Digital transformation is prompting businesses to change from the inside out. The proliferation of devices, the development of new technologies—artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented/virtual reality, to name a few—and greater access to data are empowering enterprises to not only meet their customer needs like never before, but to exceed them as well.
The worst thing a business can do is to remain stagnant and then be forced to make changes out of necessity rather than as part of a proactive strategy.
That’s where digital marketing upskilling comes in, enabling team members to better understand evolving digital dynamics, learn new skills, and ensure they are building the appropriate strategies to capitalize.
“We have had, and will continue to have, deep digital specialists, but we now have an expectation that every marketer is skilled in digital,” said Josh Mueller, Dun & Bradstreet’s SVP of global marketing. “This is important in ensuring that the entire digital customer journey can be tied together effectively to drive leads through the pipeline to realized revenue.”
Data Drives D&B
At Dun & Bradstreet, upskilling its marketing has been a data-inspired decision due to market trends.
“It allows our relentlessly curious marketers to learn new skills and is inherently generous to our customers and prospects because we can better serve their needs when and where they choose,” Mueller told CMO.com. “We are making it all about our team members. We have recruited talent with deep expertise and are encouraging and enabling them to share their expertise through an internal program we call ‘People First.’”
One of the ways Dun & Bradstreet’s marketing team has evolved is by implementing tiger teams to de-silo marketing and ensure a uniform customer experience. The company has set up regular meetings where it shares not only best practices but actual projects that have succeeded or failed—to learn from both.
Furthermore, the company has created a blog where it documents many of its experiments, creating a knowledge base that anyone can leverage. It also set up a mentor program for more knowledge sharing in specific areas.
“This includes having more junior team members that have a specific expertise training more senior team members that had not been exposed to that level of depth,” Mueller said, adding that digital upskilling has enabled Dun & Bradstreet to better partner with its sales and product teams on the company’s overall go-to-market strategy.
Retailers Buy In
Online coupon marketplace RetailMeNot and beauty brand L’Oréal are also focused on digital marketing upskilling.
At RetailMeNot, upskilling helps the company to continuously provide value for its retail partners that rely on them to not only connect them with consumers, but also to drive purchase decisions and sales both online and in-store.
“At the beginning of my career, I felt a complete separation between digital and brand marketing, but over the last five to six years, I no longer see a difference,” said RetailMeNot CMO Marissa Tarleton in an interview with CMO.com. “Therefore, I would articulate that upskilling of marketing should not be specific to digital marketing but marketing in general because almost all marketing today is digital.”
The proliferation of data and the complexity of performance and measurement has created a need for a data-driven marketer that never was required in the past, she added.
“They can’t rely [solely] on analytic teams; they need to rely on themselves,” Tarleton said. “The biggest part of my upskilling has been about measurement, data, and optimization of campaigns in both digital and brand space.”
Upskilling has also allowed RetailMeNot to focus on the quality of its audience and how to retain them. One of its biggest projects in the past 12 months was the implementation of multitouch attribution and incremental reporting.
“We had been working primarily at last-touch attribution and found it was hard to justify a long-term investment for the brand,” Tarleton said. “We spent quite a while implementing this new technology to allow us to look at the impact of a dollar across a variety of different channels, as well as whether or not a customer was new to us.”
Meanwhile at L’Oréal, digital marketing upskilling has been one of the centerpieces of its digital transformation strategy. Jean-Paul Agon, L’Oréal’s CEO, recently told the Harvard Business Review that everyone in the company—from top to bottom—must be better prepared for what’s ahead.
That’s why he hired Lubomira Rochet as chief digital officer and a member of the executive team—a position she has held since 2014. Over the past four years, Rochet, a former Microsoft exec, has created a leadership development program for L’Oréal executives that gives them the tools and mindset needed to prosper in the digital age.
To date, approximately 1,000 L’Oréal executives have participated in a range of digital learning experiences.
“A clear, easy-to-memorize digital group strategy is now vocally championed by leadership across the company,” Rochet told HBR.
If digital marketing upskilling, which is continuous, isn’t a focus for your organization, you are already behind. As customers and prospects interact on more and more digital platforms, it’s imperative that your teams are skilled in the new ways to track customer actions, interact meaningfully, and attribute ROI in order to optimize future programs.
To measure the impact of its digital marketing upskilling, Dun & Bradstreet focuses on the overall performance against marketing and sales objectives and the impact of digital against those, and individual assessments that it performs on a regular basis, Mueller noted.
“As you start to build momentum, you get a snowball effect,” he said. “The specialized have trained the generalists, who then start to take the knowledge and share it throughout the company. We start to upskill our sales teams, product teams, people teams, and educate others like the finance team. The benefits become far-reaching, well beyond marketing.”
At RetailMeNot, the focus has been on multitouch attribution and incrementality.
“The question we’re focused on answering with these initiatives is how much of a role each marketing channel plays in changing a customer’s behavior short- and long-term,” Tarleton said. “To understand incrementality from a user’s perspective, we looked at and tested frequency of our advertisements. We wanted to evaluate how many times an ad needs to be shown to a user in relation to the ideal user experience.”
Since MTA is a very precise system of consistent data, it helps the RetailMeNot team look at things on a granular level by creative asset or by impression. This way, it can dive deep into factors that impact brand initiatives to assign value, or ROI, to the assets.
“This will continue to impact the structure of our marketing organization, establish expectations of the skill set in our talent, and move marketing’s role into more of a technical and data-driven place,” Tarleton said. “In terms of future benefits, the value of the infrastructure we built is transferable to enhance and optimize other departments.”