“Digital transformation” is a term that’s constantly heard in today’s conference rooms and keynote presentations, yet its meaning is fairly ambiguous. Sure, we know it has something to do with improving digital systems, but what does that mean for us, as marketers?

The first true digital transformation occurred when companies ditched filing cabinets and manual processes for computers. But the definition of “digital transformation” has evolved over the years, right alongside technology itself. As tech continues to reach new heights, more advanced digital transformations are demanded of companies in order to keep up.

The Many Meanings of “Digital Transformation”

If you’re confused about what “digital transformation” truly means, it may be because there is no single definition. The term possesses different meanings depending on the industry or department it’s referring to.

For HR professionals, a digital transformation means automating processes, digitizing employee records and using technology to track productivity.

In accounting, a digital transformation marks the shift from paper-based contracts and invoices to electronic contracts, data collection and reporting.

But a digital transformation, as it relates to marketing, is in a league of its own.

Bird's eye view of hands using laptops on a wooden table, with graphic overlay of tech icons

 

A Digital Transformation in Marketing

A digital transformation in marketing refers to the shift from digital complacency to the active pursuit of digital excellence through the proper usage and optimization of your digital channels. More specifically, this means refining your digital channels to gain deeper insights that inform your approach and improve the customer journey.

Here’s what a digital transformation might look like for your marketing department:

  • Refining Your Digital Channels

    Your first step in a digital transformation is to assess the value of your current marketing tools and channels. Take a close look at your website, social media, automation tools, analytics platforms and customer database. Could you be better leveraging these platforms? Are there better options for your needs? A thorough review of these tools and channels will ensure you’re adequately armed to drive your company to success.

  • Breaking the Silos

    In addition to optimizing your digital channels, you need to make sure all of these systems are talking to each other and working together. When your digital tools are operating in a siloed fashion, you’re missing out on the bigger picture. Logging in and out of five different accounts to track a customer’s journey is not an efficient or sustainable way to operate. A customer data platform (CDP) can act as the connective tissue that joins these platforms together, providing you with a holistic view of your entire customer base.

  • Optimizing the Customer Journey

    The advanced insights you’ll obtain from improved channel integrations will assist you in pivoting your strategy for success. Equipped with a holistic view of your marketing funnel, you can easily identify weak spots and opportunities for improvement. You’ll also be able to provide a more personalized, relevant experience for leads and customers alike.

Illustration of the buyer's journey with focus on person's hands using a tablet

 

An Ongoing Effort

The elements that propel you into digital excellence today can become hinderances with the introduction of new technologies tomorrow. Imagine if the companies that went through the first digital transformation ceased to evolve after that - they reached the peak of digital excellence for the 90’s and they were satisfied. Those companies would surely be out of business today.

You must continue to improve and iterate upon your marketing engine as whole in order to maintain a world-class digital presence and see ROI. If you work your way through the final stage and stop there, you risk falling behind in an ever-evolving digital world. By staying up to date with the latest marketing trends and daring to dabble in new practices, you’ll keep your brand at the forefront of digital for years to come.