StrategyChange managementChange Management and Digital Strategies

Change Management and Digital Strategies

Digital strategy revolves around business and organizational change management, and yet, these important elements are often forgotten.

It is hard to define digital strategy because it covers such a wide range of activities and topics. Strategy can mean getting the most out of a specific digital channel, or it could be an exercise in innovation and developing a digital product. It could be broader and align all existing digital touch points to move the business in a particular direction.

In all cases, digital strategy involves an element of business and organizational change management. However, this key ingredient is easily missed or forgotten by businesses and can be the undoing of a lot of hard work.

For example, launching an e-commerce website can involve considerable change to a business.

A new e-commerce site needs to consider its supply chain and how it fulfils orders. While that box is usually ticked, there are many other details that require consideration. What about the finance team processing payments? Or the CRM team understanding and tracking the relative value of customers?

If one of these areas hasn’t been consulted early on, significant cracks show quickly and can derail the success of the new site and its ability to provide real commercial impact to the business.

Two of the biggest themes in digital marketing today, programmatic advertising and content marketing, both require change management, and if change management isn’t taken into account, then the initiatives will be unsuccessful.

Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic advertising requires considerable change process and business alignment. In terms of process, programmatic requires a new briefing process.

The traditional briefing process of looking for one idea that targets one customer profile doesn’t lend itself to outputs around personalization, re-targeting, real-time data, or sequential story-telling.

In terms of business alignment, there needs to be clear communication on who ‘owns’ programmatic and even to the long-term vision of programmatic for the business.

Is programmatic an extension of CRM, since it is literally providing the right message to the right person at the right time, or is it closer to internal advertising, since it involves publishing creative messages across platforms? And how are the insights from programmatic being translated throughout the organization? Whose job is it to do so? These terms need to be defined, as well as the specific KPIs of the employees or the individuals leading these efforts.

Content Marketing

At the core of content marketing is the ability to distribute valuable, relevant and consistent material to a targeted audience.

Similar to programmatic, this output requires a different input than the traditional creative brief.

Also, in order to find material that is relevant, trustworthy and authentic, it is sometimes best to enlist people who are not normally tapped to engage in marketing.

This can be a big shift for companies. In some cases, the best avenue is to reach in and talk to the trusted experts within the company and potentially use them to help define the content that would be useful to the audience rather than immediately seeking external third party assistance.

In order to get the best out of programmatic, content marketing and digital strategy initiatives in general, it is best to avoid treating them in silos and to integrate them with the rest of the business. Here are a few change management principles that can be used to help:

Clear, top-down communication on goals: Have a clear message of the intended outcomes of a digital strategy initiative and map the digital strategy with the overall objectives of the company. This message should come from senior management. It needs to be done and repeated.

Think about the individual: Each person (or team) will consider the project and outcome in relation to their role. Try to be as explicit as possible about how roles will change, what is expected of them, and how you are measuring their success.

Evaluating culture and organizational readiness: Assess the barriers and conflict that might arise and plan to address them. Is your organization ready for programmatic? What steps need to be made to increase/improve organizational readiness? Do you have the skill-sets and partnerships in place to deliver? Are you building a culture that celebrates success and looks for opportunities to improve?

Assigning clear owners: Organizations are complex, and digital strategy initiatives will die without clear ownership. They typically don’t move forward if ownership is spread across groups and committees. Identify key people to drive strategy and ensure that strategy is part of their performance appraisals.

Digital strategy can have far reaching impact across an organization and can provide enormous overall business benefit. But success requires taking a hard look at the processes and tools required, along with the people and departments they touch.

The strictly “digital” side – the zeroes and ones – can be the easy part!

*Image via Shutterstock

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