August 18, 2016
by Suzanne Martin
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.
Is digital transformation really marketing’s concern?
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? 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?
Photo credit: Unsplash user Jiri Wagner
This post originally appeared on The MX Group blog.
About Suzanne Martin
Suzanne Martin, CMO at The Mx Group, has built her marketing and leadership practice in environments ranging from global corporations to high-growth startups and has gained sales and operational experience along the way. She has served as BMA Chicago president twice and currently leads the education committee. Follow her on Twitter @suzannedmartin