Media Must Be At The Heart Of Digital Transformation

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By James Shepherd, Managing Director EMEA, M&C Saatchi Performance

Businesses have been pushed into a level of digitization they thought was years away, with 97% of enterprise decision-makers reporting the pandemic is speeding up their digital transformation journey. They can no longer afford just to dip their toes, they are going all in, with spend on related digital technologies and services expected to grow over 10% this year to reach $1.3 trillion.

As part of this dramatic and irreversible evolution, companies need to understand how media ties into their overarching business vision and ensure media strategy is at the forefront of digital transformation. As businesses evolve, so should their marketing strategies. Those that see digital transformation as simply fixing their back end will miss out on valuable growth opportunities. Traditional channels are no longer the central force of the marketing plan; a digital business strategy needs to work alongside a digital media strategy to acquire and retain customers, and to drive tangible results.

Here are three ways businesses can put media at the heart of their digital transformation journey:

A mobile-first mindset  

Businesses have been advised to take a mobile-first approach for years, but all too often desktop remains the focus, with an enduring misconception that consumers need a web browser for purchasing. It may be difficult to hear for businesses that invest heavily in their websites and understand them inside out, but the mobile app should be the hub.

With consumer behavior centered around smartphones, businesses need to focus investment on their mobile apps, ensuring every element of the app works seamlessly to keep the user engaged and encourage brand loyalty. In a changing world of data collection and tracking, it is more important than ever to navigate users to an app to deliver a better understanding of the consumer, their rapidly changing needs, and how to best to interact with them. The information collected in-app can help enormously with audience segmentation and targeting. At a time where businesses could be building an entirely new audience, they need to provide an experience that allows the user to jump from ad to app as easily as possible.

An integrated approach

Businesses also need to shift from seeing channels in a silo, resulting in inefficient spend, to a more integrated approach. When responsibilities are segmented by different product owners who don’t have sight of each other’s objectives, they will only focus on their own remit rather than working together toward larger business goals. This trend is often illustrated by the disconnect between brand building and performance marketing.

A fully integrated tech stack with clear data flow is the best way to make a business work cohesively towards common goals. And that stack must be reviewed and revised continuously to ensure it still works for the business as technology constantly evolves. All systems need to be aligned and to communicate with each other to enable better measurement and attribution that feeds into a cross-channel audience-first approach to planning, where all teams have access to the same information and are pulling in the same direction for the success of the business.

A robust data framework

Underpinning the integrated approach outlined above is a mature data framework. A conflict currently exists where businesses need to personalize communications and experiences more than ever, but developments and regulations such as Apple’s IDFA, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are shifting the marketing industry towards a depersonalized state. Rather than being misled by the moves of the big tech companies and settling for less personalized service, or relying too heavily on concepts like fingerprinting they don’t fully understand, marketing teams need to embrace privacy-compliant data solutions that still enable them to deliver a personalized experience.

Data and tech can feel overcomplicated and alienating but they play a vital role in creating unified marketing and business strategies. Involving digital marketing within tech transformation,  and bringing in the right people with the experience and knowledge to make it work, facilitates this strategy. The right team with the right tech can interweave data streams and work towards the single truth of clean data, ultimately gaining deeper insight into users. When all systems share data, and insight is available to every team, the business can work cohesively.

Despite rapid changes in the wider world, digital transformation doesn’t happen overnight, it needs to be a journey and a gradual process, with the right minds behind the machines. By embracing a mobile-first mindset, eliminating channel siloes to take a more integrated approach, and implementing a robust data framework, businesses can align marketing strategy with business strategy and ensure media is at the heart of digital transformation and driving growth.

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