A new report by Acquia, a company that designs ‘digital experiences’ (interactive websites) has researched 450 digital leaders from organisations across the UK, France and Germany. The research explored how large organisations manage their digital strategies.
At an anecdotal level, I often encounter situations where senior leaders still perceive aspects of digital marketing as a fad. People dismiss the idea and keep saying ‘there’s a place for traditional marketing’. If we consider the wider strategic application of digital, we are thinking about every process within the business; from enquiries, finding information, downloading more details, contacting the company, through to the sale and after sales service.
As I teach digital marketing to a younger cohort (typically 18 to 22) they tell me they don’t read newspapers, they check what’s happening on Facebook, they don’t listen to the radio as they have Spotify, they don’t watch TV in real time as they have YouTube, which they find entertaining and they certainly don’t watch the news as ‘it’s always depressing and it’s never good. They find their news on Twitter and if any major events are happening, friends message them on WhatsApp. So, their normal way to communicate with a company is via social media which impacts on how companies manage their communications. Some of the key findings of the Acquia report were:
- Most (61%) are struggling to achieve customer satisfaction across all digital touchpoints
- Over half (57%) are challenged when it comes to executing standard digital strategies to a high standard
- Nearly half (47%) struggle to keep content up to date
- The vast majority (89%) find executing successful personalisation difficult
Customer satisfaction across all digital touchpoints
It is tough trying to manage customer service across so many channels. Gone are the days when a customer posted a letter of complaint and received a holding postcard saying ‘the average response time is 4 to 6 weeks. This does mean employing technology and trained staff to monitor company mentions and address them as they arise.
Executing standard digital strategies to a high standard
It’s not surprising that executing digital strategies to a high standard as there are so few people properly trained and qualified in digital marketing. I wouldn’t visit a dentist who had no training but many companies are happy to employ a chief digital officer who knows a bit more than they do, but lacks any form of qualification.
Some universities, like the University of Derby, have a dedicated Digital Marketing degree, but it will some years before those students become Chief Digital Officers, so there is a gap between the demand and supply, at least in the short-term.
As Acquia identified, one of the key issues is lack of skills.
Nearly half (47%) struggle to keep content up to date
With Google focusing on super new content, Facebook encouraging brands to post several times a day and so many tweets per hour, it’s exhausting thinking about the content needed. However, strategic planning of the right content makes an enormous difference. It allows companies to plan and scheduled, key pieces some time in advance and to look at how and when these are delivered. Plus, a single tweet on Twitter can be re-posted. Maybe not on the same day, but a few days or months later, as long as it is still relevant.
The vast majority (89%) find executing successful personalisation difficult
It’s as if the old model of segmentation, targeting and positioning is way out of date for today’s consumers. In China, it’s impossible to create a market segment for those who will buy a new Porsche. In theory, it’s a VW owner, who has moved up to a BMW and then a high specification Mercedes, so the idea is that a segment can be seen. In reality, someone has the cash and decide their first car will be a 911.
Plus, grouping all 40 something year old women into the same segment is crazy (if not offensive). There are so many variations. This is where webographics are becoming more interesting. What websites are they visiting, for how long? Using what devices? At what time of day? This starts to develop a much stronger profile and to focus on needs and interests rather than a spurious number.
James Murray, EMEA general manager at Acquia, said: “With so much noise and hype around the digital customer experience, we wanted to see just how today’s businesses are faring in the challenge of transforming the digital performance of their operations.
“The startling thing about this research is that, while there is a high degree of confidence at the strategic level among CDOs, this confidence is not mirrored by those who execute those strategies. What we see instead is that, once the strategy enters the real world, there are numerous barriers to delivering on the ambition. Whether this is down to a lack of internal support, things taking longer than expected, or the sheer complexity of operating in a multi-everything environment, these barriers risk limiting the performance of businesses in an ever more digital world.”