Adoption of digital channels is exponentially growing. In fact, businesses that aren't pivoting to digital are quickly becoming extinct.
Consider a company like Kodak - the photography company. Kodak was on the up and up, until they prioritised their legacy business over digital photography. Their digital strategy, though in place, drove down their position in the photography market. Today, when you search for Kodak, the narrative is less than ideal.
Here's what a quick Google search on Kodak revealed.
Going digital is more than just being on social media and having a website. However, before we unpack the need for a digital strategy, let's start you off at the very beginning.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing is the sum total of your marketing efforts performed online through electronic devices or the internet. Using digital channels, businesses can engage with prospective customers as well as their current communities.
Digital marketing is quite broad. It includes:
Social media marketing
Digital Public Relations
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
It is imperative that you know which channels your audience is so on so that you know which digital marketing channels you need to be using. You may use one or more forms of digital marketing. It is advisable to use more than one channel for your digital marketing so that you can meet your audience members wherever they are.
What is a digital strategy?
Once you know what online success looks like for your brand or business, you will need to strategise on how to get there. That's where a digital strategy come in.
A digital strategy is the roadmap to your online success.
As was mentioned earlier, digital marketing is quite broad. Each digital marketing channel comes with its own set of unique skills and best practices that set it apart from the other. Furthermore, different businesses are at different stages of their digital journey with different digital goals and budgets. Because of this, you can't have a one-size-fits-all approach to strategy development, nor can you just copy what your competition is doing. Your digital strategy needs to be a custom solution that is tailored for your business.
Why is a digital strategy important?
A robust digital strategy takes into account your competitive environment and future ambitions. Knowing where you want to be vs. where you are will help you know where the gaps are in your digital marketing process.
A digital strategy is therefore important and necessary because:
You get a deeper understanding of the nooks and crannies of your business.
Your business will be poised to cease every opportunity.
You'll reach your audience where they are.
You can give your brand competitive advantage online.
You'll have a clear direction of where you want your brand to be.
You'll be able to adequately monitor the return on your digital marketing investment.
You and your team will be aligned on what your business should be doing to achieve digital success.
How to create a digital strategy?
In order to put together a digital strategy, you need to consider the following elements:
1. Build your buyer personas
Building a buyer persona is an important first step for any marketing strategy. It forces you to take a better look at who your audience is and whether they value what it is you are offering. It guides you on what you need to be doing to keep them more engaged with your brand.
2. Define your goals
Knowing what online success means to your brand implies that you have goals you want to achieve online. Articulate these goals. Don't spread yourselves too thin with too many goals. 3-5 goals should be sufficient. Keep them SMART - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.
3. Build a content marketing strategy
Yes! Another strategy.
High quality content is a very important element of every digital strategy. Whether it's on social media networks, on your website, or your digital advertisements, in your chatbot, in your emails, in your word of mouth messaging, it's all content. Your content should be well crafted to support the attainment of your goals.
All content that is created, be it images, videos or text, gets distributed through your various digital assets. This may be social media, email marketing etc. It is important to have a content distribution plan in place because different audiences consume content differently on different platforms. A content distribution plan highlights how different pieces of content are to be distributed.
4. Embrace technology and automation
In order to have an airtight digital strategy, you will need to conduct an audit of all your digital channels and assets to assess what you have against what you need. Your audit will reveal that some assets, depending on your marketing goals, the insights from your buyer personas and value they bring in, may need to be cut or given more attention. You will also find that you may need new technology to help accelerate the achievement of your goals, or help your consumers reach you more easily. This can constitute an investment in new tools and various martech solutions.
5. Track your performance
Regular monitoring of how your strategy is performing is very critical in your marketing process. Keep your strategy alive by tracking your KPIs and making adjustments as needed.
You can take your performance tracking a step further by incorporating lessons learned into your learning process.
A good digital strategy is about making wise investment choices to maximise competitive advantage, growth, profit, and value, and then implementing with discipline.