Overcoming digital growing pains

As a passionate digital agency that loves nothing more than seeing our clients and the wider Brisbane marketplace grow in the digital space, we’re no strangers to witnessing the ‘growing pains’ that some brands have experienced when faced with maturing their digital presence.

So just why do some brands struggle to adapt and evolve over time when it comes to digital transformation? To get a clear picture, our digital team discussed this topic recently, looking beyond just the reasons alone to the kind of tactics brands should implement before approaching digital transformation effectively.

Looking at the Brisbane marketplace as a whole, the wider spectrum of businesses and brands have been through a digitisation phase, where they may have invested in a website, a CRM or an e-commerce platform;  but there is an overwhelming sense that there is disparity between the systems they have in place. For example, if a business’s previous investment in this digitisation phase has not resulted in an effective use of data to improve experience or efficiency. A prime example of this is having a CRM that is completely disconnected from the front end content management platform.

Understanding how a customer is using your website means that you can be more targeted in your communication with that customer in fulfilling their needs and ultimately improving brand satisfaction. We are also seeing businesses investing in digital transformation without a clear understanding or strategy around what problems or improvements they are seeking to resolve first; the outcome of this is replacement, not transformation.  The new platforms may be slicker and have modern tools, but if they remain disparate, they will fail to achieve full transformation that seeks to improve internal systems and identify key datasets that when talking to each other will best serve the customer.

Two of the key things that we have observed that can lead you down the path of digital replacement rather than transformation are the ‘you’ll get left behind mentality’ that negates a proper review of the problems that exist and how they can be adequately solved with digital transformation, and secondly, businesses getting ‘sold’ on the fantasy of what a big and expensive digital transformation could be without the appropriate level of due diligence before digital investment.

Some businesses have also fallen into a trap of setting and forgetting when it comes to digital and are not adequately updating their digital assets as much as they should be and losing their customer base because they haven’t kept up with customer expectation.

Let’s be honest, being left behind is a very dangerous prospect for a business or brand – there’s a continuous pressure to adapt and evolve. Every business is unique and there has been, and always will be a number of businesses that are less digitally focussed and have relied upon referrals, word of mouth and a good old fashioned handshake. It’s these brands that are more vulnerable to jumping in feet first without a proper understanding of how expansive digital can be. In the end, these smaller businesses can and should be able to survive without feeling the pressure of digital transformation, but it comes down to a question of being recognised as a ‘business’ or being a ‘brand’.

If you want to be a brand that is a household name, a well thought out strategy and plan for digital transformation is essential. For small businesses, the net they cast out is small but strong – tightened by ongoing relationships and referral networks. However, brands that want broader reach cast out a large net for a larger audience, but they should know that that net is stretched, and if not maintained, holes can appear. For example if you don’t regularly update content and regularly stay across all touch points – particularly social – audiences notice this, and as such, brand reputation can be tarnished.

For some industries, digital transformation has proven to be an easier feat, particularly for fast moving consumer goods. Some brands feel the pressure to remain relevant on their many touch points by latching to topical news, but the end result can sometimes be tacky ‘content for content’s sake’ with messages that aren’t in line with brand voice. While this is a real risk – some larger brands like Woolworths and other fast food outlets have capitalised on this type of content as they have merged an existing brand voice with digital, rather than using digital to force out a new voice and look.

It’s this point of looking within and seeing the things that already exist that is hugely important when tackling digital transformation – particularly looking at the problems that exist and how they can be solved with digital. Take for example Domino’s Pizza. At the heart of their digital transformation is customer convenience which they’ve delivered upon with their drone delivery system as well as apps that use position tracking to notify stores to start cooking once a customer is within certain proximity.

It comes down to the strategy – identifying a problem from the get go, in this case ‘how can we keep pizzas as fresh as possible?’ and tailoring a digital transformation strategy to solve that problem. Dominos are a great example of listening to the voice of the audience effectively through social channels and tailoring a digital strategy in alignment with customer needs. Go about it the other way around by thinking ‘there’s a lot of great digital platforms out there – we should start using them’ – you are likely to create a problem rather than solve one. It’s like driving a car – if all you are focusing on is the destination, you’re going to forget all the things that help you get there safely and in one piece. You need to think about the steps that are involved to get you there.

Once the problem is identified and a solution is set up, the journey isn’t over. No – there is still a lot of growing to do. Digital transformation is an iterative process that requires regular maintenance, whether that be regularly refreshing a website’s content as well as its look and feel or keeping social channels up to date. The roadblocks to maintaining an ever evolving digital presence are numerous, but some of the more common are assumed cost of investment, a lack of understanding of the digital space, lack of resources or an internal culture that doesn’t support such a transformation. Most of the time, these roadblocks are industry dependent.

So, what final advice do we have for businesses and brands looking to avoid the growing pains of digital transformation? First and foremost, listen to your customers. Talk to them, ask them what they want and ask them what their frustration points are. Also, talk to your staff – ask them what are the sorts of questions that they get over the phone, what are the kinds of correspondence they receive, and then ask ‘how can we make ourselves both more effective and efficient’ and ‘can digital help us get through those roadblocks?’.

It might sound counter intuitive coming from the mouth of a digital team – but when it comes to digital transformation, it’s not really a question of ‘when’ do we need to get on board with digital transformation, it’s ‘why and how’. If the problem is there, then digital could be a solution – there shouldn’t be a mentality of ‘we need to do it right now’ – it’s about really looking within first, assessing the problems and how they can be solved with digital.

Need help along your journey of digital growth? Let us know!