It used to be tricky to know whether to invest in a new communication channel and to work out how to measure the effectiveness of existing channels. It took a considerable amount of skill to establish the link between marketing initiatives and their impact on sales. The digital age changed all of that. Today, digital marketing efforts can be forecast, measured and tracked with an alarming degree of accuracy – and there is always return on investment to report on.

The focus of efforts in business-to-business and business-to-consumer spaces is now on using new technologies and tactics to create highly personalised experiences for customers. A well-designed customer experience journey can make all the difference. That is why leading businesses are asking themselves if and how investment in new communication channels will enhance the customer’s experience of their brand.

However, though it has simplified some things, the advent of digital has introduced other complexities. Given the rapid and accelerating rate of technological advancements, new digital communication channels are coming into being all the time, from augmented reality to hyper-networked smart devices. Because of disparate adoption rates, these new channels have also been added onto existing digital and traditional marketing channels rather than replacing them outright.

There is now an overwhelming number of options through which companies can communicate with customers and shape customer experience.  Firms, therefore, need to take charge of how these technologies affect their businesses. They need to embark on a journey of digital transformation to ensure they do not lose focus of what really matters in their marketing and sales efforts: revenue and customer experience.

Deloitte Digital Africa, for instance, encourages and guides clients to combine a customer and revenue focus with technology to create a single revenue-based view that uses technology to synthesise all communication channels and customer experience platforms into a single view of the customer.

When done correctly, adopting a single revenue-based view allows clients to integrate marketing and sales and service application data along with additional advertising campaign data or website analytics to track the entire buyer journey. The data can be disaggregated to the individual level, allowing brands to develop a clear picture of how customers move through multichannel marketing campaigns right through to an active sales opportunity in a customer relationship management system – and, importantly, show at which point brands lose them.

The shift to a single revenue-based view of sales and marketing efforts is no easy journey. The question brands have to ask is whether they can afford not to make the shift. The ability to provide reliable forecasting of up to two years as well as to identify trends and investment opportunities in channels, processes and lead sources is ultimately how brands will ensure that their business grows.

Big take-out: A single revenue-based view of sales and marketing activities allows brands to track the entire buyer journey by integrating data from all channels, as well as identify trends and opportunities.

This article was first published in The Redzone on 6 October 2016