What is a digital strategy?

If I had a dollar for every client that came to us confused about what a digital strategy is, I’d have about …$40. Seriously, lots of people are confused about what a digital strategy actually is.

Agencies and marketers need to make it clear to their clients that a digital strategy follows structure, it considers their community, and it follows a concept.

Most clients think that digital strategy equals business strategy equals outcomes and ROI. This is a misconception and often leads clients to think a digital strategy is broken or not performing well.

A business strategy involves road maps and projections into the future. As the online space evolves so quickly, there is no way you can project 3-5 years ahead in digital. This also makes exact budgeting tricky too. A digital approach therefore has to take come in at a different angle.

So how does that look?

We use four steps:

  1. Research & define
  2. Apply research to online avenues
  3. Monitor & refine
  4. Measure & report

Research & define

There are factors to consider when developing your online tactics. You must first define ‘Why’, ‘What’ and ‘Who’:

  1. What your business objectives are
  2. What you are selling, and;
  3. Who is your target audience

Now you need to think about the ‘Where’. What avenues are available to you and how do you get the word on what you offer out to those who seek it?

Your digital options are:

  • Your website: The most integral part of any digital strategy is your website. Your website is your ‘home’ on the internet. Everything you do online should point back to your website.
  • Social Media: What platforms are your target audience using? What tone of voice are you going to use to speak to your target audience?
  • EmaileNewsletters still work. Use them to direct users back to your website.
  • Digital Marketing: This is everything from SEO to SEM to Facebook advertising.
  • Mobile: ​Digital strategy covers all screens. The number of people who access the internet on their phones and tablets is consistently on the rise so mobile should also be taken into account.

Apply research

Once you’ve figured out the ‘Why’, ‘What’, ‘Who’ and ‘Where’, your digital marketing strategy will begin to unfold. Then you fire up the computer and put it into practice. Set up the appropriate channels and find where your community are using a social media mapping exercise.

Monitor & refine

They say a community manager never sleeps. This means checking social accounts over the weekend and public holidays too. To keep a community humming online, you need to continually assess and rework your digital strategy based on the successes (or failures) of your campaigns and digital initiatives. Put simply, see what works and keep doing it and vice versa.

Measure & report

The ultimate goal of any effective digital strategy is high levels of engagement from your online community. High engagement means you’re meeting the business goals you set out to achieve at strategy development stage. As marketers, it’s important that we measure everything. Quantifying the value of social media for your business just takes a little time investment to learn how to suitably leverage the tools at your disposal.

If you can follow these four recommendations when devising your digital strategy, you will be ok. Once it is set up, the ones to maintain are steps four and five. Rinse and repeat.

Talk to us about digital strategies to suit your business needs and capabilities.

Image credit: frankieleon via Flickr Creative Commons