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 and insights -- 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 you know? Well, digital capabilities are literally bursting with sources of customer insight. Some you can leverage now, other are capabilities that can be built.

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

Tracking and Scoring It's possible to follow customers' activity on your Web and Mobile sites to see what they're interested in. And you can go beyond that to score their behavior at the individual level so you know when they're ready to be presented with an offer or talk to a sales person.

The 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 you're left with by asking customers for the information directly.

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

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

Once you understand your customer, the next step is to insure they have a good experience when they interact with you. 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 syndicate it and Search to bring them to you.

Why Integrate?

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


Well, if all your businesses are using the same content strategy and templates, your 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 you. And it strengthens the brand.

Shared Insight

If all your businesses are sharing customer insights, you know your customers better and can recognize them no matter where they're connecting with you.

Avoid Search Competition

Competition between business units for SEO keywords is a SHAME because if more than one of your 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 internal units are 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 you 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 event is over, that content is often abandoned 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 your customers receiving multiple emails from different parts of the company on a monthly basis? Maybe even weekly? Do you know? This exhausts customers and makes your email far less effective. A common tool and good governance can fix that.

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 you 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 customer interest, trending and seasonality. This helps determine what content needs to be created to meet customer search demand.

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

A Social media tool allows you to listen and respond in a coordinated, consistent, and real-time manner to the insights you gather.

Web content management and a data analytics dashboard to help optimize

Later, you can move on to more sophisticated tooling that lets you track and score your visitors' behavior on the site to see where they are in the buying cycle and even begin some level of personalization.

You can also activate your employees to advocate for your brand and empower your sales people 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