Digitalization: where is the post-crisis human being? Phygital response Marketing vs Communication

The crisis has accelerated digitization, at the same time disrupting the daily life of Marketing and Communication professionals. How to face so many changes? Half-physical, half-digital, communication is changing. 🤔 So, where to head?
“Phygital” would be the answer. After all, why choose when you can offer both? 😎 But do we know and can we really handle this hybrid practice? To better understand this acceleration in two dimensions, the team We Are COM conducted an unprecedented survey in partnership with colleagues from DigitalCMO.fr, average specializing in marketing and new technologies, andagency GE Communication.
So what are the challenges of hybridizing our communication devices (and not just events!), The uses of our targets and the practices of us communicators? How to put the human in a hybrid world? Are there any perception gaps with our Marketing colleagues? Are the challenges of the Communication and Marketing teams equivalent? 🚀

Here is the summary of the workshop of Club We Are COM, dedicated to reporting on the “post-crisis phygital” study – conducted with 126 Marketing and Communication decision-makers – with three main witnesses:

  • Eric Ochs, publisher of the media DigitalCMO.fr
  • Anne Manubens, Global Corporate & Digital Communication manager of HM.Clause (Limagrain group) 
  • Pierre Suc, Director of Development for GE Communication, a consultancy and creation platform

The 6 lessons to be learned from the study

# 1 - Leader in digitization: Marketing is one step ahead of Communication, which is accelerating

Findings of the study: Marketing professionals would feel more "up to date" on topics related to digitization than Communication professionals. We observe that 23% of the communicators surveyed believe they are lagging behind in this area, within their scope of intervention.

Marketing and communication functions and current digitization

💡 How do you explain this difference? Are the Marketing functions really more advanced in the digitalization process than the Communication functions?

Anne Manubens : In my opinion, it is important to make a distinction between the Marketing and Communication professions, whose roots are dissimilar. Marketing is more attached to customer journey and its digitization, which requires a perfect mastery of digital techniques and tools. These are essential for the generation of leads and therefore to conquer new customers. While Communication is more in the use of these digital channels, through a strategy of contents extremely diverse. If Marketing seems today to be more operational than Communication, in terms of digitization, it is above all linked to the deep and specific nature of these two professions, as well as to their respective developments.

Pierre Suc : Indeed, it is difficult to be generic on this subject as these two professions vary intrinsically according to the sector of activity and the organization of the company. I would say that Marketing has enjoyed an advance since the advent of the smartphone. It was then the consumers who pushed Marketing professionals to review the terms of access to offers, to imagine new customer journeys, in particular with the new challenge of “everything, immediately, all the time”. By adapting its product and service offerings, and by applying to rethink them, Marketing has been able to get ahead of the digital transformation of its activities. In Communication, and all the more so in internal communication, it is the health crisis that has brought digitalization to fruition. It was necessary to equip employees with nomadism and support them towards teleworking. The digital acceleration of Communication is, in its most concrete achievements, relatively recent.

# 2 - Priorities of digitalization in 2022: optimizing collaborative tools and customer journeys

Findings of the study: Marketing and Communication experts seem to make a point of (re) taking their digitalization projects, both in terms of internal tools and customer journeys. On the internal communication side, the communicators questioned wish to improve collaborative tools between teams, webinars and chatbots internal or digital transformation systems affecting corporate culture.

Priority trends 1
Priority trends 2

👀 How do you decipher the place of humans in digitalization? And the discrepancies in vision between Marketing professionals and Communication professionals?

Eric Ochs : The place of the human being, in employee relations or customer relations, is crucial for the majority of respondents because phygital upsets established codes. Take the example of customer communication: previously, the Marketing team delivered its studies to the sales team to set up a product strategy and a marketing process. Now, and more and more, we are moving towards immediate data collection and analysis. The upheaval does not only affect the medium, physical and / or digital, but also the temporal.
I would add that another significant factor in this awareness is that of volume. Marketing professionals have adapted to the cogs of digital: CRM, automation, algo… necessary for the management of a large number of customers. Gold, communicators only had to face this volumetric dimension with the advent of Social networks, so much more recently. In general, their solutions are therefore less automated, especially for press relations. This is why technological maturity is relatively lower in the Communication sector than in that of Marketing.
Today, all this tends to accelerate for the professionals of the Communication. There is a segmentation of hearings, resulting in an obligation to address so many communities only to individuals, while being the bearer of common values. New digital tools are needed to monitor brand mentions in an ever-growing number of social networks. I note that the interactions between the Marketing and Communication teams are more and more usual, for example on the management of influencers, where the question that often comes up is: "should the emphasis be on the product (Marketing) or on the brand (Communication)?" " 

# 3 - Digitization and regulation: necessary compliance of its digital ecosystem in parallel with an improvement in the quality of content

Findings of the study: the Marketing functions apply to bring their actions into compliance with the new regulations relating to personal data. The collection of customer consent and the emergence of ethical concerns for the company force the Marketing teams to add a speech corporate in the product promise. We therefore notice that the Communication functions seem to be oriented more towards a “customers” and business approach of the company.

New uses 1
New uses 2

🤖 What are the main challenges brought about by the acceleration of digital?

Anne Manubens : Beyond the regulations around the processing of individuals' personal data, we must respond to two major challenges: the integrity of the information we produce and our ability to do so.

  1. The quality of the information disseminated in our digital ecosystem: how to manage the information - its treatment and its veracity - that we issue in external ? In this, it is important that we support both employees and customers who speak on our behalf on our territory of expression and its challenges. What can we say or not say? What risks would be associated with it? How to properly convey information? Do the targets really want to receive such content? And beyond that, how will they interpret the message? The real groundwork is that of acculturation: understanding the standards relating to the different expectations of different audiences in different countries; while respecting their specific legislation. For all this, it is certainly essential to surround yourself with legal teams. However, the key issue - in the age of digitization - remains the quality of the information we disseminate.
  2. The ability to coordinate teams: Faced with the extent of digitization, in concrete terms what can we do with our human resources and our investments? Are we sufficiently equipped and structured internally to produce new digital journeys, animate systems editorials, while responding to requests from Internet users what are social networks on audience hubs? At what stage of the customer journey should we provide a digital contact point that is beneficial to customers, as well as to the company? How to steer our actions and measure KPIs?

The analysis is time consuming and repetitive, if we are to track the impact and optimize it. As we can see on a daily basis, digital technology requires real agility and real expertise from operational teams.

🔎 How does this synergy between the Marketing and Communication teams work within your HM.Clause company? Who produces your branded content?

Anne Manubens: There is something structuring and collaborative. Digital is a powerful formal tool, since it allows exchanges to be set up via secure platforms. We are currently deploying a Product Information Management (PIM or product content manager) to centralize our product data and external consumables. Thus, the content is validated by the Marketing and sales teams offering a secure scope to all employees. On the collaborative side with the teams in the field, the essential lies in acculturation. It seems important to us to train employees, as well as to integrate them into our actions, by setting up editorial committees for example. Coordination is also done through other committees: event management, promotional ... It is a constant work to ensure that we all share a common base of digital practices.
For content, they come 100% from within. This is both an opportunity, but also an obligation due to the size of the company. Our 27 Communication professionals (promotional and external) around the world are responsible for all of the content. Nevertheless, we can call on agencies on questions of expertise in digital marketing.

# 4 - Digitization and proximity: experimentation with new methods of interaction with employees and customers

Findings of the study: the Communication teams seem to consider that the human aspect should come out more internally, in particular through the managerial line; while the Marketing teams seem to focus more on the humanization of the post-purchase customer experience.

Humanization trends

☝️ What do you need to re-humanize as a priority?

Pierre Suc : During confinements, where distancing was imposed on most employees whose function was eligible for teleworking, local managers suffered. These have been bypassed, organizational charts have flattened and cross-functional projects have become more and more complicated to manage. One question remains: faced with a hybrid world of work, how to govern and re-humanize relationships? From now on, the teams will remain shared, some will be working from home while the others will be on the premises. So, beyond the efficient tools to be put in place, it is necessary to redefine what makes unity and the rules of working together: for what (do) we meet? What do we (do) telework at home or in third places?
Some companies call on external trainers, such as mediators, to help teams navigate this transition as well as possible and find new common habits. Nevertheless, I would rather think that this challenge is met thanks to the dialogue that takes place within a team. Each experience must be lived individually to guarantee collective success. Also, communicators must support these organizational and cultural changes in the company via managerial communication (from general management for the executive, to the local manager for implementation), internal communication (the collective) and HR communication ( the individual). It is essential to set up regular sensors of the state of mind of employees, and having a concern for a conversation and “continuous” listening is a major challenge for the Communication Departments.

Anne Manubens : It is true that internally the happy medium is difficult to find: deploying a new standard in the company, while individualizing it. As for the external, nothing is more important than human relations: the voices expressed, by your customers as by your employees. In general, humans must be an intense concern. So how to reintegrate the human in the distancing approaches? How to maintain contact throughout the customer journey? It is necessary for all of us to rebalance these relationship games, and to constantly adjust them. We are currently in a period that I would qualify as "floating" where it is necessary to dare to experiment.
At HM.Clause, the crisis turned out to be a real revolution for the teams. Our DNA is the earth: we belong to farmers, we are in the fields whatever our functions. In less than 18 months, we are catching up to 10 years of digitization in our poorly equipped organization compared to other industries. We have therefore adapted our communication strategy :

  • In internal communication, the priority was to optimize the nomadism of employees (sometimes even non-existent). And we have redoubled our efforts to ensure that each employee remains connected to the company thanks to formats such as videos, webinars or lives on social networks.
  • In external communication, we have fundamentally revised our customer journey. In a hybrid world, it is important to rethink everything and sometimes to upset our habits. Previously, a communication campaign consisted of cutting a melon with the customer in a field. With digital, we have to make ourselves available and connect in the evening, at the same time as the customer, after his day in his operation. Once again, our watchword was: “experimentation”. Now we are in the analysis phase, aiming to draw the best lessons from and learn from these tests. Real test and learn !

# 5 - Investment in digitalization in 2022: priority to the automation and rationalization of digital tools

Findings of the study: For their 2022 budget, Marketing and Communication professionals tend to be more selective in their investments in automation. More than a third of those surveyed intend to increase these investments, this trend is even more marked on the Marketing side.

Automation trends

In general, trends in digital investment are reminiscent of those in automation. In both cases, it is a question of being more selective, while continuing to optimize the techniques. Note that communicators seem more likely to want to increase their investments in digital. Maybe it's to catch up?

Digitization trends

🎯 Should we be more selective in our investments?

Eric Ochs : It is important to be selective in the choice of new technologies. We find that in companies, especially large ones, the tech budget would reach on average 25% of the overall costs. This colossal figure shows that it is becoming essential to make a strategic selection so as not to be drowned in too many poorly interconnected solutions.. This would require humans to remedy these shortcomings.
It is just as important to be selective in the choice of your digital channels. Each year, one (or two) large is the international treasure emerges. No brand can be on all fronts, so always choose quality over quantity.
Finally let's not forget that digital is expensive for the company and for the planet. We must therefore ask ourselves the question of the usefulness of the various tools and channels. The cost of licenses for your tools must not adversely affect media investments in digital acquisition. Remember that a click is very far from representing a customer and that the journey is strewn with pitfalls! In short, select and rationalize for more efficiency.

🔮 You mentioned digital acquisition. What digital levers to invest in in 2022?

Anne Manubens: It all depends on the business sector and the company's development strategy. At HM.Clause, we will focus on two levers:

  • Influence marketing on social networks, very gently to promote our expertise and know-how.
  • Inbound marketing by offering content highlighting our DNA. A more legitimate word is more accurately relayed.

Eric Ochs : It is important to bet on the smart date : the right detection makes it possible to offer the right solution, to the right customer, at the right time. It may seem simple but it is at the heart of all the challenges of tomorrow because the challenge is twofold. It is necessary industrialize the mass processing of data and automate the delivery of a personalized message on the right channel. Finally, I would advocate digital sobriety, in particular thanks to personalization. 

# 6 - Digitization and working conditions: professional and personal life balance concerns Marketing and Communication professionals

Findings of the study: teleworking, and all that it can imply, would establish itself as a new standard for all Marketing and Communication professionals. Nevertheless, the latter seem to be unanimously concerned about the disruption of the balance between professional and personal life. It should also be noted that communicators seem even more attentive to other dimensions: the risk of reputation, horizontal relationships in the company, the widening of social inequalities, etc.

Hybridization trends

 🙏 How to translate these results? What do you think are the most important points of attention? What solutions should be considered to meet the new expectations?

Pierre Suc: Teleworking has truly become a major subject. Today, this exercise is most often requested by employees “eligible” for the subject. However in practice, this brings a lot of inequalities between individuals, on their teleworking conditions: housing, the quality of the connection, the entourage, etc. And paradoxically, the employer must also take these new parameters into account and remember good practices, such as the right to disconnect. Ultimately, these new working conditions today constitute a component that should not be neglected for the attractiveness of an employer brand.

Eric Ochs,

Media Editor DigitalCMO.fr

Anne Manubens,

Global corporate & digital communication manager of HM.Clause

Pierre Suc,

Director of Development Ge Communication

Join the Club We Are COM 🚀

Le Club We Are COM allows communication professionals to progress together during moments of sharing best practices only between peers, all sectors combined. Objective: an increase in collective skills in particular thanks to a workshop each month on concrete cases, responses to the major challenges of the COM, meetings with renowned experts, etc. Always exchanges in complete transparency and independence based on feedback: 0% self-promotion, 100% conviction.

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