the constantly advancing timelines of these departments – and an agile, incremental approach based on “burst” experimentation and informed reiteration will certainly aid in this endeavour. Data tools or platforms that act as the single window of truth for the entire organisation will also help – but more important is the way these technologies are used to transform the business. And here, marketing can help leaders see the full truth – that digital transformation isn’t just about introducing new technologies, but also determining how the technology can be used to grow a more agile, data-centric and collaborative culture.

Data as the common ground

While cultivating a data-rich culture is important, being able to share and disseminate the same data sets across the entire organisation is equally – if not more – essential to ensure agility, coherence and accuracy for business-wide, data-driven decisions. And most marketers are already well-versed in sharing their data – after all, collaborations with other departments underscores most of their interactions within a business. This tendency for mutual collaboration means that – over time – most marketers will gravitate towards digital tools that enable better data transparency, accessibility and connectivity with their fellow workers.

As the saying goes, what gets measured, gets done, and as more leaders or employees see the value and effectiveness in the data that marketing brings, they will be more inclined to use or seek their own data to drive their future initiatives.

Championing the right digital tools at the beginning of a business’ shift to digital allows marketing to position itself as the primary drivers of meaningful change – and continue playing that role as the culture matures and begins optimising itself for greater results. Integrated data platforms such as Domo allow marketers and their fellow peers to connect and access data and systems in one place, ensuring the democratisation of data and the creation of an agile, more collaborative organisation. And this will benefit marketing immensely – information and feedback can be shared faster when everyone is on the same page, meaning marketers can get the right campaigns and messages off the ground, with greater speed and less friction.

But, perhaps most importantly, marketing will need to ensure its data-driven results are substantial enough to justify digital transformation and provide value to the leaders of their organisations. This means continually taking the time and effort to reconcile marketing metrics such as conversion rates, downloads or cost-per-clicks with management ones such as sales figures, inventory levels and product bottom-lines. This creates a valuable cause-and-effect connection between customers and the business – allowing business leaders to better align their business’ vision with the needs and desires of their customers.

As the data becomes increasingly valuable to leaders, marketing will even find itself playing a bigger and more decisive role at the management table – particularly when it comes to strategic decisions. Again, the right data tools and platforms are essential for this endeavour, and the more data points these tools can connect to – up to 500 for the Domo platform – the richer and more correlations marketing can make, and the greater its argument to leadership on the necessity for digital transformation throughout the business.

Of course, marketing can choose to ignore business transformation entirely – or contain it only within its own department – but both hinders effective collaboration with other departments and reduces the opportunity for marketing to have a say in the future of their organisation. Indeed, as the world continues to digitise and move at a faster pace, more business leaders are beginning to take digital seriously – and marketing’s expertise in this field can prove to be an invaluable asset to management.

Being at the forefront of transformation will require marketers to go beyond their comfort zones and job roles, but the end result – a business unified and centralised around data – justifies the effort. Yes, it will allow them to do their jobs more efficiently and better corroborate results with fellow employees. But importantly, it will solidify their reputations as game-changers and envelope-pushers that strive to prepare their organisations for the digital challenges ahead.

Read also:

The Master Report: Digital transformation – easier said than done

Digital Transformation: Case Study: Cisco’s marketing team transforms its business with Domo