The term "digital strategy" has become an important part of business planning, though it seldom carries the same meaning from company to company. Some use the term to speak about marketing through social media sites online. Others speak of digital strategy to discuss managing Internet content for targeted audiences. If best used as a tool for building a business, the discussion must include both of these contexts and more.
A meaningful digital strategy executes your company's vision, goals and unique programs in an online format. For example, if your company decides to be customer-focused, its digital strategy might be geared toward creating ways to get active customer feedback in every online platform. Social media, the company website, eCommerce sites and digital content that shows up in search engine results would all emphasise quick customer response and implement changes based on the feedback customers give online. Digital strategy is not always centered around finding ways to engage with target audiences online. Sometimes it is merely a way to keep a watchful eye on the ways in which online activity impacts the brick-and-mortar enterprise. A publisher who primarily sells printed books, for example, might need to monitor eBook sales in order to understand how online buying habits place his company at risk. Any company expecting to do business in a 21st century financial climate must adopt an efficient digital strategy. Even if the company policy is to be a non-participant in some platforms, it is wise to consider the potential of every single one none. Each business must determine how much money it will allocate for developing a strategy, and then determine how best to spend those funds. For each platform, it is important to consider the potential return on investment. This will help the strategy become very specific. Platforms that do not give a huge benefit should get minimal investment, if any investment at all. Every good digital strategy is company specific. What works for one company in a particular industry may have no impact for a company in the same industry competing for the same customers. Different goals require different approaches. Here are the eight areas that every business should consider for developing a good strategy:
Static websites seem to serve no purpose except to take up digital space. Many companies have found it is best to build an official company site that is interactive, easy to navigate, sends a clear company message, and builds an online presence by linking to a larger company community. While all of these qualities are important to a site visitor, none of them is more important than delivering content that is relevant and engaging. More than ever, content has become one of the most important elements required for a website to earn and keep the attention of potential customers. It needs to be search engine optimized so that your site ranks high in searches by likely customers in search engines. This means doing the research to find the key keywords, page titles, headings and meta tags that your targeted demographic would use to find you on the web. Once they do find you, they need to feel that their visit to your company site is worthwhile. Is your information helpful? Does it give them new important facts to help make a buying decision? Does it add quality to their browsing experience? The answers to these questions will determine whether they visit again or tell friends and family about the experience. You can only count on the first visit to make a good impression.
Despite the notion that social media is more popular for individuals and businesses, email marketing is still the most effective way to attract customers online. According to a study done by the analytics firm Custora, email accounts for seven percent of new customer business and it is growing strongly, quadrupling in the last four years. Contrary to what most business owners believe, Facebook and Twitter are not strong customer acquisition channels for many businesses. On the other hand, many businesses do not realise the importance of developing an email list and so this approach is often under-utilized. Email is not only a way to attract customers, but it is also a strong way to keep growing the customer base. People who connect with companies through email tend to shop more frequently with the company and spend larger amounts of money. As a medium, it encourages repeat spending. It even translates to the mobile phone platform, since, according to Forbes magazine, email is the number one activity people engage in on their smartphones. The reason email works so well is because those who opt-in have given their permission for companies to contact them. There are still rules for this digital strategy, however. Attention spans are very short, so content must be brief and powerful enough to make an impact quickly.
The main purpose for a social media strategy is to interact with customers and build a strong, supportive following. Sales may happen as a result of this, but financial-minded companies should not rely solely on social media to carry sales projections. A best strategy is to find social media communities that are already discussing your company brand, its products or similar brands and products and actively listen to the conversation. Then join the conversation. This is where the power of social media really lies for companies. You can make meaningful comments and direct others to your company website. You can even minimize threats to your reputation or company brand by responding directly and positively to negative comments. Social media is a way to keep having a good conversation. Once you have established your presence, your company will be able to build loyalty and stand as an industry leader.
Businesses that take on blogging should understand the commitment they are making before they take the leap. Creating content for a reputable blog requires regular posting. Otherwise, the content you post becomes unreliable. Regular blog entries serve the purpose of helping to build the authority of your company and giving you an active voice. You can share your expertise and bring a personality to your content. The more engaging a blog is, the more a company wins an audience. There are so many other benefits for staying in the public eye this way. It is a great way to start building an email database, give visitors insight into your company and philosophies, and stay inspired by the people who follow you.
No matter how much your management team believes it knows about SEO, there is always a lot the team will not know. One reason they stay behind the curve is because SEO is constantly evolving. Many companies get around this challenge by hiring an agency to perform SEO. It is a worthy line item in a digital strategy budget. In-house marketers do not always have the time and resources to keep up with the swift changes in the SEO industry. An agency can help ensure you always use best practices for SEO and that these best practices are aligned with your business goals. Inadequate time dedicated for this important aspect of your online presence could tank your entire strategy. A half-baked campaign can make the entire outreach effort fail.
If you have been smart enough to capitalise on pay per click campaigns, you may be overlooking a few things that could better optimise your efforts. A lot of PPC marketers ignore the quality score believing it is unimportant or out of their control. As a metric, quality scores make your ads rank higher, get your more clicks and leads, and save you costs in advertising. The higher the score, the less you have to pay for cost per click. If you can get a quality score of 10, it will save you 50 percent on PPC costs. Landing pages for PPC should also be chosen with much care. Too often, landing pages are simply the homepage, or worse, every PPC ad leads to the same page. The best approach is to create a landing page that is closely connected to the ad which brought the visitors to it in the first place. Those dedicated landing pages should also be very geared toward conversion. Most homepages are not conversion pages. One other area that many people ignore in PPC campaigns is mobile traffic. Most think mobile campaigns are too difficult to mount or that desktop campaigns are more important. They should rethink this strategy. Research shows that mobile traffic is quicker to convert because mobile users want what they are searching for immediately. Some PPC campaigners also report higher conversion on mobile at a lower CPC. The discount alone is enough of an incentive to test mobile ads.
Many customers are introduced to companies on paper or through a website before they ever meet a live person who represents the brand. This makes good content vital to building a solid reputation. Customers do not like to see regurgitated articles or content with a lot of fluff. According to the Marketing Tech Blog and TMG Custom Media, 61 percent of customers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content. Seventy-eight percent of consumers believe that the companies that make this kind of commitment to providing good articles and thoughtful, useful texts are also committed to building good relationships with customers. If you build great content, rather than using insignificant fillers, your customers will come. Any quality less than good content may be an unintentional sabotage to your customer base.
There must always be an effective way to measure how well your digital strategy is performing across all the previous seven platforms. If you know how well or how poorly a strategy is performing, then you know how to adjust it to get the desired results. This keeps your company at a competitive edge. No one should ever believe he has arrived at the perfect solution for his business and be locked into that solution for an infinite amount of time. It is a sure way to fail. There are a wealth of metrics to help businesses measure how well they are doing with their customers online. The key is to find the ones that will give you the information that is relevant to your goals, then collect the data. The numbers will always tell you where to go next with your strategy. Struggling to get the right strategy in place for your company? Contact us on 1300 3888 11 to speak to a digital strategist.