7 steps Retail Food Group’s digital chief is taking to transform marketing

Chief digital officer of Gloria Jeans, Crust and Donut King brand group outlines how he's bringing digital capability and technology into the organisation

Retail Food Group (RFG) chief digital officer, Kevin Wordon, knows a thing or two about bringing data-driven, technology fuelled marketing into a business. Prior to joining the fast food brand owner, he oversaw the implementation of marketing automation across Flight Centre’s B2B division, introducing the travel retailer’s teams to a raft of new digital capability. He also worked on Westfield’s digital programs.

Now, Wordon is tasked with digital transformation at Retail Food Group, the umbrella group for a raft of well-known Australian franchise-based businesses including Gloria Jeans, Crust, Pizza Capers and Donut King. It’s a job that not only sees him overhauling technology platforms, but also the way marketing operates and skills required internally.

During this week’s Marketo Executive breakfast, Wordon shared some of the ways he’s orchestrating this digital marketing transformation.

Have a long-term roadmap and short-term plans

Wordon said a balance needs to be struck between long-term vision and a roadmap for digitising marketing, and short-term prioritisation.

“We have so many different brands, we want to redevelop every website from scratch and that’s going to take time,” he told attendees. “There’s also a program of work to bring in new marketing platforms.

“Then there are short-term programs and wins. We want to try and build best-in-class enterprise marketing platforms but we still have a business to run. We are in a very competitive market, food is very personal, so we have to make sure we keep delivering the right experiences for our customers.”

Prioritise based on business impact

Wordon said project prioritisation is driven by what will deliver the highest business impact and value.

“Tracking down the biggest ROI is key to us. We have so many brands and priorities, we have to start somewhere,” he said. “And it’s about starting out small. That’s about focusing on a minimum viable product. If there’s an idea that could take 12-18 months to get to fruition, we try it first on a smaller scale.

“There is a lot of automation and technology being put in place, but we need to do a lot of manual work to prove the hypothesis, get that investment and funding to get that project to market. Test and learn is a vital part of that.”

Wordon will kick off a pilot in one division to prove it works first, and only then rolls capability out at scale across the organisation. His current focus is on RFG’s highest revenue driving brands for ecommerce, Pizza Capers and Crust, and getting immediate value and improved conversion rates out of incremental digital change.

“We have acquired businesses over the years and with that technology, so we can have up to 14 point-of-sale systems to deal with at any one point in time. It’s about how we consolidate data as well,” he added.

Build a data-driven customer view for marketing

A core project on Wordon’s list to achieve this is having a single customer view extending across all RFG brands.

“We want to be able to see in a given week if Kevin contacted Gloria Jeans for coffee during the week, then ordered a Crust pizza on Saturday night,” he explained. “The ability to share that data is what’s interesting for us. With technology, we can share a cookie so we can potentially get like customers across brands and market to them as one customer.

“If we know enough about you through the Gloria Jeans, and we know you’re not a customer of Crust, but you suit that demographic, we could then potentially target you.”

RFG is also utilising industry data on the food industry to position its brand in spaces of “value”, Wordon said. “We’re clearly defining our target market is incredibly important, as well as the occasions. Food is anywhere from breakfast to mid-morning snacking lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, so there are many opportunities to play. It’s how you capitalise on those opportunities.”

Have the right metrics to align to

Guiding Wordon’s efforts is an emphasis on conversion metrics, whether that be someone visiting a website and making an inquiry about becoming one of RFG’s brands franchisees, or conversion online when a consumer orders a pizza.

“We are putting platforms in place to be able to track the success of our marketing and cost per acquisition, then also show overall lifetime value of the customer,” he said.

Bring in digital ability but spread the word organisationally

Wordon has built a centralised and specialised digital team to orchestrate his digital program of work, but he said it’s important digital capability becomes ingrained in every organisational function and marketing team.

“The idea is that going through transformation, you need skilled members to help you get there,” he said. “We’ll then move to hub and spoke model, where we’ll empower marketers to be digitally savvy... You don’t want a centralised team forever.”

At the same time, Wordon and the digital team are regularly communicating what they’re doing, and how they’re going to help empower marketers across the organisation.

“As this team comes onboard, people are asking who are these guys and what are they doing? Are they a threat to marketing? It’s about bringing people on that journey, sharing the vision upfront and empowering marketers to do something,” he said.

To help, Wordon has set up an intranet page to communicate regularly on the digital team’s successes and activities.

“You have to sell the vision internally,” he said. “Through my career, I’ve always dealt with IT, marketing, digital and sales and you’re trying to bridge the gaps between them, otherwise you end up with turf wars. Show them you’re empowering them, not taking anything away from them.”

Build skills internally and for adaptability

Like many of his peers, Wordon is also bringing more skills capability in-house in order to improve responsiveness and agility. These include search marketing, photography, videography and content production.

Wordon said it’s equally vital employees can be flexible as customers and the market morphs around them. “Priorities change all the time, so you have to build a team that is nimble enough to change,” he said.

“We have a three-year vision that we want to get rid of every scrap of digital platform and bring all data into a single customer view, and that’s a great vision to focus on. Over the next 6-12 months, we’re trying to get all data into one platform. But things come in from left and right, have to steer the course while ensuring team is nimble enough to adapt. Test and learn is vital to doing this.”

Take accountability

It’s also vital you, or someone in your team, takes accountability for any digital and technology investments.

“Platforms might get implemented, but if you don’t have someone accountable for that platform and drive results, no matter how great the tech, you won’t get results,” Wordon said.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

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