Originally published on InContext, a Lexmark website. 

Forrester says 73 percent of organizations don’t have a working digital strategy, so chances are that yours may be one of them. As CMO or other marketing department leader, it can be difficult to understand where you fit into your enterprise’s digital transformation efforts and how you can lead your department to make the maximum impact.

First, consider that digital transformation might mean something different for marketing than it does for other parts of your organization. Forrester’s Martin Gill says “Digital transformation isn’t one-size-fits-all; it means different things to different people, regardless of size, industry or vertical.”

If you think digital transformation is the responsibility of your product development teams or IT department, think again. Regardless of your organization’s digital progress, your customers are already living in a digitally transformed world. That means prospective customers might not ever reach those teams – if the discovery phase of your marketing isn’t digital, prospects could disappear before you even knew they were there.

The common theme of digital transformation across industries and departments, Gill says, is “moving from a siloed ‘inside out’ approach to one that is data-driven and customer-centric.” That’s something today’s marketing departments are perfectly positioned to achieve.

If you’re ready to help your team drive a data-driven, customer-centric digital transformation, here are five ways to get started:

  1. Lead by example: When research agency Organic surveyed 111 digital and marketing professionals, they found that 58% of respondents agreed C-level executives are among the most valuable stakeholders in driving digital transformation, and 62% feel that not having a leadership mandate is the biggest barrier to digital transformation.
  2. Build a culture of agility without overemphasizing technology: Too often, people wrongly assume that digital transformation is all about the tech. The minimal look of your app, the cool functionality of your mobile website, the slick features in your “contact us” form. These things are important to your brand, sure, but it’s more important to hire people who understand that digital transformation is, above all else, a conduit to better, faster and friction-free customer experience. Technology changes quickly – invest in people who can look beyond the bells and whistles to who the tech benefits – your customers.
  3. Take advantage of the tools at your disposal: Tech isn’t the end goal of digital transformation, but it can certainly help you reach that end goal. Tools like geotargeting, personalization, and automation are great, low-investment ways to reach your customers and consumer base. Anything your marketing department can do to help customers feel like you understand them on an individual level gets you a notch closer to digital transformation.
  4. Encourage innovation: Make sure your marketing employees know it’s okay to fail. Technology in the hands of a marketing employee can lead to extreme creativity that can ultimately lead to customer satisfaction and digital transformation … or not. And that’s alright. Digital marketing lends itself to testing and making ongoing adjustments, so make sure your marketing department isn’t afraid to try new things. As long as you pay attention to what customers want and respond to, what works and what doesn’t, innovation and creativity are important aspects of digital transformation.
  5. Set benchmarks and measure your progress: Digital transformation might be hard to define, but it isn’t hard to measure. Don’t let your marketing department fall into the trap of talking around digital transformation without making any real moves or failing to use data and customer feedback to continually improve. Use these five stages as a guideline to measure your progress toward digital transformation and let it direct your marketing efforts if you get stuck along the way.
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