We have moved on from asking "what is your digital strategy?" to "what is your strategy in a digital world?" The answer is, obviously, not nearly as simple as some make it out to be.
You (or your company’s marketers) are told to just keep your Cost per Acquisition (CPA) and Cost per Click (CPC) as low as possible and the rest of the world’s acronyms (your SEO, SEM, eCRM, DSC, TC and PDC) all in check and performing and you’re away… okay fine, those last three were actually driver aids on vehicles but, in all honesty, the speed at which digital moves, they might well be real things in practice by the time you finish reading this article.
So what is strategy in a digital world, really?
Broadly speaking it’s working out:
• how the online world plays a part in the overall business strategy, • understanding where digital will lead the way • where it will support your other channels
Your company wants to grow, be it in market penetration through new product offerings or entering new markets, so how will digital help make this happen?
Broken down further, strategy itself is about understanding where you currently are, where you want to go, then developing a systematic, measurable plan of how to get there, all within a desired timeframe.
What this means is working out what digital assets (website capabilities, social media presence, mobile apps, CRM tools etc.) you need to start the journey and what you will need (and when) along the way to reach the destination.
From a communications point of view, it’s about your content (organic content like articles and news, as well as advertising content).
Who are you creating content for?
Where will the content live and be distributed? Where and how will it be promoted?
These questions can only be answered by understanding your audience, their behaviour online, as well as their user journey. This is where you need world-class data and insight mining.
Once you have all these in line, you can create good content and put it where they’re active and that’s it, right?
Well, not quite. While the heart of strategy remains the same (I’m here now, I want to go there and a roadmap of how to get there), the execution is constantly evolving.
So what is strategy all about in today’s world?
If you’ve attended one of those Google, Facebook or Twitter partner workshops, they’ll tell you it’s all about connecting with people, and doing that is all about the following:
• Being relevant (if not, people lose interest) • Being useful (if not, people find someone who is and will support them) • Being quick (people expect instant everything!) • Being honest (if not, they’ll find out and hell hath no fury like a scorned customer on social media)
Be true to your brand and be true to your audience
This also means treating the channels they visit with respect (try putting anything less than high quality, visually stunning images on Instagram and see what happens).
Authenticity and understanding are the keys to content.
Strategy is a very complicated beast with many moving parts; from the technology needed, to the channel management and placement of content.
It’s much like an orchestra where multiple instruments all contribute to something much greater, to a crescendo of performance that drives business forward.
If you get it wrong, its utter chaos and a waste of money, but get it right and its spectacular.
To close let’s lean on a Michael Porter comment, made in reference to strategy in a Harvard Business Review article:
“…The essence of strategy is choosing a unique and valuable position rooted in systems of activities that are difficult to match…”
So the question is…what will you be doing differently digitally that will be hard to match?
Dean is a digital strategist who started out in above-the-line communications, but swopped the analog for digital the first chance he got. He loves watching intelligence have fun, appreciates simplicity and is pretty sure the creative and strategic talent in the advertising community could solve the world's problems.
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