From start up all-rounders to established CMOs, CTOs and CEOs, you need to be a digital strategist in 2018. Getting online with your customers means more business opportunities wherever in the world you do business with them. With nearly 50% across the globe now connected to the Internet, your customers expect to find you on the channels they choose.
Your Condensed Guide to Digital Strategy
Most likely your business has a website, email marketing and search engine optimisation, probably a Facebook page and maybe some other social channels, so you might feel like you are ticking all the boxes when it comes to your digital assets. It’s a great start to have digital assets, but it’s what you do with them that really counts.
Check if your digital strategy is in good shape with this quick 10-point guide:
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1. Get some definition
It sounds simple but it’s too easy to be glib when you’re defining your goals. The key is to be very specific. If you want to make clear progress, you need to be just as clear with your targets.
Your first goal is likely to be to achieve more sales through your digital activity. First, decide on a realistic figure. Then ask the question, “How can your website, social media or email marketing get them for you?” By setting a defined end goal then mapping the path back along each channel, you can see what the milestones are to get there. You’ll discover tangible goals for each channel with specific outcomes for your team to work towards that you know add up to achieving that business aim.
2. Get to know your customers
In a shop or an office you are face-to-face with your customers and you know they’re interested because they have chosen to walk in. You can find out lots about them just by looking; you can talk to them and find out even more, so you can sell to them. It’s relatively easy. Online it’s more difficult, so a central plank of your digital strategy needs to be finding out who your digital customer is. There are three complementary ways to gather data and build a clear picture of your customer.
Personas: the best digital marketing strategies are built around detailed buyer personas. Avoid taking marketing wrong turns by basing them on real data and surveying, interviewing and researching your target audience. Learn more about what your buyer needs so you can match your brand message (see point 3).
Customer Journey Mapping: A customer journey map is a visual representation of every experience your customers have with you. It helps to tell the story of a customer's experience with your brand from original engagement and into hopefully a long-term relationship.
Qualitative & Quantitative Research: Refine your persona and add layers of relevant information on location, age, income and job title along with goals, challenges, hobbies, and interests, and priorities. This can be solid gold when you get to stages 4 and 5. But knowing who wants to buy isn’t enough.
3. Know your brand and your competitors
A successful strategy means knowing exactly what you’re selling and why someone should buy it from you rather than someone else. Each brand message needs to be crystal clear, unified and distinct, so it perfectly answers your buyer’s needs.
To uncover what your brand and its competitors are really about requires performing two straightforward, but deeply powerful, business analyses. These can help you understand your brand positioning and competition within the market revealing highly practical insights.
SWOT analysis: Also called a SWOT matrix, this is a strategic planning technique used to help you identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to business competition or project planning. To develop a broader picture, you can bring in voices from different roles to do this and compare answers. Done well this can pinpoint key areas to focus on.
Competitor analysis: This analysis provides both an offensive and defensive strategic context to identify opportunities and threats. An assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors.
4. Get seen in all the right places
You could have the most amazing campaigns ever, but if your buyer doesn’t see them, they’re a waste of time and money. This step is about ensuring your message is being seen by the right people in the right places at the right times.
Omnichannel marketing is a big buzzword, but few businesses actually need to use every channel available. If your audience doesn’t use Pinterest, or they spend 80% of their time on Instagram, you know where you need to be, or not be. This is where the data you’ve collated so far could help you outperform the competition. Knowing your key channels can help reach your target audience more efficiently, cutting any unnecessary spending and outperform the competition.
- Your website
- Selected social media channels
- Email marketing
5. Talk to your customers
When customers find you, they’re looking for something. They want something from you or they have a need they hope you can meet and unless your content delivers it to them in an accessible, engaging way, they’ll leave again.
Well-crafted engaging content is the central plank of a strong digital strategy, and it needs to be coordinated across your channels. Content pillars are a simple way to achieve a unified content strategy with clear messages focused on your audience’s wants and needs.
When we talk to people, we also listen. That’s what makes it a conversation. Your audience expects your brand to visibly listen to them: responsive engagement is a growing area for content development.
6. Be reliable
Build out a content calendar to schedule your delivery across your channels for optimum audiences.
Use your data to pinpoint the best times to publish and develop a production schedule to stay consistent; include details like content formats, deadlines, benchmarks, deliverables, and channels in your calendar.
7. Do it right
If you have the right resources, budget and people, set the wheels in motion for the first campaign of your strategy and let your new clear messaging go public. If you think you’re not entirely equipped to go, hold back on less important targets until you are. A digital strategy is designed to scale up or down as your budget allows.
8. Measure it
Your campaigns will start to generate data gold that will steer your marketing drive and assess your level of success. If you are just starting, let your campaigns run for a while before you measure up. Then check and balance those goals created in step #1 to help you determine what works and what doesn’t.
Measuring and monitoring nowadays is relatively easy since every platform provides its own form analytics moreover there are plenty 3rd party options that will fulfill the desired data needs.
9. Adapt it
As your data rolls in, use what you learn to plan and improve your next round. Regularly review your content pillars, scheduling and channels with the new data in mind to ensure you stay fresh and aligned with your audience so you can meet your goals.
10. Do it again
Your digital strategy can never rest on its laurels. It will feed on itself and improve if you ensure you review and tweak your goals on a periodic basis. But don’t forget to empower your team to incrementally make smaller responsive changes to data as opportunities arise.
Follow through the impact of moving goal posts to keep targets tangible and feeding through appropriately. Also, allow data to feed back up the chain to inform goal setting as it can reveal unexpected markets or other brand surprises.