• Many companies mistakenly equate advanced digital capabilities with advanced digital tools
  • Advanced digital capabilities are about the coordination of planning, executing and reporting of digital and non-digital activities
  • Breaking down digital silos is the best way to be digitally advanced

It seems as though every week I see another digital tool that is really interesting and could be very effective. Recently, it was a video embedded in a dimensional mailer – which seemed to be a great way to potentially catch the attention of high-value prospects or deepen the loyalty of high-value customers. Our clients are constantly looking for new ideas and advanced tools, so we’re always on the lookout, too!

But as I thought about the use cases for this tool and the many other interesting digital tools that cross my desk, I realized that being “digitally advanced” has a lot less to do with the tools themselves and more with how they are integrated into the entirety of a company’s digital capabilities. The truth is, the coordination of digital planning, execution and reporting around a business goal is the real key to being digitally advanced.

It sounds simple enough, but in every company we talk to, we inevitably find all manner of fractures. For example, many companies have inbound traffic that is not coordinated with Web site merchandising. Other companies create a user experience for one activity (e.g. a webinar registration) that is different and disconnected from another similar activity (e.g. registration to download the supporting white paper). Excuses are easy to come by (“We’re too small and don’t have enough resources” or “We’re too big and there are too many disparate functions to coordinate”), so companies mask the inefficiencies of their digital capabilities with “cool stuff.” And while I’m a big fan of cool stuff, I’m a bigger fan of ROI.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine if your organization’s digital capabilities are as advanced as you think they are:

  • Do you coordinate your inbound (e.g. online advertising, content syndication, search) with your email efforts?
  • Do you plan, execute and report on your Web site activity in coordination with your email activity to known targets?
  • Do you plan, execute and report on your efforts to drive inbound anonymous traffic (social, online advertising) with your Web site against a specific business goal?
  • Do you plan, execute and report on your digital efforts (email, online advertising, search, Web, etc.) and your non-digital (events, print and tele) against a specific business goal?
  • Do you plan and create content for digital delivery first?
  • Does everyone in demand creation consider digital marketing to be a part of their job?
  • Do you incorporate digital considerations into the definition of demand creation goals?

We find that most companies can answer yes to the first two or three questions, and advanced companies have five or six yes answers. Being digitally advanced is not about the size of your digital toolbox or even the tools within it – it is about how embedded digital capabilities are within the fabric of the marketing function.