The digital-first revolution is accelerating. Shore up 3 key areas to help your brand thrive

The digital-first revolution is accelerating. Shore up 3 key areas to help your brand thrive

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Monday, October 18, 2021 | Philip Guiliano

It’s time to reckon with an exciting — yet daunting — reality. The digital revolution is here, and the changes it’s brought to the marketing landscape may be permanent. Over the course of the pandemic, more and more consumers adopted a digital-first lifestyle, and the pace of innovation keeps accelerating. In fact, according to a study by McKinsey & Company, in just a few months, society has leapt forward by several years in terms of adopting and utilizing new digital technologies. Furthermore, e-commerce is expected to reach $1 trillion for the first time ever in 2022 — with no signs of slowing down.

How does the digital-first revolution impact how your brand goes to market? It comes down to this. If you haven’t fundamentally transformed how you serve and interact with your audience — and made sure every process, person, and technological tool is prepared to support that shift — now’s the time to do it. And you’d better move fast. Because if you don’t, you could lose not only market share, but your viability as a business in the 21st century.

The good news is it’s not too late to catch this wave of progress and ride it into a bright, profitable future. Here are three questions to ask your Marketing team as you position the infrastructure of your brand and marketing operations to meet the demands 2022 will bring.

1. Can your MarTech stack provide the seamless digital experience your audience expects?

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic caused healthcare providers, banks, service industries, and everyone else to ask and answer an urgent question. How can we deliver our brand promise digitally?

For companies like Amazon, who grew up in a digital-first environment, the shift simply required them to grow to meet increased consumer demand. The infrastructure was already in place. But for organizations who traditionally offered their brand promise and customer experience in a brick-and-mortar environment, the change was both sudden and jarring.

If you’re in that boat, you may have cobbled together less-than-ideal technological solutions in order to offer new digital experiences. But now it’s time to replace those quick fixes with well-built, permanent solutions.

For example:

  • Healthcare providers who outsourced virtual appointments to a third-party provider may want to bring that service in-house in order to deliver their brand promise more consistently.
  • Banks who previously treated their website as a supplement to the in-person experience may need to flip that paradigm. This might involve rethinking details like mobile deposit limits or allowing a certain number of free ATM transactions per month.
  • Industries that have always relied on direct mail and telephone channels to communicate with their audience may need to invest in automated technology that supports email and other digital communications.

Marketing leaders are finding it necessary to:

  • Understand what your audience expects from you in the digital-first era
  • Take an honest look at the changes these expectations will require you to make
  • Adjust your delivery model to meet consumer demands
  • Bolster your brand and marketing technology so you can represent your brand properly in every new channel you adopt

Once you’ve done this foundational work, assess whether your people have everything they need to thrive in this new environment.

2. Do your people know how to deliver your brand promise in a digital-first environment?

How we promote our business, communicate with our audience, and deliver our brand experience has changed significantly in the span of a few months. To that end, the skills required to succeed in marketing 20 years ago are not the same skills required to thrive today. So if you want to be sure your brand is ready for everything a digital-first environment will demand, you need to honestly assess your marketing operations team’s capabilities and fill in knowledge gaps where needed.

You might accomplish this by upskilling your existing team members, restructuring roles and responsibilities, or adding new positions that bring specific expertise to the table. In this digital-first world where you’re gathering more customer-centric data than ever before, this could mean adding roles devoted to the customer experience and data analytics.

Breaking down organizational silos will empower you to accomplish your commitment to being digital-first across the whole organization.

Furthermore, now is the time to break down organizational silos that keep you from functioning at peak performance. Your marketing team needs to forge partnerships with key stakeholders across the organization, perhaps starting with business intelligence and information technology. This will empower you to accomplish your commitment to being digital-first across the whole organization.

3. Have you evolved your processes and tools to protect brand consistency across digital platforms and channels?

The visual identity that represents your brand doesn’t just exist on your branded assets, your signage, and your website anymore. As digital channels proliferate, your brand’s creative design elements live on a host of digital locations. What’s more, anyone can easily copy your logo and tagline, and even iterate on those digital assets for their own purposes. And they can influence other people’s perception of your brand, both positively and negatively.

While you can’t always control how outside parties interact with your brand, in a digital-first world, it’s more important than ever that you’ve put documented, repeatable processes, procedures, and guidelines in place so that internal stakeholders can uphold and maintain brand consistency.

To that end, review your processes and update them from a digital-first perspective. This might include developing processes related to data analytics and integration, outlining how to deliver a consistent digital customer experience, and creating guidelines for managing your brand experience across all the new platforms and channels available to you.

This is also the time to invest in tools to help with digital asset management and content creation so that everyone in your organization has access to consistent assets that propel your brand forward.

Harness the power of the digital-first revolution to propel your brand forward

If you want to protect your brand’s value, sustain its viability, and spark innovation in 2022 and beyond, it’s time to embrace a digital-first approach to delivering your brand promise. To do this, ensure your marketing technology is up to the challenge of delivering a seamless customer experience. Next, focus on strengthening your marketing operations team. Round out their traditional skill set with data analytics and customer experience expertise. And finally, update your processes to ensure brand consistency across a plethora of digital platforms and channels.

Above all, get used to being agile and adapting to fast-paced changes. Because we can be sure about this: the digital-first revolution will continue to transform business in the months and years ahead.

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