Put simply it brings together all the digital collateral that your company currently owns (or could own) into a strategy that you can implement in the short to medium term. In doing so it provides 2 things:
A description of how to make the best use of the collateral at your disposal, now and in the future.
It describes how each item in the strategy works together to create a greater commercial effect than it could working in isolation.
What’s the Problem?
Let’s take an example to illustrate the point.
Imagine that you have a website, a Twitter page, a Facebook page, and a blog and all the directors are on Linkedin.
For the most part, businesses see these as individual elements each with its own function and each operating independently.
So, one person manages the Twitter and Facebook pages, another person looks after the website, and each director manages their own Linkedin profile and so on.
Each person may well have an approach which earns the company money. (For example, the Sales Director may actively seek out Purchase Managers on LinkedIn who may then become customers. Or the person managing the Twitter feed may occasionally link to the main website and in doing so create a few enquiries.) But what’s happening here is that each aspect of the company’s online collateral is operating in its own vacuum.
each aspect of the company’s online collateral is operating in its own vacuum
They are like islands separated by an ocean – in themselves, they are self-contained and potentially useful to the business but they cannot benefit from one another nor contribute as part of a whole.
This is how many businesses operate. Their marketing is disjointed, their message diffuse, their efforts duplicated and their returns limited.
As a prospect or existing customer of the business, the experience is not much better. They receive different and disparate messages depending on how they engage the business. They might read one message on a blog, another from Facebook, another on a webpage and yet another when they read a sales email.
Such, a loss of focus ultimately shows itself in the bottom line because those prospects that might have understood and engaged the business failed to get to grips with what the company was saying because it had failed to send out a cohesive and compelling message. This results in reduced numbers of prospects becoming customers. Or put differently, it means the company is leaving money on the table.
And Now the Solution
Remember the analogy of the isolated islands separated by an ocean? Well now imagine that we decide to connect them with bridges and manage the traffic between them. Now we’ve opened up the borders we’ve also created opportunity.
Each piece of digital collateral is now connected. The strategy defines both how all the elements work together as well as sub-strategies for each piece in the island chain. This includes; protocols of use, a plan for use in the short to medium term and, most importantly, how it fits in with every other piece of digital collateral the company owns. Now the company has a unified approach to every aspect of its online world and knows how to connect these aspects together to create an effect which is greater than the sum of its parts.
What Could A Digital Strategy Do For Your Business?
The good news is that getting your digital strategy right will have effects on your business that could be exponential. It could double your online profitability and help create a group of loyal customers and engaged prospects who will support your business for years to come.
The bad news is that there is no single solution; each business needs its own unique strategy. But actually, that’s really good news because if it’s unique to your business then it cannot be copied and, therefore, would be very difficult for your competitors to emulate.
It’s worth remembering that the vast majority of your competitors won’t be doing this: digital marketing strategies are still relatively new concepts in business thinking. Often companies will continue to play the game of 'online chess' but only focus on one move at a time and never plan a strategy to win the game.
Here are a couple of scenarios which illustrate the subtlety and power of a combined digital strategy.
A blog post is added to the business’s website.
Before the post can go live the Content Management System of the website prompts the user for a synopsis than can be Tweeted.
The system then simultaneously adds the blog post and Tweets about it with a link to the post.
(The Blog is also optionally posted to Facebook and LinkedIn).
A visitor to the blog piece has the option of Tweeting/Liking or joining the mailing list.
If they join the list they are added to a specific list which continues to email them over time on generic subjects on or around the topic of the blog.
The net effect is that the visitor experiences a cohesive message from multiple sources on the Internet. The messages are clear and link back to the main website blog which then attempts to further engage them through focused email marketing.
The business benefits by having an automated system which delivers a unified message and acquires prospects who are clear about the value proposition the company brings and are warmed up to receive additional commercial messages.
A new product is uploaded to the business’s website.
Specific marketing information has to be filled in before the system will allow it to ‘go live’. For example, a description, picture, related product, up-sell product, guarantees, PDF documentation, testimonials, social proof, etc.
An internal email goes out to all (or selected) staff alerting them to a new/amended/deleted product.
The Content Management System automatically composites a personalised email which is sent to a specific list which has previously registered an interest in this type of product.
The product is automatically Tweeted and entered into Facebook.
The digital strategy states that one month after a product is launched users should be surveyed and the results fed back to the R&D team. Users are invited to join the survey from all social, email and web media.
The strategy also reminds the marketing team to analyse the web statistics in relation to the product and feedback on the results.
Here the visitor gets a consistent and well-marketed message on the website (as all products have the same structure to them). They could also have received an email on a topic that they are interested that links them to a product which they may wish to buy (with clear cross and up-sell opportunities factored in). They also get the opportunity to interact socially via Twitter, Facebook, etc. Anyone who became a customer feels further engaged by the survey which makes them feel valued.
getting your digital strategy right will have effects on your business that could be exponential
The business gets a product page which is guaranteed to have all the correct marketing elements on it, be consistent with its peer products and, therefore, has the greatest chance of converting visitors into customers. All the staff are aware of the product change and can immediately point people to the right URL. The survey provides crucial feedback to improve the core product and its marketing and, most importantly, gets engaged and informed customers whose loyalty to the business springs from them feeling valued. This then makes them more sensitive to new offers and increases the customer retention rate and lifetime value.
These are, admittedly, stylised examples but they illustrate a digital strategy in action. It also, and most importantly, demonstrates that the more engagement the business has with its various audiences in a cohesive and relevant manner, the greater the likelihood of prospects becoming long-term customers with increased lifetime values.
Put simply a digital strategy gives you more customers who are ready to spend more with you for longer.