Sunday, July 9, 2017

Why is Digital Integration important across your enterprise?

You have a successful company and you're quickly moving up the digital maturity curve. Many of your business units are pursuing digital practices, some very effectively. And you've realized you're at the point where you need to take your digital marketing to the next level -- to drive the internal disruption that will make you a truly Integrated Digital Enterprise. That means all business units working together and leveraging each others' strengths -- to make Digital Capability an integral component of everything you do rather than something you do that's extra.

So this post is about how to make that vision of a mature, integrated digital enterprise a reality.

First Things First - The Customer

As we're going through this thought process, I'm going to encourage you to put yourself in your customers' shoes and look at everything you do from their point of view. Because we can implement all the best practices in the world, leverage the most cutting edge technology, create the most beautiful campaigns, the cleverest promotions and the most intuitive and easy to navigate mobile sites. But if these elements don't come together to answer our customers' questions, if we don't deliver the content they're looking for, if we don't make it easy for them to meet their needs, we're not going to be successful digital marketers.

Know What the Customer Needs. Don't Guess!

So let's start by knowing what their needs are. How do we know? Well, digital capabilities are literally bursting with sources of customer insight. Some we can do right now, other are capabilities that we can build.

Deep Keyword Research goes beyond Keyword Discovery to tell us, not only what keywords to optimize our pages for, but what kinds of content our target audiences are looking for. We can understand which topics are trending and where customers are finding this information now. We can know FOR SURE what will draw them to us.

Social Listening gives us insight into conversations that are happening in the social space that are relevant to our business. What our customers and potential customers think about our brands and our competitors. Social Listening tells us what makes them happy, their challenges and frustrations, their needs, their ideas. It tells us where these conversations are happening so we can join in. And it tells us who's leading those conversations. The influencers.

Tracking and Scoring We have the ability to follow customers' activity on our Web and Mobile sites to see what they're interesting in. And we can go beyond that to score their behavior at the individual level so we know when they're ready to be presented with an offer of talk to a sales person.

Our Sales Force is an astonishing trove of customer knowledge about what influences customers to pull out their wallet or press the buy button. And, by the way, sales people like to be asked.

Surveys can fill in any information gaps we're left with by asking customers for the information directly.

Advocacy Channels happen when we invite our customers to work with us directly to create products or features they need. And those people will become the most valuable marketers we could dream of as they talk to their friends, families and personal networks about us.

Drive the internal disruption that will make you a truly Integrated Digital Enterprise.
The 3 Legs of Customer Experience

Once we understand our customer, the next step is to insure they have a good experience when they interact with us. And Search, Social and Content are the 3 legs of customer experience. Let me start with a couple of words about content. Discussions of User Experience often give content short shrift, but for me content is arguably the key ingredient of the user experience.

You use search and social listening to gain insights into the content your customers are looking for, create the content from the ground up based on that information, then use Social to syndicated it and Search to bring them to you.

Why Integrate?

Getting everyone focused on the customer is the first step toward integration. We want our visitors to have a consistently good experience, no matter where they touch our business. So how do we make that happen and what's at stake? What's the advantage? Why do we want to do this?


Well, if all our businesses are using the same content strategy and templates, our customers see a single company, speaking with a unified voice and common messages. There's no confusion or dissonance to create friction or distract them from their reason for interaction with us. And it strengthens the brand.

Shared Insight

If we're all sharing customer insights, we know our customers better and can recognize them no matter where they're connecting with us.

Avoid Search Competition

Competition between business units for SEO keywords is a SHAME because if more than one of our pages is optimized for the same keyword, none of them can rank highly. But competition within the same company for paid keywords is a CRIME because we're all driving up the cost of keywords for each other and the company. It's much better to cooperate, assign a single page to each high-value keyword and optimize other pages for longer tail keywords. This expands the keyword universe we capture, drives incremental traffic and higher rankings. It also drives huge savings in paid search.

Reuse and Consolidate Content

Content development is expensive, whether for product pages, collateral, press releases, blogs, social, email, packaging or whatever. But it becomes dramatically more expensive when it's created in silos that are sometimes creating the same content at the same time. Events, for instance, tend to be huge forcing functions for the creation of high-volume content. But once the even is over, that content is abandon and often never used or seen again. Much better to have all business units work from a common editorial calendar, tag and store all content in a common repository so that when content is needed on any topic, it can be easily found in the repository if it already exists. Think of the savings!

Common CRM

Are our customers receiving multiple emails from different parts of our company on a monthly basis? Maybe even weekly? Do we know? This exhausts customers and makes our email far less effective. We can fix that with a common tool and good governance.

Operational Cooperation

Integration isn't just about working across business units though. It's also building relationships with other teams like Sales and Customer Care. Both are rich sources of customer information. And they'll love marketing for partnering with them to get them better leads and solve customer problems.


So, all the ideas we've talked about so far can be facilitated with a stack of digital enablement tools. Again, I'm not suggesting anyone do all of these at once. But we can start with some insights projects, like the deep search listening I mentioned before. This is called Consumer Intent Modeling and it's a process of taking unstructured keyword data and turning it into structured semantic maps by categorizing keywords into topics and sub topics to understand custoemr interest, trending and seasonality. This helps determind what content needs to be created to meet customer search demand.

A shared, cloud-based editorial calendar and a simnple taggable, filterable content repository would be and easy and inexpensive next step.

A Social media tool would allow us to listen and respond in a coordinated, consistent, and real-time manner to the insights we gather.

Web content management and a data analytics dashboard to help us optimize

Later, we can move on to more sophisticated tooling taht lets us track and score our visitors' behavior on the site to see where they are in the buying cycle and even begin some level of personalization

And we can activate our employees to advoacate for our brand and empower our sales peope for social selling by way of an employee advocacy platform.

But through it all, remember: Integration drives significant growth, but only if it's centered on the customer.

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Ken Godfrey