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Digital Darwinism and tech maturity7 min read

7 min read

Following the recent pandemic, brands are quickly re-evaluating their marketing strategy and investments, with most of them making the decision to push their digital investment as a matter of survival. We are going to explore how businesses should approach this change. 

Do you ever remember buying toys from Toys“R”Us online? I personally don’t, and we all know what has unfortunately happened to this famous brand in the UK. Digital transformation is accelerating and data is now more than ever at the heart of the disruption that businesses are experiencing.

During lockdown, online has been the main source of revenue for most brands and retailers, and we expect this trend to carry on. This is where “Digital Darwinism” comes into play, with some businesses needing urgent investment in their digital tech capacities. 

The importance of driving digital maturity

Brands that will come out stronger from this crisis are the ones that are already on the path to a digital-first approach to their business through exploration and implementation of new technology solutions. Meanwhile, others will need to make quick and important business changes to navigate through the current turbulence.   

In recent months, we have all realised that digital is becoming paramount to any business – the ongoing pandemic taking away the opportunity for consumers to perform their routine activities has accelerated the consumer move to digital, a trend that was already there prior to this pandemic. Retail is the first industry that consumers can see to be facing this disruption, and all verticals need to embrace a reinvented way of doing business with data at their core.

So how do you avoid becoming a dinosaur? Research from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) commissioned by Google found that only a handful of businesses use insights and technology to create useful, relevant experiences at multiple moments across the purchase journey. Touch points are now numerous, and the data collected is increasingly important in volume and value.

Why should you care about this study? The study’s results showed that companies leading the way in multi-moment marketing see 30% cost efficiency savings and a 20% increase in revenue. 

Steps for increasing digital maturity such as accurately measuring customer touchpoints and increasing collaboration within your organisation are directly impacted by which tools are part of your tech solutions and how they are connected. We are going to explore the steps to building an efficient and future proof tech architecture that will take you on the path to make better data-driven decisions and help you meet business objectives. 

Assess your business needs

Embarking into a future proof tech architecture is a long-term project that requires a global understanding and view of key stakeholders, current position and the path that will take you to success. 

List all stakeholders

To start off, you will need to get an understanding of all stakeholders that will take part in this project either directly or indirectly. Stakeholders will usually be internal employees that might already have a role in running not only your digital activity, but also C-level management as well as third-party providers with which you might have been working with already. If you are a retailer, you might also think about how you can involve people on the ground such as shop sales assistants.  

Understand the current state

Once you have an overview of key stakeholders and services, try to understand the challenges of the current setup and your marketing processes. If you are working with third parties, understand how they contribute to your business and how important the relation with your partners is to running your marketing activities efficiently.

Complete an audit

Complete an audit of the current platforms used to run your creatives, media buying, reporting and optimisation to understand how each platform is used. Then, identify if there are processes that can be simplified or optimised. It’s important in this process to consider your team and how each individual plays a role in how the technology is used.

Croud will audit your business and follow the Boston Consulting Group Matrix to assess your digital maturity and highlight opportunities to increase it.

Define your needs

Following the audit, identify business objectives along with marketing goals and constraints that can impact the architecture of your new digital solutions. At this step, you should present your objectives and the different constraints you have identified and seek approvals from stakeholders in the different departments. Here are some key questions to be asking yourself:

Business objectives

  • Are you looking to drive sales or leads?
  • What business lines will be advertised?
  • How many agencies work with the business?

Technical Objectives

  • What products are vital to your business, and how are conversions counted?
  • Do you have both offline and online transactions? 

Marketing Constraints

  • How is your business segmented? By business units? Or local market operations?
  • Are your operations seasonal? 

Start drawing your digital marketing architecture 

Once you have assessed your current architecture and gained a better understanding of the technology used by all stakeholders, you will be in the position to rethink your digital marketing platform architecture. At this stage, you can start defining your ideal architecture. For the purpose of this exercise, we are going to take the example of Volkswagen Group. Here are a few considerations to design platform architecture for effective reporting, data flow, and scalability:

Reporting

How are you going to integrate data from all channels to support your business objectives? How will each stakeholder be using the different reports? For our example of Volkswagen Group, here are some areas to focus on for reporting:

  • Market aggregation – i.e. UK, France, Germany 
  • Brand aggregation – Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Seat
  • Category – Economy, Compact, Saloon, SUV, Sports
  • Business Line – Private, Professional, Fleets
  • Market & Brand – UK Sales for Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Skoda, Seat

Data flow & integration

Consider what data you are looking to pull from each platform and determine whether or not it will serve your business needs. Which should be linked? How many domains do you have? How do you set up your analytics platforms to collect the data and ensure that all stakeholders have the right level of access?

It’s important to ask yourself these questions and to consider how third-party systems integrate with your business.

Scalability

Make sure your plan is future proof by assessing the potential to increase your activity and efficiency by considering automation. Aim to design your architecture so it’s easily scalable if you were to, for example, enter a new market or launch a new business line.

Not all businesses are equal

While all businesses should aim to have the most integrated solutions, not all verticals are equal on this path. This could be due to restrictions in data privacy and availability. Some sensitive and personal information can’t be shared or used for marketing purposes. Collection of data can be restricted by legislation or used by a small number of individuals. In this example, consider the path that medical care is taking and the types of information that have to remain confidential. 

Another reason why integrated solutions may be difficult is long sale cycles. A long sale cycle will make attaining maturity a bit more complicated as touch points are numerous and diverse, and often happening offline. 

Below are some benchmarks for most industries:

Summary

More than ever before, businesses should reconsider their current solution in a rapidly evolving landscape with targeting and measurement set to change. The great news is that tools are already there for businesses to future proof their digital marketing activity and gain a competitive edge in their market.

If you want to learn more about the biggest trends and developments in the world of ad tech, go and look at Croud’s Ad Tech & Beyond series. To find out more about Croud and how we can support your digital maturity growth, get in touch.