Organizational support from the top down, content marketing and mobile are three steps to a successful digital strategy, said experts at ClickZ Live Singapore.

Getting buy-in from senior management, crafting a strong content marketing platform and thinking mobile-first, are the three phases to a successful digital strategy, according to a panel of senior marketing executives at this year's ClickZ Live Singapore digital marketing conference.

Clarence Chew, head of marketing at Decathlon in Singapore, said digital strategy represented the future of his organization, but made up 90 percent of his personal stress levels.

According to Chew: 

We find right now our business is trying to function in a digital world and every aspect of the business has to adapt to that, from supply chain to customer facing.

Convincing management and colleagues and people who don't know me in the company, to adapt to what we are trying to do, is not easy – every time you take an action you are being asked to justify how you spent the money.


1. Digital transformation

Convincing the established sports apparel retailer – which sells more than 20,000 products in stores the size of Ikea – to engage a digital only strategy for its Singapore store has been a big win for Chew and his team. The three-year process however, began with the complete restructuring of the company, starting with management.

"We wanted the marketing and communications department to report directly to the chief executive officer (CEO) with the same key performance indicators (KPI) as the CEO," said Chew.

It means Chew has three goals to meet: create revenue for the company, create profit and keep customers for life. By agreeing to meet these targets, the business gives him leeway in other areas to do new things.

The business has also created an (Read more...) happiness manager position, whose role is to coordinate and communicate internally the new business direction of the company.


"Buy-in from the CEO is key – if it's not, you cannot drive this digital transformation," said Eunice Yap, chief marketing officer (CMO), of Singapore's Esplanade.

Yap said that for entrenched organizations, internal education plays a key role in explaining how digital transformation can increase revenue, consumer engagement and other end benefits.

She recommended doing this in baby steps, using easy examples, such as looking at analytics to show how a website revamp has increased page views.


Yap's ability to integrate digital across departments is also made easier by her role encompassing sales, marketing, IT and operations.

Rupa Rajamani, head of digital performance marketing and technology strategy, group brand & marketing at Standard Chartered Bank, outlined the three stages businesses are at in their digital transformation: those organizations who have "nailed" it; organizations with a work-in-progress digital strategy; and those still getting their fingers wet.

"I think a lot of us fall into the second category – we keep trying to build a digital strategy, but the problem is that a digital strategy cannot exist within a silo, it has to be embedded within the organization so that every process, everything the organization does, has a digital element to it," Rajamani said.

2. Content marketing

Convincing a bank to invest into digital requires a business case. For things like performance marketing, online sales, a website revamp, media spend, or a CRM strategy, data can help to build that case. The hardest sell, Rajamani said, is for content marketing.

"Content marketing is something you can't quantify. You can't tie sales, profitability, credit card sales to it, it's all about brand awareness which is an esoteric term, and that is very difficult to make a case for," she said. And yet, understanding the importance of content marketing is integral to a business's ability to put the consumer first, and should be the bedrock of any digital strategy.

"When you go to Facebook or LinkedIn do you like a brand talking at you, and saying 'I'm really good at this?' Nobody likes that, and nobody is going to engage with that. We need to figure out a content marketing strategy and I think that is a challenge for all organizations."

Content marketing ultimately will boil down to where content is being consumed, when it is being consumed, on which device, and then using new technologies such as programmatic, to amplify it.


3. Mobile

Much of that consumption is going to occur on mobile. An eMarketer report in March found mobile advertising spend will double that of desktop by 2017 in the United States, mostly in response to consumer demand.


"Those organizations not thinking mobile-first are going to be left behind," said Rajamani. As a result, brands should be focused on building responsive and mobile-first websites and content and be working out how best to distribute it using different technologies.


Decathlon has structured its marketing activities around the customer journey. For example, instead of hiring a social media manager or a traffic campaign manager, it starts by crafting the whole journey of the customer, and then hiring according to the specifics of expertise required for each step.

"It starts from awareness, all the way to a sale, and subsequently the customer life cycle," said Chew. "The content, for us, wouldn't be a specific area that we are focusing on, but rather which content are we going to push to each specific area of interest. Content is more like a language we have to speak, but we structure it according to the different phases of the life cycle for our customer."

*Homepage image courtsey of Reflexions Photography

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