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Digital Strategy Creation and Implementation — Without Stressing Your Marketing and IT Teams

Is executing your marketing team's digital strategy a challenge? Learn what to look for when adding resources to bridge marketing and technology.

A lot rides on the development and implementation of an effective digital marketing strategy. Customer experience. Business profits. The reputation of the marketing department. You're ready to embrace everything that new tech has to offer, but where should you start and how can you get things done?

The marketing team is eager to impress — putting together grand plans for customer portals, omnichannel marketing, and website optimization. But when you ask how the team will implement the suggestions, you can see the hesitation in their eyes.

Your team has high performers who could drive the implementation process, but it's a big ask for someone to be an expert at marketing strategy and how to execute across digital channels, especially when technology is changing every day.

And let's be honest. Do you really want your marketing all-stars focused on figuring out the next big thing in technology? Won't they provide more company value by doing what they do best — creating brand stories and experiences to build customer loyalty and drive your company to higher profits?

So, if not marketing, then who? At this point, all eyes usually turn to the IT team. While skilled at technology, IT professionals don't always understand marketing motivations and customer concerns. If you want to talk about ways to optimize customer experience, include personalized contact, or leverage technology in your Martech stack, the answer is often, "That seems like a lot of work." It's understandable that they don't jump at the chance to lead your next marketing project as they have their own priorities and projects in the pipeline.

Still, you want to take your marketing efforts out of the technological dark ages. What can you do?

Options for bridging marketing and technology

The gap between marketing and technology is not a new problem. From the development of the first commercial website, organizations have been trying to figure out how to translate marketing ideas across technology platforms. But now, the rapid acceleration of technology is fundamentally changing how companies do business, the products and services they offer, and the marketing channels they use. Companies need to be all-in on technology if they don't want to get left behind.

Some companies are creating new internal roles to help bridge the gap, including Chief Digital Officer, Vice President of Digital, and Chief Transformation Officer. While these roles work for some companies, they frequently have mixed results.

Often the challenge with these roles lies in execution. While these leaders are undoubtedly leaders in digital strategy, implementation isn't always as seamless as needed.

Another potential challenge is capacity. As with technology, a company's need for digital strategy and execution is continuously in flux. Depending on business initiatives, your marketing team may be championing one massive year-long project or several smaller implementations at a time. As a result, it can be difficult for even the most expert change agent to oversee all marketing projects simultaneously.

An option to supplement current resources is adding Digital Navigators to your team as part of an outcome-based strategic partnership. A Digital Navigator works within your marketing team to help define how to use technology to improve the customer experience and then leads the process to bring about the desired change. 

By hiring Digital Navigators for clearly defined needs, you can adequately staff for each project. You can also ensure that the team has exactly the right skill set for the project — whether it's a website migration, mobile app development, setting up omnichannel marketing, or leveraging the next big thing in technology.

Must-have characteristics of a digital strategy and implementation leader

Regardless of how you choose to bridge the gaps between marketing strategy and digital implementation, you’ll want to find a leader with specific competencies. Here's a rundown of the top skills:

Listening and communication skills

  • Acts as a translator, navigator, liaison, and diplomat between IT and marketing
  • Has a keen ability to ask more sophisticated questions and troubleshoot alongside IT
  • Helps marketing creatives translate their vision into viable programs IT can implement
  • Defines what a product is and what the market needs it to be
  • Fluent in speaking backend technical jargon referencing the infrastructure architecture
  • Fluent in speaking front-end marketing jargon referencing the user experience

Customer experience mindset

  • Toggles between front-end digital psychology and backend data integration
  • Has a foothold in understanding and creating meaningful, differentiated, and intuitive user experiences

Technology know-how

  • Has an understanding of what it takes to integrate marketing platforms
  • Understands what options exist in cloud-based platforms, such as Azure versus AWS

Practical business acumen

  • Is a strategic thinker and natural problem-solver
  • Has a background on the business side
  • Marketing/business context with the technical expertise of UI/UX dev

Why a Digital Navigator is a strategic option

A Digital Navigator ticks all the boxes as a leader for digital strategy creation and implementation. They provide a balanced perspective and negotiate the needs of both marketing and IT. Here are some of their key strengths:

Break down barriers in communication

Digital Navigators speak a language that all members of the team will understand. They translate the technical jargon to help the marketing team understand implications related to output, timing, and scope. Because they truly understand the marketing group's needs and possible trade-offs, they work with the necessary parties to find solutions that meet the project's objectives within the limits of the technology.

Keep your projects moving — even if the way forward is unclear

The Digital Navigator breakdown more significant problems into manageable increments to help to team move forward. Sometimes, the path to the destination is unclear, but you typically have a good idea of the best next step. It's like walking at night with a flashlight. You can only see the next few steps, but you keep movingforward and shining the light around to see where the path splits, or the team needs to reorient to get to the desired direction.

Work to the limits of what's possible

The sky isn't the limit when you're working within the constraints of existing digital platforms. The limit is defined by the realities of your current technologies and data integration. Digital Navigators develop creative, front-end solutions using only what's in their box. They must understand the backend systems and what's available in the box to solve the problem. While it's more challenging than the "sky's the limit," it's a far more practical approach to achieving the desired outcome. The alternative is thinking up a fantastic idea that is potentially impossible to implement because the technology and the business can't deliver.

Focused on the customer implications of emerging tech

Digital Navigators have an expanding and evolving skillset to meet your current and future needs. This year's goal may be creating a customer portal with a fantastic user interface, but next year will certainly be something different. There is emerging tech around the corner with the possibility to transform the customer experience, such as 5G, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, to name just a few. Incorporating a Digital Navigator as part of an outcomes-based strategic partnership provides this type of flexibility.

Find your team. Find success.

It always a challenge to find the right people to add to your team. But when it comes to finding the right Digital Navigator, it can be like finding a unicorn. It's not super easy to find Digital Navigators who have technical know-how, practical business acumen, and a deep customer experience mindset. We can help.

Depending on your organization and your marketing initiatives, you may not need a dedicated resource for digital strategy creation and implementation for the entire year. Or there may be times when you need more than one. By outsourcing Digital Navigators, you can make sure you have the perfect level of support for as long as you need it. This flexibility has led to the rise of Digital Marketers as one of the top technology trends for CMOs this year.

For more insights about how the right talent can accelerate digital transformation within your company, visit Concord Digital or download our ebook, Into the Wild: The Modern CMO's Guide to Mapping Digital Strategy to Outcomes.

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