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October 24, 2023

Digital marketing transformation in KSA for innovation and ROI

Kevin Mason
Director of Strategy
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Digital marketing in the KSA

With less than a decade left to achieve Vision 2030, many organisations in the KSA region have successfully embarked on the journey to digital transformation. This is especially true when it comes to internal operations, streamlining workflows and taking administrative tasks online.

Some, though, will have found the task of transforming their marketing functions much more challenging.

The reason? Internal, administrative processes are fundamentally different to marketing tasks, and will require a different mindset to succeed.

Why digital marketing transformation is different

Internal processes are typically clearly defined, as are the roles of users. When it comes to digitalisation, the objective is to automate repetitive administrative tasks providing greater efficiency and transparency.

For many internal operations, the IT environment is well-defined, and the success of moving away from legacy processes to new software, programs or processes relies simply on ensuring their robust, secure implementation.

In these circumstances, transformation projects can involve long development cycles and large capital budgets, and traditional IT project management frameworks are often appropriate.

But compare this with the role of marketing. Just as with other internal processes, any new technology needs to enable your team to efficiently operate at scale and to integrate securely with your CRM and ERP systems. But here the similarity ends.

Understanding marketing’s focus

Marketing technology connects your team to a constantly evolving audience with developing needs and preferences, and a fast-moving, innovative technology landscape where today’s new attractions quickly become old news.

Your marketing team’s focus is on optimising your commercial impact across all points in the customer journey. They rely on multiple digital channels, new media techniques and real-time data to connect with their audience and outpace the competition.

In short, speed and accuracy are of the essence, and your team needs to operate consistently and efficiently at scale.

You need the foundations of a good marketing automation system. But in the fast-moving world of marketing, the ability to innovate, test and learn is vital for competitive advantage.

Given these drivers, applying a traditional, large-scale IT approach to marketing digital transformation is doomed to failure. In fact, the stories of organisations who’ve tried and failed are widely publicised.

For those still battling on, by the time their project is complete the media landscape and their audience will have moved on, with more nimble competitors steps ahead alongside them.

Adopting a marketing mindset

Marketing transformation can’t be viewed as a capital project with a start and end date. It requires a framework environment to enable a constant state of innovation, enabled by minimum viable products (MVPs), deployed in test-and-learn sprints.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but the framework anticipates and accepts a certain level of failure. However, it also ensures you integrate successful innovations to create an evolving, interoperable, open ecosystem over time.

So how does it work?

Every development is planned, managed and measured by its potential and actual impact on Return-On-Investment (ROI).

Mapping the mindset to the process

Discovery and planning are vital parts of the marketing transformation process. They create the vision and framework for everything you do.

While it would be a mistake to adopt small innovation sprints at the expense of thinking big, with your vision and framework in place, you can then narrow your focus down to a few key marketing processes.

By assessing the points in the customer journey that will produce the greatest commercial impact, whether through efficiency or improved customer acquisition and retention, you can create a prioritised roadmap of development sprints.

Avoiding perfectionism (the enemy of innovation)

It’s at this point that many projects falter.

Once you’ve prioritised your starting innovations, there’s no doubt you’ll come across a number of cases where your system needs full integration and complete end-to-end interoperability to work optimally.

Resist the temptation to achieve the perfect system!

Instead, you need to focus on the minimum viable product (MVP) you need to test the innovation and measure its ROI.

The MVP approach may well require additional manual processes to start with, but it will put your innovation in the hands of your users quicker, and prove (or disprove) its commercial return against a smaller investment.


The push for modernisation from Vision 2030 is a bold, ambitious aim. To achieve it, marketing must have a clear vision for what the ultimate customer journey looks like, and how technology can facilitate it.

Success doesn’t rely on a large capital budget to create the ultimate, perfect machine: It lies in an agile framework, enabling a constant state of ‘test-and-learn’ innovation. An attitude which champions flexibility, evolution and growth is key, as is a commitment to innovation and a focus on ROI.

This shift in mindset can often be the biggest cultural challenge for an organisation to overcome. That’s why at Proctors, we work closely with our clients across the KSA region – and the world – helping them to achieve success and avoid the pitfalls which cause stalled or failed digital marketing transformation initiatives.

Get in touch with us and let's talk about how we can innovate your marketing strategy.

You can find out more about our work in the Middle East here.