The centrality of data and the changing relationship between businesses and their customers were the linked themes that dominated the IQPC Digital Marketing & Transformation Exchange event in London last month.
They cropped up repeatedly in the event’s stories of digital transformation and reinvention, from Vodafone Netherlands redeveloping its My Vodafone app as a co-creation project with customers to Proctor & Gamble using its understanding of online fragrance shopping to convert its Prestige business to digital-first.
Starting from the data was the lesson from the first brand to discuss its digital transformation. Maarten Stramrood, Director Online & Segment Marketing at Dutch telecoms operator Ziggo explained that, in trying to disrupt the market in order to keep growing, Ziggo’s first step was to pull all data together from all the available sources.
“You may have data sources in your company that you weren’t aware of,” he said. “Combining all your data sources will give you new perspective and new insights that you can use for campaigns.”
“We used the metaphor of the oil industry to show the flow of data and therefore the interdependency of the various elements of the company. Then we centralised all the responsibilities for data-driven marketing. That gave us more flexibility and meant we could work in a more agile way.”
Need For Flexibility
Flexibility was also a key point when another Dutch telco, Vodafone Netherlands, chose to start the redevelopment of its My Vodafone app. The number of people using the app as their prime point of contact with the company had overtaken those using the web in July 2013, so Vodafone Netherlands wanted a new app that was user-centric, real-time, contextual and social. It engaged its customers to co-create the new version, but the key lessons from the project came when customers reacted badly to the initial release.
“Initial customer feedback was a drop in our NPS score,” explained Katja Sizova, Head of Digital at Vodafone Netherlands. “So we asked customers what was going wrong and zoomed into what needed improving.”
According to Sizova, the initial response from management was to ask if the old app could be put back into service. Being able to respond quickly to criticism meant the project team managed to produce a second iteration of the new app instead, and NPS scores started to pick up dramatically.
“You need the organisation to support you, but you need to decouple your pace of movement,” she said. “You need to create the flexibility to be able to make changes and to fail fast.”
The other lesson for Sizova was that to have the impact the company wanted, they had to take a bold step and take the customers with them. Key to that, she said, was the ability to launch and iterate.
Customer understanding based on data was also key to turning round management attitudes to digital channels in P&G’s Prestige business. P&G Prestige produces fragrances under license from 12 fashion and beauty brands, selling them through retailers. This creates the problem that it has none its own platforms, using those of either the licensors or the retailers.
“In 2013, only ten percent of our media spend went on digital,” explained Jean-Paul Jansen, Global Marketing Director & e-Business Leader Prestige, Procter & Gamble. “Digital ideas and content were an afterthought. The feeling was that digital was too complex and required more resource. Ecommerce was seen as irrelevant in the fragrance market, where it was assumed people wanted to try the product before they bought.
The solution was to challenge the status quo with data. According to Jansen, one assumption was that online advertising didn’t matter, because most sales are in-store. Jansen and his team showed half of offline fragrance purchases are influenced by online.
“Another assumption was that online sales are only for replenishment,” Jansen said. “But 60 percent of online sales are for gifting; there’s a 20 percent growth in sales volume for etailers during the holidays.”
The final assumption echoed Sizova’s point about leadership support. Jansen explained that because the forty-somethings in management were uncomfortable with digital, they thought they should assign the most junior people to the job, because they “got it”.
“But that’s not how it works--you wouldn’t have done that 50 years ago with the TV generation. For a business to be good at digital, the leadership needs to be engaged. We needed to make the business care.”
Recognising that the business as a whole didn’t have the digital skills it needed, the next step was to create a centre of excellence comprised of ten multi-functional experts, liaising out to the wider organisation. The other key element was the concept of content planning, which allowed a bird’s-eye view of all the assets that formed part of a campaign and how they fitted together.
Jansen described the results as dramatic.
“Within a year, all our brands were starting their campaigns digital-first,” he said. “We more than doubled our spend on digital, and we found efficiencies with 30 percent fewer assets being produced. Previously lots of assets were created but never used, so we demystified the idea that digital needs more resourcing.”
Understanding the role of content was key to Barclays’ transition from a product house to a publishing environment, according to Robert Wint, Digital Content & Publishing Director.
“Three years ago we didn’t have a content strategy, we just had a collection of content. So we defined what we wanted content to be, what we wanted it to do, and most importantly what we wanted the customer to experience.”
Backing up Jansen’s point about redundancy of content, Wint revealed that a content audit showed almost two-thirds of the 1,600 pages of content on Barclays.com was irrelevant. And in a similar way to P&G’s Prestige business, Barclays created a tool that allowed them to respond to demand for content by showing what content was already visible.
“It helps us to find the key areas of content we need to create or improve.” Wint said.
Clarity And Intelligence
The final session of the event brought together Dell, Telegraph Media Group and LV= to discuss digital transformation. Krystof Fahey, Chief Marketing Officer of Telegraph Media Group stressed the importance of clarity of purpose.
“You need a simple, clear vision of what you’re trying to do,” he said. “With so much stuff going on, it’s easy to forget why you’re turning up.”
“Disruption has come in for a reason,” argued Simon Hall, Head of Country Marketing UK at Dell. “You need to respond to that reason.”
And Paul Wishman, Group Ecommerce Director at LV= once again emphasised the importance of data and customers.
“The challenge for us is to use our data more intelligently, and to make our customer experience second to none.”