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  • Purnima Thakre

How Not to Fear Digital Transformation

With constant and accelerated technological developments, it’s clear that digital marketing is at the forefront of the marketing industry.

While it’s definitely important to watch for the latest trends, we at refine+focus also value looking back every once in awhile to understand how we got to where we are, so we were intrigued when we found two articles on the past and present of digital marketing.

In the same divide-and-conquer fashion we used in last week’s meeting, we split up both articles and assigned each member of our team to one section. After reading and analyzing each section, we came together and shared a summary of our findings.

The first article, from Edelman, is titled “Digital Transformation Journey.” This article both chronicles technological developments that shook up the marketing industry, and gives brands the secret weapons they need to combat marketing disruptions.

To start, Daniel Goez took us through how the digital marketing transformation began. By the mid-2000s, the infrastructure of the internet was in place. That foundation was built upon by social media, which we saw through the rise of Friendster, Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter. A few years later, companies realized that in order to be relevant, they must first be mobile. At the head of this realization was Mark Zuckerberg, making Facebook one of the first companies to harp on the mobile trend.

Now, there are three main disruptions forcing brands to further develop their digital transformations. First, customers today are expecting more engagement–53% of customers expect a social customer service response in one hour or less. Secondly, with media channels now fragmented and defined, they are waging a war over how much of our attention any one channel can get. Lastly is the rise of an activist economy. Activism will keep driving how and where companies invest. 

Picking up from there, Megha Dahiya explained how companies can actually digitize their transformation. There is no single quick-fix for a successful digital transformation. Rather, successful digital transformation journeys are often long-term commitments driven by the realization that people are at the core of success. When companies start with focusing on people, the transformation follows. That’s because digital transformation is everyone’s job. Success calls for evaluating roles and responsibilities, and requires both an executive champion in the organization to navigate internal dynamics and a driver who coordinates the resources to get it done.

Although every journey is specific to each unique company, Edelman does provide some common and effective methods of accelerating digital transformation. First, develop a common vision to create consensus and alignment. Second, identify, prioritize, and measure key pilots with clear outcomes that identify areas of improvement to form a strategy. Lastly, be sure to align your brand internally to avoid creating problems siloed within your organization that just don’t add up.

The second piece we focused on was a list from Convince and Convert titled “11 Companies That Are Killing It with Their Digital Marketing Campaigns.” This list breaks down the brands at the forefront of the digital marketing world right now and analyzes what’s working for them.

Toria Rainey highlighted the unique successes of the first five companies on the list. First was Zappos, a company who proves that with heavy investments in effective online marketing campaigns come measurable results, and with measurable results comes success. Next was American Express (AMEX), a company that is showing us that the creator of your content can be anyone. Through their website Open Forum, industry experts can write and share brilliant and helpful content that American Express doesn’t need to pay big bucks for.

Next on the list was Mint, a niche app for personal finances. While Mint invests quite a lot of money into quality content marketing, their commitment to excellence certainly paid off–Mint was sold to Intuit for $170 million. Following that was the Dollar Shave Club, a company using cheeky marketing and a lighthearted launch video to stand out in people’s minds. Next on the list was The Wirecutter, a genuine and trustworthy affiliate marketing site that was recently acquired by the New York Times for $30 million.

Andres Jaramillo continued going over the list, picking up again with Slack, a company who cares more about selling their customers a solution rather than a product. Following that was Airbnb, a company who has excelled in creating demand for their service by generating interest with unique, related content. Next up was JetBlue, a prime example of a company using social media to listen rather than broadcast. JetBlue’s twitter feed is remarkably interactive, allowing them to build customer rapport and confidence. Next on the list was Yelp, a company focused on building both a trustworthy brand and a trustworthy community.

Following that was Mastercard, a company who proved patience is a virtue when they perfectly timed a social media release to coincide with the Cubs winning game seven of the World Series. Lastly was Uniqlo, a Japanese company that aims to be much more than a fashionable brand. Uniqlo engaged with customers by teaching them about their new HEATTECH clothing technology with an interactive approach, proving that by taking control of your brand story, you can alter how your customers see your brand.

Eduardo Pujol finished up the article by presenting six other social media superstars. First up was Doctor Who, a British cult classic show with a bulletproof media presence on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. Second was the Shelter Pet Project, an organization that launches cute and clever campaigns to reduce the number of animals killed in overcrowded shelters to zero. Next was Porsche, who, with six Canvas ad campaigns optimized for mobile, racked up 15 million impressions and 2 million video views.

Next was anti-tobacco organization truth’s #catmageddon, a campaign that played on American’s love for pets with a new study that found cats whose owners smoke are twice as likely to get cancer. Next on the list was Sharknado 3. No, really. This cheesy SyFy channel movie franchise effectively used Twitter to hype excitement and get people talking about the film. Rounding out this list was Taco Bell, who used their social media presence to convince Apple to roll out a new taco emoji in iOs 9.3.


We couldn’t wait until June 27th for the next “Curiouser & Curiouser” event, so we decided to celebrate the end of the workweek by adding a mini “curiouser”-style conversation to the tail end of last Friday’s meeting. Here’s what we shared:

Megha Dahiya – An innovative coating that can both get all the ketchup out of the bottle and prevent buildup in oil pipelines

Daniel Goez – The intersection of gamification and philanthropy can save the world

Andres Jaramillo – DIY Virtual Reality viewer, as popularized by Google Cardboard

Toria Rainey – The world’s first fully accessible waterpark, complete with air-powered waterproof wheelchairs

Eduardo Pujol – An awards show that honors the best short-form content across the social web.

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