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CX ENGINE | The Magazine For Digital Leaders

Using Digital Transformation as a Competitive Advantage to Grow – Kerry Ho-Van Rensburg, Digital Marketing Director, Ignition Group CX


Reading time: 8 minutes approximately

Progressive businesses have been embracing Digital Transformation (DX) vigorously in recent times, driven by the objective of creating value with digital products, services, and experience, and gaining a competitive advantage. As per a report from McKinsey&Company, the COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated the speed of adoption of digital technologies by several years. 

International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Worldwide Digital Transformation Spending Guide estimates that the global DX spending will reach $3.4 trillion by 2026, growing at a 5-year Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 16.3%, highlighting businesses’ increasing focus on Digital Transformation.  

In this article, Kerry Ho-Van Rensburg (Kerry), Digital Marketing Director, Ignition Group CX (Ignition Group) – one of Africa’s largest investors in technology, media, telecommunications, and financial services sectors – talks about the importance of Digital Transformation for businesses. Against the backdrop of her career journey, she shares valuable insights on how to ace a digital marketing growth story.  

What’s Inside?

  1. Digital Transformation: Not Just a Fad
  2. Designing a Digital Transformation Strategy
  3. Digital Transformation at the Ignition Group
  4. Kerry’s Digital Marketing Experience
  5. Final Thoughts 
  6. Lessons Learned

Digital Transformation: Not Just a Fad

Digital Transformation is the process by which companies adopt and integrate technologies across their businesses to enhance efficiency, and business agility and create new value for customers, shareholders, and employees.

Emphasising the importance of Digital Transformation for businesses, Kerry explained that before the COVID-19 pandemic, companies had more time to work on their digital strategies. However, the pandemic pushed businesses to improve their online presence and every business had to adapt to the so-called new norm; those businesses without a proper digital strategy in place were caught off guard.


She reiterated that Digital Transformation is often mistaken for just another buzzword, but it’s a crucial process that businesses need to adopt and implement effectively. While buzzwords like ‘Metaverse’ for example, may seem enticing, Digital Transformation is not just a fad. It involves a comprehensive audit of a business’s current Technology Stack and identifying gaps and opportunities that can be leveraged for growth.

Designing a Digital Transformation Strategy

Kerry demonstrates a great understanding and knowledge of the digital landscape, having implemented Digital Transformation strategies for various businesses. She outlined the key points to consider while formulating a Digital Transformation strategy.

  1. Understand the business challenges and opportunities by diving into the details.
  2. Create a strategy that addresses the gaps and leverages the opportunities.
  3. Get the buy-in from all levels of the organisation because it involves a significant investment.
  4. Have a dedicated knowledgeable person within the business for executing Digital Transformation as it is more cost-effective and they will understand the processes better.  
  5. Include CRM/MarTech strategies as an integral part of the Digital Transformation strategy.

Speaking from her experience, Kerry further elaborated on the ways to integrate CRM with the Digital Transformation strategy.

1. Leveraging Technology

CRM is no longer just about sending emails to customers to entice them to buy. Today, customers expect personalised attention and tailored solutions that meet their specific needs. Businesses need to leverage technology and tools such as marketing automation, AI, and Machine Learning to gain a comprehensive understanding of their customers.

2. Choosing the Right Technology

A Customer Data Platform (CDP) is essential for securely storing customer data, and the right technology is necessary for a 360-degree view of your customers which records all customer attributes as well as being able to segment your customers into audiences to utilise marketing automation to its full potential.

3. Using Marketing Automation Workflows

Marketing automation workflows help save time, improve efficiency, and reduce costs by automating the customer journey. For example, creating drip campaigns based on customer behaviour.

4. Having a Dedicated CRM Manager

It is also essential to have a CRM manager with expertise in marketing technology, who can set up effective drip campaigns and flows systematically.

Next, Kerry spoke about her role at the Ignition Group and discussed the Digital Transformation that is currently underway.

Digital Transformation at the Ignition Group

Founded in 2002 by brothers Sean and Donovan Bergsma, the Ignition Group is a globally recognised acquisition, sales, performance marketing, and distribution company, focused on its people and partners. It partners with some of the most progressive organisations to enhance the latter’s customer acquisition and retention strategies with its innovative approach and pivotal data-driven insights.


As the Digital Marketing Director at Ignition Group, Kerry is driven by the goal of generating revenue through customer acquisition for 13 different brands. With a focus on developing effective marketing strategies to meet her goals, Kerry is working towards integrating Ignition Group’s digital marketing strategy with its Technology Stack and call centre operations. Kerry explained that while they are trying to pivot towards eCommerce, the call centre remains the core of Ignition Group’s revenue stream.

The Ignition Group realised that its Technology Stack was a challenge, with systems built by different people over time, resulting in different technology solutions that were difficult to navigate. Guided by Kerry’s experience, the Ignition Group initiated Digital Transformation in its Marketing Division.


Kerry elaborated that the Ignition Group is currently in the early stages of Digital Transformation and has made noticeable progress with full support from its stakeholders. She enlisted the steps the Ignition Group has taken thus far in its Digital Transformation journey.

1. Enhancing the CRM Strategy

We use ActiveCampaign as our marketing automation tool, but we plan to integrate this into our CDP to enhance our CRM strategy.

2. Implementing a CDP

 We have started implementing a CDP and have chosen Segment as our CDP of choice.

3. Reorganising the Data Warehouse

Our customer data is stored in Snowflake, a reliable data warehouse, but we need to clean the data as there are a lot of customer duplicates and our data is currently static, meaning it is not useable by or accessible by the business. This is the result of the consolidation of data from various businesses owned by the Ignition Group.

 4. Digitisation

We also utilise paid media tools to drive lead generation and are working on digitising our website and products by implementing eCommerce on all websites.

Before joining the Ignition Group, Kerry already had a rich and extensive experience in digital marketing and advertising, having worked with a variety of businesses from retail, finance, hospitality, banking, education, automotive, and more. 

Kerry’s Digital Marketing Experience

For Kerry, it all started years ago with an intense desire to break into digital marketing, recognising its future potential. Despite a lack of experience, she secured a job with Quirk, a Digital Marketing Agency in Johannesburg where she spent several years learning all aspects of digital marketing, from creative to performance media.


Kerry emphasised that she always had a clear goal of becoming a versatile digital specialist, not limiting herself to any specific speciality such as SEO, social media, or content. After gaining a holistic understanding of the field, she transitioned to corporate, starting with Clientèle Limited, a listed insurance business in South Africa, and eventually became the Head of Digital for Mass Mart, an African retail and wholesale group owned by Walmart.

Later, she moved to Durban along with her family where she found a job with iKhokha, a FinTech company that specialises in card machines and eCommerce payments. Following this, she joined the Ignition Group, overseeing the marketing for all customer acquisition brands and revenue-generating businesses among the various companies owned by Ignition Group. For Kerry, it has been an incredible learning experience, and she is proud to have come this far.


After years of rich experience in digital marketing, Kerry felt that she lacked the theoretical knowledge to back it up. This prompted her to pursue a postgraduate degree in digital marketing while continuing to fulfil her personal and professional responsibilities. She successfully managed it all and recently completed her honours, giving her a great sense of relief and accomplishment. 

Final Thoughts 

Wrapping up the conversation, Kerry shared some valuable input. She said:

As a professional, I have encountered numerous individuals who aspire to achieve success in their careers but lack a clear plan to achieve their goals. You should be clear about what you want to accomplish and achieve and develop a plan that will help you acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to reach your goal.


It is important to gain experience and knowledge from the ground up, even if it means starting from scratch. Additionally, it’s crucial to have confidence in yourself and to believe in your capabilities, especially when entering a new business. Without confidence in oneself, it’s easy to be looked over and never progress in one’s career. You need to have the courage to stand by your beliefs, persevere and gain the trust of others.

Lessons Learned

1Digital Transformation is often seen as a buzzword, but it’s a crucial process that businesses need to adopt and implement effectively.
2Before initiating Digital Transformation, get the buy-in from all levels of the organisation, especially the decision-makers because it involves a significant investment.
3 Include robust CRM/MarTech strategies as an integral part of the Digital Transformation strategy.
4If you want to become a digital specialist, do not limit yourself to only specialising in something specific such as SEO, social media, paid media, etc.
5It is important to gain experience and knowledge from the ground up, even if it means starting from scratch.

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