Organisations that use digital marketing techniques in a sophisticated way outperform their competitors in every industry - but how do you evaluate your digital maturity?
A mature digital marketing strategy is about more than introducing a few hot applications - it means using technology to facilitate changes in how a company operates, both internally and externally.
It means shaping new relationships between IT and business to drive a transformation of management processes. The result is an organisation that can build on previous initiatives and maintain competitive advantage.
"Some companies are what we call the 'Digirati'. They have the digital maturity not only to build digital innovations, but also to drive enterprise-wide transformation. And they benefit from their actions. Digirati have significantly higher financial performance than their less digitally-mature competitors." - CapGemini
But as any parent of a teenager knows, thinking you're mature doesn't necessarily mean you are. So how can you tell whether you're digitally mature - or just playing with a few new toys?
1. Look at the technology you're using
Look objectively at your marketing software and CRM package: are they really best in breed? Are you taking advantage of all the latest developments, such as social media management tools and web analytics? And are you using them to the best advantage?
2. Measure the quality of your data
Just as important, though, is the quality of your marketing data. Prospect data can be notoriously unreliable, particularly when lists have been bought in. Meanwhile, customer data quickly becomes out of date. A truly digitally mature company constantly reassesses, refines and updates their data to make sure it can be used to best advantage at every stage, from lead generation to customer retention.
3. Conduct a skills audit
Technology is only ever as good as the people that are using it. Conducting a thorough skills audit - or asking a specialist to do it for you - may well reveal that operational staff are failing to follow through on the organisation's aims. In the case of social media marketing, is the team really targeting the right communities? Is it managing, scoring and measuring leads effectively? And is it sharing its insights with other teams?
4. Examine your processes
Mapping out a clear customer journey is the cornerstone of a mature digital strategy. You need to understand and leverage the path taken by your prospects, from their first engagement with your organisation to - hopefully - becoming a satisfied buyer. Off the back of this, you should examine your processes for lead generation - are they based on a reliable methodology? Ask how effectively campaigns are being monitored and measured, and how the results are reported back.
5. Evaluate your digital assets
How good is your website content? Is it informative, clearly written and easy to find through the effective use of SEO? The same criteria apply, too, to other material such as white papers and eGuides. There should be a consistency of style and content, with activities fully aligned with the sales and marketing process.
6. And look at your results
It doesn't matter how much traffic you generate if you fail to turn it into sales. Analyse your visitors' digital behaviour through and use this information to hone in on the most appropriate metrics, tools and improvement processes for your business.