Thirty years on from the appearance of the first clickable online ad, digital marketing excellence can still feel like an unattainable goal.
There are always new technologies, new customer behaviours and new regulations to contend with, making true digital marketing maturity seem more like something you’d find at the end of the rainbow than a realistic business target.
But scratch beneath the surface, and there’s a change in attitude happening that should make excellence in digital marketing not just achievable, but sustainable.
This is one of the key ideas to emerge from a recent report by London Research in partnership with customer data platform provider Relay42.
As Google’s deadline for retiring the third-party cookie draws nearer, the report – Rethinking Digital Marketing in a Post-Cookie Era – looks at how prepared businesses are for the post-3PC era. But it does so by thinking not in terms of tools, techniques and technologies, but of capabilities.
Beyond Digital Transformation
The report draws on the increasingly widely-held idea that digital transformation is no longer a helpful way to talk about what businesses are going through. Transformation, the argument goes, suggests a finishing point, a day when the organisation can declare itself ready for anything the digital world has to offer. But that’s not how it works.
Instead, businesses should be building and embedding a culture and a mindset that enables them to respond quickly and painlessly to every new development that matters to them.
This attitude explains why the report found four out of five businesses (82%) felt that their businesses would adapt to a cookieless advertising model, while a similar percentage (80%) believed their tech stack and IT teams would deliver a smooth transition to whatever comes next.
This is despite almost three-quarters (72%) of respondents believing that the loss of 3PCs will pose a major challenge for their businesses, requiring radical change to their current customer acquisition and retention strategies.
Mapping the Core Capabilities
The report puts forward a digital marketing maturity model to act as a benchmark for marketers to assess their organisation’s own capabilities and identify areas with the greatest potential for improvement.
The focus is on the functional dimensions of digital marketing maturity; the core capabilities underpinning digital marketing excellence.
The Maturity Model is structured around the practical elements of delivering successful campaigns (rather than the customer lifecycle or journey) as it’s intended to map directly over the operational processes involved in designing and delivering great digital marketing programs.
The model’s five dimensions of capability are:
1. Customer Insight: The ability to collect customer data to inform campaign planning and CRM program optimisation.
2. Campaign Planning: The ability to use customer journey mapping as a digital marketing program design tool.
3. Activation – Paid: The ability to leverage zero- and first-party data to deliver high-performing acquisition campaigns across paid media channels.
4. Activation – Owned: The ability to leverage zero- and first-party data to deliver high- performing digital marketing campaigns across owned media properties (principally website/ ecommerce).
5. Measurement and Attribution: The ability to apply advanced analytics to optimise digital marketing campaign performance across all channels.
Each of these are then measured on a five-stage scale of maturity:
1. Generic: Basic, one-size-fits-all approach.
2. Segmented: Identification and targeting of broad audiences defined by simple/static customer attributes.
3. Dynamic: Highly responsive targeting of audiences based on behaviours and ‘in-the-moment’ needs and preferences.
4. Predictive: The application of advanced predictive models to define future needs and behaviours at key stages in the purchase journey.
5. Learning: A highly automated approach to experimentation and the application of machine learning to orchestrate personalised interactions across the entire customer lifecycle/purchase journey and deliver a seamless experience across all channels.
Revealing the Influence of the CDP
The report’s authors state that: “An organisation’s maturity level can vary across each dimension. However, there will typically be a broad correlation as competencies in each individual area tend to align so they can work effectively together.”
Using the maturity model to look at the survey findings reveals how significant the role of a CDP is in advancing an organisation’s digital marketing capabilities. The analysis shows that CDP users (with an average score of 3.48 across the five dimensions of capability) are typically one step more advanced in terms of digital maturity compared to non-CDP users (average score of 2.72).
Download the full London Research/Relay42 report – Rethinking Digital Marketing in a Post-Cookie Era.