How to take the lead in digital: why a people-oriented approach can deliver multichannel success

Andrew Warren-Payne, research analyst at Econsultancy, looks at how inter-disciplinary teams with the right blend of skills are essential for successful marketing.

Andrew Warren-Payne

The key to how businesses can succeed in an increasingly multichannel world can be summed up in one phrase: effective leadership.

It is for this reason that the ‘Lead’ track at Econsultancy’s JUMP conference this month is likely to draw the biggest crowds, with delegates from hundreds of businesses recognising that a joined-up approach to marketing requires the right people with the right skills.

The skill sets required for effective multichannel marketing are wide-ranging, with developers, designers and marketers needing to constantly adapt to evolving technology and changing customer behaviour.

T-shaped thinkers

With the customer experience becoming increasingly complex, organisations have recognised that they need leaders who can build and manage interdisciplinary teams effectively.

Research published by Econsultancy has identified ‘T-shaped’ people as an essential requirement for businesses in the digital age.

A term originally coined by McKinsey, the phrase refers to people with depth of knowledge in one particular area (for example website optimisation), but also a broader (horizontal) understanding of how different parts of the business need to work together to meet commercial objectives.

T-shaped people who can manage cross-functional teams are enjoying an accelerated career path.

Left and right brain

As well as finding the right leaders, one of the challenges facing digital organisations is building teams with the right blend of right-brain and left-brain thinkers. Although everyone is talking about the rise of data-driven marketing, for every analyst versed in quantitative techniques, a more creative-minded marketer is needed.

In a world of optimisation and analytics, it should not be forgotten that behind every digital interaction lies a person. As customers use multiple devices, channels, platforms and interact with multiple influencers (whether in-person or online), the difficulty in tracking the individual becomes more difficult.

While objectives and metrics are likely to be numerically driven (such as improving conversion rate or the number of unique visitors to site), the essence of the customer experience is sometimes harder to define and quantify.

The customer does not care about whether a site has been optimised, their email subject line has been tweaked, or that a store has stocked and promoted products as a result of market research.

What the customer sees and cares about (and what determines how much cash they part with) is the overall experience. This experience is the representation of the company to the customer. It is up to digital leaders to ensure they bring the right alchemy of art and science to their marketing endeavours, to ensure that the customer experience brings them a competitive advantage.

Econsultancy’s JUMP conference about multichannel marketing in London on 10 October will feature four tracks, including ‘Lead’.

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