Building digital capabilities in everything from web strategy to marketing is top of mind for any organization, and your organization is probably no exception.
As you get started creating content and customer experiences, you'll go through several stages of digital maturity — and that’s OK. The journey is more important than the destination.
4 Stages of Digital Maturity
Here are four stages you'll experience on your road to digital maturity:
The first stage of digital maturity starts with the recognition that things need to change. You put in place the basic framework to get started.
A backlog of needs or demands from the business might still hang over your head. Maybe it's a website redesign, a new set of marketing campaigns that require changes to the website or a new online customer support ticketing system you want to connect with your knowledge base.
In stage one, you just try to connect the dots and do the basics. Again, that’s OK.
It’s like getting fit or learning a new skill. You need to develop the muscle memory. From basic analytics to site and content development, you need to build capabilities.
So where do you start?
- Complete an audit of all your current content management activities. Who is responsible for creating the content? Reviewing and approving it? Where is the content used and to what audience is it directed?
- Document your backlog in one place, everything that you want to do and everything that the business demands from you. Clarify the ownership, purpose, audience, timelines, priorities and how you can measure success (the metrics)
- Document your existing technical architecture and all the different technologies you use today. How are they connected? Who owns them? Uses them? What content and data do they store?
With these questions answered, you can establish and agree on priorities and lay the groundwork for transformation.
Put in place the right technologies needed to reach your goals. Get rid of unnecessary tools and align your departments with the right tools. Integrate systems to have a consistent flow of content and information between departments and systems. Assemble the right team to get the work done.
The Reaction stage won't take place overnight. It takes time, but shouldn't drag on forever.
Focus on the top goals and put in place a strong foundation on which to grow current and future needs.
Strong digital capabilities will let you shift to a more forward thinking position. Define customer profiles and personas, map buying cycles and align your content and customer journey or buying phases. Strategic alignment is a critical step in digital maturity.
Many businesses start a transformation like this in one area of the company. But real digital maturity recognizes that customer experience crosses all departments and teams, requiring alignment across the entire organization around a single strategy. This alignment generally starts with Sales and Marketing but is not limited to these departments.
To build this cross-organization strategy:
- Get buy-in from the top. The C-Suite plays a vital role in ensuring digital transformation happens right
- Put together a cross-organizational team. Sales, Marketing, Customer Support, Customer Service, IT, Communications all need a voice at the table. By reaching an understanding of departmental responsibilities and their role in the customer experience, it's easier to see where lines blur and customer relationships can benefit from what others offer
- Have your team develop key customer profiles and personas, then define the customer journey for each. You may choose to start defining the journey in stages and then put them together to see the complete lifecycle view
- Once you've mapped the journey, you know what content is used and where. You see who supports each phase of the journey. You can see the channels required, who is managing them and how to deliver content to achieve optimal results
With your personas and journeys defined and your content aligned, it's time to build on that foundation to improve the current experience. At this point, you'll create new experiences that you previously may not have realized were needed.
With digital maturity comes a better understanding of the customer's needs.
You have the skills to produce content and customer experiences. Your strategy is aligned.
Now is when you connect digital to the rest of the business in a deeper and more fundamental way.
How can digital move your sales program forward? What other customer touchpoints can you connect to create a more cohesive customer experience? Can you integrate CRM data? Can you connect commerce? Build a customer portal?
Content crosses organizational boundaries. What you create for the customer in one department can be repurposed in another. By sharing content across departments, you create more comprehensive experiences in the process.
Can you develop content and software patterns that move you forward quickly and consistently?
If you laid your foundation correctly in stage one, you should be able to connect disparate systems from different departments that — when integrated — provide a more detailed view of the customer. This, in turn, allows you to provide richer experiences.
For example, connecting your CRM to your CMS provides opportunities to personalize customer visits to the website when the customer wants to submit support tickets. Adding your e-commerce system into the mix provides customers more relevant recommendations, sales and content experiences during online shopping.
A customer portal also allows for a richer experience, creating one place where customers can find the things they need to be successful: online ticketing, knowledge, service and support information, community and views of new products or services.
Your entire organization comes together in this stage for the common purpose of delivering impactful customer experiences that not only delight customers but make them want to advocate on your behalf.
Digital maturity has no end point. New channels arise, new methods to serving content and functionality are created, customers demand even greater, sometimes different service.
Constant improvement is the name of the game. Optimization is about building continual improvement into your digital programs to achieve business goals.
If you don't have them already, put in place metrics to measure your success along the way. What business goals do you want to achieve? What customer goals do you want to happen consistently? Outline your KPIs and the metrics that identify how well you are meeting them.
Adapt as necessary. New content, new channels, improved personalization, new system integrations — there's no limit to what you can optimize and improve.
Go back to your personas and journey maps: are they still valid? Or do they need to be tweaked, updated or completely rebuilt? Create a process to periodically review these for accuracy.
Respect the Process
You can't skip any of these four stages. Digital transformation is a process, just like creating content or running a marketing or sales campaign.
Sometimes you'll have to go back to the strategy stage and re-evaluate your approach, because business doesn't stand still either.
As you move forward, keep these stages in mind. Trying to do all four of them at once is a recipe for disaster. But you can accelerate your move along the curve.