BusinessDesk is proud to publish The Reset series, made in association with our trusted commercial partners and designed to supercharge your business in 2021. In this article, Andrew McLeod, digital strategist for integrated creative and media agency, Contagion looks at why a digital evolution is critical for business success this year.

The lockdowns of 2020 have been the single greatest thing to happen to digital since the launch of the iPhone. Those who had overinvested in their website in the past were validated, while those who had stalled development overinvested quickly in the hope of managing sudden demand or providing a storefront for customers. Digital transformation was rife. 

Coffee shops implemented online ordering; Countdown transitioned a bricks-and-mortar store to meet the surge in online orders. Even farm-supplies co-ops rushed to get their products online for traditional farmers and growers.  

Now that the dust has settled, let’s get pragmatic about digital transformation.

The surge – likely to mean a permanent shift – has calmed and now is a good time to discuss digital transformation with inside voices and be realistic about its benefits. 

Don’t believe the hype

For most New Zealand businesses, 5G will not change your business, you don’t need blockchain, voice search won’t replace Google and Bitcoin is not yet a viable currency.

But all businesses can consider the following:

  • Cloud storage – Google, DropBox and OneDrive are versatile and inexpensive. 
  • Dashboards – Track KPIs in an automated and visual manner. 
  • Customer relationship manager (CRM) – HubSpot is a free, easy-to-use option offering contact management and email marketing. See note below on customer data and the Privacy Act.


With few exceptions, you need a website. If you cut hair, customers need to know your hours. If you sell a product, they want to see it. If your business relies on leads, make it easy to make contact. 

Websites don’t need much to be useful, and less is often more. A simple website via SquareSpace, Wix or Shopify is enough for 95 percent of New Zealand businesses. If you want to go above and beyond, a strategic web developer can go a long way to achieving this. As can: 

  • Non-stock footage taken by a professional photographer/videographer.
  • Well-written copy.
  • A good designer.
  • A simple password policy.

Social media

Once again, less is more. When social media surged in 2012 every business felt it needed Twitter, Pinterest and a YouTube channel. While product videos can be useful in any sector, these channels quickly fell inactive, creating a social graveyard.  

  • If you interact with consumers, get Facebook and consider Instagram.
  • If you interact with businesses, get LinkedIn. 
  • You don’t need a TikTok account. 
  • Start by asking “What content can we create with our current resources?” instead of “Which platform should we be on?”


The fable that digital solves the problem of “half of my advertising is wasted” is only partially true, but a little can go a long way. 

Paid Search is widely considered the most efficient advertising for budgets of all sizes. Instead of pushing customers to buy your product, you pull actively searching customers toward your brand. 

Be clear about the desired outcome, implement tracking, and then a little self-education and monthly fine-tuning are enough to drive additional traffic or sales. 

Facebook – in between boycotts – is the second-most-efficient digital advertising channel. Implement proper goal tracking, start small and try your hand at different audiences including remarketing and lookalike. Facebook has scale for efficient and wasteful advertising – don’t regret your investment. 


Digital advertising is heading toward a day of reckoning. Google and other browsers are about to bury advertising cookies, meaning less conversion tracking and reliance on third party audiences. Trusted and credible environments are scarce yet are the most important factors for building a brand online – a premium to get your brand into credible local environments – are often justified for that very reason. 

Beyond these tips, you may want to get a specialist involved as the topic becomes particularly nuanced and complicated. 

Customer data and the Privacy Act

While Big Tech dominates the headlines in this subject, all businesses should think about their customer data and become familiar with the first update to the Privacy Act since 1993. 

Customer emails will become increasingly important with the demise of cookies, so consider how you can grow your email list. This doesn’t mean intrusively demanding an email, it means a genuine value exchange: “Get 5 per cent off your first purchase” or “Get our market report” are often enough for customers to share their information with you. 

With the power of personally identifiable information (PII) comes equal responsibility: 

  • Your customers may be able to request access to or removal of their personal data.
  • You need to take steps to ensure the security of this information.
  • You need to report any breach to the Privacy Commissioner. 
  • Breaches can incur fines of up to $10,000.

While this may sound intimidating, customer relationship managers such as HubSpot are already across these and are infinitely better than your current customerlist.xlsx

It is fair to approach digital with a healthy dose of cynicism – the revolution will be televised, bricks and mortar will continue to thrive and your brand doesn’t need a TikTok channel. While evangelists may try scaremongering tactics to convince you otherwise, the lockdowns showed us something else: we occasionally like to deal with people. 

Digital transformation is important, and the way has been paved for all. Take it at your own pace. Slow and steady. Don’t just implement something for the sake of it. Talk to your team members, get their perspectives and continue to improve it. Transformation is a process, not a one-off. 

Contagion is an integrated marketing, strategy, creative and media agency that has worked through digital transformation with many of its clients.

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