For any business to grow and succeed online, there has to be a healthy balance between knowing your customer, knowing your own business and your actual capabilities.

To really act on this, you should be throwing all of this information into a digital strategy.

And no, I’m not talking about the type of strategy you replace 2017 with 2018, and hope for the best. The digital landscape is evolving at a fast rate, and this will change the behaviours and expectations of your customers. This requires you to revisit it each year, and not simply go for a copy and paste job.

What Is a Digital Strategy?

A digital strategy can be defined as: “a form of strategic management and a business answer or response to a digital question, often best addressed as part of an overall business strategy.”

That section about being part of the overall business strategy is key: a lot of digital strategies fall short when they wander into being too creative and not aligned with what the company can actually achieve, or missing the mark on what the customer actually wants. Failing to deliver a good digital strategy not only impacts your online brand reputation, but it could cost you your business. The first real casualty of this was, who became victim to their own bad digital strategy in 2000. This example is used as “what not to do” for many ecommerce digital strategies, even today.

Here, I look at how you can structure a digital strategy in five steps, to tick all the boxes, and satisfy customer and business needs.

1. Create a SWOT Analysis

Conducting a SWOT analysis might feel like you’ve gone back to school, but it’s still a really handy way to get a high-level view of the internal and external business factors, and identify any key issues early on.

To be able to start developing a digital strategy, we want to walk away from the initial meeting with a top line SWOT analysis for the following:

  • Acquisition
  • Conversion
  • Retention
  • Growth

2. What Do Your Customers Want?

There is no point in driving masses of traffic to your website, if all you’re going to get is a pile of spammy forms filled in, asking if you had a trip or fall last month. Gathering data on customers is no new thing, but knowing where to start with pulling that data from your CRM system, or knowing what to capture in the first place is usually quite a daunting task, and one put off more than starting a diet in January…

Here are my top targeting options to use for a strategy:

  • Customer Attributes: Age, geography, sex, technology preferences, shoe size… Lucky for most, this data is pretty easy to grab from Google Analytics (maybe not the shoe size bit).
  • Customer Value: You’ll no doubt want to know what each of your different customers’ lifetime value is. This allows you to segment into things like returning buyers, one time buyers etc, and target these with different methods.
  • Customer Behaviour: Find out their habits the non-creepy way: what is their preferred purchasing method? Even looking at this in terms of lead generation, there are many tools out there which allow you access to this information, such as heat mapping, Google Tag Manager and call tracking.
  • Customer Channels: Find out what parts of the funnel you are touching your customer. Don’t just look at the last click attribution model, look at every step to assess which channels to concentrate on for each segment.

Now it’s time for the fun stuff, as this all forms part of the customer personas. This is where you gather all of the above into your main 4-5 (or maybe more) customers and their habits and value. You can usually have a play around with some images at this step as well, but you basically form a pretty accurate profile for each of your different types of customer, and from here, are able to choose the methods which are going to be the most effective, and draw the most amount of sales/leads.

3. Define Your Value Proposition

We know who the customer is, and we know what he has for breakfast, but now we need to know what the value of our own product is. An online value proposition answers questions like who we are, what we offer, which markets we serve, and what makes us different?

But it’s more than just a selling proposition, since it shows what you can offer in way of content, products, services and experiences to engage online customers. The value proposition extends this the difference in that it identifies the reasons why customers will click on, return, register or buy from your site and ideally feel motivated enough to share their experience – the last point being key in an age where the customer increasingly defines the brand.

The customer value proposition should state the intrinsic benefits a visitor will get from the site, content, web service or functionality – and how that ties to your overall product or service. It cannot simply be your brand promise or a more general customer value proposition stuck online, since that misses the point that someone is on your site now and asking themselves questions such as “what’s in this for me?”

4. Set Goals and KPIs

In order to ensure that your digital strategy turns into a success, a big part of that is being able to set realistic targets to grow the business. What are you growing? Start by looking at the basics, and work them out from there:

  1. Size of Your Audience: This is how customers will reach your site, primarily measured through sessions in Google Analytics.
  2. Quality: These are objectives for achieving interaction and conversion with site visitors. Conversion rates to your ecommerce elements or enquiry pages are going to be most important here.
  3. Value: This is the profit and actual value of your products and services.  You should set objectives for what you see as the one-off and lifetime value of a customer, so that you can assess how much to invest in digital marketing.

5. Outline a Plan

Next up, you need to define how you’re going to deliver everything, and ensure that you are targeting customers at various stages of the purchasing/sales funnel. These four steps of online marketing activities are designed to help brands engage their customers.

  1. Build Awareness of Your Brand: Its products and services, maximising reach over time to create multiple interactions using different paid, SEO, CRO, Social and digital PR touch points.
  2. Interact With Your Audience: How are you going to persuade site visitors or prospects take the next step, like “View product”, “Add to Basket”, “Register” or “Sign up”?
  3. Conversion to Sale: This involves getting your audience to take that vital next step which turns them into paying customers, whether the payment is taken through online ecommerce transactions or offline channels.
  4. Long-Term Engagement Plan: Developing a long-term relationship to build customer loyalty as repeat purchases using communications on your site, social presence, email and direct interactions.

For companies committed to growing and transforming, the key is to make sure that their digital strategy is customer and value-orientated and not just a list of measures to cut costs. We hope these five steps help to focus on this. If you would like to talk to one of our strategists about developing your own digital strategy, contact us today.


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