Digital marketing leaders recently gathered at Cape Town's workshop 17 for the first of the seminars in the of Incubeta's Ignite series. Marcel Matodes of Google marketing platform sub-Saharan Africa says that Google found that brands, who had achieved digital maturity, were able to increase revenue by up to 20% — as well as cut their costs by 30%.

He also says that there is a need for companies to acknowledge that there is a new kind of consumer, and that companies need to be available and relevant on the platforms of their customers' choice.

"Consumers expect to get what they want, instantly and effortlessly," says Matodes. "They are curious, demanding and impatient. They expect to get useful advice and answers to the big and small stuff. They expect personal relevance from brands with little or no effort on their part and when they have found what they are looking for, they expect to be able to act on it immediately."

Matodes told the audience at the event that, despite the fact that many brands recognise the needs of the digitally savvy consumer, they remain resistant to organisational change. He also said that consumers don't necessarily hate advertising, or actively try to avoid it; they simply want to see and engage with content that is relevant to them.

Google, in partnership with the Boston Consulting Group, conducted a study to determine a digital marketing framework. This framework is used to assess the digital maturity of companies in order to help them improve their digital offering. The study showed that companies fell into one of four maturity levels, including:
  • Nascent — companies focused on silo, campaign-based execution, relying mostly on external data with little or no link through to sales
  • Emerging — companies begin to use some collected data in their automated buying, but focus on single-channel optimisation
  • Connected — data is integrated and activated across channels with a clear link to ROI and sales
  • Multi-moment — companies are able to employ dynamic execution that is clearly optimised to individual customer outcomes across all channels
"Everyone asks me for benchmarks to see where other companies in the same vertical are in their digital maturity. [The] great news is when you run your company through the Google Digital Maturity Benchmark tool, it will show you where you are, compared to the industry average and industry best, across each of the 5 A's and O," says Matodes. 

All the speakers agreed that any improvement in digital marketing efficiency and efficacy would require focus on 'The five As and an O' (audience, access attribution, assets, automation and organisation).

Optimising organisations for digital marketing maturity

Roan Mackintosh, Incubeta MD Middle East and Africa, took a look at what organisational change is required in order to move towards digital maturity. He focussed on the need for autonomy, the importance of the right skill sets and building working links between marketing and IT departments.

"Marketing leaders in South Africa must come to terms with the fact that we don't have enough skills for all our brands to own and operate all the tech required to reach full digital maturity," says Mackintosh. "Brands need to look closely at what they absolutely need to have in-house, and then partner with organisations that can fill the gaps."

"One of the biggest mistakes we are seeing is the misunderstanding of the function of a data scientist, data engineer, data analyst and a data architect. Too often, this lack of understanding leads companies to make the wrong hires, which can end up costing them dearly. When looking for the right data professional, CMOs seem to be looking for unicorns," adds Mackintosh.

Mackintosh warned against creating superfluous committees for the sake of it. He also advised marketing leaders to push for closer working relationships between the marketing and IT departments. Mackintosh said that it is the CMO's role to build bridges between the two cost centres if they wanted to see a meaningful move towards digital maturity.

How to move from nascent to multi-moment

Johan Walters, lead tech-consultant and Leilah Potter, platform and media consultant at Incubeta, spent the remainder of the time helping the attending marketing professionals develop practical steps to help their organisation graduate to higher levels on the digital maturity framework.

This began with Walters asking everyone to test the speed of their firm's mobile site. According to Google, an optimised mobile site should fully load in under five seconds on a 3G connection.

Guests were left with practical tools to help them on their journey, including examples of project plans and valuable charts of requirements on how to progress from one level to the next.

Walters and Potter ended the seminar by allaying concerns that reaching a multi-moment level was out of reach for many companies. "The trick for every company, whether large or small, is to take it one step at a time," says Walters. 

"Establish a roadmap with smaller, more tangible projects that lead up to that aspirational phase of digital maturity. Make one meaningful change and you will see how it snowballs into more action from your team and, most importantly, appreciation from your customers," Walters concludes.

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