Digital First is a strategy that assumes digital channels should be prioritized. However, this does not necessarily mean at the expense of traditional channels. Many companies now have the leadership and infrastructure in place to take 'customer experience' beyond journey mapping. Whether they're called CCO or CXO, customer experience executives are better positioned now than ever to deliver a revenue-generating customer experience.

What Is Digital First?


Digital first is a marketing concept created to reach consumers on digital platforms. The intent of digital first was to optimize content through digital channels. It was a response to the demand to reach consumers on the web, mobile, social media, etc. With the increase in digital consumption, consumers are now driving the conversation with brands. Brands had to find a way to engage with customers and prospects on their “turf.” Creating digital extensions of their brand, these companies would create brand preference by tailoring their approach to these buyer’s preferred journey.


Why Did Digital First Fail?


Digital first missed the mark by assuming that creating digital extensions of the brand was enough. This “foundation” of digital was anything but reliable. It’s not a one and done strategy. It’s not something that can be built once, or first, and left to its own devices. Digital has become table stakes in today’s purchasing environment. When brands focus on “first” without thinking about the entire journey, their efforts fall short. Prospects and customers are coming to brands from every digital channel, and the company needs to be present. Money is left on the table when brands fail to meet the prospect during their journey. Retention is at stake when the brand fails to engage with customers when they seek to connect.


A digital first strategy is short-sighted. Brands must create excellent customer experiences throughout their journey.



Is a Holistic Customer Experience Approach the Answer?


Yes. Additionally, it must be strategic and, more importantly, a collaborative approach. Internal collaboration throughout the customer’s journey is the key to developing a holistic approach. In addition to collaboration, it requires education. Marketing must become intimately involved in understanding the customer journey. If Marketing misses this education opportunity, alignment with sales, and customer experience suffers.


The Customer Experience Interlock Tool is a conversation guide for teams to align on customer experience strategy.



This tool helps the Executive Team align their functions and teams to successfully drive change.


Download the tool here.


Digital presence requires more than a website. It requires more than a Facebook page. Digital strategies are not a checklist of platforms to attack to be “digitally present.” Looking outside-in is critical to developing a customer experience strategy.


  • How do customers want to engage when they have a question or problem?
  • How are you creating customer loyalty online?
  • How do you find new prospects and convert them to brand loyalists?
  • Are you integrating your digital presence with your on-premise experiences?
  • Are your employees aligned with the customer experience?


Through a well-developed series of market listening paths, companies can understand their buyer’s preferences, and meet them in their preferred location. This approach will help you determine which digital touchpoints your customers will lead to the most significant improvement in your customer journey. As one Chief Digital Officer explains, “it’s about having empathy with who you are talking to.”


The brand needs to focus on the big picture during the customer journey: the customer experience.  However, this can’t be a “push” initiative coming from the Marketing team. Marketing needs to engage its counterparts internally. Research shows that companies who focus on customer experience efforts are more likely to have stronger brand awareness. In addition, these companies may see higher average order values, higher retention, and stronger customer satisfaction scores.


The effort must be collaborative, involving Sales, Customer Success, and Customer Service/Support at a minimum. Revenue generation and retention must be key focus points. Using the Revenue Growth Maturity Model, we find that the companies who successfully deploy Digital CX Transformations have at least a level 4 maturity.  These companies have processes designed that include cross-functional boundaries, and they consistently follow these processes.

The good news is that improvements in customer retention can quickly deliver ROI on the investments necessary to transform digitally.


 The most effective way of capitalizing on this opportunity is through a dedicated individual that manages Customer Experience.  This can be a Chief Customer Officer (CCO, who also owns Customer Success or Support) or a Chief Experience Officer (CXO, who is more aligned to Marketing). Even with a dedicated CX role, the role of the CMO has expanded. The CMO is now responsible for driving more cross-functional relationships than ever before. Marketing now must work with product, sales, customer service, finance, IT, etc. to help drive end-to-end success.


To assist with managing these cross-functional relationships, we have developed SBI’s Customer Experience Interlock Tool to help these leaders align these teams around their initiatives. Aligning all internal teams around what is best for the customer is the next step in client-centric enterprise organizations.


Download the tool here.


How Else Can SBI Help?


SBI conducts in-depth market research and partners with business leaders to develop strategies that enhance performance and drive results. Through evidence-based agile methods, we create actionable procedures that, once embraced and adopted, make your business better. We tailor our benchmarking methods to each client so they achieve increased revenue growth and lasting success.


Explore our Customer Experience and Marketing insights, or connect with an expert to learn more about developing a world-class CX design.


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