You keep being told about the importance of a digital strategy but be honest, how many of you really know what one is?
The reality is, you’re probably already doing most of the work but you’re just calling it something else or working on an ad hoc basis, which is not the best way to achieve results.
Now, it’s all about bringing everything together to create one plan which in turn will form your complete media and marketing strategy.
For many businesses, the word ‘digital’ simply refers to the business website or social media pages but understood correctly the word stands for so much more.
Digital Devices – How your customers interact with you and your business
Digital Technology – The tech available to improve the customer experience including apps and in-store tech.
Digital Data – E-mail signs-ups, order information and social media data
Digital Platforms – From everything including websites and all social media channels
Digital Media – All of your communication channels including e-mail shots and free and paid for advertising options.
So, to put it simply a digital strategy takes in everything which is deemed to involve technology, so websites including eCommerce, social media, mobile apps and any other cloud-based computing.
Why do you need a digital strategy?
To give you direction & focus
As soon as you have anything written down it becomes clearer and you have a direction to follow.
So, define the goals of your strategy so you know what it is you are aiming for. The key though is to be specific. You can’t just say you want more website traffic or conversions, you need to specify numbers so you can break down how you will achieve them and be able to monitor success.
Without numbers, it’s hard to assess what is working and define your return on investment.
When you take the time out to write a definitive strategy, you can define the goals, create your plan of action and specify how (and when) you will measure success.
So everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet
We hate clichés, but on this occasion, this one works. Writing a strategy sets out your vision and goals for the year and it requires buy-in from everyone at the beginning.
By having a plan it shows commitment, which in turn results in commitment from everyone else because it’s happening with or without them!
When you dabble with a bit of work here and a bit more there it means everyone will have an opinion and be happy to voice it and will dip in and out of things when it suits but a strategy sets out the goals from the beginning.
You can plan properly
By having an annual digital strategy, which can easily be broken down into weekly/monthly/quarterly tasks means you can plan and budget both staff and resources accordingly.
Different times of the year will require different levels of resource, depending on your business so by planning in advance you can have everything you need when you need it.
Having everything in one document also means you can plan your advertising, including social media spend at the start of the year.
Save time and effort
It’s easy to think you’re being productive just because you’re busy but without a plan and anything to measure success by it is easy just to waste time.
Having a plan makes you accountable and gives you a focus on breaking down your goals into tasks and easily creatable to do lists.
Doing all the hard work now will pay off later
By doing all your planning at the start of the year, or even better the end of this year will mean you can stay clear and focused on the job in hand and be able to adapt to any changes in technology or circumstances with relative ease.
It’s always easier to tweak something which already exists than start from scratch.
Having more time will also allow you to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to industry trends and Google and social media algorithms.
How to create your digital strategy
Create your buying persona’s
The first thing to do is understand is who you are marketing to, or more importantly who you want to market to.
Who is your ideal customer?
How old are they?
Where are they from?
Where can you find them?
What are their hobbies and interests?
What are they looking for?
Set your targets and goals
Your digital strategy should reflect the fundamental goals and targets of your business but in a more targeted fashion.
So, for example, if your aim as a business is to double revenue then you need your digital efforts might be to generate 50% more traffic to the website and 50% more leads to help you achieve the goals.
The most important thing is being able to measure the success – so using analytics or other tools regularly to monitor progress is key. If the metrics show things aren’t working then it gives you the chance to change your approach.
See what you’ve already got
There are so many different media channels available to use these days but it’s essential to know what they are and what you already have.
Owned Media – Digital media such as websites, social media accounts and blog content owned by the company.
Earned Media – Word of mouth, so reviews, mentions, PR and other coverage you have received. But how can you use it?
Paid Media – Anything you pay for to promote your business – such as Google Adwords, social media promoted posts and any other online adverts.
All three elements will play a key part in any digital strategy. The important thing is using them all together and across all platforms.
When we say, that you need to know what owned media you have it’s important to drill right down to pages on your website, blog posts, e-books, white papers and social media posts.
By understanding what you have and what has been successful you can plan your content moving forward,
Rank your articles based on their performance and the most successful ones can form your evergreen content. Old content isn’t something that should remain in the past, as long as it’s still relevant that is.
By undertaking the audit you will also see what content you’re missing, which will help you plan your editorial calendar.
Plan your content
Once you’ve developed your content strategy, based on what your audience wants and needs and which of your content was previously successful, it’s time to draft your content calendar.
While every platform is different and should be treated as such, there will always be elements of overlap.
A content plan should include events such as product launches and then how that should be reflected across all platforms and media, including owned, earned and paid for media.
The calendar should also include important national/international dates, industry key dates and all deadlines!
A simple spreadsheet will be enough for some people but if you need something more visual, or something designed for collaboration then there are several project management tools available.
This time of the year can be frantic but it’s also the perfect time to get ahead for 2018. Putting the time and effort into a digital strategy now could make next year the most successful one ever.