What Is Digital Transformation, and Why Should Marketers Care?

by / Jul 22, 2016

As a modernizing marketer, you understand the importance of using the right technology. You know a well-integrated set of systems is essential for your success. You know tech is a bigger part of marketing than ever … but when you hear the words “digital transformation,” you might still think you need to call someone with a computer science degree. What is digital transformation, and is it really marketing’s concern?

Well, yes.

Because digital transformation affects every part of the buyer’s journey, every part of your organization needs to be on board — marketing included. But don’t let yourself be intimidated! Digital transformation is more than a hurdle to overcome. In fact, it’s a major opportunity for your whole business.

Why, you ask? You can get all the details by viewing The Mx Group’s webinar on digital transformation, but for now, let’s look at the big picture.

Digitizing the buyer’s journey

Let’s start at the beginning: What is digital transformation, anyway? In basic terms, it’s an enterprise-wide process that responds to a simple fact: The modern buyer’s journey is changing. Marketing is shifting from offline to online, and the self-service model is replacing more and more formerly guided sales interactions.

Companies that haven’t fully grasped this idea still believe that the sooner they can pass leads from marketing to sales, the better. After all, unless your business is strictly e-commerce, you can’t convert leads until they reach sales. This model might have worked fine years ago, but in the age of digital transformation, it no longer aligns with your buyers’ needs.

These days, instead of contacting sales right away, most buyers prefer to handle a big part of their journey online, on their own. The reason? No one enjoys the feeling of being sold to, especially if they aren’t sure they want what’s being sold. Today’s buyers would rather gather as much information as they can, then contact only the providers they’re excited about.

They want to talk to sales when they’re ready — not when you are.

From reluctance to excitement

When buyers contact sales on their own timeline, it takes longer than most marketers expect. According to SiriusDecisions, 57% of the buyer’s journey on average now takes place online. But in some industries, that number can be as high as 90%!

Marketers who ignore this preference are ignoring a major factor affecting the sale: how buyers feel about your company. Buyers want to be both informed and enthusiastic about your solution before they get a call from sales. If you’re annoying them by getting sales involved too early, you could easily drive them to your (less pushy) competitors.

To educate buyers and get them excited about talking to sales, marketers have to create the online resources to power the self-education process. That means using marketing automation to create journey streams that speak to buyers’ specific needs. It means creating interactive digital touchpoints — web and mobile applications — throughout the buyer’s journey, providing the tailored advice and information buyers need to make an educated decision.

Marketing, meet digital transformation.

Living the digital dream

Moving this much of the buyer’s journey online might seem like a lot of pressure on marketing, but really, this is your team’s time to shine! There’s never been a bigger opportunity for marketing to have a direct impact on sales.

If you can provide the right tools and touchpoints to educate buyers and get them excited about your solution, it might take longer to get sales involved, but you’ll be generating higher-quality leads — creating more sales than driving qualified-but-reluctant leads ever could.

And isn’t that every marketer’s dream?

If you’re ready to make digital transformation a reality in your organization, you’re in luck! In our webinar, Digital Transformation: From Obstacle to Opportunity, Gil Canare from SiriusDecisions joined me to discuss concrete ways marketers can make the most of digital transformation. Watch the webinar now!

The Mx Group

B2B Insights, Staff Writer

The Mx Group is the second-largest independent, integrated B2B marketing agency in the U.S., with a mission to impact the marketplace for companies that impact the world. For over 30 years, we’ve created meaningful end-to-end buying experiences for B2B brands. Our clients are leaders and innovators in automotive, financial services, food, health care, legal services, oil and gas, industrial, packaging, trade associations, technology and SaaS who rely on our expertise to influence and grow their businesses. Our relationships with our clients and people are why B2B Marketing recognized us as Agency of the Year. Our headquarters are in Chicago, but our reach is global. Whether a client is an established or startup B2B brand, we have the people and perspective to be a strong partner that makes a difference.