Digital transformation is a term brand managers hear frequently – but what is it? And how can you achieve company goals and boost business by using it?
Decades ago, print ads, billboards, and television commercials targeting prime-time watching periods were the go-to methods for boosting business. Today, however, prospects are better reached online. As customer habits change, marketers must adapt in order to continue reaching an audience.
Additionally, once you’ve reached, attracted, and engaged your audience, you must satisfy and retain them. Useful apps, easy-to-navigate websites, email list nurturing, and innovative products and services are just a few ways to serve today’s customers.
What Is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation modernizes marketing and outreach tactics, customer service systems, and internal operations to grow with an ever-evolving marketplace. It involves making fundamental changes to how an organization uses technology and developing applications to meet constantly changing customer needs, demands, and expectations.
However, going digital just for the sake of doing so won’t automatically improve your brand. The path to success lies within updating your approach and offerings in ways that drive your business forward, boost profits, thrill customers, and improve your industry reputation. To ensure your company is poised to thrive, you’ll want to address five specific keys.
“Utility ought to be the principle intention of every publication. Wherever this intention does not plainly appear, neither the books nor their authors have the smallest claim to the approbation [approval] of mankind.” – Encyclopedia Britannica, First Edition – Preface.
More than 250 years ago, while curating the world’s cumulative knowledge into the first iteration of Encyclopedia Britannica, the creators understood the importance of presenting information in the most accessible way. The above quote applies to CEOs, content creators, and marketers today as strongly as it ever has.
When Britannica Group’s Global CEO Karthik Krishnan sat down with DMN News Editor in Chief Kim Davis for the One on One Podcast, he discussed Britannica’s digital transformation. Krishnan explained how Britannica has always been a forward-thinking company. Because people now consume their information online, he said it was important for the brand to change their approach to information dissemination. Encyclopedia Britannica, long known for its print encyclopedias, is now an online-only brand.
The key to any brand’s success is usefulness. This translates especially well in the digital landscape. Apps, websites, social media communications, available services, and the like should all aim to provide as much utility to customers as possible. Companies must continually assess their demographic to determine needs, wants, and how they can better serve them.
Successful brands stand out from the competition. If your products, services, apps, and website are identical to your competitors’ – you will essentially split customers evenly (or even lose out on them completely if you don’t get noticed). The key is offering an experience other brands don’t or can’t. Uniquely designed apps, adherence to a solidly defined branding tone across all platforms, and promotions, pricing, features, services, and products that are specific to your company can engage prospects and encourage fierce customer loyalty.
Take a look at travel guide icon, Lonely Planet. Created by Maureen and Tony Wheeler in 1973, Lonely Planet used to be a print-first provider of ultra-comprehensive travel guides. Today, they serve millions of viewers with their unique range of digital offerings. Company CEO and President Luis Cabrera spoke to Kim Davis recently to discuss how Lonely Planet differentiates itself in the digital marketplace.
Cabrera explained, “Our mission is to help you have amazing experiences. [Therefore we] want to sync with your travel needs and remain a trusted travel companion before, during, and after your trips. After significant research and opportunity sizing, we realized that Lonely Planet has a right to play in adjacent spaces beyond content. We will not compete with the large online travel agencies or become the number one source for UGC and reviews; instead, we will rightfully claim our position as a trusted advisor and will remain as a reliable and curated source of travel recommendations.”
In addition to travel guides, Lonely Planet’s website and app offers bookings for flights, hotels, car rentals, and tours – as well as travel insurance. Providing your customers with application and website features not offered by your competitors helps you stand out and rise above the white noise.
Disruption is very similar to differentiation, and the two are often spoken about together. But we are covering them separately, as the terms are not synonymous. Disruption is differentiation taken to the next level.
Here’s an example: Cable and satellite T.V. providers offer similar channel lineups, and only differ in factors such as delivery method, pricing, package offerings, region availability, and plan features. But internet television providers such as Roku and Amazon Fire have completely disrupted the entertainment game. They have made it possible for customers to ditch subscriptions and pay only for the channels they want to watch. Customers can also watch what they want when they want – no recording required.
Disruption is all about doing things in your industry that have never been done before. Think about what your competitors aren’t doing or offering, determine what you do best, and turn your industry on its head with a never-seen approach. Maybe it’s an app or platform that offers unheard of benefits.
In the marketing, organizational, product development, and customer service landscapes – company culture is the driver behind all endeavors. Figuring out what your brand stands for, its overall mission, and the persona you want to convey to the world are imperative in digital transformation.
Is your business a medical or charitable brand that offers support, trusted advisory, and compassionate care? Or are you a finance-related company that wants to project an edgy, aggressive image? Conversely, maybe your business is focused on product quality and customer satisfaction.
Whatever your goals are, your company culture should permeate every aspect of your internal and external materials – especially including apps, websites, and digital mediums.
You cannot achieve any of the keys for digital transformation success without the right talent on your team. The people in every department will affect the quality of your endeavors. Product and service development professionals ensure your offerings are useful, unique, and disruptive. Marketers and advertisers create messaging strategies that convey that usefulness, differentiation, disruption, and culture. Marketers also craft content that drives further disruption. And of course, your application developers, designers, and tech teams build the digital offerings and platforms that all endeavors will run on.
Putting the best talent in place allows your digital transformation to go smoothly, and to check every important box so that your company flourishes. With the right people on your team and the most effective techniques followed, you can guarantee company growth and prosperity for years, decades, or even generations to come.