The topic of digital strategy re-emerges again and again within many organizations. With digital marketing continuously evolving, the conversation is often concentrated on how to best leverage new technologies with the goal of using the latest and greatest digital marketing innovations. Yet, when there is no discussion of how the investment fits into a successful marketing roadmap, there is a high likelihood of less than optimal results. The key to successful digital marketing is continuously refining strategy to support not only new technologies, but also to effectively target audiences who are using them.
Digital strategy is far more than just connecting a set of technologies. In contrast, it’s about the opportunities that the technologies create. To effectively use digital tools most effectively, information and technology must be melded together effectively to develop successful digital strategies.
Digital Strategy – Combining Direction, Resources and Commitment
There is certainly more than one definition of digital strategy. Yet, nearly all will agree that there are three fundamental elements – direction, resources and commitment. All three elements must be clearly defined to create a clear, successful digital strategy.
However, many organizations view digital technologies or channels as siloed, isolated investments and not part of a larger blended, business strategy that defines direction, resources and commitment. Digital strategies are more than just IT or marketing strategies. Digital marketing blurs the lines between departments and capabilities, placing demands on a wider leadership team to create a more comprehensive plan of action.
Evolving Customer Expectations
Because technology is continuously advancing, customer expectations are also changing. This adds an extra layer of complexity to creating a digital strategy. How a customer obtains information or makes a purchase today is very different than 20 years ago. This continuous evolution must be a central consideration when it comes to developing a digital strategy.
The cost of many digital solutions has also dropped, enabling businesses of all sizes to access capabilities that used to be only available to large enterprises. For example, powerful CRM tools were once only available to big companies with teams of developers. Today, even solo entrepreneurs can obtain a powerful CRM solution in the cloud for a low monthly subscription. This is changing the competitive landscape and opening up opportunities from new entrants to compete in new and different ways.
Become a Digital Strategy Winner
To excel in digital marketing, it requires broad thinking and flexibility. To keep up with the changing digital landscape, it’s necessary to not get locked into one digital strategy or inflexible infrastructure. It’s also necessary to integrate digital strategies within the larger marketing plan.
Clear strategic goals should be created to identify what will be achieved online in terms of obtaining new customers or building stronger relationships with existing ones. To create these goals, it’s important to understand the online marketplace, customer behaviors, the competition and options for marketing communications. Once these have been identified, it’s vital to have a strong online value proposition which drives brand recognition and loyalty.
Finally, digital marketing offers tremendous capabilities to understand customers through data. Tools, such as Google Analytics, should be a key component of a digital strategy to guide decisions on budgeting and messaging.
With a solid digital strategy developed with careful thought and planning, the return on investment of digital marketing efforts will almost always be significantly higher than if technologies are simply used ad hoc without a clear direction. Yes, it takes time to develop a digital strategy, but it can pay off considerably in the long-run by driving measurable success that can be refined over time to sustain a competitive advantage.