April 29, 2015
At first glance, a local barber shop and a multi-national eCommerce brand don't seem to have much in common, especially when it comes to their marketing. But in terms of digital marketing maturity, these two entities could be exactly the same.
Where an organization is with their digital marketing maturity is investment in digital marketing - and not just in financial terms. A less mature organization will invest very little time, effort and resources into how it markets to its customers. It will be more like a side project, not something considered to be mission-critical. A mature organization, on the other hand, will invest heavily in the experience they create for their prospects and customers. It will become something the business could not survive without.
Of course, in between these two extremes are a series of stages. If you want your organization to grow and mature (which you do) it's important to recognize which stage you're currently at, and determine what strategy and roadmap must be put in place to get you to the stage you want to be at:
Stage 1: Aware
The humble beginnings. For most, this includes a basic website (with a basic CMS) along with a presence on a few of the major social media channels. Their site will have simple site performance tracking, such as Google Analytics, but they likely won't be doing anything with the data gained from this tracking. Like adolescence, it is an incredibly awkward phase for marketing teams - one that will probably embarrass them when they look back on it many years later. It is however a necessary stage. They will take risks, make mistakes and ultimately, grow from these experiences.
Stage 2: Interested
Instead of a static website with little depth, a marketing team will eventually come to discover the benefits of deeper engagement; attracting users with relevant content regardless of what device they're using (desktop, smartphone, tablet) and leveraging SEO, cross-channel marketing and social engagement. Not only will they generate more traffic, but they'll also start to generate leads. The leads might not be great - and they might not know what to do with them at that point - but the marketing department has found some traction. This is by no means the end of the journey, but studies have found that 85% of companies typically stay at and don't move past this level of maturity.
Stage 3: Optimized
During this stage, a marketing organization starts to figure out what works, what doesn't and why. They become obsessed with collecting and analyzing any type of data they can get their hands on (although there's never enough) in order to understand the user path and make more informed decisions. Not only does the marketing department start to take a more strategic view of things, the organization itself now views marketing as a strategic advantage. Marketing finally becomes a core part of the overall business model.
Stage 4: Nurtured
By this point, the marketing team understands the need to convert leads, rather than simply attract them. Now that they have a better understanding of what drives and motivates their customers, they can start to tailor the conversations they have with them based on analyzed behaviors. This new initiative may include some combination of an enterprise content management (CMS) or customer experience management (CXM) system implementation, and integration with a robust CRM platform and a marketing automation platform.
Stage 5: Engaged
Now that the organization sees the value in engaging with their audience on a personal level and has turned this into real conversions, they begin to increase this engagement. Rather than a few automated campaigns to test the method, they begin creating targeted, omnichannel marketing initiatives. It's also in this stage that companies see the value in not just converting sales, but in actually improving their customer experience to turn happy clients into brand advocates.
Stage 6: Lifetime Customers
Once an enterprise has fully aimed their priorities and their investments towards creating a connected experience for their customers, they will run into another growing pain of maturity. With all of the technologies and strategies they have employed to reach this stage, they start to have difficulties keeping everything coordinated and unified. The next stage in reaching marketing maturity is integrating all of these separate solutions and initiatives into one customer experience. At this stage, organizations look to customer experience management platforms to help tie together all of their marketing efforts, turn the disparate data they're collecting into a complete 360 degree view of their users and transform their company to continuously deliver a nurturing and engaging experience for their customers.
Whether they realize or not, every company is on the path to digital maturity. Some will get there more quickly than others, some will get stuck at certain phases and some won't get there at all. Take a look at your own business and determine, are you on the path to creating the kind of connected experience your customers will respond to, or are you stuck somewhere along the way?
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