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3 Sure-Fire Ways to Ignite Your Digital Strategy

Change gears to power your digital programs.

"Digital" has come a long way over the past 15 years. It’s no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, but a necessity for every business. 

No doubt your company has a person focused on your website, online ads, SEO, mobile apps and your social media strategy. If you’re at a smaller company, you likely have a single person who wears many hats, but all of these responsibilities will fall under that one very large and important digital umbrella.

Aside from the enormity of the digital world, one of the most critical challenges is staying on top of the constant flow of updates and changes associated with all things digital. Whether you’re part of a larger team or you’re wearing that one large hat, below you’ll find key areas to help you focus your digital strategy.

1. Make Data-Driven Decisions

Do you know how many people visit your company website, how often they’re returning and what information they’re looking for? And do you know what your online visitors are clicking on, how they navigate through pages and exactly what content they’re eager to consume on each page?

By getting the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to target your online audiences more accurately. Valuable data can support your digital strategy and give your team’s insight into customer behaviour. Take a deeper dive into your analytics and uncover compelling insights into the online customer journey.

Why is the digital data so important?

First, it gives you a better profile of the customer—and that can lead to building customer personas. Marketers must know their audience, and using digital data can paint clear pictures of customer behaviour and wants.

Discover the demographics of your audiences from your web and social analytics tools, then start creating personas of your key online customers. You may have multiple customer personas that become apparent as you sort through the data, so this will help you establish your revised online target markets. By knowing who your general customer groups are, you’ll be able to more accurately create future content for your website, social media channels and customer communications.

As a digital marketer, you have access to these data points to help you make business decisions. From your web analytics, determine the type of devices that your customers are using and look at "referral" traffic—what sites they’ve visited before going to yours.

If your customers are frequently using mobile devices to access your website, ensure that your site is mobile optimized and that it has a mobile-responsive design so customers can easily view your content from smartphones and tablets.

You can also keep tabs on unexpected trends that may be segment or product specific. Customers expect to see only relevant information that is tailored to them, which has been commonplace when they’ve interacted with brands on social media. Take advantage of the trends and communications on social channels to further define the future segments and products you’ll focus on to attract online attention. Customers may respond to different things online than in traditional marketing channels.

Let this data challenge your existing assumptions and rock the status quo within the organization. Adopting data-driven decision-making may help remove opinions and internal politics with decision-making.  

2. Support the Bigger Vision of the Company

Your company’s digital future is cross-functional. Digital is no longer something that only the web team has to think about. It extends across Marketing and into Sales, Customer Support, Corporate Communications, HR, Technical Support…and the list goes on. Every person in your organization should be thinking from a digital point of view since the customer will find and communicate with your company at every stage of the game.

Since it’s all hands on deck, help every department step up their digital game.

  • Play chess not checkers. Be strategic with your digital plans and then communicate that across the company. Consider lunch and learns to give other departments a better sense of the company’s digital initiatives, and over time you’ll be able to smooth out any cross-departmental resistance to communicating with customers via new digital tactics.
  • Build clear messages once and leverage that many times over. It’s important to create consistent messaging, so developing both internal and external FAQs will enable everyone to use the right terminology and speak about digital topics with more familiarity.
  • Empower employees to use digital tools. If wider internal access to digital tools can improve communications between groups and, in turn, improve customer experience, then push for that access to be more widely available. You may also be able to use internal community forums where employees can help support each other, answers questions and discuss customer support issues to provide better service. 
  • Create internal and external videos. Use the world’s second largest search engine, YouTube, to host private videos for internal audiences. These could be tutorials, demos, fun instructional videos or one of your product experts answering internal FAQs. Consider extending videos to the public once your internal groups are used to the medium, making use of powerful keywords in your descriptions and titles so customers will find you in search. Once customers start following your channel, you’ll be building even stronger connections between your audience and employee base.

It can be difficult to envision the right digital possibilities without defining an iterative strategy. So make that strategy your priority.

If you have ownership of digital marketing across the company, you’ll be able to take a high-level view of the requirements across all groups and determine what areas need improvement.

If you’re in charge of only one area, build out your strategy while taking into consideration the needs of the various departments you interact with. Can you leverage things other groups have learned? Most importantly, can you make a better customer experience by connecting your strategy to those of the other departments?

Once you have that holistic plan in place, you can find the right possibilities to support your customers, communicate in the best way and keep redefining and adapting it on an ongoing basis.

3. Disrupt the Norm and Focus on User Experience

Digital disruption sounds like a bad thing at first, but it can be a tool for progress and innovation. 

Some mammoth examples are Uber, iTunes and the very popular Netflix that got it wrong at first, but then made a strong pivot to become the company we know today. 

An incredible Manitoba example that is touching all of North America is Permission Click—a digital permission slip and payment collection for schools. Check out Permission Click CEO, Chris Johnson, discussing career advice and his take on business.

Purpose driven digital disruptions help businesses force positive behaviour by shaking things up in the market. These disruptions often fall into two key categories:

  1. Putting customers first: The digital disruption is designed and built to give customers a specific experience. This can be a unique and custom experience, so they feel valued and supported by the company. Self-serve portals that allow customers to log in and interact with their account and services is key in all verticals.
  2. Cost savings or avoidance: While initial investment can be capital intense at times, the scalability and impact to the customer experience and to the company’s brand reputation are often game changers. Understanding the costs and benefits can be difficult to define in a traditional sense at the onset. The key is to think in terms of customer expectations and behaviours.

Get your teams to start thinking about digital disrupting ideas. Existing processes can be a killer and thwart innovation, so it’s important to mix things up. 

Cultivating new ideas requires a fresh mindset, and there’s no rule it has to be the perfect idea to start. Grant permission to fail at times, and then deconstruct those failures to learn from potential areas for early stages of success. You’ll be bound to find great ideas in those early stages.

In some cases, teams may be hesitant to break out of the mould. Give them some extra encouragement and allow them to discover new terrain, think bigger and work together towards a greater goal. By exploring new ideas as a team, they’ll start seeing things from different points of view and realize that digital disruption is not digital destruction.

With digital marketing, companies of all sizes end up using very similar tools like YouTube, content management systems, social media vehicles and similar types of digital design. This phenomenon creates an unusually ‘level playing field’ and the opportunity to acquire some market share from the competition. It all comes down to the application of those tools, and if you leverage them effectively you should see some increase in online market share.

Although some sides will resist disruption and others will be slow to adopt, the progressive “disrupters” will have shaken things up and moved on to the next level. I'm eager to see you on the forward-looking side.

What major digital "disruptions" have you seen in your industry? Tell us what's shaking things up in the comments section below.

Jerin Valel

Jerin Valel is very passionate about technology and is a self-confessed tech nerd. He is the Director of Digital Bell MTS, and sits on various innovation and technology boards across Manitoba, while also volunteering as a mentor for new tech start-ups within the province. For kicks he coaches grappling and MMA—and has the cauliflower ear to show for it.

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