Digital isn’t just a marketing channel. It’s a layer over your entire marketing function.

Understand how the digital ripple effect will alter your marketing department

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We may finally be at the point where “digital marketing” becomes simply “marketing” — as this unfolds, marketers will encounter what researchers call the digital ripple effect – a term that caught our eye in an article published by the Academy of Marketing Science.

What is it? The digital ripple effect refers to how digital transformation reshapes the role of marketing in an organization — going far beyond the perceptions of what its role is today. This isn’t just digital advertising and promotion with a face-lift, but a more fundamental shift in how marketers operate.

Case in point (In their words): “The digital transformation of marketing includes digital marketing, but it reshapes much more, encompassing the ‘digital ripple effect.’ If we examine the question of how digital is changing the role of marketing and the ways marketing is getting done, we end up with a transformation agenda that far exceeds the normally accepted definitions of digital marketing.” (The Changing Role of Marketing: Transformed Propositions, Processes and Partnerships)

Case in point (In our words): Once marketing goes fully digital, it’s going to change more than just your organization’s sales funnel — it’s going to change the role of your marketing department, one function after another. 

Why should I care? As a leader in your marketing department, you’re likely facing constant change, and it’s in your favor to be ahead of the curve. Changes are happening at a rapid pace and have profound consequences on organizations. You can avoid unpleasant surprises by being aware of these implications of the digital ripple effect:

  • Your customer’s expectations are evolving faster than ever before due to digital innovations and new means of communication. Remember the days when customers didn’t expect an almost instantaneous response? We all know how quickly that changed!
  • The scope of marketing is changing and what we refer to as digital marketing today will be considered “digital selling” in the near future. Services like SEO, SEM and Social will be considered core promotional activities, not experimental “digital” marketing tactics. Which will lead to:
  • Your marketing department may find itself marketing completely new things, such as new digital products or new business models. For example, IoT, AR / VR technologies and artificial intelligence may seem so “pie in the sky,” but what about when they’re not?
  • Your organization’s relationship with customers will go from one-way to two-way, with increased visibility of how your organization impacts your customer. Of course, organizations will still be expected to deliver high-quality products, services and information, but they will also be expected to cultivate high-quality relationships with their customers. This will inevitably create a feedback loop of rich insights that can benefit both the customer and you. 

What do I do now? Prepare for the changes digital transformation brings. Keep the digital ripple effect a ripple rather than a tidal wave using these next steps:

  • Ditch the “digital” department. Let everyone embrace the digital future. Refrain from siloed thinking. Increase cross-functional communication in your organization so marketing can prepare for new products or services in the pipeline. For example, your organization could assemble a team of department ambassadors to communicate initiatives on behalf of each department.
  • Get to know your customers. Again. Constantly reassess your customers. Monitor how your buyers are evolving. Consider how they gather information and make decisions, as well as their values and priorities. For starters, your organization could conduct a customer survey or interview customers to elicit insights – or you could study where they’re spending time when they aren’t spending it with your brand.
  • Refocus marketing efforts. Move your marketing efforts beyond creating impressions, and instead, strategize ways you can create engagements with customers. As a first step, your organization can monitor audiences with various tools to understand what the targeted segment finds meaningful.
  • Allocate resources. Focus on creating capabilities for engaging with customers as well as capabilities to track engagements. This could include redefining an existing role or creating a new role within your organization (for example, a data scientist), or creating a budget for new tools or bringing in a third party to fill talent/information gaps.

TL;DR: If you gloss over the digital transformation, believing it will only impact your current digital marketing efforts, you may find yourself in a predicament later. Instead, take time to prepare for the fundamental shift that lies ahead by tackling one potential ripple at a time.

If your organization is going through a digital transformation, Revmade can help.


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